I am still reeling after the University of Michigan’s win over the Crimson Tide to earn their place in the College Football National Championship.  Wow!  That victory didn’t just happen.  That victory was years in the making from players who dreamed of playing on a Division 1 college team to coaches who actually played in games that resulted in a title winning victory.  Take Coach Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines.  As a young boy, he went along with his Dad to practices when his Dad assisted U of M head football coach, Bo Schembechler running alongside quarterback, Rick Leach during practices. As told to me by a family member, so I apologize Coach if I don’t remember the story told to me correctly, Jim had the goal of playing college football as a young boy.  He knew that if he worked hard and trained hard, eating well and drinking milk, he might make himself into a fine college football player.  So, he volunteered to be the ‘milk boy’ at school.  When students were absent he drank their milk.  Jim Harbaugh did grow up to be a quarterback on the University of Michigan team and he played for Bo Schembechler that coach he looked up to.  Whether drinking the extra milk helped or not, who knows (he is 6 ft. 3 inches tall and his brother is about the same height).  The point is that even as at elementary school age, he had a goal and he did achieve it and way beyond playing successfully in the NFL and with a very successful coaching career both in the NFL and at the college level.  

Jim Harbaugh celebrating his team’s victory over Alabama on January 1 2024 to make it to the College Football Championship.

     Whether his parents instilled in him the ability to set goals or whether he was just one of those kids who dreamed big, I don’t know but no matter where it came from, Jim learned early on to make observations and then figured out a way to make his dreams come true.  Had he not reached his goal of playing college football I am sure that he would have succeeded in another avenue along the way. 

When our son was playing tennis, the long range goal was a Division 1 tennis scholarship. The shorter goals along the way were to be a top Michigan player. When that goal was achieved, we went to Florida. He quickly learned that he was at the bottom of the heap, going 6 weeks without winning a game. It became laughable on the rides home, but there was a strategy to get stronger and to learn from each loss and eventually a win came, 1 game and then a set and eventually a match, one tournament and so on. By the time he graduated from high school, Division 1 scholarship in hand, he was one of the top players in Florida in his class. The new goal became to be the top college player on his team, the in his division, both accomplished. He didn’t make the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals, the tennis equivalent to the MLB or NFL). By then, Zach was ready to start his own company and move on in life past tennis, but the “recipe” he learned along the way to succeed, were used to start a company. Each day, each week, each month and each year, he assesses the goals and how to work toward them with hard work, honesty and integrity. Big success are not achieved over night but with small wins along the way. I could plot out the same story for Sasha and Alex in their respective journeys; Sasha‘s path on the golf team that earned a Michigan State Championship, playing beyond her ability in the final two days of play to help her team attain the shots needed to push past Rochester and Alex’s planning his strategy to get into dental school a year early. Each goal starting out with small objectives along the way with much time and focus placed on the end result. It’s fun to be part of that journey as a family which was filled with ups and downs wins and losses along the way, battles won and lost but the “winning the war“ in the end was achieved. Sasha earned a spot on a college golf team after all that work and the hole in one, the good GPA and hard earned DAT score got Alex into a dental school a year before he graduated from TCU. The little successes along were fun to celebrate in our family. Those achievements have served the kids well growing into their adult lives.

It’s easy to imagine a dinner table in Ann Arbor back in the early seventies with a family of five, sitting around the table talking about what they had in mind in terms of their children’s futures and who would have guessed that two of those three children would grow up to be two of most successful coaches in college and pro football history and that their sister would be married to very successful college basketball coach at Marquette University, Indiana University, and University of Georgia. 

The Harbaugh Family while they were raising their three children.

     A quote I have often heard is that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” comes to mind or the saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  At the beginning of this New Year of 2024, like we often do at the beginning of a new school year, semester, or season in life, consider making goals with your children big or small to give them something to work towards.  Share with your your kids, YOUR goals to set and example for them. Maybe your goals include fitting more exercise in your life to improve your health and to reap the all the benefits exercise results in, or maybe you hope to read more or save more money to add to your rainy day account. Or maybe your goals include volunteering in your community to help make your community a better place.  SHARE those goals with your children and “the why” that they are at the top of your list.  

     Maybe you have them write these goals at the front of a spiral notebook or journal with the date.  On the next page, start a list of what needs to be done to achieve the goals.  Work backward and make a diagram of how to make it happen.  Have them place their goals in a prominent place. Our kids would tape them to the bathroom mirror they shared. Check in with your kids while driving in the car, during dinner or at the breakfast table or counter, as to how things are going.  For big goals, help your kids break the goal down into smaller goals and celebrate the successes along the way and when setbacks occur pause and reflect on what could have been done differently to get a different outcome.  Explain that setbacks and failures are part of the journey to success. The failures allow them to reflect on what went wrong and how to improve and sometimes maybe a different route is necessary for success.  Consider just how important the journey is. As a parent and mentor, the journey is an opportunity to spend good time teaching your child how to handle the challenges in life and the importance of being a good winner and good looser, eager to learn from the loss.  As the parent you are there to cushion the fall and to listen and help them find solutions to THEIR problem.  Guide them and watch over them showing them the way to …Many Great Days 🍎 

Author, Mrs. Burau 🍎