Friday, 1 June 2012

500words...what's it all about?

by Stuart McMillan

...I have three passions: coaching, food, and music.  I have been lucky enough to work in all three fields for my entire adult life, and have enjoyed every minute of it.  I began coaching in 1987, and started working with professional and National Team athletes in the mid-1990s, finally making it my career in 1998; I paid my way through college working as a busboy, waiter, cook, bartender, restaurant manager, etc., and finally acted as the produce manager and buyer for a major organic foods store, working with food distributors and farmers throughout North and Central America, bringing their high quality produce to the plates of the people; all the while hosting a weekly radio show that I started in 1998, spinning my favorite ‘foundation’ reggae music.  
Music: Victor Hugo said that ‘music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent’, and for me, this will be the most difficult subject to write about - I envy the skills of the music critics that so eloquently express the particular feelings that music can inspire.  
Food is easy - I grow, it, prepare it, buy it, and eat it every day.  Writing about it can’t be that difficult, can it???  
But, as I’m currently making my living in sport,  this site will be biased towards coaching, and all that it entails; which - any good coach will tell pretty much everything.  
So expect blog posts about philosophy, about the difference between ska, rocksteady, and reggae, about stoicism, my favorite books, the meaning of life, peaking for a major championships,  the latest dietary fads, the best coffee shops in London, the unique pressures of competing at a home Olympic Games, how to make the perfect smoothie (which we call a super-shake), the 21 axes of movement through the sacro-illiac joint, the lines between science and art, how best to enjoy sushi, the too-short life of Donny Hathaway, about growing your own herb garden, about on earth. 
I will be employing (begging, bribing, cajoling, pleading with, forcing, threatening) all my friends and colleagues, and athletes - both past and present - to help us make sense of it all.  There is only one rule: it must be done in as close to 500 words as possible - without going over....not as easy as it sounds - trust me! 
Why 500?  Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned through coaching is that  simplicity is king, and it's particularly illuminating how effective communication becomes when you put limits on the time, length, and content (for perhaps the most salient example, see TEDtalks). This confinement restricts the writer/speaker to communicate only that which is truly necessary, doing away with the superfluous - a kind of Howard Roark of communication, which I feel leads to a beautiful simplicity. 
As de Saint-Exupery states:  “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”...

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