Exit Row

When you sit in the exit row on a plane you are required to give a verbal commitment.

You commit, by agreeing out loud, to do all you can to help the entire set of passengers get out in case of an emergency.

When you say “yes”, you’re saying, “I’m prepared to be a leader,” and to do what the 143 or 175 or 300 others need you to do, according to the specific instructions.

The others are on your team. You’re sharing an experience and have the same set of guidelines. For the duration of the flight you are a team.

As a leader your get some more leg room. That’s it. It may or may not be worth it. And even if you’re in the middle in the last row, the flight will be better if you are on board with the rules of being on board.

Feedback

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.

Be A Pro

“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.

Kitchen Table

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.

Does Everyone Know?

Oh yeah, everyone thinks that’s the right thing to do.

Everyone says it’s true.

I’ll get everyone together and we’ll get it done.

Is “everyone” really all of the people? Who’s important, and who is optional to be in the group of everyone?

If you need everyone on board you better be sure that everyone knows what’s happening. And if you don’t need everyone then just ask the people who are crucial.

Elite Humans

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.

Find Your People Without Looking Too Hard

Look for the happy people.

Happy people are more productive and better to be around.  I don’t have the research at hand, but this is true in my experience.

Happy does not mean, giddy, laugh-at-every-little-thing people, to me it means people who are satisfied, who somehow communicate that they know that everything is not ok, and they are ok with that.

Happy means satisfied, in a good way.  Dissatisfied is the realm of a constant, “I wish things were different,” approach to the world.

One can work to be “better” and not be dissatisfied, for sure, but meanwhile I aim to be comfortable with the process.  It’s a happier way to be.

Presenting, The Present

Everything happens before it happens.

Your perception of “the present” likely is actually around things that have already happened or are about to happen.

Is it possible to Live In The Moment? Sure, but the moment includes time that’s gone by and things to come.

Let’s not get caught up in whether we’re doing a good job of being in the present or not and enjoy whatever the experience is, with the people we’re with.

Teams only go around once.

Running Alongside

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.

I Wish My People Took More Ownership!

Coaching Is Hard. Fact.

Wanting both to control “all of the situations” and have teams in which people were making suggestions and giving input…these two things struggle to coexist.

Are you really giving your people room to own things on your team? Do they have actual ability to impact change? Do you have a history of soliciting input, asking for ideas?

If not, can you really expect them to own this thing that they don’t really have a piece of?