Joe's point is that he does things contrary to conventional wisdom, but that he believes so strongly in what he's doing that he also goes against the conventional wisdom that bigger is better, richer is more successful, and growth is always a good thing and is the only metric for business success.
Lately, I've been feeling the pain. I think I'm a wonderful teacher. And yet I never seem to get the private students. It makes me feel awful-- I'll talk to some mom after class and the conversation inevitably ends, "My child just loves you, thank you so much for taking so much personal interest in her. So what we're going to do is hire Other Coach." I haven't had a raise in 11 years. My boss gave me a "6" (out of 10) in skating knowledge because I never skated as a kid. (So I guess the PSA, which gave me a Senior Rating, doesn't know what they're doing, either.)
And I started to think, y'know, screw this. Why am I breaking my heart over this. I'm going to be like the coaches who only ever talk to their own kids in class. I'm going to lie to parents about how fabulously talented their darlings are and how group class is bullshit. I'm going to skim off the best and the brightest and be like the coaches who just phone it in during group class, because what's the point of giving so much to these kids and these parents when they just don't get it.
And then I came home and picked up Joe's book, and this farmer, this guy in a profession as different from skating as could be, inspired me to remember exactly why I do this.
Because I am a lunatic skating coach.
I quit a $65,000 a year executive job to work in a profession that pays $12 an hour (group class rate at my rink). No benefits (by which I mean not just no pension or insurance but also no sick pay, no vacation pay, and forced layoffs three times a year).
Why would someone do that?
Well, because I was that skater that everyone ignored and/or made fun of. Because my daughter grew up in a rink where the culture was poisonous and I wanted to change that. Because I remember figuring out that the reason no one wanted to coach my daughter was not because she wasn't talented, but because they had figured out that we had no money. Because I have a coaching philosophy, and it has very little to do with the number, quality, or competitiveness of the students that I attract, and everything to do with how happy the kids in my classes are. Because while Coach Fabulous might have 15 students, I have 140 because every one of the kids in my beginner classes thinks of me as "their coach," like Sarina, a little girl who hugged me in the lobby on Thursday. She looked about 7, and had been my class student when she was 3 or 4. I barely remembered her, but as far as she's concerned I'm her teacher.
This is the passage in Joe's book that brought me out of my self-pitying funk:
"Here's the question: 'What goals are noble enough to justify my life?' That leads to noble and sacred goals...Goals need to be far bigger than sales.If we strive to be good above all else, growth tends to take care of itself. Growth can occur in ways besides gross sales and net profits. We can grow in relationships, knowledge, quality of life, spirituality."So I'll concede the masses of individual students to Coach Former Champ, and Coach Sweetheart, and Coach Fashionista, and Coach In-Crowd. I don't do this, I've never done this, in order to be famous or to have the most or the best students. I do this because I love teaching group class, because I truly believe that everyone can and should love to skate, and because I know that I can inspire them in that.
And that's the sheer ecstasy of being a lunatic skating coach.