Thursday, August 18, 2011

A friendly competition? (more like a battle with myself)

Its the end of the summer. There is a ritual to this time of year. This year is no different, only the stakes for the upcoming year are a bit different. On the school front, The administrative staff I will be working with has changed, one of my colleagues has retired and a few of the students I learned so much from have graduated. There is still that drive to be at the top of my game as a teacher, and that is exhausting. To think I haven't even started yet. Why is it so important to continue to better myself? What you expect to hear is that its for the students sake but I will tell you that it is a bit more of a selfish reason, it keeps my job fresh, keeps me wanting to come to work. Then there is THAT bit of ego THAT creeps in and I am afraid not to reach. Someone else might show me up. (oh the stress of this- hold that thought)

As for coaching, my son doesn't like listening to me anymore (teenagers!). I have come to the conclusion that coaching him is a HUGE challenge that I cannot take personally so I have been trying to ignore... Then there is this other thought, I have taken on a new position at a local speedskating club. I am really excited about this venture but sad that the former coach has retired. I learned more from him about teaching than I ever had in any class. I wonder if I can fill his shoes. Yet I know, as a different person, with a different teaching style, that this expectation of myself is not realistic. Then there is the ego. There are many who have these expectations of me, who will undoubtedly be very critical and waiting for me to fail (and they aren't even from the club). What do I do with those feelings? There is this pressure to out-preform. (this too is stressful- and hold that thought too).

Then there is my studio life, something I have neglected lately, or have I? Just because I haven't touched clay in about 7 weeks does not mean that I am out of the game? Whats typical over the summer is that I do a great deal of studio work, almost as if I am making up for lost time with the relaxed pace. Well this summer I have traveled extensively, crossed the country 2x and put almost 12,000 miles on a brand new car. I have gained a great deal of inspiration from what I have seen. There is this reality, however, I have a wood-firing in a month's time, and I need to get a great deal of work done, make up for lost time. (this thought is stressful- hold that thought)

OK, financial wows, trying not to buy into the Jones's perspective on material acquisitions and yet knowing that there are certain things that need attention. The kitchen... finding 3 sponsors for Chris to help cover the 15K season (you'll get logo space on his USA skinsuit - shameless plug) skate boots for Chris...finding a way to raise another 2.2k for Dana Farber (giant pit in the stomach stressfull)...and everything else that needs attention (CALGON won't even touch this stress- hold that thought)

The there is taking care of myself. Making the time to exercise, to eat right, to sleep enough, to challenge myself to want to do more for me. Do I even have the time for this? How do I keep the above stress from strangling me, robbing me of my me time? (stressful - hold that thought)

SO what to do with all this stress? If I hold it in it just becomes bricks and mortar on my waistline. If I let it out, I run the risk of loosing some of my drive...(oye, the stress of it)

I started this post because I read the Healthy Living Blog in today's NY Times and it got me thinking about the people I know who need to WIN at all costs. They think less (alot) of the people around them that don't share this mentality even to the point of balking at something as gracious as a volunteer effort. Immediately I felt my stress level (and anger) rising, and I found myself wondering why I care so much about what these types think? Why the competition? Who is that (un)friendly contest with anyway? There will always be those that believe only those capable of winning should enter the race. That will NEVER change. I say to the rest of you something I learned from a very wise 24 year old top of the heap skater who is focused enough on what is important that he has the time to give back. "Buying into that win at all costs mentality will actually hold you in contempt of your own life. You'll eventually get in your own way and find you have no one around to help you out, so live positively, give, and the world will give back ten fold."

Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I am reading this book called the Talent Code (Daniel Coyle). You can find his book and blog at this link. I am fascinated by this book because it discusses all the tenants one knows to be true as an observant teacher, that talent is something that is taught, not innate. What one does with that developed talent depends on the type of practice that is engaged in. Reading has let me affirm some of my practices as a teacher. It has also led me to understand that I know why I stress at all those things that I need to feel more comfortable with. Its all part of the process, call it practice, of becoming whole. As I try to figure out how to let go of the unnecessary (stresses) and continue on with the purposeful,  I try to remember that the more I give, the more I will get back, and notoriety has nothing to do with it.

No comments: