Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gifts I've Been Given

Just about the only radio stations I listen to in my car are KLove and Way FM, both are contemporary Christian stations.  I hear stories and testimonies daily about stepping out in Faith; trusting God and what He can do in our lives; overcoming addictions, trials and tribulations; and more than double taht the good things that have happened in peoples' lives around the world.  I often think to myself that I have never been to that "rock bottom" place in my life.  Sure, I've been down; I've been depressed; I've wished for better, more, different that what I had; but I have never felt that I was at the bottom of the pit with no way out.  (Well, there was that one time in my very early twenties, but I survived it and I'm still around to wreak havoc in many other ways.)  What I have learned is that I have been given gifts.  Some may call them talents or skills.  I call them gifts.  I didn't hone them as one does a skill.  I didn't take lessons to refine them as one does a talent.  They just exist.  And, they should be shared.

What I have also learned is that by adopting that more positive approach has allowed me to touch people in another way:  by guiding others to reach their running and/or triathlon goals.  As many know, I first helped a few friends conquer marathon goals after I qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2010.  Since that time I have "moonlighted" as a running and triathlon coach with every single one of the athletes that I have assisted has met or exceeded their goals.  One of the first things that an athlete asks a potential coach is "how much do you charge?"  I am lucky that as an independent coach (one not attached to any coaching group) I can reply that my fees are "negotiable."  Many, if not most, of the athletes I guide are going through a divorce, are single parents, recently lost a loved one, are life long friends, or touch my heart in a unique way.  I cannot charge these people $350/month.  Sometimes I can't even charge $150/month.  It simply does not feel right.  You see, I didn't get into coaching to pad my retirement fund.  I didn't get into coaching to buy a car, or pay off my house.  I do it because I truly, in my heart and soul, believe that God gave me the gift of being able to participate in endurance athletics, and further blessed me with the gift of being able to help others reach their goals in similar situations. 

Many years ago I joined a Bible study group where one of the women NEVER seemed to have a down moment; never a negative or critical word to say about anyone or any situation.  Not even when she was diagnosed with breast cancer was she negative.  She never questioned God or blamed anyone for the hand she had been dealt.  She calls, to this day, everyone she meets Sweetie, Darlin', Honey, Babe, Doodle, Google (my special name), Bug, etc.  Not to long after meeting her I made a conscious effort to emulate her outward persona.  I figured that if I said it often enough, or used enough nice, cutesy names, and smiled even when I wanted to throat punch someone that I could become positive just like her.  Time will tell if it was a successful approach and whether or not it has positively affected my ability to guide another to realize their endurance goals.

I often tell an athlete that I will push you hard.  I will work you until you just want to go to bed.  But, I will be your most reliable confidant, your biggest advocate, and your loudest cheerleader.  I will train with you if I am able; I will travel with you if I can afford it; and I will talk you down off any ledge you climb.  I quickly discovered that being a coach is to be comprised of part athletic coach, nutritionist, psychologist, counselor, friend, confidant, and personal a$$ kicker.  Not always in equal parts, and certainly not always all at the same time.

Not every coach is for every athlete.  Not every athlete can work with just any coach.  I am not the right person for everyone looking for a coach.  However, I can promise that if we open up a partnership, we will be successful for God will have put us together for a reason.  And, if God is for us, who then can be against us?

I Corinthians 9:24-27

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Mac's "SwimSTRONG" Foundation

Mac's "SwimSTRONG" Foundation
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