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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Making Sense of it All

Family –

Amidst being peppered with the disturbing news of natural disasters in Europe, good times gone badly on the open seas and celebrity athletes’ lives in peril I wanted to bring yet another humble submission of thought-provoking jargon for you to consider.

This week I found myself traveling amongst the motley trying to get from place to place in a timely manner without completely losing my mind. I considered my trip successful, not in having sold any of my wares, but in being able to secure exit row seats and in 100% of all cases having no one sit directly next to me (anyone over 6’3” can feel my pain… although Matt Poston obviously has NO clue).

I happened to sit in the same exit row as a southern gentleman from Macon, Georgia on my flight through Atlanta and he and I struck up a short conversation as the plane began its initial decent into Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. He was quite polite and asked me if I “had conversations on airplanes” because he had, “noticed (I was) really busy working away all flight.” I said, “of course,” but in retrospect I probably appeared a bit anti-social looking like one of our “Generation Y” Millennals connected to my laptop with white ear buds and a skull cap completely immersed in my work.

He asked me a series of questions… still not having introduced himself by name and I answered them all with common courtesy. After I was done, he then began to tell me about himself, still with no official introduction by name. What he said then really caught me off guard…. “I’m seventy-four years old and will be seventy-five this year. I figure I have one more year to work and then figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.” 

Apparently my face was masked with confusion so he was compelled to explain further. “You coach football (since what I did was one of the initial interviewee questions)… I would love to be able to work with young people and just enjoy the rest of my life.”  He continued, “Football is such a great game. You work for months to get in shape and get bigger, stronger and faster… then you only have a few weeks to enjoy the fruits of all that labor. That’s kinda where I am. I’ve worked all these years and now I want to figure out the next stage in my life.”

I was somewhat taken aback by his statement because here I was sitting with this seventy-four year old man of obvious means who was still trying to make sense of it all… And at the end of the day all he wanted to do was coach. 

Wait... say wha??? 

For all the bitching and moaning I do about my life and the decisions I’ve made; to put it all in perspective things could be a whole lot worse… really! Not in any way implicating that this southern gentlemen had any regrets for spending years of his life in what seemed to be a thriving career (being close friends with a governor holding office and the like). I was just given a reminder that coaching is important…leading is important…mentoring is important… and loving what you do is important. Although means are important there is nothing more important than being happy with who you are and what you do.

So here’s the moral to the story for all of us “would-be” coaches out there… we are truly blessed to do what we do. Sport (just in case you haven’t gotten the memo) extends far beyond our competitions, practices and even our gigantic egos about who knows what better than whom. We have a tremendous responsibility to the student-athletes we mentor as much as we do to ourselves and our families. I mean… isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Ya’ know? Help them make sense of it all? After all sport is life right?

Thanks Mike from Macon, Georgia for the quick “gut check.” I needed that…

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