Lessons from Los Angeles.
‘Let me serenade the streets of L.A, From Oakland to Sacktown, The Bay Area and back down, Cali is where they put they mack down – Give me love’ – Tupac Shakur
Finalllllllly, James has come back to the city of Los Angeles. Damn, it’s good to be back. My American journey started here, and the first leg of it is going to end here.
The city of Angels holds a place dear to my heart. It represents a bigger, better life – something the James of 5 years ago wouldn’t have even anticipated. This was the biggest step on my pursuit of awesome to date.
Back in March, this was my first port of call. I came here as fresh off the boat, big eyed, relatively inexperienced coach. I had only ever been to the east coast of America; I hadn’t been away from home for a period of time this long and I had no idea what lay in front of me.
Three months after I left I return a very tanned, slightly more aware, changed person. I’ve travelled, made contacts, coached hundreds of people and created some memories that will never leave me. I’m no longer the man I was when I first came to LA, and I’m a better person I was than when I left.
Travel has taught me a lot of lessons about life, myself and sometimes it’s just full on kicked my arse about some stuff. It allowed me to step away from a previous life, and look at myself from the outside in. Here are a few things I’ve learned since last time I was here:
#1 – Give yourself credit; you know more than you think
Coaching is something that comes naturally to me. I don’t know why, but put someone in front of me, with a few bullet points and I’ll coach them on it. It’s just something I can do.
Football coaching (Soccer, for my American friends) isn’t something I was particularly well versed in when I first got here. I’d done my qualifications, read books, articles and spoken to numerous coaches about what to do. I had session plans coming out of my ears – but I still found myself sat on a Motel 6 bed in Long Beach doubting myself.
To end the doubt, I put myself together a session plan using material from coaches I didn’t even understand. I panicked, and just though it would work. And when my first session came around, you know what happened? Yeah, it bombed. It sucked. Big surprise.
Only when I took a step back, calmed down and used the things I knew did my sessions start to flow. The stuff I’d learned, understood and put away on a shelf finally came to the fore. By the end of the spring, all the kids loved me and the parents wanted me back. The ability was within me all the time; I just had to believe in it.
Trust yourself wholeheartedly and go with your gut. It’s more informed than you think, and you’ll very rarely be wrong. On the off chance you are, at least you had the conviction to make a decision off your own judgement.
#2 – Keep it simple, stupid
Life is a very simple concept, made complicated by the people who live it. We live for roughly less than a century, and then we die. It’s that simple. No ifs, no buts. The things we do in between times is what defines us.
The simplest path is the best option. Things in life do get complicated, but the more you can break it down to it’s basics and bare essentials the better. Find the simplest route from Point A to Point B, no matter what the outcome is. I look as it like this – if you put 100 poisons in to a plant, how do you know which one killed it?
This can apply to love, relationships, work, sex, and even writing a blog post. We like to create and conjure things to justify the way we actually feel, and give us a smokescreen to hide behind. To stop us from what we want to do and give us a reason to stop.
It should be simple, not easy.
#3 – If you can’t explain it to a 6 year old, you don’t understand it yourself.
This Einstein quote is something I’ve always liked, but I’ve never really got it until recently.
I spend a lot of time around children. It’s part of my job. I coach them for hours on end, then I come home to them at my family housing. They’re an inescapable presence in my life.
Standing in front of upwards of forty 6 year olds means you have to learn how to simplify things, fast. I’ve had my whole life analysed, broken down and questioned all by 6 year olds. Decisions, methods and relationships all interrogated and broken down to a 5 year olds level.
Sometimes stripping everything back and looking at it through a child’s eye can have a massive effect on how you view something.
#4 – If something scares you, it’s worth doing
‘Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile… initially scared me to death’ – Betty Bender
Okay, this doesn’t come from my America trip. This comes from my first proper travelling trip abroad. The first time I was really ‘away’.
Last march, two weeks before my friend was due to fly to Australia I had a eureka moment. My life wasn’t going in the direction I wanted. I was stagnating, and I fell in to the trap of homeostasis. Drifting along, day-by-day, getting ready for what felt to me an unfulfilling existence in the midst of everything. I decided, ‘You know what, sod it’ made a few phone calls, had a few talks with my family and two weeks later – I was sat a few rows in front of my friend on a plane to Perth.
You could call this moment the catalyst for my ‘Pursuit of an Awesome life’ – in slightly more detail, this is where it all began.
I jumped off cliffs in to jellyfish filled water, climbed rocks, snorkelled, swam in open seas, surfed, left the country without taking a trip to see a nomadic parent and spent 3 months away from home. All things I was scared to do before I did them. All things that have positively affected my life since I did them and helped mould me in to the man I am today.
(P.S – You guys can also follow my ramblings on Twitter, @JJPT_59)