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The Greatest Coach

I want to tell you about a story that helped me see life in a new way and taught me a valuable lesson - both as a human being and as a coach. This story is a fabulously imaginative fairy tale of magical adventure which appears to be for children, but, in my estimation, is really for adults. You've either seen or heard of this story, I am sure. In fact, when you watched the movie, or read the book, you probably had no idea that it was meant, not for your children, but for YOU. "What story is this?" you ask. The story I speak of is "The Wizard of Oz."

Now, before you laugh just sit back and expand your mind for just a moment. The Wizard of Oz reads like a modern day in the life of many of us... caught up in a cyclone of busy-ness we somehow wind up with unintended consequences of our actions. Like poor Dorothy, who did not intend to kill the wicked witch of the west, stuff happens and we live with the consequences and try to get back on track.

Of course, the story is rich with fantasy images designed to entertain the little ones while enlightening parents astute enough to find its magic spear pointed directly at them. Anyway, my point is not to digress into what I think is the obvious parallel to life in general, but to point out that L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard of Oz, may have been the greatest coach of all.

In his fable, poor naive Dorothy wakes up in a strange place, kills the witch inadvertently and then tries to make her way back to Kansas. Dorothy is not sure how she came to be in Munchkin Land, but perhaps a little too much partying during her four years at the University of Kansas might hold a clue. Nonetheless, Dorothy longs to return home. Still, leaving just might not be that easy. Glenda the Good Witch informs Dorothy that she must journey to see the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City. So amidst a Greek chorus of Munchkins, Dorothy heads of to find the Wizard with her faithful companion Toto and a pair of ruby slippers (silver in the book).

Upon seeking advice from the kindly Munchkins and the helpful Glenda the Good Witch of the South, Dorothy heeds the directions of the Munchkins to "Follow the yellow brick road." In following the yellow brick road, Dorothy will find her way to Emerald City and the Wizard of Oz who will help her get the heck out of Munchkin Land and back to Auntie Em (who, by the way, never heard from Dorothy whilst she was pulling all night keggers at the University of Kansas.) Still, home is home, and Munchkin Land may have been a nice place to visit, but like 's not really where you want to live.

So, off goes Dorothy in search of a solution to her having awakened in a place she never intended to be. Along the way, she picks up a few friends, a Scarecrow, a Cowardly Lion and a Tin Man. Frankly, who hasn't known all of these guys at one time or another? An unlikely threesome - all sitting life out because they believed they were deficient in something, one felt he had only stuffing for brains, one considered himself a big hairy coward and the third man felt he was more like a machine than a human because he lacked a beating heart. So hoping that they too would find a solution to their perceived deficiencies in Oz, they quickly become part of Dorothy's journey.

Actually, come to think of it, I have felt like all of those guys at one time or another. If only I had enough heart, courage and brains... then, I'd be just fine. Have you ever thought that if I only had (you fill in the blank) life would be great? Like the three friends, the sense of wanting... keeps us waiting and stuck.

The journey to Oz is quite an adventure for Dorothy and her posse as they make their way to the Emerald City. I won't recount the wild adventures they encounter, which I am sure that if you were once a child, you already know. After a time the friends finally locate the Emerald City and the Great Wizard of Oz. Long story short, the wizard turns out not to be a Wizard after all and they are disappointed to find... Deepak Chopra.

The Wizard isn't really a Wizard after all, but Dorothy and her friends learn a powerful lesson - they had what they thought the lacked all along. And, it is this lesson that is the powerful truth behind this story - what you think you lack, is already within you. All this, is cleverly hidden in a children's story that was written over 109 years ago. This timeless story holds a prominent and powerful truth for all of us and this is why I believe Frank Baum wrote the Wizard of Oz, not for your children, but for you. Better yet, he wrote it for all of us.

Frank Baum's story takes us through the lives of many adults, having wound up somewhere the didn't intend to and limited by thinking that if only they had heart, courage, brains, then they could succeed. But, lacking the essential missing piece, they quietly sit on the sidelines awaiting rescue. Baum's true magic as a coach was to entertain your children, while teaching you about the magic you already possess within.

As is the case with Dorothy, the entire journey is transformative and your life can be viewed through fresh new eyes. So, when you consider just how many people this story has been an icon over the past 109 years, Frank Baum may be the greatest coach of all.

So, put on your red shoes and be the life of the party - what you think you lack, you already have. Better yet, put on your red shoes and BE the party in your life.