Fear is a survival mechanism, an emotion deep in our limbic brain that exists to protect us from harm and pain. As Rachel connected in a team practice earlier this week, the opposite of fear is love. In our moments of truth, it’s not that our fears go away, it’s that we have the faith to choose love over fear.
Three hundred eighty-three days ago I was fired as the Ohio State Women’s Rowing head coach. Six hundred sixty-four days after they last raced, the program I had led for twenty-four years took to the water to compete again. For me, the past year has been a daily struggle between pain and love. Today I chose love, dusted off my bicycle, and pedaled down to the river.
As I followed the races, excited for all the coaches and athletes who are finally putting their work and growth to the test, several thoughts started to emerge. I am no longer a part of Ohio State rowing, and Ohio State rowing will always be a part of me. I was a builder when I was a coach, and I’m still a coach now that I am a builder. Both of these truths live in me as I grow as a builder, eager to give the gift of practice to leaders and their teams.
There is a lot of pain associated with getting fired; having the faith to choose love instead was filling. As I watched athletes both familiar and new, I was filled with what had grown during my twenty-four years leading the program at Ohio State. I was also filled watching those I had once led now lead the program as it carries on without me. The crews rowed long and hard, as I would have expected, letting everyone know they will represent Ohio State rowing as the teams before them always have: with strength, courage, and a commitment to excellence. Thankfully, some things are harder to remove than a head coach.
Had I let my fear of reliving the pain of getting fired keep me from going to the river this morning, I would have missed way more than just the races. Instead, I had the faith to choose love and am far better for it. How about you? Where might you fill your tank with a little more love than fear?