I recently gave a presentation at the NSCA Coaches Conference in San Antonio regarding my journey thus far in coaching. As many of you know, I have been fortunate enough to work in every sector of coaching, all before the age of 30. From working with our nation’s best at the Olympic Training Center and in the NFL, walk-ons at the Division I level and now middle school all-stars and all-county high schoolers, my journey continues to be an incredible story that I am proud to tell my kids someday. Each opportunity has taught me valuable lessons in not only coaching, but with life in general. From loyalty and sacrifice to time management and relationship building, coaching such a wide spectrum of athletes and people has allowed me to view the world from every angle possible.
And as I have emotionally matured throughout the years, I have been able to reflect back on each experience whole-heartedly and bring my experiences to the national stage. The path that has been shaped for me by my mentors allows me to share my experiences with younger coaches in hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes I did. It reminds those that are serious about coaching to strap up, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Because one day, the ride will be over.
Starting my 30’s, I’m reaching a point in my life where death seems to be a regular occurrence. From grandparents and great aunts/uncles, I don’t think a year has gone by over the last five years where someone very close to me has not passed on. It’s an unfortunate part of life, but a part of life nonetheless. But what makes it even harder is when those we deeply care for finish their ride sooner than we hoped.
During this past fall, I attended the funeral for the father of one of my assistants. He was a young, passionate and influential man who lost his battle against cancer way too early. As we got together to show our support and head to the funeral home, it become very apparent that this was not going to be your typical “last call” remembrance. The parking lots were stacked, the lines out the door and we were barely able to find a seat before the room began to overflow with friends, family and people that were touched by this man’s life.
It was during this man’s eulogy that things really began to take hold of me. As the rabbi went through the history of this man’s life, he was careful to explain the impact that each life experience brought into the world. His words echoed throughout the room as he painted a beautiful picture of selflessness, commitment and service to the world and those he cared most about. From volunteer coaching to skyscraper building, this amazing man made the most out of his life and his legacy would never be forgotten.
As the rabbi began to finish up, I heard something I will never forget. He explained that there are people who have passed that were good people, lived a good life and left behind a beautiful family to prosper on in this world.
And then there are people who made the most of their life, who didn’t settle for the status quo. They didn’t just work a 9-5 or pay their taxes and carry on. They didn’t sit in discomfort and allow things to “be what they’ve always been.” Rather, they spoke up and went against the grain; ensuring people remembered whom they were.
See when our time comes, we’re all going to have a eulogy. A brave family member or friend will gather old photos, string together a couple “remember when’s” and put our life in a few pages of Times New Roman, double spaced, size 12.
If we choose to be buried, there will be a headstone that lists our name, the years of our life and maybe a small epitaph summarizing our life.
But between birth and death, there’s the dash.
Inside the dash is our life. It’s the culmination of our successes and failures. It’s the story of not only the life and experiences we lived but also what we leave behind.
So from one coach to another, how are you filling your dash?
Are you simply passing the day, waiting for the season to be over so you can move on to the next, best job? (Hint: there isn’t one.)
Maybe you’re comfortable with being a “yes man” and just happy to be a part of the ride.
Or perhaps you’re just looking to do what needs to be done rather than what CAN be done?
Those right there…are mistakes.
Life is too short not to be remembered, too messy to keep clean and too valuable to leave locked up behind closed doors.
But, it’s certainly long enough to make a difference.
So, if you’re like me and have a million things you GET to do, embrace them. Be thankful for them. And make the most out of ALL of them.
Acknowledge that you have the opportunity to create meaningful, lasting and unforgettable change, now and for many years to come.
Because one day, you will have four digits etched after that dash.
And the fullness of that dash will be reflected by how you chose to live your life.
So whether it’s yes, no, or maybe so…remember you have a life to lead, serve and give before it’s time to go.
FILL THE DASH!
(In honor of the Hitman family)