Yes, folks, we’re living through strange times, and hopefully this will pass soon and we can grow and learn from this moment. One of our members reached out to me with this thought from John Lennon (I’ll paraphrase to not misquote): Some decades are weeks, and some weeks are decades.

She went on to say, “Todd, we are living in the latter. I hope we all appreciate this moment for what it is. It is an opportunity to help and show love and respect for one another.”

What have we done to help?

The title of this article “What have I done to help,” is also a musical reference. This is a new song from one of my musical heroes, Jason Isbell. I recently heard an interview about this song and Jason said that when it came to him while driving, he thought it sounded like a Michael Kiwanuka song. As he recorded it, he said, “I kept trying to change the song so I wasn’t stealing, yet it wouldn’t change.”

Knowing that he wanted to show Michael Kiwanuka respect, Jason reached out and gave writing credit to Michael. This is a small thing but can go a long way in showing respect for those who did something before us.

What have I done to help in our world?

I’ve said for years that my job (both current and previous careers) is very easy. What I do is not life or death. What I do is empower those around me to improve. So daily I ask myself, what have I done to help?

Some days I succeed and some days I fail, but I would like to think that I would do the right thing similar to Jason Isbell did in the previous story. As a young lifter or coach, we often think the world revolves around us. I know there is a meme going around telling people that if they don’t come out of this lockdown with a new skill, they haven’t succeeded. Judging others isn’t the way to help. Reaching to your brothers and sisters in this time of need is helping. I know for a fact that I don’t have the answers, but I also know that I don’t live your life. So I’m here to help.

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If you need a person to lean on, then lean on me. If you need a voice, use mine. If you just need to make it through this in a sane state of mind, I’ll be here for you when this over. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then just breathe. If you don’t know what the future holds, hold on and let’s try to make it a stronger future.

The point I’m hopefully driving home is that no human is an island. This virus should be teaching us how interconnected we truly are. No matter how strong you are, someone was there to help you on your path. No matter how smart you are, you had a mentor who began your journey. Remain curious as a child but confident in yourself. Keep your eyes and ears open while not allowing the news and world to bring you down.

I wish you all health and well-being during these and all times, and from everyone at Union Fitness, stay strong and reach out to those in need.

For my collegiate coach friends, here is a short list of things you can do to help during this time:

  1. Stay connected to your people. This can be a fine line because many people are struggling and we aren’t mental health experts. But we can be a voice for those struggling. This can be your students, your coaches, or others around you — even your boss. Don’t be afraid to reach a hand up and try to help.
  2. Use this as an opportunity. In all struggle, there can be growth. Right now, we’re dealing with issues most of us have never dealt with. Find some common ground with people and build relationships. This is more important now than ever. If you have groups around you who are already staying connected, get involved. If not, create some groups. One thing I loved from my previous job was assistant coach get-togethers. Why not create support staff meetings and conversations while you have a little more time?
  3. Remove yourself from the weeds. All too often, strength coaches debate Bulgarian split squats versus box squats. Hopefully, we’ve all learned that none of that matters. What does matter? Building a team of people pulling in the same direction.
  4. Prepare for the future. Many schools are canceling and even dropping seasons and sports. How will you handle this, and will you be prepared to deal with the students who are mad at you even though you have no say? When I was at a school that dropped a bunch of sports, we decided that all athletes from the sports that were affected could still train with the strength staff. Find ways to help these students overcome the loss they’re feeling.
  5. Don’t complain if you can’t fix it. I fail daily on this one! If we don’t control something, don’t complain about it. One saying that bothers me is, “It is what it is.” I get why people use it, but all too often it’s a cop-out and a negative statement. I ask, why is it?
  6. Show your value. The reality is finances have changed. If you aren’t showing your value, you may not be employed. Get on the next committee or keep a daily log of who you spoke to at work each day to keep yourself honest. Work with the sports info department to get more information out there. Make sure you’re in the front, not the back, when the cuts come. And they are coming.
  7. Be a good human. People want to work with people they like. If you aren’t liked, then you will eventually be unemployed.

Going back to the beginning of this article, ask yourself, what have you done to help? This is a broad and never-ending query. There isn’t any right or wrong answer other than saying, “I’ve done nothing.”