Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
Years ago I used to work in the ‘life skills’ industry – running strategic-planning courses for local municipalities, restorative justice groups for young offenders, experiential learning camps for school kids and team building for a top estate agency in South Africa (an impossible feat, by the way – it’s impossible to get hyper-competitive estate agents to work together). One of the favourite icebreakers (or get-to-know-yous) of my fellow facilitators was the one where one gets the participants to answer the question, “If you were an animal what would you be?”
Whatever the person answered the facilitator would nod sagely and have some wise explanation about what it meant.
“An elephant you say? Mmmmmmm, you must be a detailed, analytical person. You have a strong will, and a positive stubbornness … You would do well as an, um, accountant one day!”
Well, I always thought it was a stupid game. Do you really think one can analyse or pigeon-hole a person based on what animal they think they would be. Pfff! Ridiculous!
But I digress … I went to watch my 15-year-old nephew run in his school athletics championships on Saturday … If he were an animal he would probably be a gazelle – winning the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m races. On top of that he came third in the 1500m, and competed in both the long jump and triple jump – desperate to be crowned Victor Ludorum (presented to the athlete who wins the most events) in his age group.
I remember when I was in the same school, trying as desperately to win Victor Ludorum. I discovered that as hard as I tried I couldn’t do it because a field athlete would invariably pip me to the post – running that many events in a morning was just so much more tiring than jumping or throwing. The same happened to my nephew this weekend, where he had to settle for second. Like I had to, I hope he learns early to try as hard as he can, to enjoy himself and to appreciate his successes – whether he has a title behind his name or not. After all, a win in four events is no small achievement!