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I had one of those weeks recently where I thought ‘what’s the point?’

I’d had a few tricky emails I needed to deal with and I just couldn’t seem to make progress with anything on my to-do list. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile; just ploughing through hour after hour of all the unseen admin required to run events and be a coach. I’ll admit, I was a little frustrated. There’s always times in any job where it’s easy to get sucked into thinking ‘I’m not making a difference’, but how do we pull ourselves out of it?

Then as I made my drive to work I was struck by 2 thoughts.

The first was a memory: I was recently asked to contribute to a birthday video for an amazing athlete, coached for many years by a good friend of mine. I had never coached them personally, and only watched them dance a couple of times at live events. I didn’t even realise that they knew who I was. They asked me to contribute because at an event several years ago, I had said something meaningful to that dancer that had stayed with them. I recalled that whilst waiting for my own team to enter the comp floor, I was stood at the side as the dancer left the floor following their own performance. My team was against theirs and the girls coming off the floor had done an amazing job (and were likely to win), so I made a conscious effort to model good sportsmanship by congratulating them and having a quick chat. A comment I made at that time stuck with the dancer in question, to the point they wrote it up and stuck it on their bedroom wall as a reminder. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t recall what pearls of wisdom I shared, but it was so reassuring to hear that by taking a moment to give a kind word and some encouragement, I had made a lasting impression that positively influenced that dancer.

More recently, I had the parent of a student who I teach tell me that their child wants to apply to university to study my subject. I was actually shocked. I’ve taught this student for nearly 4 years and had no idea they were even enjoying the subject let alone wanting it to be their career pathway. They have never ever expressed any enthusiasm to me, but it just goes to show that our perception of how someone is experiencing a situation isn’t always accurate. I might feel that this student doesn’t enjoy my lessons… but they're playing it cool whilst internally they’re thinking it’s the best thing since sliced bread!

The take away message from my little car reflection session is; that even when we feel like we’re chugging along, and we’re not getting any immediate positive reinforcement from tangible achievements, then that’s ok. Keep going. Not everything we do and say to help others be successful can be measured.

Things we do and say might only become useful to someone further down the line.

We ARE making a difference to someone, somewhere; even if we don’t know it!

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