The new mock trial season is about to begin (see 2013-14 Schedule)! Students and teachers excitedly await the release of the new materials, and teams will soon be devising their case theory and assigning roles. Expectations will run high as students invest untold hours in case preparation. Teams will look forward to showcasing their talents at Regionals in February, hoping to earn the right to compete at State Finals in March. Such striving for success is exciting and appropriate‚ as long as teams keep the bigger picture in mind: a successful season will depend less upon the results of the ballots than upon the character the students develop along the way.
In his book The Only Way to Win, Jim Loehr, performance psychologist and co-founder of the Human Performance Institute (HPI), argues that “building character drives higher achievement and greater fulfillment in business and life.” We’ve all seen athletes, businessmen, and others who have sacrificed their integrity for a short-term “win,” only to find that the actions that they thought would lead to happiness proved unsatisfying and even destructive in the end. As Mr. Loehr explains, “Achieving society’s goals can often leave you feeling empty . . . and not achieving society’s goals can leave you feeling empty, too.” But if you focus on building character in the activities you undertake, you will truly win.
The Human Performance Institute sponsors an elite tennis academy for young athletes. On their first day of training, the students are told the foundational principle at the academy: “We use the demands and stress of elite tennis to most importantly help you become strong, resilient people of great character. We care about your tennis but we care more about who you are becoming because of tennis. . . . Every day represents another opportunity to grow in self-control, respect for others, persistence, positivity and trustworthiness. No matter how far you go as a player, if you use tennis to strengthen character, tennis will always be a priceless gift.”
Substitute the words “mock trial” for “tennis” in the above paragraph, and you will approach the mock trial season with an attitude that really WILL make you a winner, regardless of the final outcome of your ballots at regional competition. We at the CCCE are committed to mock trial because, just like Jim Loehr, we recognize its potential to help students grow into the leaders of tomorrow.
As you read the new case materials after their release on September 3, we encourage you to review Rule 1.3 as a reminder of the values that should undergird your preparations. As you pursue excellence in your practices throughout the season, remember to focus on character development as an important benefit of mock trial participation. By doing so, whether you eventually become a doctor or an attorney, a teacher or an entrepreneur, a stay-at-home parent or a scientist, your participation in mock trial will indeed be a priceless gift to you and to those whom you impact throughout your life.