Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Triathlon Helped Me Be a Better Robotics Coach

Here I am, surrounded by robot parts, cords, cables, batteries, computers, team t-shirts, snacks, bolts, tools, and random pieces of electronic gear. The high school robotics team I'm coaching is off to the State Championships tomorrow. I could be really overwhelmed right now.

Oh okay, I admit I AM really overwhelmed right now.

But the reason I'm confident that we'll make it to our championship tournament intact and with all necessary supplies has more to do with triathlon than anything else.

Packing up for a triathlon can feel like packing for a six-month Arctic expedition at times. Between the necessary gear, clothing, food, and hydration, it's a lot of stuff to remember. Fortunately, many years ago I created a Triathlon Checklist that lets me pack with confidence. I know if I just use the checklist, I'll arrive with everything I need to have a great race. So it was a natural step to do the same for our robotics team. One Excel spreadsheet later and we have a fool-proof item-by-item checklist that makes sure nothing gets left behind.

My years in triathlon have also taught me many other things that come in handy no matter what the endeavor:

  • The race is often won by the most tenacious, not the flashiest
  • Gear and money aren't everything
  • If you get so nervous you can't sleep beforehand, use positive visualization to see yourself accomplishing everything you want to do
  • Get to know your competitors, they are often as nervous as you and usually are really great people
  • Having fun is the name of the game, so look around and enjoy what you are accomplishing
Whenever I try anything new or difficult, I am grateful for the lessons that triathlon has taught me. I know how to win, and how to lose graciously. I know how to pick myself up from a crash and keep going. I know what's really important is to enjoy the journey to the start line, not just what comes afterwards. Triathlon has been a gift in my life that just keeps giving.

Have a great weekend everyone, I'm off to stuff robot parts in bins!

1 comment:

Clay Roop said...

Love the blog!