I Had To Learn To Be A Learner

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?

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?

Who Gets To Contribute?

Who gets to help shape your program?

Who doesn’t get to? Who is supposed to show up and shut up?

Who MUST contribute?

Think about how you want your program to be, to become, to feel to those who come near it.

Think about it, write it down, and share it.

You’ll probably think today’s version is lacking, or even terrible, at some future date. That’s ok. Think about it, write it down, share it and see what happens.

I Have An Open Door Policy

Coach, your open door policy only means people can see in as they walk by.

Kids aren’t going to simply stop by to talk about all of the important things.

No matter how young you are, this “they know where to find me” mentality is abdicating your responsibilities as a leader. You’re saying that it’s on them, the junior partner in this relationship, to seek you out, to even know when they need something from you.

It’s on you to be sure that they are doing ok, that they know what you and team membership requires of them, to know where they stand relative to the team standards (those are really clear, right?)…

Leadership is an activity.

Teaching Does Not Lead to Learning

Nothing is automatic.

Learning doesn’t happen for students because a teacher works hard or does their best.

Learning doesn’t need permission either. It’s going to happen if the conditions are right.

The teacher (formal or otherwise) can do the condition-creating and push the odds higher, and a motivated student surely helps.

The fun part is that we often learn something completely unexpected.

Keep looking for the learning.

A, B, C Players

Coach, do you rank your players on various metrics? Maybe even as simple as “he’s an A player, but has a B (or C) attitude”. If you use numbers, does a “1” player with a “3” attitude equate to a kid who’s a “2” in both in your estimation?

Putting aside the fact that I’d like to know your qualifying standards (how do you measure??!?), is averaging the way to go? Do you have a number that you’d like your team to be at?

What’s the optimal combination of traits and of players?

Why not define the standards and hold everyone to all of them instead?

It’s Personal

When someone says, “it’s personal”, they usually mean that they don’t want to talk about that it.

It’s often used as a replacement for, “none of your business”, or “leave me alone”.

So, let’s say what we mean.

Almost everything we talk about is personal. Most humans talk about their own thoughts & feelings more than anything else.

No more using “it’s personal” as an excuse. Be precise with your language.

Coach

The English word COACH is deemed to have been derived from the coach that was pulled by horses decades ago. The town in Hungary that is credited with this invention was called Kocs.

So, the word as we use it in sports and other types of coaching is a metaphor for getting things or people from one place to another. This is the job of a coach.

There are skills involved, mostly really, really human skills like listening, planning, caring, listening (yes, again) and figuring out how to get people to work to make themselves a more highly functioning person, either on their own or in a group/team setting.

Those skills are often overlooked when considered alongside knowledge sets like “knowing the game”, strategy and sport tactics. This second group of things is important, but without the first it’s challenging to really grow people to help make the world a better place.

How will you move people along?

To Connect or Not

As a raging extrovert, I get sad and tired when I’m alone for too long.

It’s a status that some have a hard time understanding, and I have to work to get it when people say that they are overwhelmed with the act of being social.

There is no right nor wrong here, and working to understand what you need and celebrate that is a key to happiness.

Creating a team of people who share culture, language and a common lens, as well as goals, is easier when you realize that it’s not about the “kind of person” that’s a fit.

The kind of person a good team needs is the kind that commits to the culture, language and goals.

Simple, not easy.