Sunday, May 8, 2011

Patience, for writers and everybody else

Fast forward through my first twenty years.

I was 21. I was in the Air Force, in a little town called North Pole, Alaska (the base was Eielson AFB and was not in North Pole; I lived in North Pole). I was not only doing the Air Force thing, but I was also writing for the local paper, the North Pole Independent. Somehow, I even got an exclusive interview with Olympic gold and silver-medalist, Tommy Moe.

But those weren't incredibly important to me. Sure, getting my first check ever for writing, for $85 which wasn't shameful in 1993, was cause for celebration. Especially sweet was that I took over feature writing, and the paper let go of their 4-year college-grad. lead journalist. I didn't need any patience; those things were almost a gift. An instant career with the Air Force. An instant, fulfilling hobby/side-job with writing for the paper.

What took the patience was the third thing I was doing. For the first and only time, I coached a little league football team. It was a first-year team, and I was a first-year coach.

Imagine having 30 kids buzzing about for 2 hours per day, from 8-11 years old. Now, organize them into defense, offense, special teams... separate line players from backfield players. Practice blocking, passing, dodging, hitting, tackling, handoffs, and other tactical processes while teaching them the discipline and focus needed to win, all the while making it FUN. Now, halfway through the season, take a cheerleader for the team and incorporate her into your offensive line as an offensive tackle, because, by golly, she wanted to play football. She hung up the pom-poms and bought some cleats.

Now, there's patience.

And with patience, you get good things. We won that year; even though we lost twice (our only two losses of the season) to a team known as the Fairbanks Bulldogs, a good friend of mine and assistant coach Mike Dubowski who played college football helped me coach the North Pole Lions in how to stop the Bulldogs, so that when the season was at an end and it was time for the "Arctic Bowl," our Superbowl, we won 26-0. The League president walked over, through the snow that had fallen and handed me a 5-foot tall trophy. I handed it to the kids and said, "I didn't do it. They did." (The man then said, "Ok but don't let them break it...").

Point of all this is that I'm living proof that although you may get some instant successes in your life, you can't get rejected a couple of times and then give up on a thing. You can't assume or believe that if something has beaten you before, it will again. You can't snap when the stressors in your life pile up and just "go off" or quit. If your ultimate goal is success, all you need are three things and I'd bet my very life that you get your success, and those are: patience, confidence, and determination.

Go get 'em. Be a Lion.

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