I have been thinking a lot about role models in my life. Mentors. People who have inspired or challenged me to be better than my self-defeating mind thought I ever could be. I am disappointed to say that as I have gotten older, my ability to identify those people has gotten harder. Role models are hard to come by when you’re a woman in your 30s. I wish it wasn’t so, but it is. So I turn back and find never-ending strength and inspiration for the people who have helped me become who I am today.
There are few people in my life who have impacted me as much as my high school rowing coach - Ahsan. As with many role models, I didn’t recognize how much of an impact he had on my life until much later. He is still a huge presence in my life (even from far away), and I wonder how many other women still maintain strong and healthy relationships with their coaches, trainers, and teammates. Athletics has been transformative for me in that way. There is something exceptionally rare about working towards a goal with the unwavering support of a team of people you believe in. It is something I took for granted for much too long. Here are just a few of the things I have learned from my dear coach and friend:
- Give people a tangible experience with something they can believe in and/or be proud of
- Show up. Even when it’s hard. Showing up, even if you suck, makes you better.
- Be genuinely passionate about something you believe in. Passion is contagious.
- Hold people to a high standard because you whole heartedly believe in their potential - not because you have selfish demands or expectations.
- Don’t expect others to sacrifice if you don’t have some visible skin in the game too.
- Affirm what is good. Acknowledge what is not working. Commit to making both better.
- Improve upon everything within your power to control - the rest is a ineffective use of your good energy