Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Enough, Once More

1 Coddiwomple. To travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination. No idea if it’s really a word or not. An apt description for how Beth and I spent our afternoons this past week, exploring the coast north of Palm Beach.

2 Coaching. In my no longer very brief but still very interesting life I have been privileged to coach, be coached, and watch coaches coaching others. Yesterday I saw a master class in what I would describe as “positive, affirmative coaching” as I watched the famous equestrian coach Scott Hassler give a lesson to a fellow pro. It was electric. He caught his “student” every time she did something right. Now, this student is an extraordinary rider; Scott was complimenting and cheering roughly 20 times for each modest “correction” he offered.

Honestly, it was 90 minutes of validation for all of my years as a coach.

Long, long ago I had the best job a football coach could ever have. I was the assistant to the assistant backfield coach. My job was to catch the boys doing something right. Football coaches are not noted for their talent at performing that particular task. Doing so informed literally every coaching or teaching gig I’ve had in the 20+ years since my boys hung up their cleats. It was the signature aspect of my years in the CrossFit Box. I do it when I’m sitting next to a younger surgeon in the OR. Every day in the office I try to do it with every staff member with whom I cross paths.

Why is this so effective? When it comes time to offer the correction, to teach something hard, or to explain why a certain something might be bad, the “coached” remember that most of what you have done is tell them how well they have been performing rather than harping on the negative. It’s more meaningful, the correction, when it’s been sandwiched between super thick slices of compliments. It was no different yesterday with Scott and Holly as he tuned up her already finely tuned style.

No matter what you do, if your life finds you in the position of “coach” in any way, the lesson learned once again from Scott Hassler is that positive, affirmative coaching is likely the best way to train your “students”.

3 Enough. Beth and I are sitting in an airport, headed back to the tundra that is Cleveland after a week in sunny southeast Florida. Beth was chasing her horse to more accommodating weather to train, and I was chasing Beth. This part of Florida, near Palm Beach and in the middle of the international horse world, is simply awash in “plenty”. There is just so, so much money. Each house is fancier. Same with the horses. It’s as if no one has reached a point where they can ease back and relax. Chasing the sun, it seems that they are still being chased by the ghosts of their younger, hard-charging selves. Even in what they think is repose that continue to seek more. You see it on the street, in stores, next to you in restaurants.

There is no rest, there is only more.

I try to live a life that others could emulate. It is not the only life worth emulation, but it is my hope that it is one that could be. I work among colleagues, many of whom are 2, 5, 10, and 20 years my junior. I see in many of them the shadow of my younger self. Driven and focused, mostly in the pursuit of “more.” It’s more than a little trite, but man, if only I knew then what I know now about “more”.

Don’t get me wrong, “more” is good. It is usually decidedly better than “less”. Having had both at various times in my life this is pretty clear. What I’ve learned, though, is the overarching value of “enough”. “Less” and “more” always come in the context of a comparison with some thing or some person, a time or place against which you and now are measured. Under the microscope, always trying to measure up, both “more” and “less” can feel kinda lousy. I wondered about that as I was in my coddiwomple through the area; did the need for “more” make them unhappy?

“Less” is obvious in the lousy feeling arena; no need to expand there. We saw some areas and some people who were clearly still shy of enough. But if you think about “more”, ever “more”, there is no end to it. It’s a hopeless chase, an endless endeavor, forever chasing “more”. It was there in the fancy restaurants and among the crowd at the fancy horse shows. The boulder can never reach the summit.

“Enough”, though, is sublime. Personal. Poetic. Mary Poppins (I think): “Enough is like a feast.” “Enough” lives within you. It might mean more to someone and less to another, but in the end it is a wonderfully liberating concept. “Enough” is a one-word Emancipation Proclamation for a life that is happy.

“The man who knows when enough is enough will always have enough”. –Lao Tse

I’ll see you next week…

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