I sat down in the chair next to my coach's desk, with a notecard and a pen in my hand...and the day's session fee in my pocket.
I couldn’t lift that day, because I had hurt my back.
I was determined to tell him what was happening, write down what he told me to do on the notecard...pay him for his time, and then execute what he said to do.
My plan was to get back in the game (of Olympic lifting) as soon as possible.
As I started to speak, I remembered the last time I had sat down with him in this way. It was the fall of 2009. He had hired me as one of his trainers for a large facility. I had found out that he was a former USA Olympic lifting athlete. I asked him if he could teach me how to do the olympic lifts.
He chuckled at me and said. “ It is not something I can show you... and then you know how. It will take you many years to truly learn it. But yes, I will show you... when you are ready. ”
A few weeks later, Coach was gone. He had taken a job offer at a brand new and larger facility. But I always had it in my mind to find him once I was ready.
In the spring of 2015, I journeyed to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to learn how to Olympic Lift. I still had his words of wisdom in my mind. After years of not connecting, Coach saw me on Facebook... lifting next to his old platform at the Training Center. When I returned to Kansas City, I was ready for him to be my official coach...and he had an opening.
Now, I sit across from Coach...after 1 and ½ years of training with him.
I have 30 minutes before his next appointment, to tell him what is going on and then get the answers I need to move forward.
He listens to my story of overtraining (by my own doing), added stress from launching Mai Trainer, and how I feel like I’ve failed with this injury.
I told him I felt alone with this, even though I was surrounded by people.
I told him I had started to over identify with the sport.
I was ready to hear what he wanted me to do.
I was ready to write it down.
I was ready to pay him for his time, even though we were just going to talk.
I was ready to do whatever he told me to do.
As Coach started to speak, I realized I was talking to a different person than I had met in 2009. I could hear the wisdom of the last 8 years. I could hear softness in his voice that I had not experienced before.
“What about Jacob?” He asks.
I stiffen a bit. “Jacob is fine.” I reply.
“No…” he says. “What happens to Jacob, if something happens to you?”
“If something happened to me, Jacob would be fine. He has a good dad.” I answer.
Coach looks at me intently, and says,
“None of this really matters. These goals that we have for our business, they don’t matter. What matters is the people in your life, and that you are there for those people. “
He tells me about his current health. He tells me how much has changed since I met him in 2009. He tells me about how much his wife means to him, and how much she supports him. He tells me about how he puts himself first now, so that he can properly serve his clients, and be there for her.
I take it all in...and then look down at my blank note card.
“I came in thinking that you could tell me what to do to get back on track.” I say.
“You need to stop lifting. “ He says. “You cannot meet the demands of training, with everything else you have going on right now in your business.”
“But what do I do?” I ask.
“First, you need to meditate, every morning and evening.” He says.
We then go on to discuss a recovery plan. He tells me exactly what he wants me to do, and I write it down.
His next appointment comes in. He gets up and starts to wish me well with my next phase of my business. I extend my hand out to give him his payment for the time.
“No.” He says with a smile...and then he walks out of the office, to greet his next client.
As I put my money back in my pocket, I look down at my notecard with my recovery plan instructions. I look back up, and notice that Coach has transformed back into a strength coach...full of positive energy for his next client.
I soak in the words he spoke earlier, as I walk to my car.
“None of this really matters. These goals that we have for our business, they don’t matter. What matters is the people in your life...that you are there for those people."
On October 26th 2016, I walk back into fitness center I manage, after missing a couple days with my injury.
I found this note from my evening trainer.
As my regulars came in throughout the day, I watched their faces turn to deep concern as I told them the story. “We need you here.” they all say, in their own ways.
I have a choice.
I can continue to get caught up in the quest for achievement and status, and have my life story be about how I fought to prove my worth to the world…
Or I can serve you.
There are plenty of teachers and coaches who are intent on selling the secrets to success.
But in the end...what is the outcome of success?
What does achieving the goal give you?
An award? Status? A skinny waist? Bragging rights?
I choose the journey.
I choose to be the kind of coach who wisely tells you to stop... when I see you getting lost in the game.
I choose to be present and to share this story of restoration... so that you know I’m here with you on your own journey.
You don’t care how much I can lift.
You don’t care how successful my business is.
The only thing that matters, is that I am here with you.
Everything else... is just the results of the game.
And we can’t play the game alone.
We need a coach who knows the way...and can lead us through the seasons.
It is 16 weeks later... and I'm back in the game at a reasonable level.
I'm excited to continue to share my journey...
and to keep walking with you on yours!