Focusing like a laser and getting to your most important work requires a constant re-balancing of priorities and reassessment of skills, opportunities, and strategies. It’s a continual effort to put your best work forward and peel back the effort in those areas that no longer serve you. It’s taking risks, evaluating opportunities not just for today, but for the future. It’s the privilege of getting to be selective and the sense that time is running short to be what you’re made to be. It’s the recognition that the number of things you want to do and should do add up to more time and certainly more energy than actually exists. It’s the light bulb that finally goes off that real contribution doesn’t come from cramming ever more into a week/day/year, but rather in being ruthless in deciding what gets your focus and attention.
Which brings me to this topic—why do I still coach gymnastics? Why do I still allow the time and energy necessary at this time in my career to do something that supposedly I was qualified to do when I was 15 years old (I’m sure video footage of that teaching would surely prove otherwise). Why do I put on the staff shirt and yoga pants and hang out alongside college kids and teach the same handful of skills I’ve been teaching for 25 years? I am struggling with this—if I’m taking things off my plate, why does this remain? Why do I want to add more of it? Why am I writing this now rather than doing other work—who knows? Here’s what I do know:
I coach because it’s the most complicated, intense work I’ve ever done. It takes more thought, preparation, and expertise in multiple disciplines than any other work I do –and I work with some heavy hitting projects and people. The stakes are high—these are young children, older children, and teenagers – what you say and do can stay with them for a lifetime and shape who they become as adults, parents, and leaders.
I coach because I’ve seen it done so poorly by others it makes me cry and seen it done so brilliantly it also makes me cry. Because I’ve seen coaches like John Good build some of the best men I’ve ever known.
I coach because it’s a facet of my work where I simultaneously feel mastery and endless challenge.
I coach because it taught me how to parent and vice versa. I’ve had parent/coach mentors like Lynne Horn say “parents are pretty easy, if we give you our kid for four hours, just come off the floor and tell us something about their practice”. Simple, brilliant, endlessly helpful. Or when trying to understand why a parent is so unbelievably appreciative of your efforts and generous with you like Nancy & Kevin Moody who told me “anyone who does right by your child and helps you get through the teenage years is someone you’ll do anything for”. I didn’t get it then, now I do, because it’s any port in the storm time for us and we’re looking to constantly build our team. Thank goodness and I see you Coach David, Coach Jay, Coach Tyler, Coach Chris, Coach Jones, Cody, Coach Block and so many more – we can’t do it without you.
I coach because I’ve had the privilege of studying at institutions like the University of North Texas, the George Washington University, and Michigan State University (2x grad school dropout), and I’ve never learned as much as when I was trying to figure out the right mix of psychology, physics, and communication techniques that were going to get an athlete over a skill development hump or a terrifying mental block.
I coach because in a deal with my husband I necessarily gave it up for 5 years as my “career” took off and I had to prioritize my time expenditures. I did the next best thing and coached the best I could those professionals who were a couple rungs below me on the corporate ladder but way ahead of me in passion, skills, and aptitude. I hope I taught them something that mattered – they certainly did teach me.
I coach because many of the north stars in my life yell at me when I’m not teaching enough, like Lesley Kovacs who just recently said my time spent in administration is a “soul—crushing waste of my life, and I better get back to teaching before I rot” (which I may be paraphrasing a bit, but I got her message).
I’ve had the honor of coaching/judging/choreographing at really high levels in the sport. I’ve been a snob not wanting to waste what I thought then was my vast coaching talent on non-serious athletes. I’ve since learned that I love working with anyone who has a body and would like to understand how to make it work in a multi-planar fashion. Increasing someone’s movement vocabulary (one of my favorite phrases) is just about the coolest thing ever.
I coach athletes with cognitive impairment because helping someone figure out how to find the vertical axis on a forward roll and support a sometimes uncooperative body with two arms just might translate into the confidence needed to navigate an unforgiving world.
Most importantly I coach because it’s the only place I’ve never received feedback that I should “work on sitting still & talking in a lower voice” — some variation of which I’ve received on every report card and performance review my entire life, whether in preschool or as a VP.
I coach because it’s how I learn.