Red Rover, Red Rover, let…

If you were able to finish the sentence started in the title of this piece, you not only had the fun of playing outdoors with friends instead of finding entertainment in video games, but you also learned about life.

The challenge of picking teams and strategically calling over opponents who will try to break the line of players who are side-by-side holding hands provides so much more than simple play; good play is that way. Of note for this story is the simplest, and most profound lesson, from Red Rover. (If you missed out on this great game or want a refresher, check this article.)

Life is Red Rover.

We find ourselves on teams, by selection or by action
In Red Rover, players end up on teams by selection or by action. The two captains of the teams first get to pick who they want on their teams. Experienced captains realized that not everyone could be strong armed and fast and heavy enough to break through the opponent’s lines; success came from a good blend of attributes. (Managers and leaders today would do well to remember that, but I’ll save that for another story. Spoiler alert, attributes are not the same as skills.)  Sometimes, a player will end up on a team because s/he was unable to break through the opponent’s line when called; so, there are times in life when you end up switching teams and changing sides, and your loyalty to the objectives follows.

We are stronger when bound together
Key to success is holding hands. Let that sink in as a metaphor. The key to success for a team is to hold hands, properly matching strengths to minimize the chance of weak links that others can break through. It is also important when holding the hands of your teammates that you don’t overpower their hands which actually weakens your connection. The proper combination of handhold and strength, appropriately applied, makes for the strongest bonds that are less likely to be broken through by the adversaries charging into your line.

We are called
I can still almost remember the excitement, the knot in my stomach, the anticipation of running as fast as I could get my 50 pounds to go when I heard, “Red Rover, Red Rover, let Dion come over.” My asset was speed, not mass; nonetheless, being called to face the challenge was exciting. Life is that way. I would use my speed and head to where I thought the weakest link in the opposing chain might be so I could achieve the goal, which was to break through and bring back a good player to my team. We are often called to use whatever assets and attributes we have in order to achieve a purpose. That never stops. Life is that way.

We continue on, even if we can’t have a breakthrough
As I mentioned, mass was not an asset for me. While I had a fair share of victories of breaking through, I would often bounce off the line. The game – and all the fun, lessons, camaraderie and competition of it – continued, this time with me on a new team. Even if we don’t have a breakthrough, we continue the game with a good attitude and sense of fun. Profoundly, the person who is left alone, without a team, is the official loser of the game. But the loss isn’t permanent; on another day, teams will be picked and they will be stronger when bound together; we will be called to face a challenge and sometimes we’ll have breakthroughs, though sometimes we won’t. Life is that way.

Listen carefully. Somewhere, someone or something is calling you to come over.

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