Back in college, I was a football manager (yes, you read that correctly). As you would expect, we had practice every day, regardless of the weather. Unless there was more than a hint of lightning involved, you’d find us on the outdoor practice fields tucked behind the athletic center. In pretty-close-to-coastal New England, that often meant damp, chilly, increasingly dark afternoons as the season progressed through October and November.
Heedless of the weather, one of the assistant coaches–Lou–showed up in athletic shorts to every single practice. When he would arrive at the edge of the field on particularly nasty days, he would unfurl his lumbering frame into a stretch and announce to the world, It’s a GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT day for football! Bundled up and chilled (and often already soaked to the bone), I’d glance at the crazy man in shorts who was eager to take on a muddy field of hulking, hyped-up college guys. Invariably I’d have to smile to myself; if he could do it, so could I.
To this day, I still think of Lou and the example he set. As a coach, he could have bundled up and retreated to the sidelines with a portable heater. Instead, he subjected himself to the same conditions as his players and worse; where they were covered with pads and pants, he endured every practice in shorts. No one could accuse him expecting more from his players than from himself.
On tough days when I have a big project looming, when I shy away from running because of the weather, or when I just don’t feel like getting out of bed, listen carefully. You might hear me murmur Lou’s favorite line before I jump in with both feet.