Mentors and Coaches

The people closest to me determine my level of success or failure. The better they are, the better I am. And if I want to go to the highest level, I can do it only with the help of other people. We have to take each other higher. 
- John Maxwell

I am a firm believer that the people around you determine your success. I think it all goes back to when Mama used to say: birds of a feather flock together! 

A lifetime or two ago, when I was in sales, my director had a great exercise for us once or twice a year. First, list the names of everyone in your closest circles; the people you talk to on a daily or weekly basis. Then, go through each and if - when you walk away from that person [or get off the phone with them], you feel uplifted, encouraged, stronger, faster, fitter, smarter, better -- mark a little plus sign by their name. If you feel pessimistic, hurt, confused, frustrated or angry, mark a little negative sign by their name. You may find that some people make you feel a little of both and that you've put a + and a - sign by their name [and it's very likely to be someone you live with!]  If so, mark a little circle beside their name. 

The biggest part of the exercise is to surround yourself with those with the + by their name. Start spending more time with people who believe in your growth and your dreams and work. You don't need to eliminate those with the big fat minus mark - but for a few weeks or months, try spending less time with them. Or - even better - become their plus-mark - the influencer for their dreams and efforts and positive attitudes.


I am intentional about seeking those who lift me to the next level. I want leaders in my life to show me the way. I want adventurers and lovers-of-life and goal-setters. I look for those who see the best in people and situations and share my strengths. I even look for those who round out my weaknesses. Example-setters that will teach me how to improve. Here are some of my personal-life birds:
Adventurers and Leaders

Athletes and Encouragers of the YDubTriClub

My Family
Personal-Growth Seeker Susan
Positive Laid-Back Energy and a Dose of Moxie

I also make a point to surround myself with coaches and mentors who are one step ahead (maybe two). I learned in year two of my triathlon-ing that my coaches at the YDubTriClub pushed me a little further, expected a little more and believed in my performance when I didn't. I made huge leaps in training and races that year!

In the past few months, I've added a CCO (chief coaching officer) to the roster. I've been working with Stacey Richardson of TriStacey Coaching! In November, I sought her out to solve a few issues in my own personal performance, to get a fresh, live perspective on coaching and maybe interview her for this very blog! In January, I joined her TryIt team in preparation for the M-Dot Raleigh 70.3 in June. Each week, she sends me challenging workouts. More importantly, we talk each week. I ask her dumb questions about how to coach and give her feedback (i.e. whine) about those challenging workouts! She encourages me. She responds to  my specific limiters and strengths. She passes on invaluable info. It is evident every time we talk that she LOVES what she does. This is what I strive for, too! 

One funny fact? I haven't even met her yet! We've Skyped, we've chatted by phone, we've exchanged emails. Your mentor or coach may be someone already in your circle - or someone you've never met. They may be your pastor, an inspiring coach, an energetic athlete or even Oprah Winfrey! Listen to their podcasts, read their books, discover their strengths and then emulate them.

I'm excited to say that I get to meet my coach next weekend! I'm headed to a multi-sport expo in Durham on Saturday where she is a featured speaker! Plus, on Sunday - I attempt my first track practice under her tutelage. Yikes! Stay tuned for that and maybe even the aforementioned interview.



It's a new year! This year, as in years past, my first order of business in the new year is to choose MY ONE WORD. My one word "is an experiment designed to move you beyond the past and look ahead. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD. This process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future.  It helps me do something about one thing and instead of nothing about a lot of things." 

My words in past years included RESOLVE, MATURITY, REFLECTION, HONOR, FUEL and STORY. The experiment is primarily focused on spiritual formation - helping me to grow into the type of person you want to become. Of course, I've found that it seeps into everything I do - my physical life, my professional life, my personal relationships. For instance, in 2011 I chose FUEL. I chose it because I wanted to know what fuels my faith, but it obviously has ties to my fitness as well. I realized that wheat thins don't really fuel me. I learned what foods DO fuel me and what fires me up to stay fit. [Competition with myself]

So what is it this year? MY ONE WORD is POSTURE. I want to become someone who is firm in my faith. I want to be present and established in my trust in God. I want be careful that instead of bowing up to God's rules that I bow down to His presence. Personally, I've started to use it in conversations. I check out my body language - is it a posture of listening? Do I have a posture of being right or am I being open to what's being said?
cross overAgain, there are obvious ties to my fitness. I have already started to see my runs, rides and swims through a lens of POSTURE. Do I have slight lean forward when I run, are my shoulders low and loose, am I in a straight line in aero, are my arm extensions straight instead of crossing over my center line in the pool? I know from years past that I'll take this practice into my training and my races. Last year, my word was STORY. During those long miles on the bike in last year's B2B I would think of the fun stories of our summer rides. I would think of the stories from childhood or practice mentally writing the ideal scene for the next few miles.

What is your ONE WORD for 2013. If you need help choosing a word, I encourage you to check out the book MY ONE WORD by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. Or, visit the website for ideas from other wordies HERE.


Happy New Year

It's 2013! I love the start of a new year. It holds such promise and hope; so many new possibilities and opportunities. January seems to offer a reboot  personally, professionally, physically and spiritually. I'm ready to see what this year has in store. 

My biggest news? I signed up for the big one. At 10:26 on New Year's Eve I entered my first-ever iron-distance triathlon! That's right! On October 26, 2013 I will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. That's 140.6 miles in one day.

It's daunting. I'm scared. I'm not just half crazy anymore.....I'm full-on crazy. I've already had one anxiety dream about race day - and I know there are more to come. I've never even run a marathon - let alone a marathon after 112 miles on a bike. I've already had technical difficulties on my runs and rides and bronchitis to boot. But I can't wait to try this. I can't wait to do what I never thought I could. I can't wait to train - to swim in the channel at the crack of dawn or ride with my friends on a country road or run in the dark on race day. I can't wait to take you with me.