A long time coming… 

Well, only about 8 weeks and 3 attempted starts later, I am determined to finish this journal entry today. I’ve decided this is first priority today, so here I sit. 

So very much to write about and share, I’m not exactly sure where to start. One thing for sure, I’m in a different place now than I have been in a long time. So this version will likely be significantly different than my first attempts. 

I was recently talking to my staff at Rose Bowl that my last month has felt like I was on an out of control horse just doing my absolute best to hang on and keep the horse pointed in the right direction. Now, there’s any number of different things involved that led me to this feeling, but in the end it’s also why has brought me to the point I am in at this moment. 

There’s a lot that has gone on since my last post and so much that I wanted to share, but I think that would be getting lost in the details. That journey might be a little boring for most of you, so I’ll try to keep it as high level stuff. 

Most of you will remember that I struggled a bit this summer. Pushed myself too far and needed to learn new levels, which I continue to focus on and try to “reprogram” 39 years of pushing myself over that edge more often than not knowing that I’d bounce back just fine. I don’t bounce quite the same way anymore. 

Some of the things I have to touch on though: 

First off, just a few days after my last journal it was time to take Trenton to school. For those empty-nesters out there, I’m sorry. I was completely blindsided by the emotion I (we, but Kristine is smarter than me and knew it was coming) felt when we drove off. Now, we could not be more excited for him and really have no doubt that he will have an incredible experience as a Bear. The week before he spent with friends, we knew he’d miss them, so no problem. We drove up the coast for a few days taking him up, which was awesome, but he of course had his own room and we had a puppy, so outings were limited. All still good and amazing time with him. Move him in, all good. 👍🏼 Stay one more night to make sure he’s all settled, we go see him and grab an ice cream sandwich, say goodbye, and still just enjoying it all. Then we get in the car to head south…. are you kidding me? Not going to lie. My emotions took over and the waterworks came hard. The definition of bitter-sweet. So happy for him, but I miss having him around. 

The very next day after arriving home, I was supposed to have my scan. Once again I was late getting it scheduled though and this time didn’t go as smoothly. Scan could only be scheduled a week later. Now that was a long week! Coming off the summer I had and the pain I had felt, my scanxiety was off the scales. Scan and bloodwork all came back once again stable and good. So it was on to the next 12 weeks, which I incredibly coming up again in roughly 4 weeks, but I’m on top of it this time and have it scheduled already. 👌🏼

Those updates just to get to where I am now, and that’s kind of hard to explain. I’ve laughed a bit recently at the fact that just how “slow” I am. I’ve tried to explain to people that I’ve been doing quite a bit of “soul searching” recently. Before I go into it though, I wanted to clarify that I think it’s more like I’ve been doing a lot of “soul exploring”. I think I’ve been in touch with my soul, in varying levels during different period of times, so I’m not really “searching”. I think I’ve been exploring it more so I more than aware, but I understand it. So, for those keeping score (which isn’t good btw, not everything should be a competition… (he says to himself)), it only took me like 2 1/2 years to have a life changing epiphany after facing my mortality. 

I’m going to try to use this exact process to explain my feeling. So I have had questions in my head over the last year. Nothing crazy, just thinking about life, what I want to be doing, what means the most to me, why I do things, etc. I’ve been exploring, and for a year I aimlessly explored. I did it though while taking some of my own pressure off my coaching as an assistant only and not having that direct responsibility for performance. Ok, that didn’t take as much as in the end as I had hoped, but it did more often than not during training. So it was a good year. Then came the summer and I didn’t follow my own “coaching soul”. Performance became a little too much of the focus for me, I pushed instead of lead, and I didn’t do the job I wanted to. Imagine that, I fall off of what my true being is and I struggle? 

So, there I am and now starting to really question things. So what comes up? Kristine and I re-listen to the book, MindSet by Carol Dweck. If you haven’t, you really should, fantastic book. Which reminds me of that true growth mindset, and that I can either believe that I can learn and grow or that I am destined to repeat the same mistakes and experience the same failures. Okay, that fits pretty well in the process here for sure. 

Then we moved on to the book, Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. So this one is all about your spiritual being and your soul. I have found this book incredible and has helped me make so many connections throughout my life. I’ll have to listen to this like 3 times to get half of it, but here’s the one thought that connects so many different times in so many ways throughout my life. In the simplest of terms your life (personality) will function optimally when it is lined up with your soul. I’ll come back to this thought in a second. 

So then at USC they bring in a life coach to work with the coaching staff and she runs a full version of the DISC assessment (behavior analysis). Yet another piece of the puzzle that has settled into place during this journey. It’s funny, I say so often that I’m amazed at how things “just seem to work out”. Or maybe I should say that when I am lined up with my soul, it happens so often. 

So, it’s clear to me that when I am on the right path for me (meaning my approach to life), that things just seem to fall into place. I would still call those things blessings, but to me, those blessings come by following the path of your soul. 

What about the bad times in your life? I have thought back to some of my worst times, those times that I didn’t know if I could get through. I’m not going to review all my bad decisions, but the bottom line is clear to me, it was me that caused that pain. Bad things will happen, there’s no way around it. But the struggles in my life, during those “bad things”, was entirely based on my own decisions. Decisions that I could justify because of what happened, or what someone else did, or how I was cheated, or the world is against me, or anything else you can think of as an excuse. That “bad thing” opens a door for us to run through pointing it going look what it made me do. 😩 I made decisions that made the hardest times in my life as hard as they were. My conscious decision were not in line with my subconscious and my actions not lined up with my soul. It’s so clear to me now. 

Okay, one last story and I’ll wrap this up for anyone still following along. 😊 This past Friday we had a dual meet at USC and I had a bit of an a-ha moment on my way home. You’d think after a 15 hour day including morning workout, Jr day (socializing with Jrs and their parents), and a meet and a dinner with parents/alumni/swimmers that I would have been exhausted but I wasn’t. I actually had an energy that I hadn’t felt in a long time. 

I feel like I have finally really realized what my “coaching soul” is and how I can best use it for the athletes and for myself. As I look now, it’s something I’ve mentioned in the past but never found my clear vision. Friday’s meet gave that to me. I let ego and results get to me too much, and it took away my joy in coaching. I looked around and saw these top end coaches for years using fear, anger, and negativity to produce top results, and I think I allowed myself to get caught up in that approach. That approach though is absolutely horrible for me. I can’t stand it, but yet it took me like 4 or 5 years to really see it. 😕🤷🏼‍♂️

The meet, in ways I can’t really explain, was this calm of being able to have meaningful conversations with the swimmers and just enjoy leading those that would come up to me. I felt connected, which has been my worry over the past year, and I just had fun coaching them.  

So I have learned that I need to stay true to my approach to coaching or what I am referring to as my coaching soul. While I am competitive and I hate to lose, it’s not why I am in this sport. At the same time, I also know that this approach will work great for anyone and everyone willing to follow it. I do this job because I want to help improve people’s lives. I want to have a positive influence on these athletes and inspire as many people as I can to reach higher, believe in themselves more, and remember to enjoy life along the way. Swimming to me is the ultimate vehicle to teach life lessons, but my true passion are the athletes and leading them to a great life ahead by learning incredible life lessons through swimming. 

Alright, so I think that’s probably enough of an update. It’s been a crazy time and I still have some work to do to be caught up, but I am now at “peace” and what a great realization that was this morning. I was preparing for my weekly life coach call and when asked about “challenges or problems facing”, I felt the answer was really just, “at peace”. I don’t feel overwhelmed, I’m not upset about the little things I can’t control, I’m not necessarily “happy”, but I am in a good place. As I try to explain it, I realize just how nice it is to be at peace, and the surprising thing is it is happening in the middle of a time I was letting everything else weigh on my mind. 

So being “at peace” is a nice place to be, and now it’s time to get back to living my life and enjoying every moment of it. 

Thanks all and I wish you all the best! 

7 thoughts on “A long time coming… 

  1. Peace is really all we can ask for. I, like you, took a long time to get there. Seems we have a different goal on any given day. Work, feed the kids, rsvp to someone, get dinner on the table, deal with scanxiety……. when you are at peace it is all some much easier. Work will happen, kids will eat even if they have to feed themselves, the scan we will deal with if we need to, but peace makes it all so much easier. Less fretting, worrying and anxiety. More room for love, joy and simplicity. I love you Jeff. Thank you for caring enough to share. Xo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jeff, WOW, thank you for sharing this. I have never hand a chance to meet you but everything you wrote I can relate and connect to. I am a coach in VA and as you, finding my “coaching soul” and I coach for all the same reasons and realized I veered away from that. Thank you for putting yourself out there. You are inspiring more than just the kids that are privileged to have you as a coach but also the people that took the time to read this like myself. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

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