Recently I had a chat with a coach whose team was doing okay, but not great.
They talked about how the team was trying, how the kids had worked hard, how the team had some hardships over come in regard to injuries etc.
They talked about some things that had happened in the past and some things that they were doing now. A wide variety of thoughts were tossed out with a variety of levels of clarity.
As a coach of coaches I recognize words like those, and I really recognized the look in the eyes of this coach. They knew they were not telling the whole truth to themselves, nor to me.
They knew something was missing but didn’t really know it was them. Well, they knew..
The idea of taking the time to truly clarify the things that are centrally important to you is a task that is not actually that challenging. However it’s one that we don’t think to do and we don’t think we can do, and/or that it won’t make that big a difference.
Start by asking yourself what you believe in, what the central “you” is made of. With just those two questions you’ll start gaining ground.
What will your legacy be? Who will recall what you say and do, and how it impacts them and the world?
Is it what you say today or what you’re planning to say tomorrow, or next year, or at some other future point?
Every thing you say out loud you are saying at that moment. Why not try to be at our best for the person in front of us. Now. This is the only impact that matters.
How the receiver hears it is way out of your control.
As a coach you likely talk about controllables a lot. How are you doing on being in the moment yourself?
Take ten minutes and think, talk or write about what you want your legacy to be.
Your problems, no matter how “first world” they seem, are still your problems, and they deserve your best investigative skills.
You should have a system that allows you–indeed compels you–to spend intentional time and energy to work on your problems.
Solving them does not have to be the goal.
Working on problems will cause you to better identify what you care about, what your programs need and perhaps even uncover more problems to work on.
That’s a good thing.
Don’t deny that you have problems, even if you think they might not deserve recognition. Go find them, root them out and get to work learning from the situation.
When I was building a short repeat-after-me mantra for my own use, something to remind myself of the who/why/what of myself as a coach, one of the phrases I used was this:
Coaching Is A Partnership of Caring
Coaching is a sacred role. Coaches work to help others realize their possibility and help a group become something greater than the individuals within. It’s not a simple role.
Partnership is a greatly important word. We are partners with others in many ways. We form partnerships with one or multiple people in an effort to be great, to feel support and to create.
The final big word is the key. Caring, to me, means putting someone else, or some external goal or idea “first”. By advantaging the outside goal or the other person we truly help to make them better. We care, and that puts us on their side, even when the caring feels hard or challenging.
I’m proud to be in a partnership with a lot of people who call me Coach. It’s where the magic of this profession lies.
Build better partnerships. Care more or more intentionally, or be sure your partners, your players, know where you stand on this.
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work,” says the painter Chuck Close.
Waiting for the moment to be right, for the conditions to be perfect, for the idea gods to strike you…it’s probably not going to happen.
If you really believe in inspiration, then schedule time for it. Make your morning writing or thinking block, or your nighttime routine the time you wait for inspiration. Otherwise, just get to work.
There is no substitute for for good face to face (even on the phone) talk.
Talk = trust, and talk = shared experience. If you have a conversation with someone you now have a shared experience. Your perspective might not be exactly the same, and you may disagree, but you were both there.
Same goes with teams. The more we can face head on the things we do, want to do or be, with clarity and concern for each other the more the caring and shared experience grows.
What if that was the question we asked?
How can I help other guy?
What does this kid need from me as a coach? What am I going to do to move this situation forward?
We all have a narrative about what’s ok and what’s not, who is “good” and who’s not, but how often do we think about what’s actually best for the other guy? Now.
Of course what’s best for the team might be different. Then the questions change.
Are you one with yourself? Do you know who you are and what you care about?
Can you answer that about your team?
How do you talk about yourself and the relationships you have both to yourself and to those involved?
Do you take time to answer these things on paper?
You’ll find that clarity rolls right out of your pen. Try it.
Does it need to be?
Does coaching need to feel out of reach of anyone? Should it feel like one needs to have years of training, and that many of us will never be ready?
Yes, coaches need to be trained. Trained in the skills of the game and in keeping players safe and teams as safe places to operate, but do we need to have all of the answers?
I’d argue that if we are good at asking questions we will get better at seeing the answers…for the time being, until we have better questions.
Raise your hand.
Are you a teacher? How about a learner?
Are you looking for ways to do things better, or looking to be sure people do things your way?
Coaching is a noble profession, and many of us take pride in being teachers! We teach our sport and we teach “life lessons” through our programs.
What lessons are we learning?
Deep into my coaching career I looked up and realized that I’d been teaching for years and not learning much at all. Yes, experience served as a great teacher but I was not doing any intentional learning. And, certainly I had not asked my people to teach me.
Learning to be a learner has been the most important factor in turning a career into ongoing passion.
What about you?