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While Briar Holloway is only in fourth grade, he already has a more solid grasp of what it means to be successful than many adults. Recently, Briar, who attends McKinley Elementary School, struggled in math. While unsure whether he ultimately earned a C or a D, he was frustrated by the score, sharing that he ‘felt down.’ Upon reflection, Briar strived to try harder. But what he shared next impressed me most, admitting, “If I get a C or D the next time, I’ll know that I did my best.”

Bad Hop?
Don’t Stop.

Briar realizes that it isn’t the results that define success; it’s the effort that goes into achieving the outcome. At ten years old, Briar already realizes that as long as he tries his best, he can never truly fail. Briar learned about effort, at least partly, on the baseball field. He has since been able to transfer to other aspects of life. Or, as Briar shares, when he misses a grounder and gets frustrated, he chooses to channel the energy into his next at-bat rather than letting one moment affect his overall performance. There will always be another grounder to go after.

His attitude towards life reminds me of a quote from the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden: ‘Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction In knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of doing.’ Despite his recent struggles in math, he considers it his favorite subject, suggesting that he enjoys feeling challenged. He loves several of his teachers and considers them both nice and extremely supportive. He’s working on long division and feels math has become far more challenging.


Overall, he classifies fourth grade as considerably harder than third grade, suggesting that if he could do it again, he’d take his school subjects more seriously. “You really have to put your mind into the work and really focus on what you’re learning,” says Briar.


While Briar enjoys basketball, his favorite sport is baseball. With speed and a strong arm, he plays first and third base. He enjoys playing ball with his older brother and his friends. His family hosts pick-up wiffle ball games in their backyard, with a fence representing the end of the outfield. He and his brother also play for the Ottawa Wolfpack, a travel team his uncle established. The Wolfpack travel throughout the Midwest, with games in Iowa and Wisconsin.


Briar’s love of sports is a defining characteristic. He hopes to play professional baseball or basketball. He shares that he’d like to play for the Cubs or the White Sox if he could play for anyone. He isn’t worried about whether he’s in the American or National League. His wish will have come true if his team resides in Chicago.


Briar has a strong group of friends who enjoy spending time as a group. When he and his friends aren’t playing wiffle ball in his backyard, they like to shoot hoops and ride their bikes through the neighborhoods.


Briar looks up to his mother and father, sharing that they care about and support him in everything he does. For the second time in the conversation, he impressed me, this time when he admits in a matter-of-fact tone that he has everything he needs. I can’t help but smile and realize he’s right. Any kid that enjoys a strong challenge and understands the value of putting maximum effort into the right things is likely going places.


There will likely be a missed grounder or two along the way. Whether it’s a figurative grounder like a math test of a literal ball bouncing across the field, there will always be another one coming. Whether it’s a difficult math test or a baseball hopping along the field, you’ll catch more than you drop as long as you properly prepare for the moment. When I talk with Briar, I can’t help but think he’s leaning into Wooden’s philosophy, becoming the best of which he’s capable.

You really have to put your mind into the work and really focus on what you’re learning.
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