The longer I travel my journey through life, the more I realize that the things that are really important to me are relationships. Its friendships that add value and richness to life. As children we find these friendships often very easily. As I have transitioned through various stages of my life, I have found that authentic, deep and richly meaningful friendships are much harder to find. I'm not really sure why this is - life does get busy with career, with events, with cleaning the house, and maintaining equipment - all important things to tend. I think its why often your spouse becomes your best friend - because you share all of the important life events with them.
Often, parents go through their mid life caring for, supporting, and cheerleading for their children. For me, it really is the most important job I have found - helping my children become independent, confident, and successful in their ambitions and relationships. This week, its been a particularly hard week as a parent as two of my children are 3.5 time zones away both accomplishing amazing things and I'm not there to celebrate their success with them. So I'll take a minute to brag about them. My son, Matt, won four silver medals at biathlon nationals in New Brunswick last week and had a top 20 finish at cross country nationals in Newfoundland on Tuesday. My daughter, Molly-Jane, won the sprint event at cross country nationals on Wednesday of this week and a top 10 finish on Tuesday. Incredible really. I'm proud of their success, but more than that, I am proud that they are becoming independent, confident, and ambitious young people who are learning to create their own support network separate from their parents.
Friendship really is at the core of my work with adolescent cross country skiers. Creating a space where kids can develop meaningful and deep friendships with others. Oh sure, I want them to learn to ski really well, and have incredible fitness, and I think based on the race results of the kids I coach they are developing those attributes. But its relationships that really drive my priorities both in my coaching work, in my day job, and in my personal life. Its why when you come across someone who you really connect with you on many levels, you grab ahold and hold on tight.
I know lots of people who I have very positive relationships with; but its just a few of them I would say where there is deeper reciprocation and validation of core being - someone who likes you just because. For me, its the human relationships that add value to the work I do and to my life. Because, for me, when you get to the end, it doesn't matter how many medals you've won, how many championships you've attended, how much of anything you have. What matters is caring, positive relationships, and knowing that your efforts have made a positive difference in the people around you.
This year, I am hoping to move into an administration position at a school. I know which school I really want to be at. Its a school that works with kids who are high performing athletes. I want to make a difference in the lives of kids. I know where I want to do that work. I love my coaching work. I'll continue with that as well.
This weekend I am off to Red Deer, Alberta to facilitate a coaching workshop for the Parkland Ski Club. This is incredibly important work - to break down this idea that to be a good coach, you have to have skied in the Olympics. What rubbish that idea is. For me, what is truly important in coaching are a few things. Here is my list of priorities:
- technical proficiency
- physical fitness
- positive relationships
Not a big list but if you asked me what I've learned from my years of coaching children and adolescents, that's what I'd tell you.