(Another guest blog of TED* team member Kathy Haskin.  Thanks, Kathy, for the ways you find TED* in the world and apply it to everyday living!)

It was a home tournament, the volleyball players and parents alike were excited to share the moments. Watching high school sports is my favorite pastime, better than anything the television could provide.  Little did we all know that the scene was developing into the quintessential drama, bringing forward the entire cast of the Drama Triangle.

The players took their places; the parents slid into their seats framing the court.   And then it started.  The visiting team began screeching, pointing with out-stretched arms toward our team.  The home team smiled a curious smile and waited for the noise to abate. However they did not stop yelling throughout the games, now at the top of their lungs. The gym resonated with the attacking noise.

An assortment of parents, including myself, were launched into roles of Victim – “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening!”, Persecutor – “That is not acceptable!”, and Rescuer – “Shouldn’t the referee do something about that?!”

The high-volumed visitors scored point after point, as their offensive offense did its work.  Clearly the home team was mired in the Victim Orientation.  Not able to hear each other, watching for someone (the coach, referee…) to step in, the team shrunk in posture and play.  Recognizing the characteristics of the problem-based orientations helped me to realize how I myself was reacting. I watched myself and my reactions, trying to shift into a more outcome-oriented way of contributing.

After time, many of the parents followed the Coaches lead, offering lines of encouragement and suggestions when a rare quiet moment allowed.  Challengers offered “This is an opportunity to work past the distraction. What can we learn here?”   Coaches offered “OK, they are not going to stop, how can we work around this?”

Player by player the home team began to create opportunities to score, challenging  themselves and the other team. The shift was not fast enough to avoid the defeat, however the change for each of the girls remained after the final point. Those players who remained in the Victim Orientation left the court with feelings of injustice and ill-will toward the visiting team.  Those players who had shifted to the Creator Orientation, as they saw the situation as a challenge and lesson to be learned, left the gym standing taller with pride that they had taken on something truly difficult.

I left the experience with a clearer understanding of what I now refer to as my “mother bear” reactive trigger.  When something dramatic starts with any of my children, I fall into the triangle like the over-protective Rescuer I am.

Apparently it is not against the rules to be rude, even in sports.  Situations like these remind us all that high school teams are about more than learning the skills of the sport.  Present in equal measure are the lessons in character and the personal skills of responding on purpose from an orientation that creates opportunities, even when facing the most unexpected challenges.

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