“Man, I’m not going anywhere,” he mumbled as he jerked the bed sheet back over his entire body.
This was only Jeremy’s fourth day on the farm and already he hated it. Being a city kid, he hadn’t gotten used to waking up at 4am to tiredly tend to animals and do boring manual labor.
“What’n heck made you think that’s the case!” a bellowing voice shot back, “Now I’ll let that one slide Jr. and not tell your pops. We already losing time. I’ll see you downstairs in five!” kicking the mattress before he left the room nearly making Jeremy airborne.
Mr. Peyton was Jeremy fathers’ friend for over 30 years. They both grew up together in farm territory but Mr. Peyton stayed rural instead of heading to the Big City. Jeremy Sr. sent his son, for the summer, to his old friend after he found out that his son wanted a collegiate career playing soccer. Jeremy was a junior in high school and “Pops” wanted his son to learn a lesson that he had learned before it was too late.
Jeremy made his way down the wooden stairs, dragging his untied boots on one stair then jumping down on the next.
“G’morning Jeremy” a voice sang as he was entering the kitchen.
“God, it’s morning? Let me know cause then someone evil is covering up the sun” Jeremy grumpily replied before singing back “G’morning Ms. Peyton.”
As far as Jeremy is concerned Ms. Peyton is the only good thing about this place. She cooks some good meals and always likes to ask if he wanted any more. Being a growing boy, of course the answer is always ‘yes please’.
“Time to go son!” said the heavy sand-toned interrupter of good feelings. “Let’s get a move on!” Mr. Peyton was hurrying out of the door with a pencil hanging from his ear and his face in his small task notebook. “Grab the keys to the truck on your way out. They’re by the kitchen window.”
Jeremy nodded, tied up his boots, took one more sip of his wake-me-up-please mug of coffee and left out the front door. It seemed like it was the same things daily: shift the goats from one side to the next, check the hen house, move the cattle, feed the horses, sand the old unused barn house, get some hog feed, get some fire logs. It was the same thing ev-er-y day. Jeremy missed the corner store, the parks, the grocery stores, his friends, cell reception, the internet. And even though he brought his soccer ball with him he was too tired to practice. Whenever he did have some time, Mr. Peyton always found something extra for him to do.
Jeremy only lasted 8 days. He DEMANDED to go back home.
As he was walking back into his home sweet home, the smell of favorite meal (lasagna) welcomed him home. He smiled, exhaled, dropped his bags in front of his feet and slumped down in the living room couch.
Even though Jr. didn’t stay for the entire summer Sr. wasn’t mad at all. “What’d you learn while up there son?”
With sureness in his voice Jeremy proclaims, “If you want something you have to get up early and do it daily.”
“Good lesson to learn but that wasn’t it.”
“Huh? What you mean?”
“Son, before you got into soccer you were a couch potato. You loved video games and being on the computer only. Then soccer came along and you loved that more than sitting around. I watched you leave for the park all the time because you were motivated.”
Pausing to catch his thoughts, he continued, “Jr., you already get up daily so that couldn’t have been the lesson I wanted you to gain.”
“So what is it then?”
“There’s a skill that no soccer coach on the collegiate level will teach you, but all collegiate coaches look for it. Your soccer skills can get you into a nice program but the skill I’m talking about will keep you there…and make you a GREAT player.”
“I don’t get it. What skill could I have possibly learned at that farm, that I can’t learn here?”
“You really want me to tell you and not you figure it out?”
“The skill is the willingness and ability to change your habits…even when you don’t want to.”
“I knew that the daily life on a farm would be really different for you than the daily life you have grown accustomed to. I wanted to see if you had the natural skill to change your daily habits not because you had to or wanted to but because it was being asked of you. That’s coachability son. Without that skill no coach will keep you no matter how talented you are.”
“You see, you can get up daily because you love playing but can you do something when you don’t want to? That skill will pay off more than any other soccer skill you’re working on. Son, peak performers crave the uncomfortableness of changing their habits. And they are more disciplined than they are motivated.”
The next day Jeremy re-packed his bags and returned back to the farm for the rest of the summer but purposefully, he left his soccer ball at home.
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