perspective

Vulnerability

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“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

-Brene Brown

I sat in a training this week that began with an invitation to think about this quote.  Then, we took a moment to write down what vulnerability meant to us and what it would take for us to feel ok about being vulnerable with each other.

I admire and respect Brene Brown and her work immensely.  That being said, even just the word vulnerability makes me shudder.  In the exercise, I wrote about how vulnerability means showing my lack of expertise or knowledge of something, or admitting I don’t know something, or showing my soft underbelly that I try very hard to protect. I cling to my appearance of being intelligent and capable as a flotation device in life.  I have learned in recent years that I mainly choose goals and tasks where I can be almost assured of success.  I don’t like looking stupid or incompetent and I avoid those situations as much as I can.

I’ve also learned through my enneagram that asking for help is not something I am good at (but giving help is!)

Reading Brene Brown’s work and others has me tiptoeing up to bigger challenges these days.  I’m setting goals that are further and further past my comfort zone.  Sometimes, I try things I might fail at.  I have become less comfortable coasting through life.  I’m not jumping at challenges quite yet, but I’m getting better.

When my daughter and I went to help on a farm project recently, it was in response to a facebook post appealing for help. The farmer had taken advantage of several growth opportunities in recent times and managed to find herself overwhelmed with challenges.  She started her facebook post by saying that asking for help was hard for her, but they needed help moving a truckload of gravel.  I messaged her that we would be happy to help.  She was extremely grateful.

Imagine her surprise to have over a dozen people show up to help.  From teenagers to retirees, men and women, all strangers, all grabbing shovels and buckets and wheelbarrows.  We moved and spread two truckloads of gravel in less than two hours (including a 30-minute break to go get the second load).  Far more work done far more quickly than she and her husband could have managed alone. We made quick work of her challenge.

I watched people work together who had never met, just to help someone in need.  All because she made herself vulnerable and asked for help.  Big dreams and big goals can lead to some big challenges.  Big challenges can be faced and overcome, sometimes with a little help from our community. A lesson I need to remember.

What I also learned today is that asking for help also opens up opportunities for others to contribute, to make a difference, to share their own worth. It feels good to help.  For my daughter, an aspiring farmer, it was an opportunity to get an insider’s look at a real-life situation on an operating farm. Perhaps others who pitched in had different motives.  Who knows what moved that group of random individuals to show up, but just by helping we each got something out of the experience.  At times, it also offers the chance for people to let you down, but thankfully with a good circle you always have backup and support waiting in the wings.

When we make ourselves vulnerable, we invite others to step up, step in, and play a role in our lives.  The next time I am in my self-focused trying-to-hide vulnerable mindset, afraid to admit I don’t know something could use some help, I’ll remember to reframe it as offering opportunities for others to shine and share and connect. It’s not wrong to take on a task that turns out to be overwhelming to manage alone at times.  It’s a testament to ambition and big dreams. May I start dreaming bigger than I can handle solo.

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perspective

Every Game is a Gift

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I looked out over the field, early that morning.

It was a beautiful April weekend.  Still a little crisp in the air, but the bright, direct sun warmed your skin enough.

I thought to myself, it is a perfect lacrosse morning. Right now, we are in the heart of lacrosse season, the sport both of my daughters and many of their dearest friends love. I looked out over the field where both of my daughters played their first seasons of the sport. It should have been bustling with warmups and whistles. Instead, it stood completely empty, the “closed” signs warning everyone away. Corona was in town.

When my older daughter was in high school, she told me that lacrosse was the only reason she went to school some days. In those high school seasons, she fought through injuries of all kinds.  From ankle twists and endless bruises to plaguing knee injuries and surgery.  Most notably, as a dynamic and skilled attack player, she also suffered at least three significant concussions. Because of these brain injuries, she watched many games from the sidelines, cheering her teammates on with all her energy and might while she waited for her head to heal.

After making her way through the recruiting process, she earned a spot playing in college.  There were many ups and downs, but she made it to the college playing field.  I was so proud to see her play at that level.  But just a few games in to her freshman season, she took a hit to the head that knocked her out for several minutes.  She lost some of her memories.  She couldn’t stand bright lights our music louder than a whisper.  She was just not her usual sharp self for a while.

Days off the field turned into weeks and months.  Her college freshman season ended and even though there were a few glimmers of hope, she finally got to the point where she realized her playing days were over.  Yes, she could continue coaching and being a referee, but she would never pick up her lacrosse stick competitively again.

God, I loved watching her play.  She was such a competitor on the field.  It was amazing to witness and cheer for her. Seeing that end too soon was devastating for us both.

My younger daughter has taken her own path through lacrosse.  She has great talent and has loved the sport for many years. She was just finding her footing in her first full varsity year when corona came to town. When I ask her these days what she misses most about school, she says lacrosse.

Each of them, in their own ways, now have “lost seasons.” Seasons that should have been played. Goals that should have been scored. Laugh-filled bus rides that should have been ridden. Late night meals with teammates that should have been shared. Wins that should have been celebrated. Defeats that should have been endured. Lessons that should have been learned.

Coronavirus has served many of us lost seasons. Weddings, holidays, so many celebrations shifted, even canceled.  I think especially of high school and college seniors in their final months of school, what should be a time of togetherness, of celebration for them and their supporters. I hurt for them, even though the changed celebration doesn’t change the effort they put in or the elation they should feel. If you know someone who has a lost season because of corona, I encourage you to reach out to acknowledge that loss. Most of us don’t quite know what to say, but just being there to listen and recognize what is lost may be a help.

An unexpected concussion ended my daughter’s lacrosse career too early. From that time I knew, every game is a gift. Every time you get to step on the field or out on the stage or wherever you do what you love…every time you get to do that, it is a gift to be cherished and a challenge to be embraced. When we emerge from this, I hope we are changed in a way where we remember that.

dare to be different

Life’s Penalty Box

Growing up I knew about the penalty box. That’s where you got sent in the hockey game when you committed a foul of sorts. Bad behavior I would say in the heat of the moment.

I wanted to go into the penalty box. Maybe not to stay but I wanted to. I told my parents I wanted to play hockey. At the time I was enrolled in figure skating and I was decent and my training partner ended up going to the Olympics years later so I will say I was okay. But in figure skating girls had to wear white skates and sometimes they had fur on them.

I wanted pads, a stick and the black skates like my brothers and the neighborhood boys I played in the street with. My mom was horrified. Where would I dress out? In the hockey room silly…that was my response.

My mother’s response was absolutely not. A locker room is for boys only. They have jock straps and male parts. No way she said. This is the first time I learned about equal opportunity. Despite my mom’s resistance she let me do it. Play hockey that is on the all-boys team.

I’m sure the coach hated getting the token girl but they couldn’t say no because there wasn’t a girls team! Hahaha I thought to myself then and I giggle about it now as well. I had to change in the ticket office season after season. The window office that you pay money at but it had a wood piece covering up the window when I had a game so I could change. Little did I know I was receiving an accommodation because I lacked a penis.

I started on the C line (or the crappy line). I had to show my worth and do everything the boys could do in practice. And oh I sure did. I made it to the B line and then the A line. That’s when I became respected as a contributor. I liked reading my name in the paper each week for goals scored.

I moved on to baseball, not softball. Another no girls allowed club. I tried out for little league team. The powers that be wanted me to play triple-A instead. So I went and whomped on all the little boys and my coach also coached football so he said I’d like her to come play for me. I was excited. Bigger pads and a new sport to conquer.

Only there was a big but. My mom threw down the gauntlet. She said no. No more boy sports. I think she was horrified where my dad was thrilled. It ended up working out okay as high school was approaching and well, I hit my glow up. It worked out better for me to be one of the guys but look good in a dress too so I just went with the flow. How funny is it now that I can be one of the guys but still look good in a dress?!?!

Now as an adult I smile when I see the all-girls hockey teams at the collegiate level, when I see girls crossing over in male dominated sports. Why? Because it prepares the young girls for adulthood.

I fight for a seat at the man’s table more often than I’d like to admit. It sucks but I don’t back down. I have to check the box on applications stating I’m disadvantaged in business meaning I operate a women-owned business. There are so many eyebrows I raise as an adult that are not that different than when I was a kid.

I love my male counterparts, don’t get me wrong. I love their energy, their strength and their abs most days. I do however appreciate a level playing field if we have to compete. That could be a scaled weight in a lifting competition. It could be fair treatment in a business loan application. It could be a fair shot at a head coach position vs. an assistant. I mean you can see this all the way up to the presidency.

The world has come a long way but surely has a long way to go to even out the playing field. Today’s post is all about the modern day sexism that surrounds us all in one way or another.

This post was titled life’s penalty box for a reason. I said I liked to see what it was like to be in the box. The box is full of life lessons. They will be there tomorrow, they are there today and they were there when I was a kid. I embraced the challenge of the box when I was kid and am doing so now as an adult.

Heck I even go in and out of the penalty box within the four walls of my own home. Which gender is expected to cook, clean, do laundry, bring home the bacon, and attend parent conferences? Ahhh the penalty box is somewhat like Pandora’s box.

Since this is a 2 chicks blog site I am entitled to such a rant. Xoxo to any males who read this.

coaching

Life as a Coach

Being a coach is an amazing opportunity to impact others. A life coach. A sports coach. A business coach. They all have their own opportunities to impact others.

I have had the luxury of coaching kids in varying age groups and sports, staff members, and those who need life management support or motivation. No matter what coaching project I am working on, I love about 98% of the process.

I enjoying winning games, but I like losing as well. Teaching others how to recover from a loss can be a challenge, but it’s life. We will never win everything in life so losing is a valuable tool for kids and adults to learn or relearn.

I enjoying coaching people personally and professionally. I love seeing them hit goals, make strides with confidence and succeed at what they are working toward achieving. Coaching provides me with as much new inspiration as I expect the folks receive under my coaching programs.

What’s the 2% I don’t like?

It boils down to those that are classified as uncoachable. It could be a team member at work who can’t see their own flaws and refuses to make adjustments to foster team or individual growth. It could be the player who doesn’t respect the coach’s authority. Or my favorite is those who think they can do the coaching from the sidelines. It could be a parent coaching from the sideline at a game. It could be the parent jockeying for play time for their amazing child prior to a game. It could even be your colleague at work who is coaching you in a false direction for their own personal gain. Or maybe your boss is coaching you downward by devaluing your efforts and contributions. This one gets me all the time but it happens!

The two percent is never my favorite but it will never dictate my actions. As a coach I am expected to lead. Lead by example. Lead with integrity. Lead with confidence. I don’t second guess my coaching ever. That doesn’t mean I have never been questioned either. It just means I am confident in what I do and the end results.

Many may want to coach but few will actually commit the time, the preparation and the consistency required to coach long-term. Coaching at the youth level is normally an unpaid gig. With that being said, the adults who bring kids to games and practice seem to think they are in the big leagues. That is an irony for sure.

When I say big leagues people start looking for college scholarships at about 6th grade. This is insane as most 6th graders are trying to remember to brush their teeth before school, not think about where they want to go for college. In addition, a lot can happen from 6th grade to 12th. In sports for example, injury or burn out is possible. This pressuring at a young age should be cautioned.

Then you shift to the workplace. Coaching should be a daily occurrence but many managers lack the ability to coach, give guidance and support their counterparts. This doesn’t normally end well. Lack of time. Lack of experience. Inability to see others needs. All are reasons I hear why coaching is lacking in business.

In a workplace, most employees crave feedback. Most want kudos for good work but some actually want to know how they can improve. In a healthy work environment you see strong leaders with tenured staff when feedback is prominent.

On the flip side, gossipy workplaces and poor production can occur when communication is weak and praise is limited. This often happens in smaller workplaces with limited human resources. These are the toughest coaching scenarios for me to take on and results are not always guaranteed.

My favorite coaching happens at the volunteer level with youth in my community. I have a pure opportunity to impact the lives of tomorrow’s leaders. I have watched elementary students turn into middle school leaders. I have watched middle school athletes turn into college recruits. I have seen high schoolers turn into coaches. The list goes on and my cup runs over with pride.

My next favorite group is young adults. The 18-26 age range. The know-it-all’s to the I-am-beginning-to-adult group. I have many that fall into this category. Some have turned into entrepreneurs while others are in leadership roles under a firm. This group is inspiring in a whole different way. I get to see them evolve in today’s world which is so very different than when I was their age. The growth that occurs here is fast and extremely fun to watch.

The adults. This is the group that can be complicated. Life wears you down and I help pick up the pieces. So many end up in different stages. This is the most challenging yet exciting to conquer. We are all set in our ways. We can have bad habits. We can lack structure and drive. We can be impacted by negative thoughts or online posts. When I coach I have to find out how each person ticks to customize a solution to suit their needs.

It’s a life puzzle. I love to solve puzzles and that’s why I choose to coach. If you know anyone looking for a personal guide, virtually or in-person, send them my way. Custom coaching options fit into any lifestyle and budget.

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