A common experience people have when attempting something that's significant for them, somebody important gives them an experience that shoves them forward and makes it hard to quit or turn back when the time table on getting it done runs a little long.
For me that experience came 20 years ago this Summer/Fall in the form of 2 items in the U.S. mail.
They came about a week or 2 apart. I had just moved to Austin a little more than a year earlier to coach in the top women's cross-country and track program in the nation. A week after I arrived the NCAA voted to illegally set limits on the number and salary of assistant coaches at large universities [U.S. Supreme Court struck it down 6 years later]. And the head coach who I was gonna work with was being pushed out the door.
Leaving Austin wasn't really an option so I had to go to plan B, which was moving the idea of creating my own track club [TheElite Training Group track club] from the back burner. The 2 items in the U.S. mail were in response to a mailing I sent to a well known guy in our sport named Steve Miller, a former college track coach and athletic director at Univ of Kansas, at the time was Director Of Sports Marketing for Nike Inc.
In the mailing I put what has become known as TheETG Training Packets which is a collection of applied sport sciences info for human performance in distance running. The athletes in my track club would be people I coached at the high school level in Virginia who were about to graduate college or leave their college team, so I naively had in my brain at the time that I wanted to cram them into a large house in Austin and have Nike pay for it all, so I included a letter asking Nike for funds for that idea. I was ecstatic when the first of the 2 items in the U.S. mail came, even before I opened it. Just getting a reply was a pretty big deal to me. Thankfully it said 2 things, one that the packets were the most comprehensive stuff he'd ever seen in our sport, and two that the money wasn't coming but that would be something that could change if the club thing goes well. The feedback on the packets was a big deal for me at the time. They were pretty paltry in those days but the content was ahead of the norm and enough to get anybody's attention, which obviously it did. Over the years I've gone from giving them away for free, to selling them, and back to permanently giving them away for free. With the advent of the internet and creating the ETG website 6 years ago, they've proliferated around the globe to track coaches, distance runners and track nuts in over 100 countries. I still have the letter today in a folder with other early days ETG stuff.
The 2nd item in the U.S. mail came a week or 2 later. In those days I produced an "ETG Newsletter" containing sport sciences info and updates about the club. I sold subscriptions. So in the mail comes a check for a subscription from another Nike executive, a very well known guy in our sport named Rudy Chapa, at the time he was manager of Nike Sports Marketing for Track & Field. That one caught me by surprise. At the time I was a coach, former runner, but also a very hardcore track fan that knew who Rudy Chapa was. Rudy Chapa came outta high school as the American Junior record holder at 10,000m, still owns the national high school record at that distance [28:32]. Ran on some pretty famous and hero status University Of Oregon cross-country teams, his senior year at Oregon was my senior year in high school, and he became one of the top American distance runners breaking Steve Prefontaine's American Record at 3000m [ran 7:37].
Fortunately Nike wasn't naive enough to have given me a bunch of money. I had a pretty well designed training program at the time but didn't realize it. On the upside I had a lotta sport sciences info already acquired and a method established of keeping myself ahead of everybody in the sport in that area. But in those days there were many, very many open physiological questions in training and I was very much in exploratory mode, changing the training program almost monthly. I wasn't ready for prime time, and the money would have been a disaster.
Before I moved to Austin I was a high school coach, doing very well producing some of the top runners on the east coast or in the country. Came to coach at what was at the time the #1 college women's program in the nation. I had a lot moving in the right direction. But 2 items in the mail 20 years ago made sure I would stick with getting to where I wanted to go and made sure I would endure a frustrating time table, given that at the time I thought this project would take 1 or 2 years, not 20.