Last week, I discovered an article on the forum of my PN Level 2 certification discussion board. I shared it online and was amazed to see how many likes, favorites and retweets I did NOT get. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not expecting record breaking organic reach, but with who I’m “friends with”, I was almost convinced more coaches would relate to the article as I felt it really hit home for many of us coaches.
If you missed it, please give it a quick read here.
I was so compelled by this piece that I felt I needed to address this head on with today’s generation of coaches. Essentialism versus traditionalism, expected versus challenged, healthy versus sick. I think it’s time to confront this once and for all.
Are you a member of OVERKILL?
Admit it. At some point or another, you’ve taken pride in being the first one in the office. You’ve set your alarm to unthinkable times just to get an advantage over the others. You took pride in working more than everyone else. You hustled for any type of slight edge, over your competitors and sharp enough for your superiors to notice.
Or maybe you were the one in charge? Expecting your staff to be there before you and leave after you? Making them suffer and “pay their dues”.
Low man on the totem pole. Work the most, get paid the least. Ahhh, the American strength coach dream.
So, you sit back and play another game of Solitaire, read another news story on ESPN.com, or get back to that stupid Crossfit fail video your buddy sent you last Monday.
Away from your spouse. Away from your kids. Away from your health.
I admit I too was a member of the “overkill cult”. Proving to my superiors that I had what it took to work 14-16 hour days, five-seven days per week, months at a time. I’d volunteer for jobs, activities, and extra hours just to keep busy. Or I’d sit in a concrete cubicle in the bottom of the athletic center just because I felt I had to “be there”.
I felt it was disrespectful if I didn’t. As if I didn’t earn the right to sleep in, or grab lunch with a friend. Hell, maybe stay up past 8pm once in awhile and catch a TV show with my fiance.
I was wrong. So wrong…
But there’s no such thing as work-life balance.
I continually strive to find some sort of “balance” between work and life. While I know there isn’t an actual formula or block schedule of success, it’s always interesting to see how much I can get done, with less and less time as the years go by. Responsibilities add up, priorities get shifted and when it’s all said and done, we do more because people expect more.
Shouldn’t we expect more of ourselves?
First marriage. Then a kid. Then another. Pretty soon, my family and I will be auditioning for a physical challenge on the Return of Double Dare. Life is happening and I need to make sure I’m not only there for it, but I’ll CONTINUE to be there for it.
A great friend and colleague of mine, Coach Brett Bartholomew of Team EXOS said the following:
Could the truth be anymore clearer?
What’s wrong with answering emails on a tablet while your infant daughter sleeps next to you on the couch?
Or work on that summer program at the local cafe where the wifi is free and refills are only 59 cents.
Or most importantly, what’s wrong with doing a GREAT job, elsewhere, at another time, with someone else around?
As I’ve shifted from the university/organization setting into the business world, I’ve dramatically altered my time management for not only myself, but for our staff as well.
- Do you have a project due? Good. Get it done. I don’t care when or where.
- Nice day out? Great. Go spend it with someone you care about and be back before the next group.
- Family in town? Awesome. Why don’t you leave or come in a little early so you can spend some real time with them so they don’t have to sit in your apartment waiting for you to come home.
Have you ever counted out how many people truly retire from the field of strength and conditioning?
I’m not talking “former coach turned equipment salesman or consultant.” I’m talking 100%, 6am whistle blowing, multiple session grinding, strength coaching until the golden age of retirement.
I have. It’s not many…at all.
So you want to do this for the rest of your life?
Here’s some advice…
Learn when to speed up, slow down and simply STOP. It’s about changing gears, when you need to, as often as you need to.
And it’s about doing your job to the best of your ability with the time you have.
Not from the time you have to steal from those around you.
Dear Distracted Dad,
Yeah, you! That’s right you! Is that Facebook newsfeed update so important that you can’t put it down for the next 30 minutes and spend some time with your son?
Or what about you? Yeah, the one with the kid jumping all over that couch without any regard for other people’s things at this birthday party. That “tweet” or quick check on Instagram needs to be done right now?
Seriously man, where are you priorities? These are called “moments” for a reason. They happen briefly, occasionally from time to time and will be gone before you know it. Then, one day, you’ll wake up, in a ditch, down by the river and you’ll be begging your kids to spend time with you, that is of course, when THEY have time.
So, put your phone down. Shut it off. Airplane mode, I don’t care.
Just be here…now…without any distractions…please. Those emails, texts and social media mayhem can wait…’til later.
A Devoted Dad
I’ve been meaning to write this for a few months now. After an awesome Easter weekend back home in Massachusetts with family and friends, I was determined to finish my thoughts on my keyboard after constant reminders on the freeways throughout our journey.
Ever notice the signs these days in big, bright letters listing reminders like “distracted driving kills” or “you text, you pay”? As a frequent visitor back home to New England, I feel like I’ve seen them all. They used to talk about drinking and driving or stopping for a rest, but now I feel it’s everything related to avoiding distractions, or else.
Have we become so focused on everything else, we forget about what’s going on now?
Call it multi-tasking. Doing too many things at once. Not paying attention. Day dreaming, whatever. All I’ve noticed is that when we allow ourselves to try and take care of so many things at once, nothing awesome comes out of it. The old adage that a “jack of all trades can be the master of none” holds true, especially when it comes to family.
Hi. My name is Adam and I’m a distracted dad.
I don’t mean to be. It’s never my goal to answer emails, start a project, work on the website, design a program, check business operations, write down an idea (or six) while playing basketball with my toddler son or giving a bottle to my newborn. I’m not looking for an excuse to get out of playing monster trucks or memory, it just happens. I get sucked in to the notifications and vibrations from my iPhone and run to it, as if it were a damsel in distress in the highest part of the castle amongst a fire breathing dragon…
“It needs me!” I tell myself. “If I don’t take care of it now, it’ll just haunt me the rest of the day.”
But, that’s not really true. I shouldn’t allow that email, text or small to do item affect my special time. Something so simple can wait…can’t it?
If I CHOOSE so, yes.
So why admit to this fault? Maybe it’s a call to action for all of us termed “fitness professionals”. Business owners, strength coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists, all of you. We never leave work at work because guess what? Our work is our life. We love it! It’s what we do that defines most of us. For us, it’s more than lower body-fats, higher predicted maxes and optimal training loads. It’s about impact. About making a difference in someone else’s life through (insert fitness/training/working out label here).
But at what cost? And to whom does it affect most?
There were two instances that really inspired me to write this post. One was during a “parent and me” soccer class that my son Cody and I were participating in this past winter. During these types of classes, I shut my phone off, put it in the car and give my son my full, undivided attention. It’s me, him and the challenge of learning how to dribble, trap and score, all at the experienced age of two.
Another dad, well he didn’t do what I did. He talked on his phone the whole time, not listening to the instructor or helping his son learn the fundamentals. He then got mad at him for not paying attention and acting up and pretty much embarrassed him and his family while we all watched and waited for our turn.
Are you serious?
Or there’s the time where I go to “Messy School” every Tuesday and bring my kids to the town recreation center where they can crawl/run around and play with everything imaginable. Play doh, magna tiles, race cars, blocks, anything you can think of.
Some parents, well, they’re “there”. But usually in a corner, on their iPhone or huddled together with their friends, gossiping about the latest news or Pinterest post. And some parents are right in the thick of it, fully mindful of their experience.
I again, put my phone in the car and spend quality time with them distracted only by avoiding collisions between grocery cart races and playing catch. Because I know how crazy life is and for that special time, it’s just us and nothing else.
I understand. I get it. When you stay at home with your kids for part of the day like me (5am-10am) or most of the day like my wife (10am-8pm), you need a break. You need to talk to adults. You need to have an intellectual conversation about something other than goldfish snacks and potty time.
But, are we matching up our behaviors with our priorities?
I know I’ve struggled with quality time during what we call “normal business hours”. I think many of us young parents do. Our routines get out of whack, adjustments need to be made and there still lies a feeling of accomplishment when we get something done amidst the chaos of a frantic family. And sometimes, we just need a break. But, most of the time, we need to do better.
Imagine how much better we’d feel if we really took the time to enjoy what was going on around us?
- Like when your son goes on his first Easter egg hunt or plays in his first whiffle ball game…
- Maybe when your daughter crawls for the first time…
- Or simply, when after a long day of writing, texting, emailing, coaching, training and cleaning, your soul mate lies exhausted on the recliner waiting for you to get home just so you can “talk”.
So, if you’re like me and doing a million things at once, maybe it’s finally time we just slow down a bit.
Prioritize when things need to get done. Remember when work is work and play is play. Set time away specifically for family, faith and friends and not let anything come between it.
And focus on one thing at a time and marvel at its beauty and awesomeness.
Because one day, we won’t be coaching or working out. We’ll be sitting there…thinking and reflecting about everything over the years.
And when that time comes, I want to be reassured I’ve got a lot of memories to relive and rejoice about.
I hope you will too.
A “Determined” Fully Devoted Dad