Too High or Too Low

My life has been a roller coaster the last few months.  There isn’t one particular reason  for that, it’s been a bunch of things in work and in my personal life that has caused me to be apart of a whirlwind of emotions.  I bet you are just like me at times in your life.

Some things in my life get me to be very “high” with a lot of positive vibes.  These moments in my life are very rewarding and put a smile on my face.  There are small victories every day, and they come when you least expect them.  They tend to give me an adrenaline rush and my confidence spikes.  After they happen, I think I can accomplish anything.  I might be a little cocky for a while too.  That’s what I mean when I get “too high”.

On the contrary, there are “low” moments in my life.  I would assume there are low moments in your life too.  We all struggle through them.  Something negative happens in our life and we don’t handle it very well, and it sets us into depression.  Our immediate response inside our head is, “I can’t do anything right”.  Our confidence drops quickly and we aren’t sure we will ever be able to turn things around.  That’s what I mean when I get “too low”.

It’s easy to turn this concept into an athletic analogy – in fact, let me give you two off the top of my head.  First, let’s think about the life of a college recruiter.  (I know, this is a topic I reference frequently….sorry)  On a Monday I could get a commitment from a top recruit, and I get so “high”.  I can’t help but think about the next four years and all the championships we are going to win with that recruit.  He or she is going to be a “game-changer”, and I am on top of the world.  Little did I know, I get a call on Tuesday from a recruit who tells me that they are going to attend our rival school because it seems to be a better fit.  I hang up the phone and head into depression for the next week.  Ask my wife, this happens dozens of times in the recruiting cycle.  On a side note – my wife is a saint – she puts up with a lot!

The second scenario happens every season, and if you coach, it has happened to you.  One week, you are the dominant team, heading towards historic accomplishments.  You are on a roll and riding high.  In the snap of a finger, things change.  Your star athlete gets hurt, and is out for the season.  You are beaten by a team that is ranked lower than you.  Someone quits the team.  All of sudden that dominant team is lucky to make it through the year.

How does that happen?  How do we go from being on top of the world in that moment of extreme high, to being in the dumps, on the verge of losing everything, in that moment of extreme low?

I don’t think any of us has a really good answer.  Why?  Because if we are placed in a situation of failure, we are going to respond a certain way.  No matter how much we have prepped ourselves for that moment, most of us do not like to lose.  All I can offer is a suggestion.  In the moment of extreme “high”, pull yourself back to the middle ground.  Sure, you might still be excited and looking forward to the future – that’s good; keep that feeling.  On the contrary, when you face moments of extreme “low”, pull yourself back to the middle ground.  It’s okay to grieve and suffer for a bit, but move on.

Seek middle ground in your life.  It will guide you towards success.  With that said, do not be afraid to celebrate the joys (“highs”) and learn from the failures (“lows”).  Those ups and downs will be your “story” forty years from now.  It will be an amazing story.

Chris Hardie is the Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach at Waynesburg University. You can follow him on Twitter @Coach_Hardie_WU or follow the team on Facebook at Waynesburg University Cross Country.

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