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Comments

pjm

This was good to read. Thanks.

Carol Anne

Right now, I'm seeing both ends. As a college instructor, I do see much of what you see, among the younger ones, the ones who come fresh out of high school. They have such energy and enthusiasm. And even with the older students that I see in the community college where I teach, the very fact that they have chosen to come back to school to learn shows an optimism that even at their age, they can improve their lives.

I also, as a lifelong non-athlete up until just a few months ago, am learning just how wonderful a good coach is. Such a coach will encourage and be optimistic, but not unrealistic; will acknowldege shortcomings but not allow those to become excuses; will inspire the athlete to be the best he or she can be.

I'd bet you're that kind of coach.

jenny ellis

Wow. Me too.

I went off to college with a self-assurance that I haven’t seen since. What I really was though, was naïve. I had come from the extremely protective environment of an all-girls school and I had absolutely no sense that others were judging me. Wrong. They were, but I was blissfully unaware. So I arrived at college as a young girl who was free, and I came out imprisoned by the judging eyes of others. Stops along the way were: devastation, cynicism, anger, recklessness, grief, and ultimately a realization that I had something to say that was worthwhile. I went in as a French major, and found creative writing, which gave me a road back to my self and helped me survive those crazy four years with some dignity. It wasn’t all pain, either. I made some fabulous friends, and I could see that I was not alone in my struggles — everyone was trying to find his or her place. We had our ways of pushing all those insecurities aside, usually involving large quantities of beer. And, hey, that was fun.

My twenties were my most difficult decade, because I didn’t have the comfy college setting and I didn’t have that identity anymore. I needed to find something else — career, relationships, friends. I felt so much like I was in a state of suspension in those years, like I was waiting in the wings for my cue to enter the stage of life. I can view that as wasteful, but I was learning and growing during this time too.

In my thirties, I got married, had kids, and had to retool my identity yet again — not easy. But here at least I had what I had always wanted — husband, children, security. My purpose was uncomplicated: to keep my children safe and raise them with love; help them realize their own potential; be a good partner for my husband. Self be damned! Oh, but not for long. Self rears its head. Self refuses to be stifled.

So that’s what my forties are about, so far anyway. I know that much of the rebuilding was hard work and painful at times. I think the tearing down at college was necessary, although I wish I had been better prepared for it. But it’s true: that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The strength I have developed is good for me, my relationship with my husband, my relationship with friends. And it’s certainly the example I want to be for my daughter, both my children, whose paths will certainly take them through many of the same difficulties. But am I strong enough to deal with that?

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