Reshifting priorities

Priorities. By now, I hope you realize that life is never about “I only have time for X, but not for Y” but rather it is “I choose to prioritize X over Y.” That is nothing groundbreaking, but it was a huge step for me personally about a decade ago. It’s never that you don’t have time to exercise, it’s that you choose to prioritize other things over exercise. (That’s usually my big one.)

But this post isn’t about that. This post is about times in our lives when we don’t actually get to be the one’s who set our priorities.   In other words…jobs. When you’re on the job, your supervisor sets your priorities.  And sadly, your personal priorities may not always line up with that of your boss.

I love to coach. I think I’m halfway decent at it too. I love talking with someone figuring out how to overcome an obstacle or cross off a goal. I absolutely love sitting down with an athlete for a cup of coffee and discussing their life – past, present, and future. I love when there is a trust and respect that allows us to go far beyond the superficial. And we start to work on the foundational aspects that can truly make them a more comfortable, confident, consistent, and considerate citizen.

That’s why I got into coaching. And it was something I got to do on the regular when I was an assistant. It’s what drives me and motivates me. It’s what sends me home to my family feeling like a made a difference. But I kept chipping my way up the ladder and I eventually became a head coach. I became responsible for the entire forest, not just a few trees.

I became responsible for an entire program. It wasn’t just my event group any more. It was every athlete, the assistants, the schedule, the travel, the budget, the equipment, the recruits, the alumni, the parents – my plate got a lot fuller. And it all pulled me away from those quiet conversations with the athletes.

And as I made each decision, I asked myself “How does this make the team better?” That’s something I ask of every coach and athlete on my team, myself included. And sadly, it became more and more apparent that in order for me to make the TEAM better, I had to coach less.

My role evolved into a fundraiser, a scheduler, and a supervisor. It was what the program needed and so I became that person. My priorities had been shifted and dictated to me. Sadly, it moved what I loved too far down the list. But I did it, and the program got a little better. But it got a lot more infrequent that I went home to my family feeling like I really made a difference.

If you’re not doing everything you can to affect positive change, then you forfeit the right to complain.  ~ Me (circa So year of HS)

So I created the only change I was capable of at the time. I couldn’t change the job so I changed me. And now, as I rush through this blog post because I have a 10:00 cup of coffee with a first-year distance runner, I am excited that I get to do what I love again.  And it feels right.

What’s the take-away here? Personally, I think it’s that you need to know why you’re doing a thing. You need to know who you are and what you value. Without that, you’re simply crossing your fingers that you’ll get what you need from life. If you’re a young assistant coach, don’t go jumping at the next job just because it’s there. Make sure you know it’s taking you in the direction you really want to be going.

Here endeth the ramble.


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