Sometimes a picture says a lot more than we think it does. I look at this picture and it far too often resembles choices that we make in life and on the athletic field. Let us take a look at a few.
If I asked you what this picture is showing, some of you would say two people headed in the wrong direction. Some might say people avoiding the signs around them and others might say two friends out for a walk, having a good conversation and not worried about the surroundings.
When I see it, it reminds me of some of the choices young athletes (people) make. Some approach life with the safety in numbers philosophy. It doesn't matter that we are headed in the wrong direction, but more importantly we have someone willing to go down the wrong path with us. I tell my athletes that sometimes you have to ask yourself the following question. Am I running up to someone else's ability or am I running down? My dad always told me that if you want to be successful in life that you should surround yourself with people that are smarter (more experienced) than you are and strive to learn from them. As a new athlete at Liberty University I made a mindful decision to try to befriend those athletes that were already successful. There were many other freshman athletes that were more talented than I was that didn't last more than one season partly due to the fact that they hung out with other athletes who didn't want to work hard or wanted to have the college experience rather than learn. For me the same held true in high school. I was blessed to join a cross country team that had individuals that were all of a like mind. For the most part that choice kept me out of trouble since we were so focused on training and getting better. With large track teams and even cross country teams, you see like minded individuals gravitate towards each other. This is for the good and for the bad. Marcus O'Sullivan once told me the most important thing you can do is influence people. Whether it is good or bad, you do influence. So when I see this picture, I see two individuals. One might be leading and the other might be following. Each has a role and has responsibilities. The leader has to be willing to do and say the hard things at times and the follower has to be willing to do what is right for the betterment of the team.
The other thing I see is that sometimes you don't even notice the warning signs when they are right in front of you. The lead foot athlete never knows how to take the foot off the pedal. With training, recovery is as important as the workouts you do. Those with a lead foot often wind up with an injury. That is where an outside observer sometimes sees things that you clearly do not. They might be your parents, teachers, coaches and even sometimes your friends. You have to be willing to hear the truth and accept it for where you are at.
The last thing this picture reminds me is that you need direction or sometimes you will go down roads that you shouldn't. If I as a coach did not have a plan for the season and a plan individually for all my athletes, then I have failed them. If you as an athlete don't have a vision of where you want to end up, then you have failed yourself.
Now to be honest this picture was from the summer, and it is my youngest daughter Tabitha walking with our friend Xin in Dallas over the summer. I thought the picture was very ironic, but very applicable.