I was writing my end of season speech for cross country last night, and my subject was motivation. I know that there are both spectators and coaches out there who look at athletes and judge them solely by their motivations. There are some sports broadcasters who thrive on this. But honestly, does it truly matter why someone crosses the finish line? Why that person can lift the most weight, make the most points, or jump the highest?
My answer is no. I believe that the motivation to succeed at anything, athletic or not, is as individual as that person. And that motivation varies from one event to another.
I’ve heard my runners talk all season long about their motivations during a race. Some want to pass a certain runner from whatever school, some want to beat their PR, some want to qualify for state, some just need to pee, and for some, just crossing the finish line before throwing up is what makes them move a little faster. As the coach who is always at the finish line, I have learned to get out of the way quickly for that last group. And I know there are some people who will not run unless they are being chased by zombies with flaming chainsaws. I get that, too. And none of these motivations are better or worse, more or less, than anyone else’s. They simply belong to that individual.
When I look at my own reasons for some of the things that I do, I see a common thread: defiance. Not in that “stick it to the man” kind of way, but in that “I am not going to let the rest of the world determine who I am and what I do” kind of way. I run because I was told not to. There is nothing that makes me crazier than being told I will never achieve something. I Crossfit because it makes me strong, and I will not be weak. I teach my classes in a more linear, process based fashion because I refuse to believe those who think that English is “artsy fartsy” and “subjective” and that we should all sit in a circle on a lawn somewhere and talk about poetry and snap. Really?
Defiance. The simple act of not being passive. The act of defining myself, based on my decisions, and not those of the world. That is what motivates me.