One of my best decisions I’ve ever made was signing up to become a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run.
Girls on the Run empowers young girls and women to be their unique selves, set goals, be confident and so much more. Although the program includes running, the weekly lessons encourage participants and coaches to recognize their Star Power, build connections and develop healthy habits. I’ve been a coach for the past two years, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to teach (and learn) valuable life lessons from a group of amazing girls and inspiring coaches. Here are three empowering GOTR lessons I’ve particularly identified with and benefited from:
1. Activate your Star Power
Visualize a sky full of stars. When you’re ready, focus on and choose one of the stars. The star you chose represents your one-of-a-kind Star Power. It gets brighter and stronger when you make positive choices, while moments of negative self-talk or setbacks diminish your star’s brightness. The girls participate in a similar visualization exercise. Some examples of their Star Power include excelling in school, being great athletes and being thoughtful friends; their negative self-talk may center around feeling stressed about a test or disagreeing with a friend. During the discussion, we talk through many ways their brightness may be diminished, but we encouraged the girls to list three ways to activate their Star Power.
This lesson always resonates with me. When I lose track of my Star Power or have a setback, I find ways to activate it like focusing on positive things about myself or something positive someone has done for me.
2. Build connections from commonalities
We started the fall GOTR season with a game called Just Like Me. The girls and coaches stood in a circle and the coaches called out a list of statements such as “I have brown eyes,” “I like brownies,” etc. Once the girls and coaches heard a statement that applied to them, we stated, “Just like me!” and switched places with someone in the circle. For several statements, coaches and girls traded places and when a statement didn’t apply, the girls and coaches said another fact about themselves.
The first time I completed this lesson, I was surprised by what we learned in just 20 minutes. The statements in the game are simple, but I believe the girls learned the importance of using their commonalities to build connections. I use a similar approach when meeting and getting to know people or want to strengthen existing relationships.
3. Find your balance
Throughout the season, we stress the importance of balance. During a warm-up game, we look at five different areas that each impact the girls physical and mental health:
1) Foods they eat
2) Things they learn
3) Activities they participate in
4) People in their lives
5) Emotions they feel
We set up cones to represent each area and the girls have one minute in each area to list as many examples of how they balance each of the five areas as they can. Not surprisingly, some girls don’t have time to list more than two items in each area and comment on how unbalanced their list is.
Many women (including myself) can relate to the lack of time and being pulled in multiple directions. Each day, we make choices that may leave certain areas unbalanced. One example I struggle with is balancing working hard and resting. From this lesson, I have learned to focus on each area individually instead of all at once, enabling me to find balance. I make a list of tasks and circle the highest priority and highlight those that can be completed by someone else.
The connections and lessons I’ve learned at GOTR have truly made me a stronger, healthier woman, and I believe these can impact you in a similar way.
Try it out! Implement these three lessons in your daily life and let me know what you find.
This post originally appeared on Athleta’s Chi Blog. Athleta was a national partner of Girls on the Run and is committed to inspiring girls and women to achieve their limitless potential.