We are in our 20th season as a coaching family. You can probably begin to imagine all the things that we've seen and been through in that time.
Whether I wanted to or not, I have learned a lot over the years.
So, in the words of Taylor Swift…
"Ask me what I learned from all those years.
Ask me what I earned from all those tears.
Ask me why so many fade, but I'm still here."
Well, I will tell you:
1) You have to water your own grass instead of worrying about what your neighbor is doing with theirs:
No two coaching paths are the same. Some move seemingly at lightning speed, and others at a snail's pace. Some walk a straight line, and some take multiple detours along the way. There is no use in comparing because if you're too busy watching your neighbor, you won't know what your yard needs in order to get better.
2) You cannot control the outcomes. You can only control your input:
This might be the hardest thing to accept. You can be doing all the right things, but someone- an AD, a parent, a booster, a fan, etc.- could not see it the same way. And they ultimately have a say in your future. At the end of the day, you need to be secure in your decisions and your actions. That's the only way you'll be able to sleep at night.
3) Step outside your comfort zone:
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will be asked to do many, many things that make you uncomfortable. Do them. You'll be better for it.
4) You might not love it in the moment, but it will become a good memory down the road:
In the moment, it usually seems like a horrible idea. Whether it's letting the kids stay up way past their bedtime every Friday night, deciding to take that trip to the farthest away game possible, or even hosting all the players at your house, it is a terrible idea. BUT you will always look back after the fact and remember how much fun you had or how wonderful that time was.
5) Everything has a season:
Whether it is the actual season or a life stage, whether it is incredibly wonderful or unbearably difficult, everything only lasts a specific time. Seasons change, and so will your circumstances. Enjoy the good and take the next right step through the brutal. You will make it to the next season.
6) Perspective matters:
This is more than a paycheck. It is more than a job. It is even more than a purpose. It is a calling. And if you marry a coach, you're path, purpose, and calling are interwoven with his. If you shift your perspective in light of this, it won't make it easier, but it will give you motivation to keep going.
7) Be kind to everybody:
Not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because you never know when you will see that person again at another school, or need them to put in a good word for you to get a job, or when their child will be on the team. It's a small world, and athletics make it even smaller. Do your best not to make it smaller because you couldn't just "Bless their hearts" and walk away.
8) Be curious, not judgmental:
Not only because it is the best approach to life but also because you can't ever truly possibly know what this new school and town will be like. You won't be able to predict all the wonderful people you could connect with. The only way to make the best of any situation is to keep an open mind and an open heart.
9) Find your village ASAP:
You might have to settle a little initially, but get out there and find your people. The ones you can confide in without judgment. The ones you can trust with your kids when you're at the end of your rope. The ones who you can laugh and be unapologetically yourself with. If you can't find them in your immediate staff, look to other sports or positions within the athletic department. Church, hobbies, and your kids' friends' parents are also great places to look.
10) You can do more than you think:
Like waaay more than you think. You are stronger and more resilient than you realize, but this lifestyle isn't afraid to bring it to your awareness. You got this, whatever this is.
While this isn't everything, it's some of the most valuable lessons for all areas of life, not just in the sports industry. Even if you only take one of these lessons to heart, it'll make more than just the difference in fading versus remaining.
It will be the difference between barely surviving and truly thriving.