It’s not in most of us to first think of others.
Should we actually put others before ourselves?
What if we simply thought of others’ interests in the same way we think of our own…if we valued interests, opinions and perspectives that didn’t mirror ours exactly?
This being outside ourselves takes practice. And, a good practice requires willingness to fail, to test limits and clean up edges.
Instead of starting with, “I/we need to be more empathetic,” how about, I’m going to take a deep breath and see if I can consider another’s perspective one time today.
- Pour the foundation. What are you all about, Coach? ID your drivers, your values, the things that you insist upon, or wish you did.
- Frame it. Determine the language and lens that you’ll use to see the creation of the program and team. What are the critical pieces? There is no shame in asking your people here either. Get consensus, have great conversations.
- Get the tools in line & get everyone to agree on the floor plan. Determine what the finished product will look like if it’s great.
- Decorate. What’s this season’s slogan? Do you have a hashtag? A secret handshake? A goal that everyone can get in line with?
Number 1 is mostly driven by the leader. The head coach, the person at the top. YOU must have an idea of the central principles by which you’ll drive the program and from there you can, and should, include all of the important people.
Start there. Simple. Not easy.
Coaching By Numbers
Precept #78: A coach is like the conductor of an orchestra. They don’t play an instrument, often didn’t write the score and usually doesn’t even face the audience…but they had better know each and every player, part and measure of the performance inside and out, before and during the concert.
They must ensure that the intensity and pace are correct, that each player knows their role and can execute it–preferably to perfection–throughout the piece. The conductor is responsible for knowing their people well, to read body language and facial expression, to have the music coursing through their veins…
Get out the baton.
What is a problem? Is this thing that’s happening or not happening actually a problem? Perhaps the reality is just the reality and you’re making it a problem for you (and maybe for others)?
Once those simple questions are answered then we can get to work on finding solutions if we need to.
One solution might be to stop allowing the situation to be a problem for you. Perhaps your mind is allowing this thing to intrude and impact you in a negative way, making it an issue for you when it need not be.
If that’s not the case then work to clearly define the issue and get to work.
Coaching is hard. Any program or team has a lot of moving pieces in play at any one time: players, parents, bosses, fans, vendors, strategy, maintenance, skill development, team culture all demand time and energy.
We work harder. And harder. Too often coaches hunker down and simply try harder rather than ask for help or look for a better way.
The culture of perfectionism that we talk about in our athletes exists for coaches, too.
Protecting “our stuff” is inherent to the coaching profession. We think that secrets might be stolen, ideas brought elsewhere only to beat us later…asking for help is a sign of weakness, right?
Why protect your stuff? First, you’ve likely not done anything totally new, and so much of coaching is in the talent, the team-building and the communication rather than the ideas or strategies themselves.
Make an effort to learn and share, bounce ideas off coaches of other sports, other age groups, other towns or schools. Find a way to make it less lonely and you might find yourself enjoying it more and getting better results.
It makes sense to read what champions have done, to follow the drills posted by those who have had great success, to “do what the best do”. Following a proven path can lead one to success.
But, nothing is automatic. Simply because it worked for her does not mean it will work for you. There are lots of possible reasons for this:
-she has more resources than you do…
-his players have more physical tools than your players do…
-her team is better shape than your team is…
-he has four assistants and you work on your own…
One person’s ideas do not always easily translate to another’s situation. That coach’s ideas just might seem like a fish out of water in your practice plan, or you might not be able to pull it off relative to other things you say and do.
Instead, read and watch things that the successful coaches do and say, value them, and spend time making them your own. How can you take their concepts and make them work for you, with your team, in your situation?
It’s the time YOU spend thinking about YOUR program that is most valuable.
How can I help?
What do you need?
Are you feeling ok? Anything I can do?
These are such well-meaning questions, but if a person is really struggling with something–a “life problem” or how to field a ground ball–they may not know what they need, and it’s probably not an answer that would be most helpful.
Offering to provide a fix that neither party knows exists is impossible, and “well, let me know…” is really not helpful.
So, just Show Up for your friend, teammate or partner of any sort. Just be there; you don’t even need to be a good listener, specialize in empathy, or even spend much time to be good at Showing Up.
In sports, showing up can look like being first to something, being prepared, being willing to lose, or fall short. It can be cheering, and it can be pushing; high fives can come in all sizes.
Showing up can be a smile or pat on the back, a “I see you working hard”, or a package of cookies, or a note or card. It can be an email or a text message or a stop-by-to-say-hi or shovel the driveway.
Just do something, no matter how minor.
There are no rules of caring for people, and don’t worry if you don’t know what to do, just show up for them.