Solving Problems

I promise this is not a post about religion…

A while back, I was reading about the story of the farmer and Buddha. If you  haven’t read this story, I have written it in a more relatable way below. I think this story could be very beneficial to your gymnasts (older) and your coaches. Hopefully, everyone gets similar value from it that I have.

A gymnastics coach visited a veteran coach.

“I have read lots of your articles, watched many of your videos, and have heard from several friends how much you have helped them in their careers to be better coaches. I especially enjoyed your cartoon, ‘When will my Natasha start doing back handsprings?’ I have some problems and I am hoping that you can help me.

“I love coaching, but it is often incredibly challenging and sometimes I feel underappreciated. I have great friends in and out of the sport, but sometimes they don’t understand the pull I feel from each side. I coach a lot of great kids, but sometimes I feel they aren’t very confident or aggressive. A few of them can even be lazy. Most of the parents of the gymnasts I coach are great! They are supportive of my philosophy and I am really happy with them, but I do have some who are unreasonable. I know that I am lucky to be involved in such an incredible occupation, but I have to live paycheck to paycheck and it stresses me out. And I really like the coaches I work with and the owner of the gym, but we don’t always see eye to eye on things and I feel like my opinion is undervalued.”

“I can’t help you with these.” The mentor said, without hesitation.

The coach was surprised. “But…your videos…my friends…they were sure you could help me with this! You’re famous!”

“I can not help you with these types of problems, Christopher. We ALL have 83 problems. It is the reality of life and coaching. Or anything we do. Of course, you should never stop trying to solve your problems, but you have to understand. If you solve one of your problems, another will pop up in its place. If you solve another, the same will happen and on and on, until you die. We will ALWAYS have 83 problems. I may be able to help you with your 84th problem, however.” the mentor finished.

The coach was confused, “And the 84th problem is…?”

“The 84th problem is your desire NOT to have problems.”

What I have taken from this story is that life itself is never without its challenges. Our “problems” are often amplified by our desire to have a “problem-free” life. The challenges themselves have no natural, real value (good or bad). They are simply challenges. Their value only exists in our own perceptions.

So, to me, this means that our biggest challenge is in accepting that we will always have many, many “problems”. This does not mean that we should do nothing about these challenges. Of course, this is what defines our successes and, especially in the coaching profession, it is part of our daily routine. But we can handle the challenges better, if we can focus on what is real, rather than what we create from this desire to be without problems.

I really feel this can be of help to everyone. This idea can be applicable to most of the challenges that arise during a high level (or moderate/low, for that matter) of gymnastic training for our athletes. Fear, frustration, sacrifice, pain, being tired, lacking confidence, performance anxiety, etc. are much more easily dealt with when the athlete doesn’t already feel like a failure for experiencing the “problem” to begin with.

I would really be interested in everyone’s thoughts on all of this. Please comment, if you would like to join a discussion.

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2 Comments on “Solving Problems”


  1. “So, to me, this means that our biggest challenge is in accepting that we will always have many, many “problems”. ”

    A great lesson for any coach. There will always be a parent that gets in the way. A get you can’t quite get to. An official you disagree with. Those problems will always be there, so how can you learn to keep solving them?


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