The Value of A Reflection

6 Mar

“There is a lesson in almost everything that you do, and getting the lesson is how you move forward. It is how you enrich your spirit.”-Oprah Winfrey

I have learned the importance of seeking a “reflection” over the years in my association with Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha.  A “Reflection” – just as the word implies – is a starkly objective feeding back of what you give to it. It does not judge, it does not seek to improve upon or make better or compensate for, but like the mirror – which holds no opinions of what it sees – it merely “reflects” back.

A great coach is an accomplished Reflector.

I taught swimming for ten years through the Red Cross Water Safety programs at Girl Scout summer resident camps in Michigan and Ohio. This was long before the age of camera phones, digital movies, etc. We had to use words to communicate to our swimmers – to help them understand the difference between what they were doing and the proper execution of a swimming stroke.

One tool that I developed that became tremendously successful was the ability to mimic the student’s movements. So I became a sort of live human “video-cam” to “playback” their execution in the water while they watched from my vantage point on the deck.

One thing it allowed was for them to laugh at themselves when they saw the sometimes large gap between what they thought they were doing and their actual movements. I would show them what they were doing and then show them the correct stroke.

It turned out to be a very successful teaching tool.

Whenever I had to correct a student’s stroke – I gave them something they were doing right. I found something they were executing correctly and reinforced that. But I didn’t lie to them. I didn’t try to look past or minimize what they were doing wrong. I showed them what needed adjusting – in order to perfect their technique and execute the stroke properly.

A good swimming teacher has two objectives in mind. Some students will want to compete. So they’re interested in speed and efficiency. But ALL students need to be drown-proof. A good swimming teacher will give their students tools that will help them maximize their energy in a survival situation, and keep them from exhausting themselves in practice or recreational swimming.

The fact is swimming strokes have been modified and stream-lined over the years to require less energy and maximize a swimmer’s power working together with the resistance factor of the water. When executed correctly, a swimmer can utilize the resistance of the water to propel themselves forward, maximizing and even conserving energy.

When executed sloppily or incorrectly, the swimmer can actually find him/herself working against natural forces and will exhaust themselves in the effort.

My goal was always to help my swimmers achieve their best performance – whether for competition or just plain efficiency. I helped them there by holding no judgment of what I saw, reflecting their performance back to them and helping them to make the necessary and appropriate corrections to bring them up to optimum performance.

Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha has been the ultimate coach in my life. She holds no judgment, reflects without distortion and stays steadfast in her commitment to helping others achieve excellence. I haven’t always been the best student, but I’m no quitter. So long as I don’t give up on myself, Coach Pa’Ris’Ha is there.

I have been very blessed to have someone in my life who cared enough about me to help me be my best. Too often we surround ourselves with people who are afraid to offend us, who are afraid to deliver the truth. But then that simply enables us in our weaknesses. It really doesn’t serve personal development, in fact it stunts it. Personal growth requires stretching beyond our comfort zones – being willing and able to take direct feedback without injury and change.

If I run from the truth, I live in a world of denial. The fact is that that existence creates a far greater pain than facing the truth and acting upon it. With the support of a skilled and compassionate but firm coach, learning from a “Reflection” can become a life of discovery and unfoldment.

It’s always a choice.

“All around you no matter where you are is opportunity. You decide its potential and outcome. You are the co-creators. Make a life worthy of all the gifts we are. Love from a place empty of fear. Live in eternal celebration of being chosen for this world and life, and if we manage well, we will dwell in its glory and beauty again.” –Pa’Ris’Ha Taylor*

* from Grandmother’s Legacy. © Copyright 2007 Parisha Online. All Rights Reserved.

 

-Deborah Adler

©2011 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved. (NOTE: All quotes remain the sole property of the original authors.)

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