There's really no way to talk about a (yet another) big scary life change, even when it's three months into the past, especially in such a public fashion as printed words on the internet (they last forever, I won't forget). But so much of my life has been logged here, and I love that, and in fifty years when I'm rereading all my blog posts from my wheelchair and shouting at the poet because his hearing aids don't work all that well, I will probably wonder why the F I didn't talk about it.
Way back in November, I left my job and moved into coaching full-time.
For a lot of reasons, it was time. My family of athletes had grown into the point that my life was becoming an unmanageable blur of phone calls, texts, emails and schedules all spread out into the hours that I wasn't trapped inside an office building, doing the same menial tasks, daily, and experiencing zero professional growth. I was starting to feel like I was doing my athletes, this family, a disservice by so tightly managing myself. And when it comes down to it, in my life, I would much rather take the scary leap into the place where I think I can grow, I can learn, I can better myself as a human, as an athlete, and as a coach, than stay in the place where I felt like a flowerpot in a dark, musty closet. No sunlight, no food, no growing, no life. So I leapt.
I'm not exactly sure why I didn't want to talk about it right away, other than the fact that making an exciting and terrifying change makes it hard enough to face yourself in the mirror every day. Fear, that's it. Hard, I said it. It's hard to nag your poor spouse who has to live through the roller-coaster of many weeks of "OH GOD WHAT DID I DO," to worry about the finances of a household that has not always been stable through employment change, to face the fact that while all my MBA colleagues are off opening bagel shops that get franchised and make them millionaires and winning prizes for their departmental brilliance and crowing about their promotions to C-level execs, I am putting all of my knowledge and self-worth on the line and standing, alone. No boss. No W2. No health insurance and company kitchen, no easy one hour with TurboTax and then a year is done. Instead, just you, and your spreadsheets, and your books and your internet and your brain.
And your people. I am lucky to have many smart, intuitive, brilliant coaches in my life, I am surrounded by them, they rub off on me with their positive influences, constantly. I don't ever want to stop learning, from coaches, from athletes, from the incredibly many resources that are available in this century of immediate deliverance of information. I've been reading Brene Brown's book, Daring Greatly, over the past few days, and it speaks, loudly, to exactly where I am in my life right now. There are so many quotes that I could pull and post and discuss, but the one that makes me laugh the hardest is the one I will repeat. Don't try and win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.
Every time I read it, I laugh. Because how much of my life have I wasted, trying to learn how to be a jackass whisperer? Lots, probably, especially in the last few years since Graham got sick and I have walked the earth trying to shake off my shame. Brown talks so precisely about shame, watching her TED talk rang about a billion bells all over my body, I almost couldn't deal with myself, I wanted to hide from the honesty of what she was saying. But she says If we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light. So here I am, being vulnerable, talking about the big leap, the life change that has brought me more professional happiness in three months (not to mention the past two years) than I can remember a "job" ever doing.
Being your own you, that's scary. Telling the world, I am my own me and my own me is good enough! - give that a try and then see how well you sleep the first few nights. But there goes another thing I learned last year: my playing small does not serve the world. So here I am. I am a coach. I am a young coach, I am a good coach, I am a learning coach, I am a student and teacher both, and I am going to let my own light shine.
I've also been reading lots of material by various entrepreneurs over the past few months, and the common thread that spins through all of their experiences is the speed at which you will make mistakes, especially at the beginning. That's a hard thing for a type-A OCD perfectionist to accept, but I am making a dogged attempt to do so. I will make mistakes. Just as I've made them all over the everywhere in life, I will make them in business, and I will learn from them and (hopefully) not repeat them.
Another big part of the reason why I wanted to wait to talk about this, was that I didn't want to put up a post that was thinly veiled as a naked grab for more more more athletes. My athlete family, my stable, for right now, it is full. One of the first hard decisions I had to make on my own was how many do I take on, how big do I grow, and I decided early on that I would much rather be able to devote quality time to each athlete that I have than to see how much I could expand in the first year of doing this full-time. And one of the first hard lessons I learned was about making sure to take on athletes that are a good fit for me, athletes that I know I will work well with, athletes that are ready to do work, athletes that I have the tools to guide. The only thing quantity would be good for is the bank, and I've discovered over these past three months that if we are careful and continue to make good financial decisions, we will be just fine, as we are now. Going full-time meant that I was able to add a few that really spoke to me, and right now I am talking with one or two more, but I think that growing beyond that would start to become a situation of negative expansion.
And the athletes themselves, the heartbeat of this whole operation. The people who have bravely decided to bring me on-board with their journey. Some of them have been with me for months, years, and some of them are brand-new, but they each bring their own special light into my life. I never have days that seem like work, instead I feel lucky that I get to be a supporting role in their path. Someone to lean on, someone to learn from (yes, you actually should eat vegetables every day), someone to share the highs and lows and frustrations that come from training, the lessons that bleed over into your whole life, chasing health, working through periods of struggle, finding joy.
And if I could be remembered for just one thing, at the end of it all, it would be that I helped people to make their lives better. Not that I helped someone finally PR her marathon or qualify for Boston or Worlds or break X time in a 5K. Those things are important, having goals, training hard for success, nothing makes me happier than when someone calls me, so happy about a race that the words are all coming out at the same time in a clump. But what really matters is that just as I've experienced through training, my athletes themselves can find health. Happiness. Peace.