The Pursuit, Striving, Impossibility, and Ultimate GOAL of Being “THE BEST”

By Kim Russell, Head Coach, Oberlin College  @yeo_wlax

There are certain times in our lives, for some of us the majority of the time, when… we are always in a hurry. We are rushing from one place to the next… multitasking every moment… wanting to be the best at everything we do… and failing at all of them. We don’t take the time to… just BE.

To notice.

To breathe.

To listen.

We spend every waking moment DOING.

      Photo courtesy of Oberlin College Athletics.

We act like it is something we should get a trophy for – or – at least – we have become REALLY GOOD at complaining and bragging, about it. “All that we have gotten done” and “all that we need to do” – has become everything. We find solace and company in misery with others. We push and push and push to do more, to NEED to excel at everything… and we ask/expect the same of our kids.



An overwhelming, “I’m not good enough,” and “I can never be good enough” mentality


Our crowd based, fear-based mentality is killing us. It’s killing our joy, our passion, our creativity our ability to have fun and our ability to problem solve. Our fear of failure. Failure to be enough. The FEAR is paralyzing some of our best, brightest and most talented. Making them believe there is no way for them to succeed; no way for them to “be good enough” – for their parents, their coaches, their teammates, their friends, their professors. No way to be “cool enough” to fit in. And then, there are those that seem to “have it all together” – to “be the best” – to sail though everything. On the surface they are “perfect” in every way – none of the challenges seem to affect them… life is good… until it isn’t.

When you are given the opportunity to support someone and it means doing something out of your comfort zone – is your immediate thought – to wish you were invisible? To be as small as possible? To hide? Or do you, stand up, raise your hand up high and ask to be called on and called out? Do you join in with energy and joy or do you complain to your friends around you that “this is stupid?” Most of us hide. Most of us complain. It takes courage to stand up. It takes courage to follow your heart.

We are all guilty of hiding, of “playing” small, of not supporting each other out of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of looking stupid, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure. We all face these fears. So how can we support each other, those we mentor and lead, those we love, to have the courage, to be brave enough, to fail, regularly? To not take life so seriously, to find the joy, and, at the same time, have the discipline to do the work to grow.

“In the past” I struggled every day. Never feeling good enough – as a coach, a parent, a friend, a partner, a sister, a daughter. Never feeling that I could do enough. Always second guessing.

Always beating myself up mentally. Always being afraid to truly be myself. Never asking for help. Feeling like I had to do it all myself. Feeling like “I was weak” if I asked for help. It took traumatic events to change my life. Over and over again. It took building new habits and discipline to create new beliefs. Faith. Faith that I am exactly who I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, where I am supposed to be. Being intentional with my thoughts and actions. Every day. Every day being ok with the mistakes I’ve made, knowing I’m going to make more. Making decisions with the intention of doing what’s best for the good of all – with the information and knowledge I have, at that time – and, being “authentic.” AM I BEING ME?  Am I acting like someone else WANTS me to act – or, really being WHO I AM? Am I agreeing with someone just to be liked, to be a part of the group, to fit in?  Or, am I being AUTHENTICALLY ME?  You would think it would be the easiest, simplest WAY TO BE, to LIVE to MAKE DECISIONS, for all of us. Yet – we fight it. We fight being ourselves. We fight being authentic. We are so concerned with what everyone else thinks, who everyone else wants us to be, what everyone else is doing, that we unlearn who we are, we become chameleons to fit in wherever we are. We lose our joy, our passion, our ability to make decisions, our problem-solving capabilities, our creativity – with the thoughts that THIS, being someone we’re not, will make others happy. It is human nature –the longing to belong. To BE A PART OF A TRIBE – A FAMILY – A COMMUNITY – A TEAM. SO, we “CHANGE” to fit in. To “do things” the way everyone else does them. Even when, in our hearts, we know we need to do – whatever it is – in a different way. WE INSTINCTIVELY FEEL – that the way we are doing what we are doing isn’t right. BUT FEAR – keeps us where we are.

SO – How do we support growth, mistakes, change, when we are living in fear ourselves? Build relationships. Build trust. That’s our job. That’s what we do. WE will continue to fail. Continue to grow. Continue to learn. As we build. As we build our own new version of who we are. As a person, as a soul, as a team, as a family, as a community. WE ARE CREATORS!

Living the questions every day. Being ok not having the answers – yet – always searching – striving – wanting to be better – wanting to KNOW MORE – TO GROW. Hoping to gain the wisdom – without needing a traumatic event to get there.

Each one of you is MORE THAN ENOUGH. YOU ARE INCREDIBLE. YOU ARE AMAZING. YOU ARE CREATORS. Those of you who are at the schools who no one has ever heard of, starting programs with ADs who have never seen a lacrosse ball, much less a game, with little to no budget, in a part time position – YOU ROCK!  Those of you at the top schools in the country, who are winning championships and kicking butt – YOU ROCK!  All of you in between – YOU ROCK! You are empowering people everywhere. You are touching so many more people than you know. You are teaching, motivating and leading! You are creating opportunities for growth – growth for your athletes, your family, your athletic department, your competitors, your school, yourself!

YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE! You care. You make me a better coach. You are here for a purpose. KNOW that you are ALL OF THIS and MORE!  I don’t give a flying #$% what your win/loss record is!  Smile at me – and you will make my day better!  I promise you, I will smile back and support you. If you are my competitor, and you “beat me,” know that you have made me a better coach. It’s taken me a long time to “get this.” To not consider you my enemy. WE ARE THE SAME. Thanks for being my teacher. Thanks for motivating me, to be better. Thanks for what I learn from you – every day.

2 thoughts on “The Pursuit, Striving, Impossibility, and Ultimate GOAL of Being “THE BEST”

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