To get somewhere, you've gotta plan. You wouldn't go on a backpacking trip without checking that you have everything you need, planing your route, checking the weather, organizing transportation, and letting the people in your life know you will be gone. If it was a big hike, you might even hike a little extra for a few months so your body felt strong enough to tackle the task ahead.
This is how I feel about trying out for the team. Originaly, the idea of trying out was really just an excuse to get the trainers to take me seriously, when I train at anything, I really like to be focused and work hard. I am happier in an environment where I'm being challenged mentally and physically to my max. That's not to say skipping any levels, or trying to tackle advanced concepts when what I need is a grasp of the basics, that's to say that while working toward grasping the basics, I like to work hard.
Eventually, I realized that I really did see the team as a dream job, that being able to reach as many people as possible and work with them on unlocking the things that were keeping them from asking their feet to do what they wanted them to do would be a life fulfilling job for me. A soul job.
Originally, I started writing my blog so that my mom and my sisters could keep track of me, we all lived in different cities, and we are very close. When I started skiing, I moved into a world that they didn't know anything about. One day, my sister was out visiting for Thanksgiving, and she showed me how to blog.
Eventually, other people started reading the blog, too, and I realized that I was not alone, that there are so many of us who want to become better. Better people, better moms, better friends, better coaches, better skiers. We have become a community of people who are striving, every day, to do what we love, to live our lives with integrity which includes honoring the voice inside that says, I wish I was the kind of person that liked to hike. I wish I was the kind of person who played outside with their kid. And then taking the risk of making that change, and really living the life you love.
Over the course of the last four seasons, the goal of the tryout has stayed with me, its not the thing that drives me, but its the thing that keeps me true. Its that signpost. I'm an easily distracted person. I always have been. I've bounced from career to career, all of which I've loved, art, acting, skating, climbing, cooking, cloth diaper making mom... I get seized by a new idea and its easy for me to love the conception part and get bored with the follow through.
This is one reason why having a goal that is hard to reach, (very very hard to reach) is so important to me. It might not be the right thing for someone else, having a goal that is, as some would say, impossible, might be discouraging or distracting to them, or all consuming.
One of the things that I love to do in my life is performance coaching. I, believe it or not, am a planner. But I'm sort of an esoteric planner. I'm not great at planning the details of everyday life. But I love to work with a client to help them make a path to achieve a goal.
This is the first time that I've used my performance coaching model on myself in an athletic pursuit, and its an interesting experience.
When I start working with a new client, the first thing I ask them is, what's your goal? Most people have many, but for the purposes of clear impetus, we choose just one. Mine is to be a viable candidate for the 2012 National Alpine Team.
The next thing I ask them is why? What motivates you? Because your motivation needs to be healthy, clean, and true. If you are motivated, driven to succeed by a coping mechanism, for instance, I want to win a gold medal because I hope that I will prove to my parents that I have worth and am worth loving, you aren't going to go very far. And if you are one of the few who manages to actually "make it" with a motivation like that, odds are you won't be very happy when you get there, and you won't stay there long.
I believe that longevity in success (success being being happy and satisfied, with a feeling of goodwill and contentment) has SO much to do with what motivates us to succeed.
Often times, I will work with a client for a long time on the why before we ever even walk towards the how.
Sometimes, its hard to look at your motivation, because you want your goal so badly. The taste of victory, the idea of winning respect, or love, or pride, for yourself or from others, can be seductive. But it is a hollow motivation that will abandon you when you need your motivation most.
In your journey toward success, it is inevitable that you will meet naysayers. There are all kinds of bumper stickers and sayings that show this happening all around us, just today I saw "Those who abandon their dreams will seek to destroy yours." I believe this can be true. I believe that we are mirrors for each other, and that often when someone around us is succeeding, it is painful for those who are motivated by something less than healthy to watch. They tend to feel threatened, they look for reasons why you should not be doing what you are doing, they don't look deeply, ask questions, or come from a compassionate place.
We can be that person to ourselves just as easily. We can be judgemental, and mean, and less than compassionate to ourselves without even knowing it. The sabotage factor. The fear of success. So many of us say we want to be succesful, but that idea of the Will to Win, that idea of wanting the Win, of seeing ourselves on the victory lap, often jumps right over what it is that it TAKES to get there.
And the first, most fundamental piece of that is WHY. Why do you want to do this?
I often tell my clients, you may not like what you see when I ask you that question. If that's the case, don't turn your face away from the answer, look right at it. Walking towards that motivation, gently, and unpackaging it, is a very powerful step toward your goal. Knowing that you come from a place that is not of integrity (to yourself) or strength, and ignoring it because you want the prize is a strong indicator that when you hit a bump on your journey, like the bump of running into a naysayer, you will lean on your motivation, your own self for help, and that support of what drives you had better be solid, strong and healthy. If its not, chances are you will fall into a very lonely place, get way off track, and find yourself in the unenviable position of having to start all over again every six weeks or so.
The next thing I tell them is that you can keep your goal, and even work toward it, while you are searching for a healthier motivation. You don't have to abandon your goal because you are driven to succeed by some old pattern in your life.
In fact working toward your goald while you are examining your motivation and searching for a strong foundation is a great way to practice staying focused even when you are not well supported. Because believe me, along your journey at some point, you are going to need that skill.
For me, originaly, I wanted to have the goal of trying out for the team because I wanted to go through the process of training for the team. I liked the idea of how much my skiing would improve if I trained in that manner. I love the repeition of hard work, I find it medatative, and I find myself frustrated and unable to focus when i have unspecific, vague paramiters for training. I am not disciplined enough to work "as needed" and get anywhere, I get distracted and move onto the next thing.
Over time, the motivation changed, I wanted the job of team member because I wanted to be able to travel and teach all over the country, I like the idea of dragging ideas across division lines, and I loved the idea of teaching teachers. I love the idea of lighting people on fire, of remotivating them, of helping them find the thing that makes them feel most like they are contributing or doing their job well.
Knowing that motivation, and settling into it, I was able to make a roadmap of things I needed to do to get there. Along the way, one of those things was to let go of the goal.
People asked me quite a bit if I could remove the goal and just ski, if I could not talk about the steps and the small landmarks along the way. I was frustrated at this for a while, because while I know that letting go is key to becoming whole, I was not ready in my journey to get to that point yet. My skiing wasn't where I needed it to be, my understanding wasn't where I needed it to be.
But this year was the year. Keeping the signpost of the goal, I let go of needing to tick way points on my journey off the list. I had some ideas that I'd like to do TA for both Rocky Mountain and PSIA this year, so that I could sit the E1 next year, so I would have been teaching at that level for two years before the try out.
But I realized that those things are not necessarily things that are required to be on my resume to be a viable candidate at the tryout. So this was the year to let go, and work on finding my way in my new home in Aspen, feeling my feet, working hard, and growing in other ways.
Now, things are changing again.
The next thing I have my clients do when we make a performance plan is to make a list of Impediments. What are all the things that can keep you from achieving your goal? My list looked like this:
My skiing is not good
So those are some pretty significant impediments. Across from the impediment, we make a list of solutions for each impediment:
Move to a ski school that pays more.
Reduce travel to training by moving somewhere with the training you want.
Get a second job that pays well but does not distract from skiing.
Pursue sponsorship opportunities to reduce outgoing money.
Because I can't change my age, I decided that I could change how prepared I am. I can make sure that even though I will be older than the average first time candidate, I can also be more prepared.
I made a list of things that would help mitigate the age factor:
Cardio and core strength
Attend a tryout and watch and be involved as much as possible
and so on.
We then take the prioritize removing the impediments. As much as I'd like to go to Pilates class twice a week to get core strength of doom, I can't afford it, so the money factor is keeping me from removing other impediments. Therefore, we tackle money first, while doing everything we can to support the other pieces. Sit-ups on the floor at home will do for now, and is moving in the positive direction of attaining the goal, while I work on money.
And so here we are. Its time for me to examine my performance plan and make sure that I am working diligently toward my goal. Why? Because I want to get there! I'm looking forward to trying out, and I can only be as strong a candidate as I can be if I continue to do things that support that starting now.
And... its coming sooner that we all think it is. Rocky Mountain Divisional tryouts are in 11 months. If I was 11 months away from a National qualifier in skating, I'd be living at the training center and living a very specific, detailed, carefully planned life all aimed at having the highest chance for performing to my potential on the day it matters most.
Luckily, training toward this goal does not pull me away from doing a good job at my job. The job I'm applying for as a candidate for the National Team is the job of excellent teacher, with a depth of knowledge that allows me to communicated concepts VERY clearly to any kind of student, the ability to inspire and excite your students, and the feet to demonstrate the skills you are looking for well.
To that end, I have a new trainer. I've asked someone who is a bit of a hard-ass, a pragmatic, practical person if they would help me train. He has agreed. He has agreed to hold me accountable in a direct way. Not unfriendly, but clear and specific. Nothing about this is about protecting my feelings or ego. I have a job, to make a strong body. He has a job, to call me on any bullshit and ask me to have a higher level of commitment. The bar has been raised.
We are working on making a body this summer that is strong and balanced in a way that allows my fitness to be an asset rather than a detriment to my skiing. A null to positive factor.
The last two years of this project begins now.