Grace Under Pressure

Grace under pressure was truth in Ernest Hemmingway’s writing.

Sometimes we don’t face the challenges that a novelist will place a character in a story. But in our own way, we have to face the pressure frequently.

I was director of referees for youth soccer tournaments two straight weekends. I lived with the pressure of returning from a week in Germany facing assigning referees to appropriate games and recruiting more referees.

Friday late afternoon sipping a blended latte in my favorite coffee shop reflecting on getting the job done for this weekend’s tournament, I was relaxed and ready to go.

Checked emails. “Gary, we had 2″ of rain Thursday. Most of our fields are unplayable. We are marking out new fields, but we won’t have as many. Rescheduling all the games now.”

That meant that when the tournament director’s team finished figuring out all this, I had to go back and reassign all the referees. We had as many games in two fewer fields.

I sent an email to all the referees–prepare for schedule changes. Somewhere around 8:30 pm I was notified the schedule was complete. Somewhere around 11 pm I finished the last of the assignments.

Same thing Saturday. They decided in the afternoon that despite 30mph winds all day, the ground had not dried enough. Saturday night–schedule finished about 9, I finished about 11.

The the tournament committee (well Caleb and Chris) figured out how to do the schedule. That is a tough job. Then I started on the referee assignments.

It’s amazing. 50 or more referees. Not a one (well, there was one guy, but he’s an exception in every sense) came to me arguing or complaining. I obviously made mistakes. Guys were booked on two different fields at the same time. One guy was booked for two games at the same time–on the same field.

Everyone handled it.

You learn–faced with a challenge, there is no good to be gained from exploding. You face a big task with a crushing deadline, sign, then just go to work. One game at a time. Guys remarked how calm I was. (So were the other leaders, but they didn’t know them.) I’ve been in the situation.

When you are faced with a changed situation, the only true response it to change your attitude and respond with grace.

I saw 50-60 people do that this weekend. It’s a marvelous thing. And 1,400 kids got to play all their games and have a blast.

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