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It’s Time to Run in the Rain

Muddy path between trees.

Like so many other times, life finds a way to reveal a lesson to me through unique events. This time it was my son’s conference cross country meet and a motivational YouTube video. Both of them showed me the importance of running in the rain.

First my oldest son.

Last week he set his personal record (PR) by over a minute at his conference cross country meet.  What was even more impressive is that he did it during a rainy day. Now it wasn’t a downpour when he ran, but it had rained all day, and the course was affected (the title picture is part of the course). My son didn’t complain. He ran. He ran the best time of his career.

A couple of days ago I came across a motivational YouTube video that highlighted speeches by Eddie Pinero (a motivational speaker and founder of the site: Your World Within). One section of the video had Eddie Pinero using the example of getting up early to run but it is raining. He expanded on the importance of getting out of bed and running in the rain, even though no one would blame you for staying in bed. But that doesn’t get you toward your goal.

These two separate moments highlighted for me – and this is a vulnerable statement from me – how I had not been working for my goals like I should. I needed to start running in the rain. And if you are struggling with accomplishing your goals, maybe you need to start running, too. Here’s what running in the rain does for us.


As a coach I always presented to my athletes the definition of pride as knowing you have done your best.

My oldest son has earned the right to feel proud. He has worked hard and ran his best time in bad conditions at the conference meet. As a coach, that was what I asked of my athletes, to be their best at the most important times. My son did that.

Eddie reinforced this idea in his speech. He expressed how you would be the only one who knew what you went through as you stood on the podium. The crowd saw you win, not knowing how many times you had to run in the rain.

Successful Habits

I love the way Eddie talked about habits. He explained how hard it would be to actually run in the rain the first time. But as you build the habit, the weather becomes a nonfactor. The running (or habit) becomes important, rain or shine.

My son also taught me this. He puts in hundreds of miles in the summer, but he also works on his other interests in the summer and on the weekends. He has created habits that allow him to succeed.

The Strength to Live Your Goals

This is the most important aspect, but also the most complex. So, let me see if I can connect the dots to reveal how running in the rain builds the strength to live an authentic life.

First, Eddie points out that when we focus on the weather, or external forces, we live our lives on a shallow level. We simple react to life. We make excuses and rationalize why our goals or dreams are not achieved.

Now my son has complained about the weather or the course, but I have never heard him make an excuse. He is so mentally strong. Not just with cross country, but with all his activities, and that is part of the strength running in the rain builds. It is not just to endure the weather, it is the strength to focus on what we want to do with our lives. To be able to adapt to external factors, not react. To be able to stay focused on achieving our goals, to live an authentic life.

My son and a motivational video by Eddie Pinero has shown me that it’s time to start running in the rain  – I have dreams and goals I want to achieve. I have been making too many excuses. So I got my shoes sitting by the door and I am thankful for their wake-up call.

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Today my kids taught me two lessons in patience.

Lesson one: People have to have their own timetable to accomplish a goal.

On her way

My girls and I took a walk today.  It was to our stop sign.  I can walk to it and back in under 5 minutes.  On our walk today it took thirty minutes.  I walked. The girls all took a different vehicle.  My youngest in our leg powered toy car.  Second daughter on the Dora big wheel.  And my oldest daughter on her training wheeled bike.  I kept trying to get the girls to turn around, but they were determined to get to the stop sign and back.

My youngest daughter’s little legs just kept going, with a few curb checks that I would help her off of.  The toy car has no steering.  My second daughter is just learning how to peddle; she would get a few revolutions of the wheel before she would ask for a little push.  Of course there were birds, and cars, and bugs, and new houses to talk about.  “They worken,” my youngest would point out as we sat in front of one of the new houses being built.

Yes, sandals on the wrong foot.

After the seventh time trying to get the girls to turn around I just settled in for the walk.  My oldest daughter actually adventured to the next stop sign, waving all the way back to us, proud as can be riding on her own.  I thought that the girls would tire out, and I would have to push them back, but their little legs never ran out of energy.  They were focused on the walk, unconcerned about how long it took.  They were going to do this and they did.

But I had to have patience to let them do it on their own.  I could have hurried them, pushed them, made them feel my impatience and ruin the 30 minutes we had together.

I didn’t start out so well with the lesson my boys had for me later in the day.

Lesson two: We can’t take for granted people will “just know” how to do something.

Later in the day the boys got to mow the lawn.  Both of them have mowed the lawn before but not for about two years.  First, I like to mow the lawn. So, mowing the lawn has not been a part of their normal chore routine.  Second, I don’t remember the first time I had to mow a lawn.

I went over the pointers of running the mower, and hit the grass around the house and outside edge of the lawn.  I though this would help them start on their route of mowing.  Sadly, I wasn’t patient right away.  The boys took turns, but both of them mowed the same way– crazily.

Rounded corners, lines of tall grass, mowing the short length of the yard 12 times instead of turning the mower and hitting the grass in two passes.  I bet I did the same thing once, but I can’t remember.  I’ve been mowing so long that it is just second nature to mow in an efficient way.  Before I totally lost my cool, I caught the lesson.  The boys didn’t know how to mow a lawn quickly and efficiently.  It was my job to show them.  Most importantly to do it without making them feel bad.  All the grass was cut, even if it took extra passes.  But by keeping my cool the boys finished the job on a positive note.  Even laughing at the rows of long grass they had made.

Today my kids reminded me about the importance of patience in two separate ways.  My girls showed me that people need their own pace to accomplish their goals.  I was truly amazed at their strength and attitude.  My boys reminded me that everyone has that first time with learning.  The important part for me was not making that crucial moment negative.  To be patient with them as they learn.

What cool lessons have you learned lately?

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First Year, Again

The only time I totally lost my cool with a class was my first year of teaching.  I threatened them all with detention.  I even slammed my hand down on my desk.  That first year of teaching is such an eye opening experience.  All theory seems to evaporate in the controlled chaos of everyday life of school.  That year challenges you, makes you dig deep into your creativity, resolve, and meaning of it all.  Thirteen years later I am experience that again.

Instead of standing in front of a class of new students, a clean marker board behind me, walls decorated with motivational posters and first day jitters; I sit at a desk in front of a HD camera, 50 inch TV and students who are attending schools miles away.  I have taught distance-learning classes for the last nine years, but have always had a room full of my own students.  It is not the system that is challenging; it is the loss of any person-to-person contact.  I am purely a teacher on the TV to them.  All theory seems to have disappeared with that little red light on the front of the TV.

This year has challenged me in ways I wasn’t expecting.  In so many ways I am again a first year teacher.  My creativity is challenged in creating lessons that can bridge the technological divide between the students and me.  I am challenged to work through all the bumps in the road, from technology issues, to student apathy. To be honest, some days I feel like a total failure at this and wonder if I am even doing anything worthwhile for the students and my own life.

My own personal struggles got me thinking about the other aspect of my job, working with teachers on integrating technology into their curriculum.  I have had the privilege of already doing a school wide workshop, presenting at Nebraska Distance Learning Association’s conference and helping ESU 10 colleagues with their workshops.  Through all these events, I realized that sometimes when we talk about getting technology into the classrooms and getting teachers to use technology more, we forget that in a small way we are asking them to go back to being a first year teacher.  Obviously it isn’t as extreme as a true first day of school, but it has some of the same challenges.

We are asking them to stand in front of their class as a new teacher.  That is exciting, but it is scary.  Teachers take pride in their lessons, they teach to see their students grow and learn.  Nothing makes a teacher smile more then when a student’s face lights up with understanding.  Even though we know not to take it personally, it hurts when a student says a lesson is stupid, or walks into the class announcing they hate English (the class I teach).

Technology integration asks teachers to go back to that first year, but now they have tools and lessons that have worked for them.  Lessons that have brought their students to that light bulb moment.  We cannot ignore that we ask them to be a first year teacher.  We need to address their fears… but also tap back into that other feeling which all teachers had that very first day as they stood in front of that class, took a deep breath and thought, “I’m ready to make difference in these students’ lives.”

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