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2017: A Lesson On Process


“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journey when they were none of these things.”

- Mike Dooley

By the time I struggled to let go of my athletic career and retire, I had forgotten many of my experiences which left me with the romanticised version of the story that I told myself. Condensed into highlights, the fourteen years my training actually spanned were summed up by only the achievements of about three years somewhere near the middle.

The tragedy of this lies in the experienced expectations I held for myself in other realms of achievement; not at all related to athletics. It was a learning process that hard personal effort is not always rewarded with personal achievement. Even with a fourteen year career behind me, somehow, I lost all the daily grinds in the highlights. I forgot the daily disappointments in favour of remembering the, perhaps, seven big pay-offs.

Therefore, as I started out on a new career path in 2016 I promised myself I would be kind while in the process of learning. I would understand that I learn more from the sense of failure than from a sense of achievement. That actual achievements are brief, shining, seconds within the large picture of everyday process.

If I were to sum up 2017 career-wise, it would be that I spent it trying to learn as much as I possibly could. Forgiving myself each time I realised a new piece of the puzzle that would have been useful much sooner. Applying everything I learned as much as I could to test the knowledge in practical ways and find new gaps in my understanding. And struggling to decide if I believe academics would provide more value than apprenticeships, or if that was a societal value bestowed on me and whether that changes anything.

Someday, when I look back over my career, I hope that I remember how I felt this year about the clients who never returned and made me cringe as I considered each and every way I must have turned them off working with me. The hard won path through embarrassment, shame, and guilt that led me to the confidence needed to teach to the best of my knowledge and fulfill my own expectations over the unknown expectations of others.

Forgiving myself each time I realised a new piece of the puzzle that would have been useful much sooner.

I hope that I am able to remember struggling to accommodate a class of variable ability before I had enough confidence to resist the abdication of responsibility students will attempt with teachers of all sorts. I cannot take over anyone else’s body, for good or bad. Some will join the journey and others will reject it. It has more to do with them than me as a guide.

I hope that I do not become embittered by the potential colleagues that choose not to share their knowledge, or worse use it to put others down rather than pull them up. I hope that I can continue to value and celebrate true colleagues who understand community is stronger than competition. The brighter we each shine, the bigger the beacon our industry becomes.

This year has been a lesson on process. Setting one up, following one through, and keeping one going because consistent process is where the rewards lie. Achievement is a cumulative effect.

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