A powerful story

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Coach Shannyn working with 2 young athletes Northwestern University 2012

Several days ago, a former student of mine told me that he was once a ‘special ed’ student and that his coach said if he was a good student in the wrestling room, he could be a good student in the class room.  Okay, so that’s part of the story and here’s more of it –> this student ended up moving out of special education classes into ‘regular ed’ classes, graduating from high school, college, then getting a masters degree.  “So what” you say?  Well, that special coach inspired this student and this student took it to another level.

Right after my former student told me that story, I told him about the starfish story.  You know the one about the child picking up beached starfish and throwing one out of a million starfish back into the ocean.  Here’s a longer version of this story.  An older man asked this child what she was doing.  The child responded by saying she was throwing starfish back into the ocean.  The man then suggested that her actions would not make a difference.  The child responded “it just made a difference to that starfish”.

 My former student then replied, “that was powerful coach” and I replied to he “you are powerful too”.

Okay, so there are several layers to both stories and below is a description.

Everyone deserves an opportunity to be a champion. 

The word ‘champion’ throws a lot of people off course because many folks believe that a champion is the person who finishes first in voting or competitions or some other similar criteria.  My question to you is this “Aren’t both folks above champions?”.  My definition of a champion stems from the mindset of always trying to do your best and or inspiring/motivating someone the opportunity to “believe, achieve, and succeed”.  (I stole this line believe, achieve, and succeed from another former student of mine -Olympic Bronze medallist Randi Miller.)  The student above believed in his coach, and certainly, the coach believed in the student.  Those starfish likely would have died on the beach and the girl believed throwing them back into the ocean would give them life and make a difference.  My second question is twofold “Aren’t folks champions who always find a way to achieve after adversity and those who make a positive/productive difference?”.

Many people will disbelieve in your opportunities. 

The man who asked the girl what she was doing did not believe helping one starfish was important.  Maybe, other teachers of the student above did not believe he was capable of being a great student or that he was important (which is really scary).  Perhaps, non-believers can not see the opportunities that each one of us has in this world…  It is important when others disbelieve in you for you to continue to believe – no matter what.  Some folks are jealous, angry, envious, of you and may want you to fail for their reasons.  Others, may just believe because they have not achieved a certain level of success, that you can not either.  Again, it is important for you to believe you can achieve – no matter what.  Your success may require more smart work, more help, more persistence, more belief – from you.

“Champions are made, not born.” 

My high school coach use to say that to me every day in practice when I began to lose focus or slack off – those words immediately inspired and motivated me for quick, productive, positive change.  Working off of my definition for a champion – “always trying to do your best and or inspiring/motivating someone the opportunity to believe, achieve, and succeed” – it maybe clear to you where champions come from or it may not so here’s more…

Coach and athlete or student and teacher must work together to achieve greatness.  In other words, we all need help to attain our goals. I believe that student from above had never been inspired the way the coach inspired he.  After that inspiration, the student got to work and made a difference in his life.  He made himself a champion with help from the coach.  The starfish gained life by the help of the girl.  Another question “When we have life, aren’t we capable of anything?”.  You and I have the opportunity everday to help ourselves and to help someone else regardless of their situation.  No one is born a champion and anything can be taught/learned.

Why not shoot for the stars?

Setting your goals a little bit out of your reach is okay.  Believeing that you can improve on what you did is okay.  Helping someone else see they are important is okay.  Getting help is okay. It’s okay to fail – if you learn from that moment, correct it, and move on.  Okay.

Many folks are afraid to fail and this is one of the main reasons they may shy away from helping others or trying – really trying to make a positive, productive difference right now.  I subscribe to shooting for the stars and getting my students to believe they are capable of greatness because each of us on this earth is.  Just believing (or having someone believe in you) sometimes can make all the difference in the world.

After this belief has set in, you and I must work smartly like the student above and the girl at the beach.

Copyright © by Coach Shannyn, All rights reserved

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