By Andy Jones-Wilkins
CTS Ultramarathon Coach
Last week, at a meeting I attended with an experienced group of educational leaders, the topic of discussion eventually centered in on a very basic essential question:
“What three things — skills, attributes, temperaments, whatever — do you want your students to graduate high school with?”
The facilitator, knowing he had captured a moment and struck a chord with his question, gave us very little time to think through our answers. Within a minute of posing his question, he pushed us for our answers. And, as seems to always happen to me, he pointed to me first and asked,
“Andy, tell us your three things.”
I didn’t even flinch. I am not sure why, but the answer came to me instantly,
“Confidence, Resilience, and Hope.”
Ever since I started teaching 28 years ago, the students I’ve known who’ve embodied these three attributes have inspired and motivated me. Likewise, the long distance runners I’ve gotten to know over the past two decades that have been confident, resilient, and hopeful have been those who’ve personified what it means to be a successful runner and a successful person. In essence, Confidence, Resilience, and Hope comprise, to me, a perfect recipe in education, running, and life.
You know the confident runner when you see him. Self-assured, relaxed, carrying a wry smile, the confident runner is not a faker. The most confident runners I know take calculated risks, but also do so while eliminating all variables. They carry their confidence in their heads and in their hearts as well as in their bodies, and when they toe the line they are always ready.
The resilient runner shows her scars. She has been through more ups and downs than the rest of us care to think about and she has come out the other side standing upright and strong. The resilient runner, like the resilient student, has had her fair share of failures and disappointments, and yet she hasn’t given in. She’s remained steadfast, stalwart, and true. The resilient runner is that one who gets out of her chair at mile 82 and forges on — one foot in front of the other until she’s done.
Hope and the hopeful runner are always a bit more fleeting. While confidence and resilience can be seen and touched, hope needs to be felt. As such, it is the most capricious of the three things, but also the most purposeful and relevant. The hopeful runner and student have a spring in their step tempered by caution in their voice. Hope can be such a deep visceral emotion that is requires balance, focus, and a fair amount of risk. And when we get it right, it’s awesome!
And so, to me, Confidence, Resilience, and Hope truly represent the Golden Recipe. While not every day out there will be perfect, if we can move forward armed with these three things we can run healthy and happy, and not only become better runners, but better versions of ourselves.