Problems, part 1

What is a problem? Is this thing that’s happening or not happening actually a problem?  Perhaps the reality is just the reality and you’re making it a problem for you (and maybe for others)?

Once those simple questions are answered then we can get to work on finding solutions if we need to.

One solution might be to stop allowing the situation to be a problem for you. Perhaps your mind is allowing this thing to intrude and impact you in a negative way, making it an issue for you when it need not be.

If that’s not the case then work to clearly define the issue and get to work.

Regardless of Outcome…

Sometimes we say, before attempting any thing, that we are excited for the activity and will enjoy it, or learn from it, “regardless of outcome”.  True, we should always be hoping and expecting to learn from our situations, but too often this phrase is used as a built-in excuse.

We say, in advance, that we don’t really care about the outcome.

In sports, this is used when a team is young or inexperienced, or perhaps just unsure.

Having a good process and executing it well is for sure a key part of working any situation, but if we’re keeping score, planning and working to win is also part of the equation. Don’t give yourself an out before even starting.

Motive or Mistake?

When something goes wrong we often ask a version of this question: “why did they do that?”

This speaks to intention, that the person planned to screw it up, the “why?” implying that they wanted to make a bad decision. Of course, sabotage might be in play, but usually it’s a given that the person was not motivated to do things poorly.

Errors of all kinds come from a lot of angles. Typically, lack of focus or attention to detail, lack of skill, or poor preparation.

Coaches should understand this and teach focus in addition to skill and strategy, and look to ourselves to ask how we can better prepare our people.

Anticipation & Assessment


We act hoping we won’t have regrets for doing that thing. We incur stress that the things we do or have done are wrong; we hope that we are pleased with results of doing.

On the other hand, we don’t as often consider how we might be changed by not taking action.  What if we said no? What if we allowed the status quo to be the status quo?  Might that also change us?

It follows that we should consider the double negative: what have you NOT been doing that, if you had been, would have been a bigger negative?

Assess your plan from all angles and consider all possibilities.


Strength In Asking

If you have a question, someone else likely does as well.

Asking involves risk. Maybe someone will think you’re not smart enough to get it the first time, maybe someone will think you underprepared for the situation.

Ask anyway.

What others think has such an impact on each of us that we can become paralyzed with inaction. When was the last time another’s opinion alone made you better, or worse?

Get the information you need, and know that on a team, almost always you will not be alone in wondering about that question.  By asking you make everyone better.

No Neutral Rule

There is no such thing as “not doing anything wrong” on a team or at work. If someone is saying that, they’re probably doing something wrong.

If you are not giving, you are taking away. Energy is a zero sum game.

When you answer, “it’s going”, or “as good as can be expected,” when asked how you are, you are violating the No Neutral rule.

Be mindful of your projected energy.

Alone At The Top

Coaching is hard. Any program or team has a lot of moving pieces in play at any one time: players, parents, bosses, fans, vendors, strategy, maintenance, skill development, team culture all demand time and energy.

We work harder. And harder. Too often coaches hunker down and simply try harder rather than ask for help or look for a better way.

The culture of perfectionism that we talk about in our athletes exists for coaches, too.

Protecting “our stuff” is inherent to the coaching profession. We think that secrets might be stolen, ideas brought elsewhere only to beat us later…asking for help is a sign of weakness, right?

Why protect your stuff? First, you’ve likely not done anything totally new, and so much of coaching is in the talent, the team-building and the communication rather than the ideas or strategies themselves.

Make an effort to learn and share, bounce ideas off coaches of other sports, other age groups, other towns or schools.  Find a way to make it less lonely and you might find yourself enjoying it more and getting better results.

What I Just Discovered

That last conversation in your head? That idea that I thought might have merit but I’m not sure, yet? The article you read that feels like it’s on to something that would help you?

Sit with it, write on it, ask yourself what piece of you it touched.

Discovery is an action word. You have to work to discover meaning or impact, and work to make it apply to us, in specific, now.

And it’s likely that our discoveries will change just as they change us. “The thing” becomes something else and moves us in another direction.

Be on the lookout for discoveries.

Look To The Stars

It makes sense to read what champions have done, to follow the drills posted by those who have had great success, to “do what the best do”.  Following a proven path can lead one to success.

But, nothing is automatic.  Simply because it worked for her does not mean it will work for you. There are lots of possible reasons for this:

-she has more resources than you do…

-his players have more physical tools than your players do…

-her team is better shape than your team is…

-he has four assistants and you work on your own…

One person’s ideas do not always easily translate to another’s situation.  That coach’s ideas just might seem like a fish out of water in your practice plan, or you might not be able to pull it off relative to other things you say and do.

Instead, read and watch things that the successful coaches do and say, value them, and spend time making them your own. How can you take their concepts and make them work for you, with your team, in your situation?

It’s the time YOU spend thinking about YOUR program that is most valuable.

Show Up

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.