That (enthusiastic) voice in the crowd…

Cousin Andy, my mom, my dad, and Clay, ready for his first football game.

Cousin Andy, my mom, my dad, and Clay, ready for his first football game.

The idea for this post began with my mom turning to me and saying, “I’m not embarrassing you, am I?”

Her enthusiastic cheering and championing is the stuff of legends!  Well, okay.  Maybe not legends, but worthy of a reflection on why being that enthusiastic voice in the crowd is something worthwhile and too often quelled.

When we were kids, Mom attended as many of our functions/performances/events as possible.  She clapped.  She cheered.  She congratulated and hugged and smiled and made us feel like stars.

Perhaps this sounds familiar.  But the best thing about my mom’s voice in the crowd is that it has never wavered.  During middle and high school drama productions, our friends would ask, “Is your mom going to be here tonight?  I love it when she laughs.”  At my graduation, she stood up clapping, my own personal ovation, and shouted, “Way to go, Rob!”  At my convocation, much the same thing.

When we watch the Riders play football, you’d think she was coaching.  She yells and cheers and does the happy dance.  She commented today that she could do the ‘Gainer’ job (the team mascot).

And today… we were at our 10 year old’s second football game of the year.  The first became another exhibition of my mom’s enthusiastic cheering and support.  Today was much the same!  She gets so invested and is so loyal.  She wants the kids to succeed.  At one point, while being her wonderful exuberant self, she turned and said, “I’m not embarrassing you, am I?”

I’ll admit that once, a long time ago, I could have melted into the floor with some of my mom’s actions.  But not any more.  I’ve realized what a great example she’s set for me in enthusiasm, loyalty, bravery, and being yourself (even if it might not be ‘cool’).  I know that this has been an important part of who I am as a parent, wife, friend, and teacher.  It’s a big part of my work with others, and I can’t believe it ever crossed my mind that being positively and vocally enthusiastic for the success of others was ever embarrassing.  In fact, I’m embarrassed that I ever made her think that it was.

So, in answer to your question, Mom, I want to say thank you…for being the voice in the crowd, the signal of hope and encouragement.  Keep on inspiring and supporting in the wonderful, vocal way that you do.

I wouldn’t be me without it.


Coaching Beliefs: The Value of Family

This book is inspiring, thoughtful...and covered in stickies.  (I borrowed it.)

This book is inspiring, thoughtful…and covered in stickies. (I borrowed it.)

I love our annual family camping trip!  It’s an opportunity to connect with my parents and my cousin in a very enjoyable, ‘don’t care if you didn’t shower today’ kind of way.  Our children love sleeping, cooking, and playing outdoors.  This year, we arrive at our destination and, after half a year of planning, deciding on menus and who’s bringing what, we realize that we’ve forgotten two or three key items and it starts raining.  And still, through it all, we are incomparably resourceful.  We are in it together, happy to be where we are, and each helping to make the experience unforgettable.

Mom and the boys making fresh saskatoon pancakes...under the rain tarp.

Mom and the boys making fresh saskatoon pancakes…under the rain tarp.

Dad cleaning bacon fat off the hot griddle.

Dad cleaning bacon fat off the hot griddle.

Before our trip began, I had gotten deep into reading my borrowed copy of The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar (John Wiley & Sons, 2013).  I knew that our annual camping trip was for family time but my family (God Bless them!) also knows me well enough to support my #Nerdcation.  In fact, Chapter 3: “Which Beliefs Help a Coach Be More Effective?” actually had me looking at my family and our time together influencing my instructional coaching.

Elena Aguilar (@elenaaguilar) highlights that

“An essential component of coaching is supporting others to become conscious of their belief systems – about children, learning, students of color, immigrants, and so on.  But before we can engage in this work, as coaches we need to become aware of our own beliefs.” (35)

She encourages coaches to identify their core values, and her website has a great exercise for doing just that. (39) So before packing began, I took the time to recognize my core values.  And (no surprise here) they came up as: family, happiness, and making a difference.

Elena very thoughtfully outlines what she calls her “Transformational Coaching Manifesto” (40).  Many things resonated with me; yet, I felt the need to translate my core values into some belief statements of my own.  So, although I’m not calling this a manifesto, I have come up with the following key beliefs.

1. We are in this together Just like a family, teachers/colleagues experience joy, sorrow, success, failure, togetherness, rifts.  My role as a coach parallels my role in our family; I am hear to encourage, support, listen, laugh with, and cry with.  And though we may not bring the same background experiences, coaches and teachers are connected with a common goal.  Families work together.  Families aren’t always perfect.  Families have a vested interest in each others’ success.  Just like I believe coaching relationships need to be.

2. We deserve to feel happiness in our hard work.  “Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama.  This resonates with me because happiness can be so easy or so difficult, if you let it.  Be thankful, be thoughtful, give to the world what you wish to receive, and happiness will be a powerful force in your life.

3. We can each make a difference. “We are all somewhere.  And we don’t have to stay there.” (Aguilar, 40)  I need to recognize the worth and potential each person brings to each situation, and help others to see that in themselves.  I do not want to be seen as the expert who can fix things; I want to be a resource to help people make the difference they are capable of making.

“Find out what’s really out there.  I never said to be like me, I say be like you and make a difference.” – Marilyn Manson

I look forward to building and reflecting on my beliefs.  I anticipate they will change and be challenged.  But half the joy of learning is the unexpected, right?

Thank goodness for family, camping, and opportunities to be challenged and grow.