Control what you can control...

Sometimes goals just change and we have to adapt. A higher level of hope consistently is related to better outcomes in academics, athletics, physical health, psychological adjustment, and psychotherapy. Competing in six different sports in high school, I experienced many highs and lows associated with each sport. My first love was football, starting in fourth grade I loved everything about football; when it came to football, I would say my energy and my passion were both extremely high. I loved the physical contact, I loved playing both offense and defense, and I did not shy away from being hit by larger athletes. In middle school football I continually received the hustle award for being the first to practice, the last one to leave practice, and always giving a 100% effort. Unfortunately, there are not many spots on a football team for a 5’5” freshman that weighs 98 pounds, and who happens to also be slow by football standards. In high school the cream rises to the top quickly in sports dictated by athletes that are bigger, faster, and stronger. Another love was track, what was considered by most to be a punishment, the 1-mile or 2-mile race, I viewed as pleasurable. So instead of discouragement I found hope when my freshman football coach said, “Storts, instead of football next fall you should try cross country.” Regardless of whether or not it was an individual or team sport, what I really loved about sports was the ability they gave me to compete. All I had to do to be successful in cross country was to apply the same energy and passion I used in football to the sport of cross country. What was considered a liability for football was now an asset for running. After all, world 5k record holder Keneisha Bekele is 5’6” and 123 pounds. I embraced realistic optimism, I had an honest recognition that there may be opportunities for positive growth or learning experiences in even the most difficult situations. Several state and national running titles later, I would like to say thank you to my freshman football coach!

Internal locus of control are known as things that you can control. I coach cross country at a Catholic high school in Iowa. Each school year I look forward to a variety of school activities but what continuously tops my list is a retreat called Kairos. Chronos means man’s time while Kairos stands for God’s time. We load up a bus of high school students, six parent leaders, and hit the road to head to the Creighton Retreat Center for spiritual growth and development. What is so special about this event is that for four days there is no record of time; only a few of the leaders know the actual time (chronos). All cell phones and watches are confiscated prior to leaving for the retreat. All activities are based on what feels right, in other words, what works on God’s time. Each year I am asked to give a talk on a topic related to my faith. I diligently prepare my talk, spend plenty of time writing it, re-write it several times, bring props, and finally come up with an outline for what I will say to the students. Although I feel confident and prepared, there is always a sense of nervousness when addressing thirty-five high school students.

This past year as I was heading to the meeting room with notes and props in hand, I remembered that I had forgotten my bible in my bedroom. The space between the meeting room and my bedroom was outside and separated by a wooden walkway. As I set down all my papers on the walkway (at the time I even remember thinking this is a bad idea but I did it anyway) to head back to my room, a large gust of wind arose, and off flew my speech into the muddy woods below the deck. Decision time, track down my papers in the mud wearing dress shoes or wing it and deliver the speech by memory? I chose the latter--my internal locus of control kicked into overdrive. After all, I had a lot going for me. My self-esteem was high, I was simply telling a story about my life, my beliefs, and my convictions. I am naturally extroverted--so again I was just telling a story of my relationship with God and others. Lastly, I was delivering a talk utilizing many of my apparent strengths so all I had to do was find the flow. I have attended Kairos eight times prior and succeeded in delivering a talk each time, but I must say that I think this last talk was my best talk.

External locus of control are known as things outside your control. Ten years ago I started a personal training/coaching/sports training business called IronWorks Athletics. I strive to deliver a variety of services to clients ranging from six years old to sixty five years old. Clients come to me and engage with me for various reasons, thus my primary revenue comes as a result of providing them a service. Ironworks opened in 2009, and if able to remember back, one might remember that this year was the second worst financial crisis in the United States’ history. While other companies were closing, I was opening. I heard some critics that thought I was crazy, but I was confident in my abilities (internal locus of control) to make this company succeed. I believed I had the energy and passion to weather any storm. What I have encountered along the way is a large number of external locus of control moments.

My first lease agreement was with my daughter’s gymnastics academy. They would only allow me to use their facility during their off-hours, which presented challenges to scheduling clients. Business grew quickly and I needed a new space, a space that allowed me to use it whenever my clients were available. Enter Maximum Fitness, a 24/7 gym that allowed me to use their facility whenever I deemed necessary. In return, I paid the gym a percentage of my revenue without having to share any of the expenses of owning a physical space. I considered this a perfect relationship and my business grew as a result of this relationship. I was busy, but the same did not hold true for the gym as they were not. So, what started as rumors quickly became the reality and the gym I was using was forced to close their doors. Time to find a space that I could call a permanent home for my business. Ironworks’ new home was quickly found, the lease negotiated and signed, construction started and eventually finished, another expansion was added on, and I am proud to say that the business continues to grow.

I have learned that there are many things that I can not control, including weather and its impact on Common Area Maintenance (CAM) costs. Inclement weather means clients can not make their appointments, and clients not making appointments means less revenue. Inclement weather means more snow removal, which in return increases CAM expenses. These costs are not absorbed by the landlord but passed on from the landlord to the tenants in the form of higher CAM costs.  More costs combined with less revenue is not an ideal situation for a service-based business. Snow normally brings colder weather with it, colder weather brings with it increased utility/heating costs. Let us just say that this past winter had a high external locus of control on my business. Yet, I had not lost hope as my positivity tells me to look at shoveling heavy snow as just another form of a workout. After all, spring always follows winter!