I don't think I really touched on the subject often, but up until about 6 days ago, I was having some pretty serious back issues. Because of the type of pain I was feeling, I was sure it was a pinched nerve... you know, plus we all have x-ray vision and can diagnose ourselves? Anyway, the pain was sharp, real sharp. I had trouble standing from a seated position, body weight squats hurt and getting out of bed in the morning was very painful. Running was impossible. Planting the right foot with any force at all sent a lightening bolt into my back and hips.
I went to the chiropractor a couple times and it felt ok, but the pain never really faded.
One day I thought "Why the heck haven't I ran this past Jared???"
A few years ago, I was having similar pains plus some. Doctors and pills and treatments weren't doing a thing, so I found Jared West and tried acupuncture. Jared is by far, one of the most intelligent and interesting people I've ever had a conversation with. I cant wait to get the podcasts rolling just so I can hang with him and ask 1,000,000 questions. So we met a few years back and like magic, he fixed me up. No meds, no back cracking, no massages, just these teeny tiny needles that I never really felt. He poked them in, I chilled out for 20 minutes, he pulled them out and that was that. (Through out talks, he sent me to my first yoga class and we know how that turned out).
So I emailed him a few weeks ago telling him whats going and he said "Come on in, we can probably fix that in one session." One session? I can barely move! We'll see about this.
I went in, we ran a few "tests," I guess you can call them, he worked his needle magic and the next night I ran 3 miles for the first time since probably May or June.
Now, its obviously not "needle magic," its a science of sorts. If you're unfamiliar, acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine where certain points of your body are activated or stimulated with the needles. I don't know which areas are designated for which issues, that's Jared's expertise, but you can probably google a body map and see it.
This is just one more example of what I always say, our bodies are incredible and we have everything we need right here. We just need the tool kit and knowledge to tap into it all. When our minds and our bodies are clear and in sync... anything, absolutely anything can happen.
I highly recommend Jared to everyone I know.
This is my first season back in coaching since Joe Paterno passed away.
(I pause after writing that... and tear up a bit)
Its kinda crazy... I didn't play a down for him but I felt very attached to his program, his philosophies... his story... his legacy, everything. I've worn blue and white for as long as I can remember.
When the story broke about Jerry Sandusky and things unfolded... I was crushed. (I met Jerry once and had a conversation about defenses and linebacker play. He was also one of the reasons I coached and coached linebackers.) When Coach Paterno was called out for not doing enough, then fired... that was hard. Everything I believed, everything I tried to model myself after, was gone. Really gone. And when he died, I cried for a long time. I know that sounds a little goofy, but he was my idol. Legit. I read every book about him. I know his college stats from playing at Brown waaaay back in the mid 1940's. Basically, a bunch of info you don't care to read now :) you'll have to trust me, this guy meant a lot to me. I'd visit the campus for coaching or lifting/training seminars and eventually annoyed the staff enough to where they would email me info or invite me up. Seeing that field house, the weight room, the facility, and being around those coaches and that atmosphere... unreal. Coaching football meant a lot to me and to be able to get training directly from the people I looked up to most... it couldn't possibly be any better.
To be funny and annoy my Buckeye friends, I'd carry a picture in my wallet and "accidentally," let it flop open just so they'd have to see his face.
So when it all went down... I felt my identity, my ego, was attached to that same foundation. Its kinda of a crazy feeling when your idol crashes like that. I really thought I was done coaching. I lost a lot of fire when he died. I stopped writing, I didn't train a few days, I was a little depressed.
(My thoughts are a little scrambled on this topic... I just want to keep writing about the memories and emotions)
Point is, when he died, I lost my fire. I felt like too much of who I became, was guided by that program and if the program wasn't what I thought it was, then who am I? One idol was a child rapist heading to prison for life, the other is accused of covering it up... I felt everything I learned there was built on lies. I thought they stood for honor and integrity, no matter what and it helped me. That thought, those standards, helped me become who I was, who I am... and if they lied... I just couldn't handle it.
So I didn't want to coach anymore and had a real hard time motivating teams I was working with.
A few months back, Brian (who I coached with at Ledgemont) called me, telling me he was the new DC at NDCL and would like to discuss bringing me on. I kinda blew it off, hoping he wouldn't continue asking me. I appreciated that he thought of me, but wasn't interested. But Brians pretty persistent.
So I decided to meet with the head coach just to talk and feel things out. It was extremely refreshing that we really didn't talk about football, we talked about people, we talked about kids and teaching. Then we talked about Penn State... and I almost walked out. A panic button went off and I thought, "Nope... lets go back home." But we talked about it all, turns out he (Ben Melbasa, excellent, excellent coach) was also a JoePa.PSU guy growing up. I told him my #1 goal is to find a true home in a school and never leave. That was my inner JoePa dream. Find a home and stay forever, be great, teach, guide, honor, integrity, leadership, honesty... and be real about it all, not just mumbo jumbo coach talk.
So I said yes to the job and there I am, coaching linebackers at NDCL.
Early on, there's a lot of teaching, mechanic wise. Footwork, hip movement, etc. Basic things. But when it came to motivation and turning up the heat... I couldn't find it. I was puttering. I could feel it in my heart, but the words just weren't flying out the way they once did... and I started to second guess my decision. I really beat myself up about. I hold coaching in very high regard and I started to feel like I was ripping them off, getting paid for a job I wasn't brought in to do. Anyone can learn the x's and o's but not everyone can actually do the job from top to bottom, I once did... I used to be able... but now I was missing my top gears! Where'd they go? Did the fire really fade? Couldn't I just tap into my history and pull it out again at will? It was gone.
A few Saturdays ago, I was able to clear my schedule and spend the day completely alone. I walked, I read, and I walk around some more. I didn't work, I didn't do anything distracting. I just needed to find an avenue to hit that "CTRL/ALT/DELETE button on my brain and reset the system.
So I meditated in the am... then again in the PM... then went for another walk and sat down again in my backyard around midnight and closed my eyes again to breathe more... and it came to me.
Nothing was ever fake. Everything I learned was still there. Everything he said... was still true. People make mistakes. (pausing)
People make mistakes... that doesn't mean their words are bullshit, it just means they made a mistake. He loved football, he loved the University, he loved his players and he loved teaching the wisdom and all the details. Whatever it was that JoePa did or didn't do, doesn't dissolve the great things he did do, the things he did say... I let that thought marinade and run around my head and I swear, I felt lighter. I smiled. And my coaching greatly improved the next day and since... greatly.
(I posted today "Watching PSU now is like driving by the house you grew up in..." theres love for the memories, but its time to find a new home, a real home... hopefully on that beautiful campus out in south Chardon)
Leadership is a tricky thing. To lead, someone must follow. To lead, you must be a legit leader, people have to believe you. To lead, you have to inspire others to do the things they may think they cant, to inspire them to reach outside themselves and reach for new heights.
In coaching/training/teaching, that's the good stuff. In those roles, you're a leader and looking to teach leaders how to be more effective. Sometimes, you have guys/gals that think they're leaders, but no one wants to follow. Sometimes you have guys/gals that don't think they're leaders, but they are... those are the good ones, if they can open it up and let loose.
Leaders aren't afraid. Some may argue with that, that they're afraid of letting down the team. But I don't think so. You have to have guts to step to the front and be ready to fight first, the let your heart out there for others to see... that's essential.
Leadership is emotional.
Leadership is thoughtful.
Leadership is honesty.
No holds barred, honesty. And you cant be afraid of anything.
You cant be afraid to be wrong, you cant be afraid to fail, you cant be afraid to go too far... if you are, you inevitably will fail. you wont break through and you'll never be great. Harsh? Maybe, but if you can't handle it, don't lead.
I read an old Pearl Jam article today on RollingStone.com. They talked about in the old days, when Eddie forced the band to pull back, stop promoting, stop doing interview, stop filming videos, stopping working with ticketmaster, etc. They said, at the time, it felt like crap and that they would fail. Looking back, they see it saved their career and possibly their lives. How? Why? Eddie is/was the leader... he knew they had to pull away from the spotlight, no matter how wrong it seemed, how many millions of dollars they would leave on the table. He followed his vision and his heart and he was right.
(In that process, they lost the fans who only wanted radio singles and held onto those who loved the pull back into an almost underground persona of sorts... ahhhh, dont you make you smile?)
Are we ever really wrong when we do that?
Isn't that ultimately what leadership is?
If we're quiet, we hear that whisper... and if we listen, we'll be ok. If we let our friends vote for us... eh, we might be ok, but maybe not, but then we're just a follower letting people vote on what we do. Are we on a reality show?
Sometimes, we have to make hard decisions or do things that seem scary... that's living, that's creating the experience and that means everything.
I'm addicted to instagram, not sure how it happened. Annnnnnd Im pretty proud of some of my pics too :) I have a bit of an obsession these days with landscape... it tells such a great story. I think coaching out in Chardon (NDCL) has a lot to do with it. Ive never coached in such a beautiful environment. Trees allll around. Its amazing.
I don't usually promote my social media profiles, but I like what goes on here. If interested, here's the link.
Training pics, some personal pics, landscapes, anything I can find or come across that inspires.
Peace, love and empathy