Monday, November 7, 2011

Love what you do, and do what you love.

This seems like a redundant phrase, but I don't really think it is. Loving what you do to me is loving your job. Not many in the world are able to say that they love their job. I am one of those few. I have a great job working in sports. I have always wanted to be involved in sports. As soon as I learned as a young child that you could do such a thing, I knew that was for me. Admittedly my first choice was to be a professional baseball player, but alas it was not meant to be. My 4'8", 12 year old body was not a sight that coaches wanted to see in their batting line ups. So into gymnastics I went, and almost as soon, I knew what I would spend my life doing. Again my dreams have changed over the last 10 years of coaching. At first I wanted to be an elite coach and own my own gym. Then I thought about being a college coach. But now that I have landed at the St. Louis Gym Centre as the girl's team director and head coach, I can't imagine going anywhere else. It is a great place, filled with people that all they want to do is coach gymnastics. This is not just a step on their ladder of life. I have been to many gyms where it is a revolving door of people just looking for a pay check. But the Gym Centre is more like a family. Many of the people there have been there for more than 10 years. They grew up there and now work there. I would be considered an outsider by their standards. But they welcomed me in almost three years ago and both the program and I have grown in that time. I have learned a great deal about myself, and the program has matured. I did not start this transformation, but I helped it continue. There was a great linage of coaches before me that started this climb, and like Issac Newton said, I stand on the shoulders of giants.

With all that said my passion, my drive, my "thing", is no longer gymnastics. When I was a kid, all I could do was gymnastics. Shit, I ate chalk once because I wanted so badly to be part of gymnastics. Now it is cycling, more specifically road racing. I have always been a competitive person. And early in my coaching career my life depended on the lives of very young children. Their goals, ambitions, triumphs, and failures, were all my own. An athlete's failure at a competition was taken as an insult to me. My mood depended on the outcome of a workout, or a competition. My self worth road on the whims of prepubescent girls, and their "stage moms". I was a fierce competitor myself and could only understand those that thought just like me. Anyone else was in the way and had to go. I had no time for them and their weakness. As I got older, and understood more about the business of gymnastics I chilled a little bit. But it wasn't until I started to ride that I was able to start to let go a little bit. Some gymnastics purists out there might think that this is sacrilegious. But it wasn't until I could let my self worth detach from the lives of these kids that I started to feel better about my life.

My bike is my outlet, and second to my wife it is what I love. Granted my job comes before my bike, but sometimes that line can get pretty fuzzy. Especially in the summer. Without this outlet though, I would not be a coach today. I still find it hard to be a coach even with the outlet of riding a bike. So without it I would have driven myself crazy. Probably destroyed my marriage, and burned a lot of bridges in the gymnastics world. With my bike I am able to let go at the gym and not let athletic shortcomings come between athletes and I, like they have in my past. No longer are falls off an even insults to me, but just falls that need to be worked on. I am able to see that there are more things that just the four walls of the gym, and that helps me to keep kids in my program.

I know that I am one of very few people that thinks they have just about everything they could want in their life. And I think that I am a very lucky person to be in this position. I worked hard to get here but I would be lying to myself if I didn't think that I met some people in my life that have been huge in my career and life.

I guess I decided to write this post tonight because today actually wasn't the best day at work. I have had worse, and there have been much better. But today was different, today might not have been great but it was a day things were getting better. And even on a bad day, I still have a great job. I still have great people that work for me, that love their jobs, and they want the same things that I want. I still get to be a coach, and I was once told by a great man that I look up to very much. That "being a coach was one of the greatest things you could do in your life". I knew it when he said that, and I am grateful for it today.


  1. Great post, very personal. Glad to hear that you love your work. That's winning!

    Another great gymnast and coach, Dan Millman said, "Although we can certainly influence our minds and emotions, often we have little or no direct control over our thoughts or feelings, which are temporary and rise and pass like weather fronts. We do however, have significantly more control over our behavior - despite what we are, or are not, thinking or feeling. In fact, our behavior (how we move our arms, legs, and mouth) is the only thing we can directly control. This is a great secret of success."

    I've been thinking more and more about this idea lately.

    I'm not sure how it fits exactly with your writing other than the obvious gymnastic coaching connection. Perhaps it fits with how one deals with emotions related to work.

    Ignore them and they eventually go away. Meanwhile focus on your behavior and success can follow.

    On a different note, my two daughters had gymnastics tonight in fact. Just pure fun, they love it (ages 7 & 9).

    As far as I can tell, they have no natural talent, but that's fine by me.

    Anyway keep up the good work and reports.