I had a big family growing up. My mother was the youngest of 4 sisters. Her oldest sibling was 20 years her elder. I had cousins of all ages, some younger, but most decades older. Looking back, I realize that these cousins were my first exposure to positive peer pressure.
They set expectations for me, some steep, but most attainable. They expected me to try my best. They acknowledged my success and effort, but also held me accountable for blunders. This positive peer group, 15 cousins strong, outweighed the negative pressure I felt from other kids at school and on my street. My cousins reminded me what was right. Making them proud of me was far more important than making my school peer’s giggle while the teacher spoke.
My second positive peer group was through sports. I played community football from a young age. My Dad coached a 16 to 17 year old football team at my high school, a team I watched play while growing up. I still remember the chant…Go Blues Go! Go Blues Go! Go Blues Go!… over and over through the roaring stadium. In Montreal, the high school system begins at grade 7. When I was in grade 7, I knew students from the grade 11 and 12 who played for my Dad. I was Coach Cyr’s kid. I still remember being in the hall and hearing a booming voice, CYR!! …. And then a massive shovel like hand swooping down and scooping me onto a thick shoulder. The massive lineman ruffled my hair and carried me down the hall:
“Where should you be?”
“Let me give you a ride!”
“Thank you…” Really, what else could I have said?
I was too scared of the football team to do anything silly in class. They seemed to be always there, smiling and padding me on the back.
Peer groups are key to success. If you have a group of people that push you from behind and pull you up from the front, keep them, keep them as close as you can. They’re invaluable.
Shihan Cyr – Head Instructor and Founder – Academy of Martial Arts