I am going to start this post with a bit of a back-story. There will be quite few history lessons in this post so I apologize in advance. Hopefully they all come together nicely. In my brain right now it is going to be good but sometimes things do get jumbled in there.
Back in 2007 when I moved to Korea I started my original jasonreindl.com site. This site was a way for me to keep family and friends in the loop in terms of what my life overseas in Bucheon, Korea was like. I was never a fan of mass emails as my experience had been when you send out one email you get emails back from everyone saying “cool”. So this way people could read what I was up to but would have to go out of their way to send an email rather than just hitting reply and not putting much substance in their reply. The second benefit and probably the one with greater long terms effects is that it allowed me to journal, reflect, and otherwise give some cognitive thought as to what I was doing in Korea and how I was making that amazing experience the best that it could be. In short if every post was talking about the same experiences in school, the same food, and the same weekend social events then I wouldn’t get as much out of it as I could. I won’t lie and say that I did absolutely everything in Korea because I did go back and love going back and look forward to the next time I head back. But in the end I can say that I have a variety of photos, experiences (sometimes blurry), and made a plethora of friends and memories.
In 2012 when I moved to New Brunswick I think I made one or two posts about my new life on the east coast, being back in the coaching world, and what was going on. But this quickly lost momentum and I just stopped doing it. In 2014 when I brought the latest edition of this site into focus I knew I had to make it more about my life as a coach and the processes/events that encompass it. For all the craziness and chaos that it entails I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at the moment. At the exact same time I got an invite to be a part of a study on coaches, their well-being, emotional state, and how it fluctuates with the realities of the job. One of the components of this project was to do some journaling. I am sure some coaches are thinking to themselves about the roller coaster of emotions that they go through and what a study of this would look like. Well at times it wasn’t pretty but at other times there is nothing better. So the concept was to keep it going through the website/blog but to tie it in with my coaching and some internal analysis/reflection.
One of the things that happened also at some point (not sure on the date but probably in 2012 when I got back into coaching full time) was that I came across Stuart McMillan’s blog www.mcmillanspeed.com. For those in the coaching world you are probably well aware of the site and know how Stu holds no punches. His honesty and openness is second to only maybe Derek Evely (whose interviews on Stu’s site are some of the best). This was one of the reasons why when the World Athletics Center www.worldathleticscenter.com came out with their Apprentice Coach program in 2013 I knew I had to get to it. With Dan Pfaff, Andreas Behm, John Godina, Nick Sheuerman, and Stuart McMillan involved it is an environment that is second to none and have truly established themselves as something special both for athletes and coaches.
In April 2014 I had the privilege of being part of the Apprentice Coach program. While in the moment I can say that my week in Phoenix left me in a daze. Sure lots of direct knowledge gained and professional friendships forged and strengthened in the evenings over frosty beverages – thanks Dana and Tyler. But in addition I can say I was a little bit in awe of the individuals involved. I’ll admit it, I am still and will always be a fan of track now it is just for both athletes and coaches. Maybe it was the simplicity (first thought) at the time but the programs effect on me, my coaching, and the impact I have on my athletes is like a fine wine improving with age. Surely, the inner workings of true high performance athletics must be complicated and far too advanced for a developing coach like myself to understand but the more I reflect, review, and apply what I learned the answer is the opposite. It is the laser precision focus, the years of experience of those involved, and the culture that oozes out of the environment that makes it so simple. Elite performers are special but with coaching being the artistic application of scientific principles I am coming to believe that the endless variety of opportunity and the world of coaching/sport should be an environment where simplicity is king.
One of the direct impacts that came during the last year is that my desire to broaden my depth of knowledge. I have always enjoyed reading and gaining knowledge but it certainly has been a roller coaster of highs and lows. While in Phoenix I could feel the fire being stoked and for those that have seen my photos on twitter/facebook will know that I have been reading a lot and the rules are well there aren’t any. The only rule is that I finish one book before I move onto the next. But no topic is off limits. So far I have read 22 books in 2014 since April and will hopefully be able to finish #23 by December 31st. One of the best things about the 21st century and being able to follow professionals from a variety of fields is the cross-pollination that occurs. While the early days of my coaching career were filled with track specific documents only my tastes are becoming far broader. For example, back to Stu, he recently posted his most recent blog/website post titled “Best Books of 2014”. Honestly, I haven’t read any of the books he listed but I was able, thanks to an Xmas gift card, pick up Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett. This latest edition is on the bottom of the list though as Ready to Run makes 25 books in the queue ahead of it (that I have in the shelves). After that there are 130 books that I have written down in the notes app of my phone titled “Recommended to Read” where there are countless books that have popped up and get written down or a screen shot so that I don’t forget.
But how does this all connect. So far I have touched on the blog, reflection, Stu, World Athletics Center, coaching, and my quest for knowledge through reading. Where is the connection? Well on Sunday December 28th I had the pleasure of spending the evening with my amazingly supportive girlfriend, Rebecca watching and finishing season one of “The Mind of a Chef” narrated by Anthony Bourdain. When I am not boring her with track stuff or driving myself crazy with track stuff we love watching cooking shows. I don’t cook as much as I would like but there is nothing more calming and exhilarating then watching a master chef in action. In season one the show followed Chef David Chang (owner and Head Chef of the Momofuko restaurant group). In episode twelve, titled “Buddies”, which is the final episode of the season Chef Chang is eating Clam Chowder with three other chefs. This show now available on Netflix is great because of Chang’s honesty, openness, and down right hilarity but something else happened in this episode. It struck a home run with me as a coach – as a developing coach – as a coach who is learning and trying to solidify my beliefs as a coach. So what transpired? Four chefs are in San Francisco eating bread bowls of clam chowder and the following conversation occurs – I have paraphrased a tiny bit and left a part or two about direct cooking but here are the key statements.
David Chang – we were talking about chefs copying. Everyone copies.
Sat Bains – The world is very small now through the Internet.
Daniel Patterson – If you’re gonna take something just say where it came from and be honest.
Claude Bosi – It’s wrong to deny where you got the idea from.
Sat Bains – If you are honest you will always walk away with integrity.
David Chang – Chefs need to know where their techniques are coming from. It is something that I even ask.
Daniel Patterson – You can talk until you are blue in the face about copying but it isn’t about copying.
Sat Bains – When you get to the same point that where we are at now everything has been done.
David Chang – Nothing is new. There are very few people that invent new techniques. It’s what Stanley Kubrick says, “everything has already been done. It’s our job to do it just a little bit better”.
Daniel Patterson – Get in your kitchen. Cook. Talk to your friends. Share what you are doing. That’s it. And have a good time.
The in the closing scenes Bourdain’s voice is overlaid, “cooking at the highest level needs many things. Respect. Dedication to the craft. Creativity. And stamina. But you have also got to be willing to share. To borrow. And be inspired by the works of others.”
The funny thing was how immediate this scene resonated with me. Do we copy in coaching? Absolutely. Does the amount of information available through the Internet make the world a very small place? Definitely. Do people state where they get they get all their ideas from? Not usually. Do coaches like chefs need to know their history and where the techniques originated? Of course foundations need to build and history is a great foundation. Has everything been done in coaching? I don’t believe so but a lot has been done that is for sure. Upon reflection then I believe that my job as a coach is to understand that I most likely won’t create a new technique but as Chang quotes Stanley Kubrick (whose quote originally applied to film making) can I take what has been done, apply it to my situation, to the athletes that I work with, and make it just a little bit better? I believe so. From there what do we do? We coach. We get on the track, in the gym, and on the fields and we coach. We talk to fellow coaches. Share what we are doing and most importantly have a good time. Does coaching at the highest level need many things? Yes. Does it need respect, dedication, creativity, stamina, and willingness to share, borrow, and be inspired by the works of others? Absolutely!
Knowledge and learning is all around us. So as the title of this post states thank you. Thank you to everyone and everything out there. To my family, friends, athletes, coaching colleagues, those on TV, who write blogs, books, TV shows, movies, who have sent or responded to an email, to those who have ever asked a question, or reading this entire post now….I say thank you. You can all take a bow and pat yourself on the back for impacting my education and development. You might laugh and remember that your last experience with me was of me sitting quietly maybe looking a little bored. All of which could be true but in my defense I try to internalize a lot. I sit and reflect. So perhaps when I was quiet and looking off in the distance I was actually internalizing what was said and giving it the thought that it deserved.
Was 2014 perfect? No!
Was it good? Definitely!
Will 2015 be better? Only time will tell. But what I do know is that just as I am not the same person I was at this time in 2013 the same thing is true a year from now in 2015. I will continue to grow, learn, develop, and educate myself. Sometimes that education will come directly from ‘normal’ sources but hopefully it will also come indirectly though sources that are not seen as normal. So until next time I will and encourage you to keep an open mind.
And again…..Thank you!