The Elephant in the Room

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Elephant in the room

Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of Christian spirituality and sport.

Telling the Truth

“…then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”-Jesus, the Messiah.

Truth Decay

We all know it.

When there’s an elephant in the room, you just cannot miss it. Elephants are just too big not to see them, I suppose. To be honest, I’m not sure who invited the expression but most of us have come to understand its meaning. We’re talking about that obvious, uncomfortable topic that must be addressed but no one really wants to face it head on. The elephant often appears in communities. It is common at work, at family reunions, on sports teams and in religious gatherings.

I was recently inspired by the leadership, tact and poise of Jayson Tatum, a superstar basketball player from the Boston Celtics. In short, the Celtics acquired some new teammates over the past summer with the result that six potential starters now filled the roster. The problem, though, is that there is only room for five starters. In professional sport, egos tend to be huge, so no one genuinely wants to be a substitute. Star players start. In fact, “star” and “start” are spelt the same way but for one letter. They go together.

Tatum addressed the elephant in the room by calling a team meeting with no one else but the six potential starters. He was direct without being disrespectful. He candidly confronted the issue confirming that someone would have to make a selfless sacrifice for the sake of the group. It reminds me of a comment made by a former Celtics player and now ESPN analyst, Kendrick Perkins, who said that athletes in team sports must “lose themselves in the team.” That’s a great perspective.

In the end, one of the most senior players, Al Horford, lost his starting position although one of the newest members, Jrue Holiday, was quite willing to go to the bench. Through Tatum’s truth telling, the tables turned. Egos were buried and the common good prevailed. In a world where “truth decay” has become deep-rooted, it is refreshing to learn about the Celtics’ victory off the court. The truth really does set you free.

Full of Grace and Truth

Truth telling does not have to be mean or harsh. There is an elegant combination of grace and truth that is worth pursuing even amid tough conversations.

If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.

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