Vivian Greene is given credit for the quote: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” We all have problems. We all deal with them in different ways. But have you ever “danced in the rain”?
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Sarah and Tyler Nesbitt were married in Boise, Idaho.
During their wedding reception, held outside at her grandfather’s farm, a storm blew in. The newly married couple had their “First Storm”. How they dealt with it would determine how the rest of the evening would progress.
The wedding planner held an umbrella out for the bride as she moved from a covered patio to the main tent, where 240 guests were packed together like penguins. Sarah looked at the umbrella and laughed. Instead of reaching for the umbrella, she reached for her husband’s hand, and together they ran into the rain, not to the tent, but to an uncovered area of grass between the tent and the DJ’s covered shelter.
Soon half of those who attended the wedding were all “dancing in the rain”. The bride could have rolled up in a ball and cried about ‘how her wedding was ruined.” Instead, Sarah and Tyler continued to follow the path that they had been on since they met. I ask again; “Have you ever danced in the rain?” Or are you one who waits for the clouds to clear before you continue?
How many opportunities have you missed because you couldn’t make the change in your professional life because “it just wasn’t the right time”? That was your “storm”. And you stayed under shelter. You didn’t even quickly run from your same space to another space closer to your dream.
In 2000, I was diagnosed with a form of lymphatic cancer. The doctors gave me a 40% chance to survive it. A week after getting the diagnosis I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime job. It was a pretty heavy downfall in my life. Like a hurricane, meets monsoon, meets typhoon, meets a tornado kind of storm.
The doctors and nurses had told me that the chemo was so strong that I wouldn’t be able to continue working and that I would lose all my hair. Long story short … I took the job. Won two national championships and 7 PAC-10 championships (in a row) … never missed a day’s work and never lost all my hair.
I “danced in the rain”. It was my chance. I knew I could work through anything. Always had, always will. Sure, “it wasn’t the right time” but life-changing opportunities rarely are. They come during those times when you aren’t looking for them. But when you truly know who you are, you know if this is the right decision or not.
The first step in “dancing in the rain” is trusting yourself and your decision-making process. Trust may be the hardest part of the process. You need to step away from who you are and look at the decisions you have made in the past. If you find a trend of good decisions, then you know who you are. If you make a series of sketchy decisions that seem like they are more of a whim than an organized assessment of who you are then you might want to work on understanding who you are.
What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? These questions should be hard. Don’t look at them from the perspective of who you “think” you are. Also, don’t look at yourself from the perspective of what others think you are. We usually are too hard on ourselves and can short-sell ourselves.
On the other hand, what your outer personality is that others see may be an “act” or a “character” that you have found convenient. Look at the facts. What have I set out to do, and what have I accomplished? Do people like who you are, or do they put up with you? Are you a leader or a follower? These questions are like getting the right piece of machinery to do a job. Once you understand the job, you can get the right tool.
As you find out who you are your trust will grow.
I trusted my ability to finish what I started. I also trusted my ability to be able to “survive” the days just after the chemo injections. It helped that only myself and the head coach knew of my condition.
That way when I was at work, I would not be pestered by people asking how I was doing, or feeling sorry for me. I was allowed to “forget” cancer for those 12 hours I was on the floor training athletes.
RISK / REWARD
With every decision we make, there is a risk and there is a reward. Is taking the risk worth the possible reward? Is the reward high enough that you can live with the risks?
Once you understand who you are, and you trust that person to see the work through to the end do a Risk / Reward Assessment before you decide. Simply draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and figure out what are the advantages of going with the choice versus the long and short-term consequences if you aren’t successful.
Sarah and Tyler did this assessment without the use of paper. They both knew that the wedding party was at risk. There was no lightning … and the tuxes were rentals … and Sarah wasn’t planning on wearing her wedding dress again. This is when they ran out in the rain. The party was a huge success and added another layer to their married life.
Mine was simple too. They had already given me a less than 50% chance of surviving so the worst was already forecasted. The numbers didn’t change if I was in bed or working. This was my shot. I was either going to go out fighting or persevere.
MOVE OR DIE
A research project that was conducted at Texas A&M University showed that man is genetically coded with the need to MOVE. This goes back to our earliest ancestors.
We, as human beings, have been geographically as far East, West, North, and South. We have traveled to the top of the highest mountain and to the very deepest part of the ocean. We’ve been to the moon and are making advances to go farther into space. New frontiers are getting small for the common person.
The last frontier for us is our professional movement. How far can you take your dream?
When will you be tired of living someone else’s dream? Or at least working for them to obtain their goals? They are moving, you are doing the dirty work.
What did you want to be when you were eight to twelve years old, the years before you understood how much obtaining those goals actually cost? I wanted to win a Super Bowl. I told Nate Low when I was eight years old. Forty-eight years later I did just that.
But I wasn’t done. I quickly understood that winning wasn’t my calling … though it’s so much better than losing … but that coaching was a vehicle for me to do what I am supposed to do.
I was MOVING, I moved eight times in my professional career, which spanned 35-years, and I was doing what I was supposed to do.
That was helping others to obtain their goals and be successful. It took a while to understand this
Winning lasted a few minutes before I was thinking about how I could get each athlete better. Losing crushed me because I feared that I had let them down in that I hadn’t prepared them well enough to earn their dreams. Wins and losses were the markers, but my main concern was on the welfare and advancement of each individual.
I let coaching go because I could only help 100 people every season. Being a motivational speaker has allowed me to expand that 10-fold every year, and that was during Covid.
Instead of not being able to be in touch with people during the shut-down, I kept working via the internet and on applications that allowed me to have my appearances brought to people’s houses. I wrote a book, called MOVE or DIE. I started my own webpage so that more people can tap into my experiences. I “danced in the rain” and still am. Even if the sun is coming out a little bit at a time.
I didn’t curl up in a ball and cry about the situation. I found out how I could still touch people and how I can still make a difference. That’s the MOVE or DIE mentality. You have this choice in you. You can either keep moving forward or give up and let your professional and sometimes personal aspirations DIE. Oh, you’ll physically be alive. You just won’t be able to make any choices about how well you live life. How hard you work and most of all how must you TRUST yourself along this path.
Watch for those “storms” that roll through our lives. Know you have two choices. You can wait till it passes or you can follow Tyler and Sarah’s lead and dance in the rain.
Chris Carlisle is the former Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Before that, Chris coached at such notable colleges as the University of Arkansas, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Southern California. Chris graduated from Chadron State College with a Bachelor of Science in Education and went on to earn a master’s degree in History from the University of Arkansas. His professional career started as an educator and coach at the high school level, then moved up from collegiate sports to the NFL, winning championships at every level.
Since retiring from football, Chris has become a sought-after motivational speaker, incorporating experiences from his professional and personal life into each one of his presentations. His upcoming book, Move or Die: Creating a Game-Plan from Stuck to Significance, puts readers on the path to obtaining the life that they have always believed they were destined for.
Move or Die is available for purchase on Amazon