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Peter Pan Principle


“When I was a young man, I was a terror. I did all the wrong things and I knew I was doing wrong. At the local community center, I started playing some ball. There was a man there who took no nonsense from me. He expected more. He demanded more. The man turned my life around. And, as soon as I could, I decided to dedicate my life to his memory.  All I know of him is that we called him Coach. Please, all I ever want to be, and all I ever want to be known as is Coach. Call me Coach.”

– Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, and Learning by Dan John

I remember reading that passage and thinking to myself, “yeah, that’s what I’m about.” Now, I wasn’t that young man who did all the wrong things and knew I was doing them. Don’t get me wrong, I most definitely did wrong things, but overall I was a pretty good kid. College was a different story. Maybe some day I’ll delight you with some of those experiences over some milk and cookies.

Quick story. When I was a freshman on the varsity wrestling team in high school, my No Nonsense coach barked at me one day before practice. Now this was a time when Happy Gilmore quotes were at their peak and I remember while lacing up my shoes one day, Coach was talking about something important; I don’t exactly remember what he was talking about because I wasn’t listening, but I remember what happened a few short moments after I did this:

I was talking to a buddy when I did this, and I didn’t realize that Coach No Nonsense was paying close attention to me at this very moment. This is what followed:

“Listen here you cocky little freshman, you think your tough because you started the season 7-1? The rest of the team will be in the hallway doing sprints for the duration of practice on account of Y.O.U.”

Needless to say, I was the most unpopular wrestler on the team that day. My ‘Ol Man was the Assistant Coach to Coach No Nonsense, and I didn’t get any preferential treatment. Being a coach’s kid, you’re held to a higher standard.

We all need a no-nonsense man or woman in our life do we not? This doesn’t stop once you get a diploma. Let’s be honest, if you just show up, you’ll get that diploma. And a college degree? Yeah, you can pretty much get one of those too as long as you just show up. We need someone to raise the bar on our lives; to help us to not just show up, but to also put up! You know the type of person I’m referring to, because you typically avoid them because you don’t want the accountability. They don’t have a filter, they tell you what think, they don’t apologize for it, and they are generally right.

We need those people in our lives that expect more from us. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day while we were driving and we were on the topic of making a difference. I said to him, “all the people I grew up with, I still see them in my mind’s eye as little kids and full of potential.” I went on to consider later to myself, that I, in fact, think of all people that way, including myself. Call it the Peter Pan Principle or something if you want to give it a name. We are just little kids trapped inside adult bodies with more life experiences that are either dragging us down or lifting us up. Jesus even says in the Bible in Matthew 18: 2-4:

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Pure wisdom from the Master himself. Let Jesus’s words soak in your mind and heart for awhile after you read this. Become like a kid again, find that No Nonsense Coach, and if you can’t find one, open that book called the Bible where you can learn all about that Jesus fella. You can’t go wrong with letting him be that guy for you.


Child, Coach, Coaching, Jesus, No Nonsense, Peter Pan