Clear it!!!! A Lesson From Our Tour Of Ryan Field Home of Northwestern University’s Wildcat Football Team.

‘Clear it!!!’ is probably one of the phrases that was and is still trending among Mandela Washington Fellows at Northwestern University after a visit to Ryan Field football stadium -=.  What was meant to be an ordinary presentation by NU sports coaches about leadership on and off the field turned out to be a motivating discussion on how to move on after failure in life, not only professionally but personally as well.

The coaches shared with us how teamwork and embracing diversity is fundamental in their work. I recall one of them describing how every year they work with athletes from different backgrounds and cultures and how embracing each one’s needs, strengths and failures unites the team. As they shared some of the lessons they have learnt working as team leaders, I reflected on how their principles apply in other spheres of life.  Principles such as appreciating the little successes that you and your team makes and how celebrating these successes helps in energizing the team, making them know that their hard work and input is indeed paying off. Many are the times that when things go wrong we are quick to point out these wrongs and some of us throw tantrums for one’s mistake.  But what about the times that one makes a good decision or throws out an idea that grows into something that helps the team achieve certain goals? How often do we pat this person on the back and say well done?

Now I can only imagine what goes on in the mind and heart of a coach when after training for months, putting in your best and ensuring that your team is ready, and they get into a game and lose. I thought of how often this happens to them. How often they blame themselves for the loss and how often they get upset their team members for not doing their best to win a game. An interesting theory was shared with us. Clearing It!!! After losing a game, look at what you did wrong, what you did right, learn from it and move on to preparing for your next game. Clear it. Focus on your next game and not your loss because it will take away from learning in spite of failure. And if you lose the next game, clear it again, keep at it because it is a continuous learning cycle. Every day is a learning opportunity. Is your list full of failures or things you should have done better? Today is the time to clear it and let go.

I hope these thoughts from our discussion inspire you as they inspired us!


By Patience Chisanga

Mandela Washington fellow 2015

Northwestern University,

Program of African Studies.