It’s been an interesting week. Nike coach Alberto Salazar was banned for cheating. For those who don’t know, I was a main whistleblower. That identity has consumed my life for the last 7 years, hovering over me like a cloud; occasionally sending a downpour rain on my life, leaving me to be stuck, treading water.
I’m relieved that I’m now able to move forward.
But if this story ends with a pat on the back, a hardy handshake and a “job well done,” then we’ve failed. This is a moment to step back and assess where we are as a sport and where we want to go. It’s a time to take responsibility and hold ourselves accountable. To recognize that we are all human, that we all make mistakes, but only by doing the hard work, and confronting our misgivings, will we be able to grow.
It’s easy to rationalize, justify and excuse. That’s what our brain wants us to do. Our brain defaults to the simple, conserving our energy, not doing the difficult work. We can choose the easy path; deciding that “it happened long ago” or rationalize why we continue to associate with individuals, companies, and teams who might not be on a positive path. Or we can choose the difficult path. Come to terms with the choices we’ve made, the positions we’ve found ourselves in, maybe even the things we’ve done. If we don’t, we end up right back in the position we started in.
Whenever we are faced with a difficult situation, uncertainty, or stress, we generally go one of two ways. We stick to the status quo, take the path of least resistance and justify or blame others. Or, we choose to take on the challenge.
It’s time for all of us to ask the difficult questions, and change for the better. Whether it’s in sport, or just in life in general, choose the difficult path. Stop rationalizing. Stop excusing. Find your voice. Stand up for something. It’s during difficult times when we see what actions people are willing to take and that true character is revealed. Don’t cower away. Don’t take the easy path. Challenge is an opportunity. It’s a chance. I hope that we all take it.