Reversing Roles

1 May 2019

For the past six weeks I have been immersed in several deep learning experiences as a fairly new athlete in the sport of weightlifting as well as a student in some training courses for work. For the most part, I have enjoyed each of the experiences because I love learning new skills, gaining insight, or diving deeper into the particular topic or sport.

During these various experiences, I also have been adjusting to different roles I have not been as familiar with lately, more like role reversals. I am no longer the coach, I am the athlete. I am no longer the teacher, I am the student.

Upon reflection, there are some things that I have learned about myself and quite honestly have made me somewhat uncomfortable in these new roles as an (adult) athlete and student

  1. The focus is on me vs the other. As an athlete/student, your purpose is to learn from your coach/teacher to make yourself better in that specific sport or discipline. It is your job to apply that new knowledge in your training, your work, or in everyday practice. This can be a little difficult when you are used to playing the role of coach or teacher — the one people look to for your expertise — the enabler, who facilitates and empowers the learning process for others. And I love this role! But as the athlete/student, I have to focus on me, be a sponge and soak it all in, process the information so that I can figure out how to apply it. In this role, I learn humility because I realize how much I truly don’t know.
  2. My inner narrative is not kind. I know that in new roles, I find myself allowing some negative thoughts, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m never gonna get this”, “Maybe this [sport or subject, etc.] isn’t for me”. This is NOT humility. In fact, it is toxic to the human spirit. I was reminded by a stranger recently, that I would never allow someone to talk to a loved one or a friend the way I allow my inner narrative to speak to myself. So why do I allow myself to be so toxic to myself especially when it is something I have complete control? I have decided to actively change that inner narrative and practice more [self] kindness (especially as an athlete).
  3. I have something to prove. Time is a key component in the learning and application process. It seems the older I get, the more impatient I am. And I want to see results of my efforts. Admittedly, I am addicted to progress no matter whether I am in the gym, at work, or in the classroom. Yes, I am a progress junkie! And in its absence, I begin to question what (or where) did it go wrong and how do I fix it? In reality, I don’t always expect an upward trend – it dips and rises – but when I do not see progress in X amount of time, my inner narrative begins to get creepy… and dark. Time is too important to me and I cannot be wasting it. I have something to prove… to myself, to my coaches, to my leadership. I realize this is totally self-inflicted, but all this training, all my efforts, the late nights studying, the sacrifices made, etc. has to be worth the results, the progress, right?! That is why we do what we do. And yet, progress requires time, training, and tenacity. Unfortunately, patience is the key to passing time. Patience – a quality I prayed to God for one year (and one I will never ask for again because well, I’m still waiting for it!) – something I have yet to develop.


  1. What are you learning about yourself while in different roles?
  2. What does your inner narrative say to you in the absence of progress?
  3. What do you have to prove to yourself, to others?

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