I swam and dove competitively for many years and played a variety of sports. I've had coaches for personal growth and business development. I've coached both my sons soccer teams for 9 seasons, I've watched them play sports as a spectator and I've coached hundreds of people across the finish line of numerous 5K walk/runs and Sprint Distance Triathlons. All this means is that I've experienced a LOT of coaches and coaching situations over the years. And let's not forget all the teachers that EVERY one of us has had! I'm not sharing this to toot my own horn but rather to help you start thinking about all the coaches and teachers you've had as well.
Last weekend I attended a horsemanship clinic with my horse. This was the first time I've been away from my 'home', my barn, my safety zone, with my horse without my trainer going among people I didn't know to learn new things and had NO idea how my horse would act. The reason I decided to attend this clinic was the tough love encouragement I received from my trainer Tanya Striebeck. You might be thinking "What on Earth does this have to do with coaching!?!?" but trust me it does.
To give you all a little background I adopted my horse Teddy from a rescue about a year ago. He's a 17 hand high Thoroughbred gelding who raced for 9 years. Horses normally only race for a year or two then come off the track but not my boy. This means that all he knew was to go really fast in an oval to the left. I was pretty niave when I got him and didn't fully appreciate the Pandora's Box I had decided to open. I put him in full training with Tanya and she did an amazing job. I have to admit though that the weak link in the chain wasn't my horse it was ME.
A couple of weeks ago I had a long conversation with Tanya about letting him go to another home and getting a different 'safer' horse. I had all sorts of reasons for letting him go but when all was said and done the real reason was me - I was afraid of my horse. I love him to pieces but I was afraid that I didn't know enough or have the ability to shut things down if things went wrong. She told me not to give up on him quite yet and to attend a clinic her good friend Rick Quinn was putting on.
It was an 8 hour a day, 4 day clinic over an hour away from home. It was one of the most profound experiences I've had in 20+ years. My horse Teddy was a rock star, he had his moments but he did great around the other horses and with being in a new place and new situation. My goal going into the clinic was to learn how not to be afraid of my horse. I knew that the only way that would happen was if I learned how to trust and believe in myself and what Tanya's been trying to teaching me for the past 7 months.
Watching Ricky working with colts that had never been ridden or only ridden once or twice was truly inspiring. Never once did he get mad, lose his temper or get frustrated. He was always firm and let the horses know what the boundaries were but never, ever did he harm the horses in any way. In fact he was super gentle and pet them more than 'scolded' them. It was by watching him work that things began to fall into place for me.... then came the doing part.
On the last day Ricky asked me to do something and I didn't understand what he was asking me to do. I began to get more and more frustrated to the point that I was fighting back tears. I'd stop when he was talking to me so that I could pay attention and listen and he'd say "Keep moving! How can I help you if you keep stopping?"
He kept right on pushing me towards my breaking point and then he pushed a little further. At the point that the tears were about to burst forth he said "If you're going to let this little thing bother you so much you should just pack up all your things right now and go home." Well that's when something snapped inside and I got fierce in my determination because I was NOT going home thank you very much!
What Ricky said to me may have sounded harsh but it really wasn't. He took a chance on how hard he could push me but he trusted himself and pushed as hard as he felt he needed to. It was exactly what I needed. I realized that I hadn't pushed myself that hard in over 20 years. Yes I've challenged myself to do new things but they were all things that I knew deep down I could do. I realized that I've been afraid to really truly push myself hard and put myself in situations that I may fail.
Not only was it a HUGE personal growth experience for me but also a huge spiritual aha! moment for me as well. How often do we quit moving forward when we get scared or confused? How can we ever achieve our goals if we stop moving? How can God help us if we stop moving? How can we walk through the doors or windows that He opens for us if we're not moving? When we stop moving we stop listening and we stop living.
I don't know about you but I've always performed at my highest level for the most demanding coaches and teachers. They're the ones that have helped me become hungry for what's inside, to discover what I'm really made of. I haven't always liked the demands in the moment it but I've ALWAYS appreciated the confidence in myself I've experienced as the result of being pushed a little past my breaking point.
After last weekend I'm not talking about getting a 'safer' horse anymore because Teddy is a good boy he just needs a strong leader that he can rely on and trust will be there to support him in times of need. Now I know that I can be the leader he needs thanks to the leadership of my great coaches. Looking back when Tanya told me not to give up on Teddy quite yet she may have also been telling me not to give up on myself quite yet.
I challenge you to stop being afraid, to push yourself harder than you've been pushing yourself, farther than you think you can go, to step out on faith and keep moving even if you're scared and confused. We can only gain bravery by doing the things that scare us. By accomplishing the things that challenge us.
I want to leave you with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt "You gain strength, courage, confidence be every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself 'I lived through this. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Here's to your Health, Wellness and Fitness,
Jennifer Malocha CEO of Fun at Wuhoo Fitness
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