It was a 100-degree day early in the summer of 2010. I finished my last class, ran into the school bathroom to change, and sped outside to wait for my mom to pick me up. Today, our soccer team played in the semi-finals. I tapped my foot, paced back and forth, twiddled my thumbs—anything to try and contain my nerves. There was a lot of pressure on us this year because we had won the championship game and had an undefeated season the year before. After what seemed like ages, my mom finally arrived and drove me to the soccer field.
Once we arrived, I hopped out of the car and sprinted over to my fellow teammates. They were running our normal drills, and I jumped into the mix as we waited for the game to start.
Toward the end of the first half, the score was still tied at 0-0. Both teams were trying their best to score a goal and get the lead, but the heat was starting to get to everyone. Our exhausted kicks didn’t always reach their intended destination. Both teams began to rack up the turnovers.
Then I noticed that one of the other team’s forwards was open and unguarded. I did my best to sprint and catch up with him, but before I knew it, the ball soared over both of our heads and toward the goal. I quickly changed my direction and ran toward the ball, reaching it before the forward did. By the time I caught up to it, however, we were both nearly to the goal. I had no idea what to do. All I could hear was my coach telling me to turn outside and kick the ball out of bounds.
What? I thought. Why would I do that?
Ignoring my coach’s orders, I turned inside to pass the ball to one of our better players. He will know what to do with it. As I turned in, I realized my mistake. The other team’s forward came rushing by me, stole the ball, and kicked it right past our goalie and into the net.
We were now losing the semi-final because of my mistake.
How could this have happened? Why didn’t anyone tell me the ball was about to be stolen? Why didn’t I just listen to the coach? I mentally kicked myself over and over as I started walking toward center field. My coach asked if I was okay, and I nodded. But he saw right through my façade and called me over to the sidelines, knowing my head wasn’t going to be in the game after my blunder.
A few minutes later, the first half ended. The game itself ended after overtime, with the score tied at 1-1. We lost in the shootout.
That experience taught me a valuable lesson. I learned to listen to the advice given to me by my elders. If I would have listened to my coach, we probably would have won that game and advanced to the championship. But I didn’t listen, and my entire team suffered because of it.
Now if I ever find myself in the same situation I was in during that semi-final, I always take the advice from my coach: Turn outside. Kick the ball out of bounds.
Whether they are five years older or 60 years older, our elders have more experience than we do. They might be more aware of a hidden danger in the action we are about to take. They have the foresight to see the consequences of a situation—they’ve been in more of them than we have. A small decision can have a huge impact, and the impact of a wrong decision can be really negative. Listening to the advice of those in authority over us will allow us to make more informed decisions, leading to more of the right decisions—and more of a positive impact.
Learn to listen to the foresight of your elders. If you do, you’ll make better decisions, and the impact you’ll have on yourself and the people around you will be positive.