People have to sign things in order to participate. From elementary school to the NCAA, one can’t participate unless they agree to do or not do certain things. This we (mostly) easily accept, and regardless, the rules are really clear.
You likely have written rules for your team, no matter what type of team it is. Perhaps a handbook, employee guide, posters in the lockerroom or a contract to sign.
On the flip side, many of us have more unwritten rules than written ones. “Work hard”, “show respect”, “be a good teammate”, are all big picture unwritten rules.
Does everyone on your team know exactly what is meant by those unwritten rules? Do you know?
Perhaps you also have some that are similar to these: “freshman do the grunt work”, or “the head coach is always right”.
It’s time well spent to investigate and know what the unwritten rules are on your team–you may not even know that they exist–and to clarify the ones you like. Even more importantly, shine light on the ones that are not valid or helpful to your team (“we drink a lot on Saturday nights”), and rid your team of these unhelpful rules.
Did you ever notice that when you shine a flashlight under the bed, or simply turn on the lights, that the boogeyman disappears?
If you have issue in your operation or in any relationship, it works to turn on the lights. Illuminate the concerns, even if you are unsure who is “right” or what the “right” thing to do is.
State the facts, solicit opinions, and see if bringing it out in the open helps to give you ideas as to how to proceed.
“The thing to do” is often super clear after you get a good look at the problem. Reflect on your values and the lens at which you see the world, and a course of action will show itself.
One of the conversations that has stuck with me for over ten years…
“Coach, I figured something out,” she said one April morning. “I’m so used to coaches being the one who yelled at us and made us run, I never thought of them as being on the same team as us.”
She was shocked when she felt support from her college coach.
It’s doubtful that all of her coaches before that were “against” her and her teammates, or that yelling was the top activity.
Yet, she FELT that way…the prevailing FEELING about coaches was of being criticized, “yelled at”, even if voices weren’t raised, and of being on the other side.
Recognize how people feel in your presence. Your words may not be as important as you think.
How can I help?
What do you need?
Are you feeling ok? Anything I can do?
These are such well-meaning questions, but if a person is really struggling with something–a “life problem” or how to field a ground ball–they may not know what they need, and it’s probably not an answer that would be most helpful.
Offering to provide a fix that neither party knows exists is impossible, and “well, let me know…” is really not helpful.
So, just Show Up for your friend, teammate or partner of any sort. Just be there; you don’t even need to be a good listener, specialize in empathy, or even spend much time to be good at Showing Up.
In sports, showing up can look like being first to something, being prepared, being willing to lose, or fall short. It can be cheering, and it can be pushing; high fives can come in all sizes.
Showing up can be a smile or pat on the back, a “I see you working hard”, or a package of cookies, or a note or card. It can be an email or a text message or a stop-by-to-say-hi or shovel the driveway.
Just do something, no matter how minor.
There are no rules of caring for people, and don’t worry if you don’t know what to do, just show up for them.
Coaches spend time thinking about and communicating what we are for; what we stand for, what we’ll fight for, what behaviors we want to see.
We don’t spend time thinking about what we’re against. What are some of the things that people say, do or require that you disagree with? Maybe you do some of these yourself without really knowing why?
If we know what we’re against we can figure out how to unteach that thing, and use a negative to make things positive.
What are you against?
There’s a lot of talk out there about the current “everyone gets a trophy” culture in youth sports and how it’s tainting the “growing up” experience of current kids.
We talk about the fact that this is bad, and kids are consequently not mentally tough…
What are we doing about it?
Sports are hard. Losing is not fun. We don’t always get what we want.
The idea that something has to change is valid. Youth sports needs help in a lot of places. But, what about the kids already in high school or college who have a real fear of falling short, or even of experimentation. What do do about or with them?
Find a way to include struggle into your day to day activities. Even asking probing questions that don’t have a clear answer can provide a challenge. Push back on assumptions, ask “why?” and “what else do you see/think/feel?”.
These will work to provide safe struggle that can help us get used to being uncomfortable.
This is real and coaches should look closely at helping kids with perfectionist streaks and all kinds of fear.
What is integrity? It’s on the lockerrom signs, gym banners and tshirts that list core values of teams across the country.
Most won’t have a strong and clear definition.
I say it’s integration of who you are and what you do.
Knowing what you believe in is key. The central values like trust and communication have a critical role in every team. The core of who you (an individual or a team), is not a reflection, it is WHO you are or want to be.
We communicate well and trust each other. Those are core values.
What you do, the behaviors that are demonstrated are one’s true legacy. So, we work hard to identify the things we’ll do in order to be true to our values, the “who” of who we are.
When we live our values…when the actions reflect those values: that’s integrity.
When things are upsetting, most of us can’t just take three deep breaths and be “over it”. Things don’t just go away because they hope they will, and most of the time the advice to “just let it go”, is a vast oversimplification.
Really, how do you do that?
If the event or situation was bothersome enough that someone else noticed and felt compelled to give you advice–the “let it go” mentioned above–then it’s likely not a small thing. Those people rarely have the “how” or strategy to help us get past that thing right away.
So, unless you have an idea of how to help someone get past a problem, practice empathy and try to simply recognize that they are having pain or a struggle rather than telling them to get over it.
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!
“Be present,” “listen with your heart,” and other phrases have become popular throughout our busy world. We move so fast, and do many things (at once) that listening to others often seems like a challenge (perhaps because we don’t even know how to listen to ourselves).
Create the conditions for better listening. Stop and make time to listen with all of your physical senses, and also actively practice putting judgement aside and get to the feelings and perspective of the speaker.
Why are they saying what they are, and what do they need from you? Often, it’s simply to be heard.