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.
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.
Even within a great team, each individual is running their own race.
She might also be a part of a relay, running the team’s race, but for sure she is running her own race.
Our starting lines vary, our pace ebbs and flows until we find a rhythm.
Encouraging each player to run well–to be healthy and efficient–while still being able to cheer the others on–that’s one way coaches can help move the entire entourage down the course.
Usually there are a lot of moving parts–which is better than parts that are frozen in time.
Find ways to cheer for the team and for every racer.
Each time you state what you’re all about, what you stand for, you set yourself up to fight for that moment to moment.
If you are “all about” discipline, for example, you then need to be ready not only to be disciplined in your actions but to fight for the belief that discipline is important.
It has to work.
You see a quote or Google a concept and get some great info…the you realize the resource is from 2 years ago, or five, or twenty five…
Does that make it a bad, old or tired reference? Maybe. Maybe not.
Good ideas have been around for a long time (and, you probably have some yourself). For sure you can adopt, adapt or customize such concepts others’ ideas to make them work for you.
Consider the content rather than the source. Use your own perspective and situations to decide what might be good for you.
Meanwhile, add to the universe of good ideas and perhaps make someone else’s world better at the same time.
Recycled thoughts from 2015…
Work as hard as you can.
Do 100% of the things you could do to set yourself up for success and you still might not get what you want.
Our society teaches kids to think positively, work hard…and they’ll get what they want. We’re lying to them. They still should work really hard, have goals and systems to move them forward.
The lie is that hard work will surely lead to success.
In team sports there are only so many starting spots, places on all-star teams and winners. It’s zero-sum. For every winner there is a loser. By saying everyone can, with hard work, be a winner is doing a disservice to kids and to the process of working hard.
Yup, sometimes you do everything right and someone is still better than you.
By communicating this we help kids value the process, really cherish the victories and learn from the losses. Without this clarity they come to think of themselves as losers and many quit trying. This hurts everyone.
Sometimes we say, before attempting any thing, that we are excited for the activity and will enjoy it, or learn from it, “regardless of outcome”. True, we should always be hoping and expecting to learn from our situations, but too often this phrase is used as a built-in excuse.
We say, in advance, that we don’t really care about the outcome.
In sports, this is used when a team is young or inexperienced, or perhaps just unsure.
Having a good process and executing it well is for sure a key part of working any situation, but if we’re keeping score, planning and working to win is also part of the equation. Don’t give yourself an out before even starting.
Recently, I’ve been taking the time to think critically about the things that I have taken as gospel as a coach over my career. Like goal setting, for example.
For many years I spent time talking to teams about SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, timely, although there are many other versions of the SMART acronym). I believe that if one is setting a goal then it should have many of these characteristics, and yes, having outcome goals can be a motivator.
However, in recent years I have come to discount the value of hard goals and focused myself and my teams on the behaviors needed to be the kind of team we’d like to be. Often, outcome goals are a consideration (“what behaviors do we need to do in order to get what we want?”), but not always.
The best behavioral discipline comes when the things a team says they want to do on a regular basis are a reflection of who they are–their values–as opposed to what they want to have at the end of the day.
Too often goals can be used as a crutch. We sometimes make excuses to justify behaviors that are not championship caliber. We say that as long as we get where we want to go, it’s not that important how we got there. Untrue. Behaving in a way that’s outside one’s values, whether the values are stated and clear or not, is never a way to feel good about where one’s going.
Have some un-goals. Determine what you’d like to be on a regular basis and start doing those things and see where you end up.
Resilience and failure are hot topics. We ask how to bounce back, to embrace the opportunity to fail and try, try again, and we praise the growth mindset that pushes us to do hard things.
The world complains that, “Kids aren’t allowed to struggle,” and we lament the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. For sure, coaches and parents should indeed embrace their kids having chances to fail.
I’m all for it.
However, I’m a fan of success as well.
Reaching a goal or doing something well is an accomplishment that should be celebrated. It’s not important that every milestone have a party upon completion, but getting things done–being successful in achievement–is not the opposite of learning from failure.
Here’s to getting better and moving forward!
Do you view happiness as a goal? Do your players? Can happiness be an end state?
“I’ll be happy when we win ______,”
“I’ll be happy when I’m a starter,”
“That team seems so happy!”
All of those are may be true, however, we also know that we don’t just show up and say, “let’s do everything we can to be happy”.
The truly successful coaches, players and teams name goals to strive for and then get to work ID’ing the steps to be taken, the things that will or might hold them back, and the factors that could come into play along the way.
Only at the very beginning, and end, of a journey are we “doing the goal”.
The middle is about the work.