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.
There are lots of ways to “know” how programs are doing. Watch them play, read about them on social media, hear from those close to that other team…
It’s easy to judge the good and the bad from afar, and we can assess the issues that can plague any group or team just by watching the sideline, dugout or even the way they play.
Of course, the scoreboard tells us a lot, too. We “know” the good programs and those that are struggling.
Many coaches (and players) spend time looking at other teams’ cultures and concerns, but how often to we run an assessment of our own?
Having a system of program hygiene in which you thoroughly dig in to see how you’re actually doing in all of the phases of the game that you value is a key to long-term success.
Knowing the areas that matter to you – your core values – is crucial, and then having a way to assess how you’re doing is the crux of maintaining success. Having an idea of what matters is just half the battle: knowing how you’ll assess is the only way to actually get that piece done.
What’s your system?
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.
Coach, what is your team culture all about?
Not, “what is the culture of your team?”, but, “what does ‘culture’ mean in your program?”
Is it a set of values or a way of being?
Is it up to the coach or this year’s team? Or, a bit of both?
Do players value the program culture? Should they?
What about recruits?
Does it involve everyone close to your program? Just players? Players and coaches? What about fans, trainers & strength coaches?
Or, perhaps it’s more of a je ne sais quoi spirit, something that you know when you see it or are around it, that the team exudes when the members are together.
If it’s that, how do you define it to outsiders if they ask?
Regardless of what you want your culture to be, you should work to know what it is.
Leave your comments here or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What might you do differently? What should you do differently? Have you thought about “making a change” in any area?
It’s worth thinking about as a part of your #10minsaday of working ON your job in addition to the hours you spend working IN your job.
Anyone can change when they have to. It’s harder to change before you have to, to disrupt your “norm” even when it doesn’t seem to be broken.
Disruption need not be life-changing, or program changing, but if you don’t make an effort to think about things that might enhance your success or efficiency, the subtle improvement ideas might not show up on their own.
How many things are on your list, agenda or practice plan that are simply carryovers from yesterday, last week or your first year in this job?
What are the things that you do without question?
Why would you do anything without the simple question: “is this going to make me/us/the situation better?”
The absence of testing, or even just thinking about the purpose of some drills, exercises, ideas or plans, is prevalent. We tend to go with what we think we should do rather than those things that we know add value.
Too often it’s that fear of being different that keeps us from being, well, different.
Have you ever read an article or looked at some notes from long ago and thought “wow, this is really pertinent to me today,”? Are you surprised when that happens? Don’t be. People have been having good ideas (even you!) for a long time…and good ideas generally don’t expire. If they were good then they likely can work now.
We spend so much time thinking of new and improved ways to do things when perhaps we should consider tweaking things we’ve done or thought to do before.
Innovate, yes, but also look back, steal and modify the great ways of getting things done that you’ve learned about and practiced already.
Consistency is tough to achieve. Doing things the right way over and over, getting up and getting to work, assessing and revising, challenging yourself and your team regularly…are not easy to achieve.
Systems of performance make these things easier. Knowing what you’re going to do (and having your subordinates always knowing what’s next) to move yourself and your program forward today is a great step toward both productivity and effectiveness. Plan your work…
On the other hand, when you fail at consistency there’s always a chance to restart–either execute more effectively or devise a new system–and one in a row is an ok place to be.
Who are you building? Why? “Using sports to teach life lessons” is a common coaching comment. Is this activity or byproduct? Is one more important than the other, and can you even keep them straight?
There are many questions you may ask yourself and others surely are asking them…have you decided which questions to answer?
Know what’s important to you and how to take steps toward achievement. That’s it. Work on the why and the how, and the what will show up.
Things are not getting done well, games are being lost or played poorly, your business or team culture is not moving you forward…but at least you have your health.
This phrase is also commonly expressed as, “it’s not like it’s life or death…”.
These are excuses of the highest order. What do those statements actually mean in this context? What does death have to do with it? Mostly it’s a way of finding something–anything–positive in a crappy situation.
The reality is that saying these things does not make you feel better, but you can pretend it does. It’s a way of taking something totally irrelevant and giving it importance so that the failures are minimized.
It’s a coverup.
Of course your life and your health–and that of those around you–is important. The sentiment is real, but not in the context of a coaching or team failure. It’s the failure itself that you should be examining and celebrating as a catalyst.
Do the challenging work of planning, working the plan and then assessing the result, and get to work on making a better plan, or improving the execution. The PEAR process is a crucial, underutilized tool for improvement. Stay away from the coverup.