I’m sitting in a Starbucks just outside Seattle University, sipping on my dark roast at the time of this writing. I’m about to have a meeting to go over some of my duties for my new position; Instructor in SU’s Kinesiology department.
I. Am. Stoked.
It hasn’t been this way for awhile, though.
You see, for the last year, after having left NSCA HQ to relocate for my wife’s job, I had been struggling.
Why? I lost my ‘self’; my identity that I held for myself. My path was muddied, blurry.
I was lucky enough to have a job when I arrived in sunny California. Not just that, but one that I wanted extremely bad – to be paid to coach weightlifting!
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the job and the people I worked with every day; staff and athletes. They welcomed me into their gym and we became close as a community; that was great and I couldn’t wait to go to work each day.
However, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a strength coach – specifically that of the collegiate or professional level. This notion that I’ve held for so long was no longer true and that bothered me for awhile.
In fact, I could see myself moving further away from that possibility.
What’s the Problem with Identity?
Feeling the way I did is totally normal…and sucks. When we perceive ourselves to only be one “thing” it becomes hard when our situation changes.
It’s akin to an athlete, having played their sport for decades, no longer being able to continue. Where do they go from that point?
It’s a tough transition to say the least.
Having said all of this, it’s important to realize that we are all more important as people than we are as our titles. At the end of the day, it’s what we do within the position as a service that counts.
“But isn’t that the same thing?”
Well, yes and no.
Our positions can change and we can still make a positive impact on similar ground.
I’d say that is something that we should all remember.
So, what’s all this have to do with ‘Drive?’
I think it comes down to purpose; why are you here?
What’s Your Drive?
I’ve been reading the book, Drive, by Daniel Pink, and it is pretty much an instant classic. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read ton make you a better coach.
It’s really a business book but, in reality, it applies to everything because the main discussion is on motivation and what gets people going (part of our jobs as coaches, yes?).
Through the last year I’ve realized that it is not what I am doing (strength coach, author, weightlifting coach, etc.), necessarily, but how and why I am doing it.
This gives me a sense of purpose as long as I’m enjoying the work, whatever it may be, and feel I’m making an impact.
Pink discusses three things that are important to intrinsic motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Autonomy in what we do drives us to take ownership and be more creative in the ways in which we solve problems and develop novel ideas.
Mastery is having a handle on your task and entering a “flow state” in that moment (a little different than the typical 10,000 hour mastery you may think of, as there will always be different meaning to each word we come across).
Lastly, if you have defined your purpose and are working towards it in different mediums, it really doesn’t matter what you’re doing at the time, as long as it falls in line with that purpose.
Dominate Whatever You Do
I know this post is a little scrambled, but stay with me.
What I realized over the last year is that I can still be happy without being a strength coach. I know, some of you may be shocked.
Happiness is really what it comes down to in the end. If you’re not enjoying your life and are not engaged in what you do from moment to moment, you’re just going through the motions. Nobody likes that!
So what I found is that it’s not necessarily the title of “strength coach” with which I was identifying, but that of a teacher-type role.
That is the same reason that I have this blog – to educate.
This is the aspect I truly enjoy; I have autonomy by putting my own spin on the same topics others teach, coach, and author, mastery because it’s what I know, do, and enjoy on a daily basis, and purpose because this is what I feel I am here to do – educate those who have not yet made it to my level (whatever that may be).
Take Home: Don’t identify with a single position or job; define what your purpose is and find how to best serve it through multiple mediums. That way, if one of those mediums is no longer possible, you can find another through similarities in serving your purpose.