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.
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.
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.
As a coach I enjoy digging into new things, reading about the ideas, strategies and philosophies of those who have written their ideas down before me.
What’s new? Is of interest. And, I know that the time I spend clarifying these things for myself and my teams is the most impactful work that I will do.
The slowing down and thinking and writing, the parts that are not always as fun are what works. For me.
At the start of the new year we look for new things: challenges, philosophies, topics to attack. What about those things that we had on our list in other Januarys? Did all of the boxes get checked? Are those things no longer inspiring, didn’t work or just became tarnished with the passing of winter into spring?
Maybe all of these things, or maybe I’m just really good at starting things…
“What does that look like?” is the question that has moved me forward as a coach more than any bigger questions of meaning, other people’s frameworks or philosophies.
The second most important question is what “what doesn’t that look like?”, or what’s not it? Once again, providing myself with examples, customizing the bigger thoughts, is what makes things move forward.
Education is free. When I take the time to learn and study what matters, globally and then make it fit for me…a stitch here, a tuck here, a little bit of expansion there… everything is customizable. I’m going to go build something. For me.
This one is a rule that’s being broken in our current times. The era of COVID-19 is providing rare situations for certain.
The exceptions don’t make the rule invalid, however. Most things are not unique; even large scale pandemics have happened and we might learn from those instances. For sure we can learn from our personal, more day-to-day happenings.
When challenges present themselves look for examples of previous similar happenings and see what you can learn from those.
Most things are not rare.
We define it, clarify it, discuss, debate, decide…then we do it. With all of our heart.
Consistentcy, love, enthusiasm all are a part of the recipe.
We play our game and let the other guy worry about themselves.
The rules are back.
After a few weeks of watching people break rules, written and unwritten, those of decency and respect as well as the legal system, we’re back with the Williams Softball culture of rules.
This one is obvious. All you can do is prepare for the next pitch, work to improve your pitch and support your people and process.
Share. Try things, make plans, try things, make notes, try things, write lists…and share.
None of us own coaching technique. Even the most novel strategies come from seeds of something that’s comes before.
It’s so exciting to share coaching ideas, sketches, failures and successes through stories and game plans executed or trashed. The idea of “talking coaching” is the way to the future for all of us.
Let’s not just hash through the hows and even the whys of our experiences, but share the this-is-how-i-got-there details. You have lots to give and there are lots of coaches out there who can learn from your experiences.
What you did as a performer today is who you are as a performer, today.
Right now, as one who’s working to execute a program, project or skill at a certain level, you are the level you achieve.
It matters not how hard you have worked to this point, nor how much talent you have; you are what you’ve done.
So, make a plan for improving the skill and working the work and see what you can do the next time out.
Lots of people are talking about presence and being fully in the place where you actually are.
I once heard Ellen Degeneres comment something like, “If your body is doing something, your brain ought to be in on it.”
I call it being where your feet are.
And, it’s becoming harder to do, to truly focus on one thing at a time, so the old standby intentionality comes into play as the main event.
Intent to be attentive can be a struggle for me, but I’m thankful for the continued chances to improve at it.