Being vs doing

What do you do?

It’s a question many of us ask and get asked all the time. How do you answer?

Do you say, “I plan practices,” or “I read and sometimes respond to incredible numbers of emails”?

As a coach you likely say some version of “I’m the _____ coach at ______,” or “I coach [insert sport here]”. That sounds like who you are more than what you do. Which is it?

Do you care about the difference?

Saying, “I create the conditions in which people and teams learn to inspire others with action and empathy,” seems a bit much…but that’s a great thing to be. It’s who I am, I am the one who builds such a set of conditions.

There’s a lot to DO, but I’d rather BE.

Is This It?

Are we at the end of history or the beginning of the future? Perhaps neither, we’re just here?

In many ways people think that “today” is the best version of a thing, idea, product, etc. that’s possible. Of course we know that things are changing, that evolution of that thing or idea has occurred, but we often accept the way we do it as the final answer.

What if we were able to view each day simply as an opportunity to make the thing even better tomorrow? If the thing was a relationship with ourself or another, a team or a player…could this be a dose of optimism that might propel us even further?

Short term planning

I’m all for planning. At times I feel a slave to my calendar. A slave because I’m constantly looking to see what’s coming up. Today, this week, next month…I think it makes me feel valuable to see that I’m busy.

I’m working on it.

I also preach planning. But, I’m not a big fan of creating a long-term vision for everything. Some big things need a long-term plan, and having far away goals and interim goals and keeping track of your progress is a good thing.

But, it seems that too often we don’t simply get to work.

Start doing something and see how it goes, what it leads you to next. If you plan to start, when do actually start?

Go. Then see what you learn and go some more.

Bad hops off the field

Resilience is overplayed these days. Everywhere I turn someone is telling me to bounce back, get the next one, look for the ways to rebound…

First, I’m all for making mistakes, and wallowing in them for a while probably isn’t so bad for us.

Why the hurry to get back to perfect, or pretty, or the way the world tells us we should be?

Bad hops are gonna happen. Turn around and chase down the loose ball–if you’re in the game there’s not a fungo hitter ready to hit you another.

Frustration

Who’s listening to you? Do you have a place to vent that’s productive for you? What is productive, anyway?

I say go for it. Vent away!

While you’re there, listen for the undercurrents (or ask someone to listen to/for you) of what’s really going on. What does this rant say about what you value, what you really care about.

The clues are in there. Just like the world is asking us to slow down and listen to others, let’s practice intentionally listening to ourselves.

Coaching muscles

Practice.

We ask players to do it out side of formal team sessions, we know that our kids should get time in after piano lessons, people go to the driving range (not me, but some people)…do you practice the skill of coaching?

Do you work on your question-asking skill and train your eye with extra video work? Do you talk to the other coaches in your organization about the things they do that work for them regarding the infrastructure of coaching, not just the problem-of-the-day?

Find ways to get in the coaching gym and improve your skills. This is just as important as you technical knowledge.

Doing this is closely related to learning how to fail, just as we we ask our kids. You’re likely going to ask a yes/no question when you wanted more detail, or design a conversation that falls flat. Great!

Keep practicing being a coach. It’s more than doing coaching.

Say It

Most humans I know suffer from some version/level of imposter syndrome. We too often think that the things we think are probably wrong, too outside the box, something no one else is thinking on…or, just weird.

Experiment with saying all of the would-be wacky things you’re thinking and see how it goes.

I bet someone will say, “I’m so glad you mentioned that, i’ve been thinking that but thought it was too weird to say out loud!”

Let me know how it goes.

Feedback

For over 30 years I’ve been coaching college athletes, and each of those years they spend some time near the end of the season writing evaluations. These can be simply checking of boxes, or that plus writing anonymous (usually) comments.

This is consistently the saddest day of my year.

Win or lose, a season is an incredible emotional investment for all. At the end, all coaches hope that players have had a “good experience”. We want them to have grown and learned how to play as a member of a team. We don’t always tell them that, however.

Players seem to have developed this sense that college coaches are there to serve their personal development first and foremost, just as their private and paid coaches have done for their youth career.

Of course they do!

This is the experience they’ve had in sports–most youth “showcase” teams are NOT there to be a great team, they are there to get kids opportunities after they leave that team. So, why do we expect them to change their perspective just because?

College coaches need to frame the experience that’s upcoming when they join a program. This should be done in the recruiting process, and made clear again and again.

It probably doesn’t include a coach offering non-stop individual feedback , so let’s be sure everyone is clear.

We should stop saying, “they should know how to put the team first,” when most kids have very little experience with this.