Emerson & Iron Strings
For years, I swallowed what conventional training had to offer. As an athlete, I would execute each drill energetically. As a coach, I collected certificate upon certificate. Drills and diplomas. I obeyed authority. I complied with the common.
I did so as a student as well. I drilled my way to honors. Worksheets and proms. I attended well-respected universities and earned my teaching credential in much the same way I earned my coaching “A” License. I obeyed, I complied and I played the certification game.
“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
And then I suddenly stopped.
I wiped the slate clean.
I trusted myself.
“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.” – R.W. Emerson
I ventured beyond conventional coaching and traditional teaching. And interestingly enough, as I began to find my own voice, I found the voices of others who accompanied me in an intellectual chorus. A coach in Connecticut, a teacher in Costa Rica, a parent in confusion all shared their stories. They unleashed a sentiment that we were not maximizing the potential of our children. The methods dominating the talent development landscape left us lacking.
“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his.” – R.W. Emerson
Emerson, Montessori, Gaudi, Socrates, and Cruyff ran forth to fuel the fire of exasperation and to turn it into a blaze of inspiration.
I did not see myself an equal to these philosophers. However, I did find myself worthy of wrestling with their thoughts and theories. These leaders become my sparring partners, serving to stun me out of stupor.
We have the privilege to commune with all knowledge that has ever been shared. We are afforded the thoughts of every woman or man who has shared an ideal. Are we not compelled to harness that wisdom and put it to use? If we are not tapping into great theory and effective practice, then what are we doing as coaches and educators? If we are not wrestling with the most innovative ways to maximize human potential what are we doing as parents and business leaders? If not for ourselves, should we not drive forward for those in our charge?
In the end, we each subscribe to the school of thought we trust will be most fruitful. But trust must be earned and tested and twisted to produce its greatest fruits. The end must promote learning and joy. Aspiration and inspiration.
“Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy.” – John Dewey
Questioning the status quo has historically not proven to be the most prudent endeavor for those who have been silly enough to do it. And innovation in any field is a messy, error-laden process. But not to take that risk when your heart knows better is to dishonor the gift of our existence. We must place our complacency in jeopardy. We owe it to our colleagues to present our ideas on the ideal. We owe it to our student-athletes to implement the most dynamic, engaging, and effective activities.
In the end, we are just beginning.
“Else if you would be a man speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. Ah, then, exclaim the aged ladies, you shall be sure to be misunderstood! Misunderstood! It is a right fool’s word. Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood….”
– R.W. Emerson