Be the Nice Kid - Part 2

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I was a quiet kid.

I usually kept to myself.  Sure, I had a few friends, but I wasn't the outgoing, talk to everyone type.

When my friends weren't around, I'd play Legos and built blanket forts.  I'd play basketball by myself in the driveway creating fictional teams with made up players.  (Aristotle Jenovosi was 8 feet tall and Mitch Culpit never missed a 3).

At school, I tried my best and put in the effort to get good grades (it worked).  My parents applauded the effort when I did well and challenged me when they knew I could do better.

Sure there were kids smarter than me, but I was fine with that.

Because there were also kids who were better at basketball than me.  And who dressed better than me.  And who had more friends than me.

There was always someone better at something than me.

I was not Michael Jordan.  I was not Michael Jackson.  I was not Michael J. Fox.  I wasn't even Anthony Michael Hall.  (Man, there were a lot of famous Michaels in the late 80s).

I was Bryan Michael Skavnak (seriously, that's my middle name.... see how I did that?)

And Bryan Michael Skavnak was pretty good at something else...

I was good at being nice.

Why?

Because I was taught that way.

I was taught to respect people and be kind to them.  I was taught to use manners.  I was taught to smile.  I was taught to open doors and lend a hand and stick up for the little guy.

Sure I was picked on when I was younger.  Because I wasn't cool.  Or popular.  Or the most out-going.

And yes, the saying may be true sometimes... Nice guys finish last.

But I was okay with nice guys finishing last.  Because I wasn't keeping score anyway.

And I thought that way not because I didn't want to win or be good.  No.  It's because parents also taught me not to compare myself to others.

One of my mom's favorite phrases is burned into my memory... "If Michael Bolton jumped off a bridge, would you too?"  (Okay it wasn't Michael Bolton, but really, tons of famous Michaels... Michael Douglas, Michael Keaton.  All right back to the story...)

I went through many answers to my mom's question depending on my age and level of sarcasm...

"No, I wouldn't."

"Probably not."

"Well, what's at the bottom?"

"Do I have a parachute?"

"Why Michael Bolton?"

But mom was right.  We don't need to compare ourselves to other people or follow the crowd.

Why?

Because we have our gift too.

Each of us has something we're really good at.

I've taught golf to kids for 20 years now.  I've been around thousands and thousands of kids.

0 of those kids are on the PGA tour.

0 of those kids are on the LPGA tour.

But a whole bunch of them are nice kids.

They are kind and respectful and friendly.  They work hard.  They take care of people around them.  They do what's right.  (And they stay in contact with me, which is the coolest).

Sure, it would be awesome if someone went to play on the PGA Tour.

But I teach kindness first.

I teach being a nice kid first.

Because at the heart of it all, and after your skills and accomplishments and victories fade away... you still have your character.

And character matters most.

So as this school year moves on and your kids come across their share of "cooler" kids and "better" kids, here's something they can carry with them...



Dear Kids:

Some days at school will be awesome.

And others... well, not so great.

Some kids will be friendly to you.

And others... not so much.

But remember one thing...

You always have the choice to be nice.

You can't control how others act, but you can control what you choose to do.

Choose to be the nice kid.

When you see someone fall, help them up.

When your teacher asks you for help, do it.

When you see other kids doing the wrong thing, stay away.

When you see someone struggling, ask what you can do.

And keep an eye out for the kids who don't seem to have anyone.  The kids that seem to be lonely.

Find them and then do something simple...

Just ask them to play.

See, there are going to be times when you feel lonely or left out or not good enough.

There are other kids who feel like that too.  Sometimes a lot.

Talk with them.

Listen to them.

Be nice to them.

Those kids might just be scared.  And being scared is okay.

They might just be looking for someone to reach out to them.

And at some point, you'll probably feel the same way.

So make a choice to be nice.

I've been teaching golf for a long time now and what I've found is that the best golfers and the best kids have one thing in common.

They're comfortable.

It's my job to help them feel comfortable and proud of who they are.  Because every kid should have a chance to be happy.

You can help me with that.

Help the kids around you feel comfortable by simply being nice to them.

Every kid has something that they can offer.  Something that they're really good at.

Respect that.

And the best way to respect that is simple...

Just be nice.

You want to make your teachers proud?  You want to make your parents proud?

Just be nice.

So have fun at school.  Help your teachers.  Reach out to the quiet kids.

And remember that you always have a choice...

Choose to be the nice kid.

Talk soon - Bryan

Bryan Skavnak