A few weeks ago I wondered, not for the first time, why we value the New Year. Why does the turn of the calendar have such an impact on what we think about our future, or our past?
It was mid-December and I was already watching people wish away weeks of time just to talk about the things their future self would (might) decide to do.
I would like to say that that was confusing but really it’s not. The future-self concept explains it all. We are always excited about our possibilities, the things we’ll get to “when…”.
Sitting here I’m guilty as charged. I have great hopes and dreams, and I suppose that many of them will come true. If only my future self lives up!
I am resolute. I’m unwavering in my support of my future self. Proud, actually, is the word for how I feel about upcoming self. THAT person will get shit done. Full stop.
So, I know the holes in my game are many, and I know that I’ll keep working, resolutely, to do the things I can’t wait to get to. I know that the reality may or may not match the dream, but that’s keeping it real, and doing my best in the moment. This moment.
Starting a head Coaching career sometimes seems full of insurmountable challenges. Head Coaching is hard.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be so lonely?”
College coaches are expected to absorb “all of the things” from their playing career (you had a Coach, right?) and time as a not-head-Coach. Mentoring sometimes happens, sometimes does not…systematic education around how to be a Head Coach does not.
What if you had systems to provide clarity for yourself first and foremost?
What if you showed up each day with a better idea of what’s needed from you that day?
No promises, no one can guarantee a smooth day for any of us, but what if you had a cohort of people who were there for you…not just friends or others struggling to keep their head above water, but people who are committed to sharing their story, their challenges and their tools to help you create breathing room?
No matter where you are right now, it’s Year Zero. You always get to work to make things smoother, clearer and more systematic. I am excited for where you’re going, to a place that’s not lonely, that’s for sharing and for clarity. Keep asking questions!
It’s all about you, and it’s about you making it not about you.
Your team doesn’t know all the things being a Coach puts on you. Your team sees only how you respond, and in many cases they think your response is about them. So, you see, it’s complicated, but also simple.
You must be clear on what they need to be and do in order to be a part of this thing you are leading.
So, it’s not about you because it’s all about what you’ve built and how you show your people around. Work on it.
Actually, I think I know the answer. It’s either some version of “meh”, or — regardless of what you might say out loud — “I’m ok…It was a long/hard year, but I’m hanging in.” Those are the responses I get mostly, with an assortment of “I’m really, really struggling,” in there when people get real.
I also hear lots of follow up along the lines of: “…but i don’t want to quit coaching yet, I think I have more in me”. So for that I am excited. Coaches’ mental health is being tested alongside their athletes (and bosses), and we’re all finding our way. The biggest ah-ha moment for coaches, administrators and athletics alike is, surprise: coaches are human, too, and the malaise that we hear about in all corners of the world is affecting those in coaching seats, too.
Why that’s a surprise even to those Coaches who are having this experience (my hand is raised here), is really the surprise!
The comeback is going to be great. It will not easy, but it’s there for the taking. Cleaning up the expectations, the communication and accepting the flow of change in the world of athletics will serve us well. That, and offering grace to the other guy at every turn. We can do this together.
Does everyone know?
Do all of the central people involved in your program know what they need to know in order to move the team, program and individual in the right direction, with minimal friction?
The Coach whose answer is, “I think so,” probably should find out.
The knowledge they need to have starts with the standards and expectations and a clarity around: here, we do it this way. This clarity allows people to show up and work together with efficiency. The norming of everything – the clarity of a program model that everyone knows – allows for both productivity and creativity.
The head coach first needs to be clear for themselves- tougher task than it would seem – and work to create easy to understand principles for all aspects of the program.
When everyone knows the games come easier and the connections grow deeper, things make sense and the outcomes are better and deeper than the inputs.
Ready? Go. I’ll meet you there!
The punctuation makes all the difference.
Caring a lot about the experiences of the people around me and being truly curious as to how things are happening for them is a key to being a Capital C Coach.
I start by asking myself what I’d really like to know. Rather than “how can I help,” I ask, “what does the situation need from me?” as help might not be the thing. Quite often the answer is “nothing”.
Curiosity helps me to slow down and ask rather than tell. It’s challenging for the head coach to think they may not be responsible for all of the answers…it’s also a weight lifted to realize we’re not.
Helping myself allows me to help my people. My curious approach reminds me that not everyone approaches things they way I do, and to slow down and truly wonder means I can be of greater help with less effort.
Win-win is a great place to land. I wonder what you think?
Work harder. Dig deeper. Find it within you!
So many messages around us say that we can just do it; it’s not that hard if you make a plan and try… you’ll find it within yourself.
What if it’s not true that working harder will make it happen? If the digging and the searching inward doesn’t yield the answers, and perhaps never will?
What if we need each other, if the answers lie in reaching out as much as looking inward?
We’ve felt “off” for over a year. “Things” are upside down in so many ways, it feels. The world stopped, and now we’re restarting without much ramp time…but are we restarting the old way, creating a new way, waiting to see what happens?
Two things can be true at once:
Jump back in
Step back and figure out what you want your future normal to look like and work a plan to make that happen.
Here we go!
Over and over I remind myself and other coaches that being is greater than doing. Who we are at the foundation, our core, the personal drivers, are crucial to being successful day to day. What we do, the tactics, of course also really matter, but without a sense of why we care about the things we care about, the doing can be simple noise.
Lately, however, I remind myself that the doing must be done. No matter. We don’t coach others with words alone. If our words, the actual coaching, is to be successful they must inspire others to practice. Testing the movements, skills and actions of a sport is how performers learn what drives improvement, and winning.
Without the testing, the doing, the practice we can’t keep the experiment moving and gain ground on the skills.
Coaches need to drill like this. Create opportunities to practice coaching a situation or a skill, role play with others, to do the thing. Find a way to put this into your system.
Practice coaching practice. Practice coaching a meeting, a recruiting call, a drill. Make self-evaluation more than a yearly or quarterly thing.
Be. And Do.
Leading is much more than showing, or telling, what you know. It’s allowing others to learn, or to know what they can, at this moment.
Questions are among the most powerful tools in your kit. Authentic, “this is what I’m wondering” questions lead to amazing insights.
And, the asker is often not the primary, and certainly not the only recipient of knowledge.
In fact, questions almost never stand alone. Nor does the asker. Someone else almost always has a version of the same inquiry. By not asking out loud, opportunities are missed.
A leader among peers will find ways to encourage questions rather than stifle them with a barrage of answers.
Questions are unifying. In this unprecedented time, coaches can use strong questions to bring groups together when they can’t be together, to unify thru forcing a shared experience. Learning, together, is powerful.
Leadership can look like the solo, up front, figure, the one with the microphone, at the podium, all eyes on them. It can also look like living the values, being curious about the future and asking questions that others might be afraid to ask.
Rather than saying, “Google it,” ask, “what do you think?” and see how it goes.