15 Sep “Find Out What Is Important And Do Your Best!”
You Deserve To Live A Great Life!
When I was in high school I was a pretty fair runner. I could run a quarter mile in 52 seconds and a half mile in 2 minutes. That was fast enough to go undefeated in all my dual meets. I loved to run, whether it be on a track, a field, or on the street. I would sometimes lay in bed at night thinking about my next track meet, figuring out how I could win against other runners like Don Ballou from Highland Park High School, or Bill Lickett from Plainfield High School. Sometimes, I would get so excited imagining the race that I would have to get up to go outside and run a few miles. And this would usually be around 2 am when everyone else was fast asleep.
But there was one runner who scared the hell out of me! I only ran against him once in the State Championships when I was a senior. I forget his name, but when I close my eyes I can still feel the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety rise inside me and I remember the anticipation of facing him at the starting line. At the time, I tried to imagine beating him, but the facts of track life were too much for my imagination. He had already run the half mile in 1 minute and 56 seconds, and was expected to break the National High School record for that race. I just pictured myself being run into the ground by this powerful runner. I did not look toward this competition with enthusiasm.
My coach’s name was John Ragone, and he was like a father to me. He often took the time to guide me through a race or push me hard when he thought I was slacking off and spending too much time talking to the girls in the stands. He saw my potential and expected me to run, and to win.
One day, I was not feeling well and ran a poor race. Even though I won, my coach made me rerun the race alone after the track meet was over while all my teammates were in the locker room taking showers and getting dressed. I had to run the race at a pace that was five seconds faster than the time I had previously run. I ran it with tears of embarrassment and anger streaming down my face. I felt picked on, thinking that all the other guys would tease me and make fun of me for having to rerun the race. Even so, I ran my second race with fierceness, actually six seconds faster than my previous time, instead of the five seconds he had set as a goal for me.
I walked back to the locker room where all my fellow runners and athletes were waiting. When I walked in, no one laughed or made fun of me. They were all dressed and sitting silently on the low benches in front of their lockers and gym bags. Coach Ragone addressed the team. He said that we were lucky to win the track meet that day and would need to up our effort if we ever expected to win the championship later that season. He explained why he made me run the race again. He said that while I ran it fast enough to win, the effort I put into the race was insufficient. He expected me to be a leader and push harder than anyone else on the team. I was the team captain and had to act like one, I couldn’t just get by with an easy win. He pointed out that if I had run the first race as fast as I did the second time around, I would have broken the meet record. He reminded me of a previous conversation we had when I had told him I wanted to break the school record, one that had stood intact for over 35 years. He promised to support me to the best of his ability if I would do the same. That day, after my race, he told me that I did not put in my full effort and I listened, again with tears in my eyes. However, this time they were not tears of shame or anger, but of tears that came from feeling cared for by a committed adult, a partner that would go the distance with me.
I took something away from that experience that has served me well over these many years. I became a Psychologist and decided to work with people who needed and wanted my help. I had the opportunity to go into research but the pull of clinical work (and later coaching) was too much to resist. I love my choice. I work to bring to my therapy the same level of commitment and determination that my coach brought to me and my team so long ago. I work to bring out the best in people, even though many times they are shut down, in despair, frustrated, and unfocused. I try to identify what is in their hearts and what they truly desire. I partner with them and coach them to “run their race well” and to strive to satisfy their dreams and visions. Often, they falter, stumble and fall short of their hopes, but I am there to remind them of their life’s purpose and to get them back on track.
Thank you Coach John Ragone. You died quite a few years ago, but I never forgot you. Thank you coaches, teachers and mentors all over the world who work to bring out the best in us. I like being a coach. I do sometimes jog a bit now, but I am no longer trying to break any records. These days, I get more pleasure out of helping others to break their own records. I am a Coach and will continue to be one until I fall over.
By the way, I did run against that guy in the State Meet and he did break the National High School record. But, in the process, he pulled me to run the fastest race of my life in which I finally broke my own high school record by one tenth of a second. When I am feeling down or have a poor attitude, I sometimes rerun that race in my mind, and I think back about the time my coach made me rerun the other race. These memories help to remind me of my purpose and to get back on track.
So, what is your dream? Your future pursuit? In what areas are you not giving your all? What is your excuse for being average? What is your key personal obstacle to success? Do you have a committed partner for your success? Do you have a powerful coach to remind you about who you are and what you have to do to stay on track?
Maybe, you need to give me a call!