When LESS is MORE

written by Erica Quam

In our busy world where everyone seems to be racing to do more, work more, get more, achieve more...when will things stop?  Just what is the breaking point?

Athletes are starting younger, specializing earlier, and working harder than ever before. Parents are pushing their kids to achieve more and more - in school, in sports, in all kinds of other areas - to lock down that elusive opportunity that they may never have had. Coaches are working longer hours, they are connected more, recruiting more, traveling more, and taking less time off.  In athletics colleges are adding summer sessions where athletes report earlier each season - which means the coaches, student assistants, and support staff are in full swing now - almost year round.  

I’m all for hard work. Don’t get me wrong.  I believe there are very few shortcuts to success. AND I don’t believe in the direction we’re heading. Something has got to change.  If it doesn’t lead to a complete burnout, it does lead to overwhelm, stress, & unhappiness.  The pace, the pressure, and the demands are insane!  

It’s time to change our culture.  And it starts with you.  It isn’t just about you or your sport.  It’s about this profession!

DO LESS, COMPARE LESS

Now, I'm not saying that anyone has it all figured out.  Life is a dance - it's an ebb and flow.  Some days require more, other days less.  The real value comes in working TOWARDS balance - even if true balance isn't achieved.  And rather than comparing yourself to other people's outsides, pay attention to exactly what you need on the inside.  

SET LIMITS, WORK SMARTER NOT LONGER

As coaches, instead of trying to “one up” each other in the hours you put in, and all the sacrifices you make...could we challenge each other to set limits, take time off, and work smarter not longer?  Could we support each other to take better care of ourselves?  Can we take a risk to do things differently according to what we each need?  Maybe if we can do a better job of this, we'll actually get more athletes who want to go into coaching!

ATHLETES VALUE WHAT THEY SEE

What specific things can you do as a coach to model balance to your team?  It's important to show your athletes that you take care of yourself and find ways to help them do the same.
- Incorporate some yoga and visualization - for yourself and your team
- Go get a massage!
- Take a 30 minute time-out from work each day: go workout, read a fun book, take a walk - do something that makes you happy and feel better.
- Schedule a weekend off for yourself and your team each quarter.  
- Schedule a vacation for yourself at the end of each season.
- After that downtime, talk about it with your team.  Ask about their experience and what they did that was fun - then they can tell you care about those things.

What are 3 things you could do to take better care of you?

It’s about the journey, isn’t it?  It isn’t just about the results and the achievements at the end.  Sure, it’s nice to achieve a goal and after it’s over, there has to be more to it.  Doesn’t it?

Life - and everything in it...including sports - is a balance between effort and letting go.  I'd recommend more of the letting go!