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Written By: Dana Skelton

Peace- A state of tranquility or serenity

Peace- Freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, or anxiety

Peace- A deliberate state of psychological or spiritual calm despite the potential presence of stressors


“You can’t find peace by avoiding life.” -Virginia Wolf

I hear all the time from coaches, that they wish they had a better balance between their job and things like time with their kids, juggling another job, enjoying time with their significant other, or maintaining their health. It makes me wonder if we spent less time fighting so hard against the demands of life and spent more time accepting the things going on in our lives, how different would the life of a coach be? How differently would we impact and interact with our swimmers, if we brought a sense of peace to the pool deck?

As a mother of 3 girls, with a husband who has a demanding job, and a curious personality that wants to do it all, this is a topic I have been practicing…failing…and trying again for years. It took changing my mindset, from being a victim to everything that was happening around me, to taking ownership of my thoughts and actions.

Like so many things in life, when you have a paradigm shift, the details of life that were often unnoticed become highlighted and a catalyst to change. Once the mindset of ownership was established, I found a quote that changed everything. It replaced fighting the life I had to balance, with freedom…..PEACE. That quote was…

“You don’t find peace by finding balance. You find balance by finding peace.”

How to Practice:

1. Be Present- Be aware of where you are in the moment. When making the decision to play Legos with your daughter, there is no guilt or judgment allowed. Yes, you still have work to do, but this is the moment you have chosen and a moment that is worth the time also. It can help when you feel the guilt creeping in to pause and list some things around you (bring yourself back to the present). I see a red Lego, a pink rug, the blue sky, a smile on my daughter’s face.

A mind that is at peace is in the here and now; it’s not thinking compulsively about the past and the future.

2. Notice Little Wins- In order to win or accomplish anything, there must be an “end”. We can not keep rushing from one thing to the next without noticing the wins. This is from a blog by Leadership Freak (“Winning: Confusion about winning leads to losing”). I highly recommend it for any coach. It is also a great mindset to teach our athletes. Noticing the wins requires us to be present, provides motivation to keep trying, and involves you being deliberate with your thoughts.

3. Get Outside- “I will lead you to the river, so you can remember how beautiful it feels to be moved by something that is out of your control.”- Emery Allen

4. Be Grateful- Find gratitude for what you have, not what you lack in life.

5. Accept Responsibility- If you look at all of the definitions of inner peace, it all comes from you taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions. No one can do it for you! Make the commitment and give yourself grace if you fail. Get up and try again!

6. Practice Self-Care- To be your best, you must be doing what keeps you at your best. You have to plan time for these things and again, not allow the guilt to creep in for choosing time for yourself. First step, ask yourself, do you know what these are? What keeps you mentally and physically your best? It could be exercising, meditation, painting, reading, or being social with friends.

7. Mindset Reflection- Notice what mindset you have that is holding you back. For me it was being a victim to everything that was happening to me. Maybe it is negativity, believing you are not worthy, feeling trapped by things from your past, feeling you have to be perfect, feeling you have to do it all….

“Peace of mind is not produced by pleas or supplication, but by achieving command of your own attention.” -Harry Palmer

Dana is in her 14th season with the First Colony Swim Team. She is the lead coach for Age Group 1, where she gets the privilege to work with the 9- & 10-year-olds. She is also the Head Developmental Coach, working with the awesome coaches in the novice groups. She is an ASCA Level 3 certified coach. Dana started her coaching career with the East Bay Bat Rays in California. This introduction to USA Swimming kick-started her love of coaching, working with young swimmers, and learning what it means to be a great coach. Her coaching philosophy includes doing what is best for each child, parent, and coach in the sport. Focusing on what we can do as a collective whole to promote the sport, help everyone become better people, and have the children see the benefits of working hard. She uses an IM based training (with lots of kick) to ensure the young athletes have a solid base to keep developing through the sport. Dana has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Kinesiology from California State University, East Bay. She enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 daughters. Hobbies include being active, being crafty/creative, exploring the great state of Texas, and seeking out education to continue improving herself (on and off the deck). Camps/Committees: FCST rep for Gulf Masters Texas All Star Camp coaching staff Southern Zone Select Camp coaching staff Meet Task Force for Gulf Swimming TPC Committee Chair for the Texas Select Camp USA Swimming Age Group Committee Member Committee Chair for Gulf Club Development Committee

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