One challenge of being a coxswain is knowing how to manage your confidence levels, and that goes hand in hand with your ego. We are taught from the beginning that we need to be confident and that confidence needs to shine through to our athletes even if we aren’t feeling it. The confidence allows us to take charge in any given situation and manage that situation to a positive end- a well-executed practice, a securely loaded trailer, a medal on the awards dock. As you move through your career as a coxswain it becomes easier to feel that confidence and that can allow cockiness to set in. There is a feeling that you “know” and it becomes easier and easier to tune out when you are offered advice, or worse yet- that it is staring you in the face and you don’t see it. That is when ego takes over and gets in your way of being your absolute best.
In a recent Rowing Magazine profile with U.S. National Team coxswain Katelin Guregian she relates the story of how she wasn’t ultimately selected in 2012 for the Olympic women’s 8+. She stepped back and realized after careful self-analysis that she had made her coxing about her, and forgotten about what was most important- the team. What we can learn from this is that it is important to be accountable to yourself about what is really important and check that ego at the door. Ask yourself what you can do better and be humble about what you are doing now and what you did in the past. Be proud and confident, but be open and aware at the same time. A team is only as successful as its total sum of people- coaches, athletes and support staff. As the saying goes, coxswains make things happen. Be the catalyst for the entire team, and the rest will take care of itself.