Saturday, February 27, 2010

Curling: Sweepers, Sweepers Man Your Brooms

As mentioned in an earlier post, two weeks ago I went to a parenting conference and was impressed by many of the speakers. On the way home, my wife mentioned that she went to a discussion facilitated by a wonderful lady by the name of Kelly Lovejoy. Without sharing any specifics, she simply mentioned Ms. Lovejoy used the sport of curling as a metaphor for parenting. I gave it little thought before my mind drifted elsewhere during the 12 hour drive back to Memphis.

A few nights after the Olympics commenced, I stumbled across a broadcast of the curling competition and decided to put the metaphor to the test. My first thought was to not only see how curling might relate to parenting (Ms. Lovejoy's context), but also assess potential crossover into other disciplines near and dear to my heart...coaching, mentoring and just plain leading. As I fought my heavy eyelids, I began to see it.

First, like any of the aforementioned disciplines (minus the stones and ice terminology), all are TEAM sports focused on getting someone/something TOWARD A TARGET area. Rather than seeing the "Thrower" slide a stone across the ice and two "Sweepers" with brooms accompany the stone as it slid towards the target, I began to see so much more.

Parenting: The Thrower represented my son's passion for life and learning and my wife and I became the Sweepers helping him to move obstacles as he reached his goals.

Coaching: I saw the stone take the shape of the 6 y/o soccer team I coached last year and the sweepers were now me and my assistant coach with the target being smiles, understanding and love of the game.

Mentoring: I saw myself as the stone and multiple mentors sweeping in a synchronized effort to help me achieve my personal and professional goals.

Leading: I saw the Sailors of NIOC Pensacola take the shape of the stone (that may be a bit premature, but I am more than a little excited about the the next opportunity the Navy has afforded me) as their own initiative propelled them down the path, while the Chiefs and Officers swept as much (or as little) as required to help the team arrive on target.

Come to think of it, Ms. Lovejoy, you made the game of curling finally mean something to me. You are right, it's so much more than people sliding objects over the ice, while simultaneously sweeping and yelling at an inanimate object in hopes of it landing near a bulls-eye.

From here forward, let's live life as curlers, where the thrower symbolizes individual or team passion, the stone represents ourselves, our children, or those under our charge and let's all see ourselves as sweepers. If we do, there is no reason why we all shouldn't land on target.


  1. I am happy to be a sweeper. Great post, as usual, Sean. You are usually right on target with your throws, so we don't have to do much to get you to the target. Super, super analogy !! ((Darn, why didn't I think of that. You've got one very smart wife.))

  2. Using what's in front of you to describe leadership and our roles in it -- live and learn, as a woman I love once said.

    And if it's not premature, congrats to you for the Pensacola gig.