Monday, September 27, 2010

You Are Not In Control - A Few Choice Words of Wisdom for Young and Old

When one talks about control, there are some interesting lessons to be learned that are more than ones dealing with skating. Holding a TV remote does not mean you control the channels; being the captain does not mean you control the ship; holding the purse strings does not guarantee success; communicating with people does not mean they will listen or understand. All you can do is your best and all you can hope for is an outcome over which - again - you have no control.

I say this because we are all vying for a spot in the same life raft. For skaters, coaches and parents, this is the time of year that we like to believe we have magical, mystical powers that can affect outcome. Parents believe they can cajole, communicate, confront or contest in order to control. Coaches take the same course of action believing that one more word, one more gesture, one more pat on the back or stern admonition will make a difference. And skaters believe that one more last-minute session, one more jump, spin, twizzle or turn will suddenly catapult them into fame, stardom and success at the upcoming competitions. 

Guess what..

I don't mean to sound - well - mean, but the reality is we have very little control, particularly on outcome. We can create as many scenarios, write as many mental "scripts" as we want, but the truth of the matter is that we can only rely on all the steps that  have taken us to this point to guide us to the outcome. The only thing in control is the mind. When it comes to skating, it controls everything. Truly. 

Take a look at our history. When we are young, comprehension and visual mimicking or patterning is what helps us learn. We repeat sounds, steps and sequences until we learn to speak and walk. We grow into our skills at different levels and at different points of development. We are individuals; we are unique. 

As we grow older, something in the collective psyche of society says that we must learn the same way, in the same way and in the same time frame. Apply that theory to skating, and you get the picture. Little Alice can do a flip at age 5; little Alex can do an axel at age 7. Coaches and parents see this and start wondering, "What's wrong with my child? I don't see a flip. I don't see an axel. I've put all this time and money into this sport and there's nothing. Who's at fault? Maybe if I push my skater harder; maybe if I nag my coach more, we'll get results. After all, I am in control. I'm calling the shots."

Wow. How wrong can one be? 

I am still learning about not having control. I am listening to it in my own household as we try to fix a computer with an unknown virus that has shut down our lives as we know it. I am learning that when family members make up their minds not to do something, that is their attempt at control. Being stubborn is apparently a genetic trait. I can get mad, I can use humor, I can use sarcasm - all to no avail. I have no control. Neither do you. 

So, as you head into the 2011 season, break out your lucky charms and your teddy bears. Cross your fingers, tie your right shoe first. Do whatever makes you feel like you have the power to create change. What you should not do under any circumstance is think that you know more than the mind of the person you are trying to affect. Live in your fantasy world if you choose, but do not spill your expectations all over everyone else. Be a cheerleader? Absolutely. Be a tyrant? Absolutely not. Either way, what will be will be. So, better to cheer than to chide. Better to experience than to expect. You are not in control of anyone but yourself. But your behavior can change the confluence. It will not, however, affect the final destination. 


  1. So true! Thumbs up! Hope the computer virus gets cured soon!

  2. We had that wake up call early this month when our skater broke her ankle in the 5 minute warm up of her competition... since then, we have constant reminders that we have no control - how long she is in the full leg cast, how long she will wear the short cast - how long the physical therapy will be - how long it will take her to build up her muscles again... Will she be afraid when she gets back on the ice? We signed up for 4 competitions that she will not compete. Her season ended in that warm up. And yet, there's always next season... and we will probably never take any of this for granted again.

    Thanks so much for your blog - I love what you say and how you say it.

  3. Well said, Allison... Must take this to heart, as my ex-skater is now lacing up her skates once again, after a 2 year hiatus.... unfinished business on the ice....unsure if I am looking forward to this or not!