I am a results oriented person. When I was in school, I strove for the best grades possible. For me, the result had to be an A. In my job as editor, I hit deadlines. As a teacher, I see the results in my students’ progress as critical thinkers and writers. Some of the outcomes I could control – no one can keep me from hitting a deadline except myself and I control the speed and accuracy with which I work. As a teacher, who depends on her students’ improvement to show results, I have learned that I have to let that control go. If I have a student that just doesn’t get it or more often than not, doesn’t want to get it, I have no control. My self-worth is not dependent upon the performance of my students (well, a little bit cause if I am not teaching things effectively, then that is a problem). But, overall, I take those struggles in teaching as learning moments – it is feedback and not failure. I figure out what I have to do to be clearer for my students. I tweak a lesson and move on from there. This ability to learn from results that are “unsatisfactory”, and not see myself as a failure as a teacher, unfortunately doesn’t always translate to Stacie the athlete.
As an athlete, the result has, unfortunately been, on the clock. If I didn’t finish with the result I wanted, then it meant I had failed. That I didn’t even deserve to be out there. And, now that I am coach, there is an added pressure. I feel like if I am not fast or don’t hit my goal time, then I shouldn’t be a coach. What was pointed out to me during a recent session with Carrie Cheadle, my Mental Skills Coach, was that my ability to coach is not tied to my ability to cross a finish line at a specified time. None of my athletes tie my worth as a coach to the number on the clock – only I do. Having that conversation with Carrie was really, really helpful and I kept that thought in my head during my marathon last weekend.
I had a goal time in my head. It wasn’t a goal time based on anyone’s expectations but mine, and I was hitting every mile exactly as I should have to hit that time. I felt fantastic. My foot wasn’t bothering me. I was walking water stops and fueling correctly. Everything was going great until the pain set in…with each hit of my left foot, there was pain that started in my heel and ran up my leg. I had to slow down…I had to walk more than I wanted to and my mile splits went from fantastic to horrid and I saw my goal time slip away.
What was interesting was that as my goal time lay along the road at mile 19, my attitude didn’t. The “old” me would have started in with the negative talk, what Carrie calls “feeding the monster”. Instead I focused on simply getting across the finish line. While the thought of quitting briefly crossed my mind, it was quickly followed with “quitting is not an option.” As I came closer and closer to the finish, the feeling of satisfaction and happiness took over. It really didn’t matter about the time, what mattered was that I did it.
Will I ever do another marathon? Probably. Will I have a goal time in mind? Yep. Will everything begin and end on whether or not I meet that goal time? Nope.
On Sunday, my self-worth was not in the number of the clock, but in my ability to persevere and finish. Maybe sometimes I push myself too hard. I don’t think pushing hard is a bad thing, but pushing too hard to the point of only focusing on an outcome and basing your worth as a person on that outcome is. My self-worth is found in the many things I do for myself and for the people around me – not in anyone’s, even my own, results.