Serendipity, Synchronicity, and Transformations – A powerful week in July
Coaching is something I’ve been drawn to do for most of my life and it has been with thoughtful devotion that I seek to master a skill you can never truly master. The best way I’ve found to discover the truths along the journey are to find joyful ways to engage in play.
The week of July 20th, 2014 will be remembered as a powerful week of serendipity for my life experience. Life is stunning in its synchronicities and being aware of powerful coincidences can bring about extraordinary transformations. Being a coach is a wonderful gift everyone should experience. Being able to witness, first-hand, what people can do with a bit of support is a profound understanding to experience.
A student will come to a coach, hungry for something more…hungry to get more out of themselves.
We feed and nourish the student with ideas and attitudes. We find the angle for their next step. Day after day you start to see changes in their thought and emotional process. We hold the student accountable. They begin to have a feeling. When this mirrors up with belief; amazing things happen. The transformation is often seamless; happening in small increments daily until together the days add up to a completion of form.
Coaching for over 2 decades, I’ve witnessed countless transformations each one powerful in its own way. Witnessing the adaptions take place can be just as powerful for me as a coach as it is for the student going through the process of change. As a coach we store each experience in our library to use in creative ways for the next metamorphosis to take shape.
I’ve been fortunate to work with 6 year olds and 70 year olds all seeking out their own unique conversion. Witnessing these alterations has had a profound effect and I’m grateful for seeing how fast people make a change when they decide it’s time. I love being a catalyst for setting up serendipity. In the process I always get coached as well. The synergy is powerful.
The week started off with one of the more powerful transformations any parent will witness. Seeing my daughter turn from 3 to 4 gave me a wonderful feeling of sadness swirled in with happiness as these two emotions began dancing and blending to give me a supreme moment of gratitude. Surrounded by friends and family I hit the pause button on life and felt an internal/ external connectedness to eternity.
Change is a beautiful thing to accept and witness, it is all around us and must be embraced with an open mind.
On July 23, not one but two of the bigger transformations I’ve played a role in became national stories. Meaningful coincidence? Synchronicity!
First came the news that Lucas and Noah were getting coverage on the Today Show and that they were going to send out a film crew for their next Triathlon in Emmett, Idaho!
I met Alissa and her boys on April 30th after a short exchange of e-mails and an introduction from my father and CEO of the Y. He had met with the family and had the foresight to send them to the TriClub. Knowing only that Lucas was born with a rare and life-limiting neurological condition and was limited to a wheelchair. I did not see this as a problem but more as an opportunity and a challenge to find play in one of its many forms.
Triathlon!? For a 6 year old boy confined to a wheelchair, you say? Absolutely!
See the possibilities.
One of the key characteristics of a coach is to see, create, and imagine the best in people.
Alissa, Noah, and Lucas came to the Y and met with me in the ‘cave’ (our TriClub office tucked away nicely in the basement with no windows and lots of endurance equipment). It was striking and immediately noticeable the bond the brothers had. For most other brothers the closeness would have been crossing personal space boundaries. But these two had a different way of communicating. Lucas has an amazing presence. I’ll never forget the smile he had when we first met. It said everything I needed to know about Lucas. The intelligence in the eyes opened up my heart. The eyes are his best source of communication albeit with the closeness of the brothers I think Noah picks up more than just Lucas’s gaze.
I was struck by Noah’s poise as well. At only 8 he seemed to have some character values well beyond his years. I recognized the gift of having a younger brother with special needs. Noah has an ability to empathize and be compassionate that envelopes his character.
Lucas has severely impaired motor skills from a disorder known as lissencephaly. The family was there to meet and talk about ways to incorporate Lucas and Noah into our youth triathlon program at the Y.
I knew we could make this work, I wasn’t sure exactly what we could do but I knew it would be a playful journey of discovering the ways we could train. My main objective was to be welcoming and to listen so that we could be supportive of their needs. Then, walked in Willie. William Stewart also known as the legend that he is, “one-arm Willie”. Willie is one of my favorite people and he’s taught me so much. He is one of those characters that has experienced a rich life and has energy to give back. He helped convey the possibilities and I think Willie was the first to recognize that the story had implications at the national level. Shortly after that another super hero of the TriClub coaching staff came in, Kelly Driver, and the meeting really took on a celebration to start this playful journey. We were all psyched to set the stage for some brotherly play.
The next day Alissa, Lucas, and Noah came to a TriClub practice and we facilitated some play. We found out that Noah had some work to do on his swimming and that with a little help from Alissa; Lucas could participate in all our swim, bike, run activities. I think we had subtly mentioned some racing opportunities in our first meeting but hadn’t really locked anything down yet. After a few TriClub practices we had a summer goal; The Y Not Triathlon on July 12. That gave the family just 2 months to get ready for Noah to pull and push Lucas through an entire triathlon. Did I mention Noah couldn’t really swim…! That didn’t faze Noah; he is brave, determined and fueled with love for his brother.
I’ve seen kids transform from barely keeping their heads above water to completing a 150 yard swim in one week. So I was confident Noah would gain the skill he needed to swim in a lake while pulling his brother. But he would need to be committed to weekly practice/play.
Alissa and Noah came to a few of the adult 1 hour swim clinics that I coach. For Noah we mostly just enabled some time to be in the water and play for the first couple sessions. After a few sessions he was getting confident in the water having learned his balance. The seamless transformation had begun.
The journey was amazing for me; I can only imagine the joy for the Aldrich’s. We spent several weeks out biking around downtown Boise meandering down the greenbelt. It felt good to have a family playing together in our program. Sometimes Alissa would pull Lucas in a chariot and sometimes Noah would show off his strength by taking a turn. Alissa is fortunate to be able to come out and play with her sons and it brings much joy to see them play together.
Our sport is wonderful for creating imaginative ways to get outside and explore as an entire family.
Lucas and Noah completed the triathlon and did it with smiles, just 2 months after walking into the cave and inquiring about our wonderful sport. Little did we know that the local News coverage was soon going to go viral on a national scale!
Playing a role and seeing a transformation take place is a life changing event. It is wonderful to see the Aldrich Family be able to share their story of love and its profound implications with the nation.
I’m grateful for getting to know you guys this summer! Love manifesting in the power of play. Keep playing Aldrich family; we’re just getting warmed up.
As if this story was not enough for the whole year, I found out about another transformation getting its start in the ‘cave’ and getting national attention later that same day.
Matthew Weatherly White is a co-founder of Restwise and another one of my favorite people who has taught me much and I’m very grateful for his mentoring. Right around the time that Matthew had started educating me on the implications and applications for the Restwise tool, Chad Ward approached me about private coaching.
Chad had been a weekend warrior most of his adult life with a background in competitive sports in his youth. He was always up for the challenge. Then, in the span of 2 years he battled and won against melanoma and then prostate cancer. When Chad attempted to get back to the active lifestyle he had been used to, he was experiencing abnormal amounts of fatigue. Some level of frustration and depression set in.
Upon meeting with Chad I empathized well and recognized many signs of overtraining. I haven’t experienced cancer but like Matthew, (much of his inspiration for RW came out of doing a ‘number’ on himself with overtraining) I had been a chronic over trainer in my younger days. The summer going through this overtraining at its peak was tough but the experience for being a coach today is incalculable. Chad’s pre and post cancer bodies, at least for the time being, were very different. It took much less stimulus than he was used to, to see the immediate effect of over-doing-it.
I was eager to coach Chad and support him in finding his playful activity levels again. But I also recognized a part of him in me. A competitive, determined, I’m-tough-enough attitude that can get you in a whole lot of trouble if you don’t channel the energy appropriately. I also knew that mirroring up an athlete that is driven and motivated with a coach that excites this aspect can be a recipe for disaster. The last thing I wanted to do was push Chad to hard, even once. At this point he was standing at the edge of a cliff, one wrong move or a stiff breeze and he would have seen his active lifestyle dreams take a potential long term plummet.
I also knew he was ready for activity; we just needed to reset what exercise and training met for Chad. That’s not to say that it needed to be this-really-easy-don’t-do-too-much kind of thing. But it did mean recognizing the wide range of variables that play into optimizing the day. Being able to listen to the body and very clearly know where the sweet spots lay. While understanding that the sweet spot floats around from day to day.
Restwise was just the tool for creating a powerful feedback loop between Chad and I. Matthew was gracious enough to sit down and discuss the tool in a serendipitous meeting between Chad, Matthew and I. I was still understanding the magic of the tool and Matthew continued to tutor us on a wide array of training methodologies.
The snowball was just launched from high up on the mountain.
RW allowed me to adjust his training daily to meet the needs of his body and mind based on the RW scores. Initially, I wanted it as a safeguard. But the tool was instrumental in morphing Chad’s attitude and knowledge about training. He evolved and transformed over the coming weeks and months. He began to find his pre-cancer activity levels. He began to play again but this time he had more tools in the toolbox for optimizing each and every day; setting the stage to find more enjoyment in being active. The RW tool is almost magical in how it sends the user on a journey while giving them the tools to start optimizing each and every day. The rite of passage is captivating in its simplicity when understood and applied appropriately.
The first test with Restwise and Livestrong proved to be a big win for everyone involved. I introduced Matthew to Mary Biddle with the Livestrong group at the Y and they took the Restwise tool all the way to being a finalist in The Big C Competition!
The day was shocking for sure; two transformations that I played a role in and witnessed first-hand had just become much bigger national stories. The synchronicity from these two events coming out on the same day seemed to be a powerful message from the universe.
The very next day I met with an amazing Life Coach with many talents, Shelli Johnson. I’ve been wanting, asking, yearning for mentorship and Shelli is exactly the breed of coach I want to learn and emulate from. We had a short but insightful meeting and I gained so much from the experience. Thank you for breaking trail on the path I’d like to emulate and for daring me to be better.
Thanks for listening, I’m grateful for the mentors in my life…and that includes every person I have the pleasure of working with. I’m grateful for being able to witness and take part in all your journeys.