Coaching, drama, defection, apologies and fitness friendship.
A couple of weeks ago I drove an eight-hour round trip to visit a friend I have never visited before, and hadn’t seen for two years. On my drive up, I had plenty of time to think about this friend and the circumstances that led to where we are today. Let’s call her Jane. Jane used to be a client of mine in 2011. I had a team of nine competing in a particular competition and suffice to say it was the biggest debacle of my coaching career. I wasn’t the perfect coach by any means; I made a couple of mistakes with the group that I wouldn’t do again. However, I operated as I always do — from a place of care.
To cut a longer story fairly short, the team completely bagged me out after the competition and claimed (falsely) that I caused them ‘metabolic damage’. Now as a coach, with health responsibilities towards our clients this absolutely devastated me. It hurt. Deeply. So deeply that all I could think about for a month was selling my home and getting the hell out of Geelong. I felt my reputation was damaged, I personally felt wounded, I was embarrassed — it was a horrible period of my life. Not one of them came to me post-competition for a de-brief or any kind of discussion and I did not want to post on SM so I felt I didn’t have a chance to present my side of the story at all.
As with any big crisis, my embarrassment slowly turned to anger too. On their social media they were posting for 2-3 weeks post-comp, many photos of pizza, pasta and cocktails which made me really upset. Of course, they were going to put on a substantial amount of weight if you treat your body post-competition in that manner. Jane was one of the team. We never had a cross word. Ever. She simply was part of the crew that ‘defected’ and went to another local coach. She quietly slipped away.
Speed dial two years on. One day I had a phone call from Jane’s best friend; let’s call her Mary. Mary said that she was Jane’s BFF and training partner. And that Jane had experienced a couple of coaches since me, hadn’t stopped talking about me and how good I was in retrospect, but she felt too uncomfortable to call me up and ask to come back. So, Mary wondered if she could purchase a gift voucher to give to Jane as a way to get her ‘back in the door’. I don’t hold grudges. I forgive. I move on. So of course, I said, “No problems, I am happy to Jane her back”. To be honest it was a vindication of a kind, and made me feel better about myself that a past so-called disgruntled client had decided I wasn’t so bad at my job after all.
Actually, to fill you in on a side note: seven of the nine have come back and trained under me and/or apologised for the way they treated me citing various things such as ‘pack mentality, immaturity, being selfish’ quote, unquote. And seven are absolutely forgiven. I see a few of them around Geelong gyms and always talk and spot them! Now all is well. The two that haven’t were the youngest of the crew, and the ones with the most photos depicting binge eating and drinking. That’s fine. I can live with that.
Ten years on, Jane and I have forged what I’d call a solid friendship. She is a great girl. I admire her a lot. She has much to offer everyone. She is interesting. Oh my god, she is funny! I had an aggravated burglary a couple of years ago. A week or so after, Jane sends me a parcel in the post. A baseball bat! I laughed a lot at that. She is witty and cool. She also never misses a big occasion of mine – super supportive. And when we haven’t spoken, she always checks in.
So, for me, when she offered a visit it was an easy decision to get in the car and drive four hours each way to visit her new place and hang out. You have to water the garden so to speak and demonstrate with actions as well as words that you care. I am lucky on so many levels: lucky that I am not the type to harbour a grudge. Lucky that Jane was able to admit she wanted to come back, and was willing to overcome any sense of ‘uncomfortableness’, that we could both put the past in the past. Because some people that you fall out with, or even kind of fall out with, CAN be reconciled and voila, an even better relationship emerges.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. Jane is actually helping me re-write some stories that I have in my head that don’t work well for me. Jane is giving me homework that I have to do – so far it appears to be working. If any of you readers would like me to elaborate about my ‘stories’ (in my head) pass a comment and I will write a short blog. So currently coach and student has reversed roles. Isn’t it funny how life rolls? A reflection of mutual admiration and respect of each other’s interests and abilities.
Have you ever resurrected a relationship that went a bit weird? Are you a coach/pt who has had something similar to me occur that left you doubting yourself and your abilities? Did you learn anything from my blog?