THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 152: Diane Dixon, Olympian, Coach, Speaker

Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

By the way, looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.

No. 152: Diane Dixon, Olympian, Coach, Speaker

Age: 51
Where I live:
 Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, NY
Job: Head Men’s Track & Field Coach at ASA College in Brooklyn, Olympic Gold Medalist, Motivational Speaker, Educator, and Master Chef At Home
Kids: My 19-year-old son Dior Christian Dixon attends Alfred State College and is a basketball player and soon to be track & field phenom (fingers crossed)

1794796_10152245914439184_670530590_nHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
I am an “eclectic” person who possesses a wide variety of skills. I have held several jobs in athletics, community relations, government relations, and in the educational field. Most importantly, all my careers led to the one “highlight” of my life which was to be a track & field coach. I fulfilled this dream last August when I got hired at ASA College in Brooklyn.

I realized that after retiring from athletics and trying several careers including a stint in real estate that my passion was in coaching. This enabled me to get the balance that I was seeking and to be more involved in a field that I dedicated most of my life to.

My current career enables me to continue my legacy as a “legend in athletics” and to let those who follow me understand the many precedents I set. For example: I was the FIRST American woman to win a World Indoor Title in 1991 in Seville, Spain, and in doing so, I also set the American Indoor Record in the 400 meters in 50.64 that stood for 20 years.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or impossible and why?
I believe having “it all” is very realistic. When you work so hard your entire life and dedicate yourself to a cause, this becomes the “balance” needed to sustain it all. As I quote Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” And as this is my mantra, my son actually told me this quote whilst a freshman in high school.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
When I retired in 1995 as an Olympian, the bridge to “cross over” to being in the “real word” was a shock. I was not prepared for “when the cheering stopped” as I had been on a world platform for so long. I did not fully prepare myself, and I felt alone and discouraged about what my next steps would be.

In 1996 I became part of NYC 2012, the Olympic governing body to bring the games here in 2012, and it gave me the strength to be able to brand myself and still be a part of the Olympic movement.

[We subsequently lost the bid to London in 2006.] Once we lost the bid, I felt compelled to continue my legacy and brand myself by product placing myself in continued athletic events. That included working with student-athletes and governing bodies related to actively providing services to healthy eating as well as leading an active lifestyle.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I believe I am getting better at balancing my Olympic achievements and infusing them with my current goals to share my story and be a continued, consistent athletic legend.

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance that you would recommend to others?
I prioritize spending quality time with my family and friends and most importantly my son. I am a “social media queen” but I also give my undivided attention to those around me. Just this past month, my friend and I decided to go on “shopping sprees” and eat out at “fancy restaurants” just to relax and enjoy life as both of us have demanding careers.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? “Often times people will be intimidated by you so you have to know when to ‘turn it down’ and conform to others’ personalities and demeanor so that they feel comfortable in your presence.”
From your mother? 
My mom is very positive and sends me daily quotes to keep me inspired and motivated.
From your spouse?
 He has booked yearly spa days for me so that I can relax.
From your kids? My son Dior always tells me that I am “one-of-a-kind”—never to be duplicated or replicated and that I am “someone special.” He tells me to remain true to myself and never let anybody take me out of my character and if I feel uncomfortable or off balance to do what makes me feel good. He says “Mom, go out for a 30-minute run.”

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
I would go out shopping and expand my “palate” with fine dining.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
How to stay focused on being financially, emotionally, and spiritually stable.

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
I hope to be on an island—preferably Bora Bora—sipping cocktails and watching my grandchildren and knowing that from 50 to 60 I finally got it right, financially, emotionally, and spiritually.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?:
Cleaning and cooking.

Whose job do you wish you had?
The job I wish I had would be to be a television personality like Wendy Williams.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
I am glad that I am not a politician in NYC.

Favorite books?
My favorite book is coming out this fall: Confessions Of A Sprint Queen by Diane Dixon.

Biggest vices…
Activity?
 Buying ready-made vegetable or fruit juices. I need to utilize my NutriBullet more and make my own daily.
Food? Turkey burgers.
Website? Instagram, TMZ, and MediaTakeOut.com.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I only need 5 hours of sleep.

What do you read every morning?
Think Like an Athlete: 57 Ways To Achieve Your Life Goals by David Nicholson.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am always misunderstood.
I wish: was a Director of Athletics in Singapore.
My son: is my entire world and I would do anything to make sure he has a great productive life.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“Feed the mind and the body will follow” and “Potential is interesting! Performance is everything.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
Invest in me and you will become very wealthy!

322d32541be2e9b67ee6477c216693f2About Diane:
Diane Dixon is an Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist in the 4×400 meter relay and is part of the American Outdoor Record Holder Team in the 4×400 meter relay since 1988. She also became the first American woman to win a World Indoor Title in 1991 where she set the American record in the 400 meters in 50.64 that stood for 20 years. Currently she is a role-model, motivational speaker, educator, and a head men’s track & field coach. She hopes to resume and expand her athletic consultancy domestically and internationally.

Find out more about Diane:
www.sportspys.blogspot.com
Facebook: Diane Dixon
Twitter: @DianeDixon
Instagram: @DianeDixon
Pinterest: DianeDixon

WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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