18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

18' 1" Olympic Trials 2008

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pressure to Succeed

Well the start of December has been a trip to say the least. Starting in Northern California on November 30th, then hitting Boise, Idaho by car, flying to Portland, Oregon, driving to Dallas, Oregon, and now I will retrace my steps tomorrow arriving back home sometime Friday night December 9th.
The past week my mind has been racing. With too much idle travel and down time to think, my thoughts have a tendency to run wild. Things I have been looking forward too for months are right around the corner and the question of preparation is haunting me. I can’t stand that feeling, and I continue to try and fight it off. What will be, will be and I have to remain comfortable with the thought that I am doing absolutely everything in my power to be ready, knowing deep down that hanging onto that idea will continue to inspire more and more confidence. 
I must also admit that thoughts of the future have been creeping in as well. I’m staying with a friend and former training partner of mine who has really done it right. When he retired from the sport he dedicated years of stress and financial agony to becoming a dentist. With that long road behind him, he has a beautiful family, life, and home. I look up to him now as a successful father, husband, and professional as I once looked up to him as a great athlete who helped inspire me to continue on this post collegiate journey that I still follow today. I hope that someday someone will think the same of me. I often wonder about people whose lives I have passed through that are younger than me. Did I inspire them in some way? I can only hope. Because many of them come to mind who inspired me, and are still inspiring me to this day. As a coach, sometimes I think I learned more from my athletes, than they learned from me.  
            Something else that has been on my mind that I thought I would share in hopes that it will reach someone out there. Briefly I would like to say a few words about the constant pressure an athlete can put on themselves because of the expectations they think others have for them. Friends, family and coaches are usually (hopefully) great support systems, but it is easy to use there support against you if you are dwelling on the possibility of disappointing them with a poor performance result. I too find myself doing this from time to time, even worrying about the expectations of people outside of my inner circle. In these moments I have to remember what my parents always told me from the time I was a child playing club soccer all the way through my post collegiate pole vault career. They would say (and still do) “We love you just the same, no matter the results, and we are proud of you for having the courage to come this far, win or lose.” Those are powerful words, and true. Someone out there loves you no matter how bad things get or how much you might think you suck that day, they don’t think you suck, they think you are wonderful, feel pride in your presence and are happy to have you in their life, a result can't and wont change that. Keep that truth close to you always, because no matter how amazing you are, everyone has a bad day once in awhile, and it doesn’t have to be so bad. 


  1. Right on Paul. Well written! You might also consider (motivational) writing (and/or speaking) as a career objective.

    Nick Vogt

  2. Paul, you will learn that the only true genuine inner peace you can achieve is by evaluating your own thoughts, actions and desires and seeing if they align with your values. The only earthly judge of you that counts is you and your close family. You can only give 100% of what you have, not what you want. Work hard, stay focused, find time to laugh and be with friends and life will take care of the rest. Best of luck for a spectacular 2012.

    Eric Linneman