The Sandwich Site fitness center closed down at end of last year. I had to sign up at the local sports center in order to maintain my daily work out. I couldn’t imagine not taking that time out each day. Whatever value I get in terms of my health and fitness, the opportunity to think, consider and assess is invaluable.
The sports center is attached to a local school and I have a reasonable view into the main sports hall from the exercise machines. It can range from amusing and distracting…to impressive and inspiring to watch teachers and pupils teaching and learning basketball or badminton – the two most common activities it seems.
On Thursday last week I was on my favourite cross-trainer a little later than normal and down below me three trampolines were set out across the sports hall. Although the class was predominately girls, most of whom seemed very proficient, there was one teenage boy in the mix who, when it was his turn, looked decidedly anxious. To my untrained and distant eye he seemed very able – jumping high and straight – but it was apparent something else was going on.
He was getting lots of clapping and shouts of support from the group as he jumped, and the teacher was definitely encouraging him to do something – I knew not what – but he wasn’t doing it…despite the rallying cries. At that moment, the teacher climbed on with him. She spoke to him directly but calmly, and they started jumping together.
As they bounced, still high and straight, she took his wrist with one hand and his upper arm with her other. And in an instant he had done it. A full forward somersault landing squarely back on his feet.
I could see the cheers from his friends. I could guess the words of praise from his teacher. I could hear his delight. His teacher climbed off. He continued to bounce and promptly repeated the move unassisted. He leapt off…to high fives, fist bumps and hugs from his friends.
I was impressed. I smiled. I wanted to cheer as well. To congratulate him and his teacher and his friends. I was only 20 minutes into my work-out. They were 50 metres away. They had no idea I was even there.
The boy in question was always capable of the somersault. He was evidently competent on the trampoline. He was only lacking the confidence to execute. He was gifted that confidence by his friends. He accepted that confidence from his teacher. It took so little from them all, yet they gave so much to their friend…to their student.
As I continued to exercise, giving myself minor motivational targets to achieve and praising myself when I passed each minute, I thought about my friends and colleagues; my teachers and mentors; my family and team. I realised how much support they all give me…all the time. A word here. An email there. A phone call. A text message.
Moreover, as I watched the teenage boy’s smile get bigger with every hand he touched, I realised just how important that support is to me. How much confidence I gain from such simple acts. I am sure this is acute for us…for me…at times of most flux and change, but the value is high. Always.
And it can’t just be me. Is it? It can’t just be me and the teenage trampoliner who feel good. Feel confident. Feel empowered. Feel better. Who achieve more. Learn more. Grow more. Deliver more. When someone offers words of encouragement. Or praise. When someone lends us a helping hand…