He was usually a tough coach – had the kids running around like crazy, shifting from exercise to exercise – my boy would come out sweating but happy.

This was a big day. Hundreds of kids crowded into the sports hall for the Judo competition.

The coach barely said hello, his head was down taking registrations, sorting kids into groups by age and weight.

There excitement electrified the very air we breathed.

I sat up in the stands watching and waiting. I knew the routine; hours and hours until his turn came, a quick few fights and if we were lucky a medal. Then home, hungry boy, exhausted Mom.

This time I brought a book. I would glance up now and then, watching and listening for my boy to be called. He was chatting and playing with some friends, they were very patient.

I had reached the end of a chapter, I was getting stiff from sitting for so long. I stretched, looked up and that’s when I noticed.

The coach had finished all his arrangements and he was going around the hall watching each fight, four going on at the same time.

He would watch and then give the child that lost a quick pat on the head or a hug. Then move on to the next fight. He was going around the hall amongst these hundreds of children, with a good word, a smile or a hug for each child that may have been feeling low.

It was so beautiful. I felt my eyes fill up.

And I started laughing. It was so strange to see him, just going around being so sweet and kind to these children. He knew his job in that moment, that’s all he needed to do.

When my boy was done and we headed home I asked him about the Coach. He’s a special guy I said. Yup, he looked at me, you didn’t know that?

There was another coach in the hall. He was doing a lot of yelling. I think he thought he was cheering the kids on but it sounded like yelling to me.

It occurred to me that there’s always a choice.

To yell and scream, to go by force.

Or to gently go the way of kindness and love.

This choice shows up in so many parts of life and business. To be so focused and single minded, to take no prisoners as they say, to get the job done at all cost.

Or to be patient and calm, to allow a natural flow, to go the more gentle way. And that doesn’t mean it’s not focused or intentional. Perhaps it just means that it’s not violent. That there is no force.

I must admit, I have gone the first way many times. My fierce ambition, the goal just beyond reach or my desire to win has clouded my vision and my path. And it has caused suffering.

But I’ve come to see that the second path is the more strong. It’s that path of true power. The gentle flow of what needs to happen because it already has. The way forward that chooses acknowledgement, appreciation and love.

Which path do you choose?

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