My sophomore year of high school I was on the junior varsity football team and our games were on Thursday nights. My freshman year we got Fridays off because of our game the night before. But my sophomore year our coach decided he wanted us to run sprints on Fridays. He tried to encourage us about it saying it would only last 30 minutes (when football practices were usually at least 3 hours) and we would be able to wear gym clothes and not have to put on all the pads. Even with this news we were not very happy about having to come in on our “day off” and run sprints. But since we didn’t really have a choice we did. Every Friday during the season we ran sprints. As the weeks went by the sprints got easier and easier. I can’t say that I was ever excited about having to go run the sprints, but that year my team finished with a record of 9-1.
My coach knew what was best for me. He knew that even though I wouldn’t want to, I needed to run sprints. It would make me better and ultimately more successful. In my life I have found that it is great to have cheerleaders, those people who will cheer you along. But what I need even more than that is a coach. I need someone who will tell me what I am doing wrong and push me to be better. People who support you are great, but they don’t always give you the honest truth. I need someone who will be straight up honest with me even if it means they are saying things I don’t want to hear.
I have strategically placed a couple of people in my life that I know I can go to and get the truth. They will encourage me and cheer me on when things are going great, but they will also challenge me and push me to do better things. And more importantly they will tell me when I’m screwing up. These people will do it in a loving way, but more in a tough love kind of way. The conversations are never comfortable and never fun, but in the end they are always exactly what I need. They have pushed me to be a better person, a better husband, and a better father.
I’ve found that if you just have cheerleaders in your life, you will never hear the tough things that will make you better. You may be in a downward spiral and people are just there cheering you on. “Yay yippee hooray you are doing great things!” But deep down you know you aren’t. And unfortunately, too many times I have found that I don’t even realize some of the mistakes I am making. If all I have are cheerleaders I probably wouldn’t have ever known. But the mentors, the coaches, in my life have been there to point them out. And they have also been there to help me get past them. Just like my JV football coach, a great coach won’t just point out your mistakes and how you can do better. They will empower you and help you change those things and lead you through it all.
So while it is great to have people cheering me on, the one thing I will always make sure I have is someone who will coach me. Someone to point me in the right direction, pick me up when I fall, tell me when I am not doing the best, and help me get through all of it.
until next time…