Friday, September 7, 2012


No, they don't.

When my eldest child was seven years old, we were shopping at our local grocery store when I noticed they were having a coloring contest. I thought back to my own childhood and the fond memories I had of entering coloring contests, even winning one when I was five. I spent a week coloring my picture and making it perfect. My prize was a huge Easter basket full of candy and treats. I might as well have won a million dollars. Even at a young age, I was proud of my effort and so excited to have been rewarded.

We brought home the Halloween coloring page. It was a picture of a Fall scene with pumpkins, hay stacks and a wagon. I watched as my little girl meticulously selected just the right crayons, colored as closely in the lines as she could and tirelessly worked around the clock for two days. I saw her determination to do her very best.

We turned in her entry and a couple weeks later went back to the store. We were excited to see the winners were posted! As I scanned the display in the age 7-8 category, I was shocked to see the winning entry: There was thick, black crayon markings scribbled across the entire page. That was it. No other colors, no staying in the lines... My child had given 110%, and this was judged the very best and awarded first place. As I looked closer, I saw the fine print listed at the bottom of the page: 

Winner shall be chosen by random drawing.

Winner. Random. 

And so began a change in my thinking about success, equal opportunities, American exceptionalism and wealth.

To be continued...