The Ungoal

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.

Cleared for takeoff

Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. Then, breathe.

Flight attendants remind us of this every time we get on a plane.

In the case of emergency, or even just to be at your best every day, we should take care of ourselves first.

“Self-care” is a buzzword concept lately, and one that I’ve tended to push aside as too touchy-feeling and not as important as things like planning or assessing results. However, the basics of making others–teams and individuals–better involves having a handle on our own health and well-being.

It’s true. To be a great resource for others we should be at our best. What can you do to make your own situation better, healthier or more clear?

Maybe it’s eating, sleeping, hydrating or something else physical; maybe it’s making time to talk to others or read or just think.  Experiment with doing or not doing things differently and see how you can become a better resource to those around you by having yourself taken care of first.

 

Trial and Success

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!

Not In My Backyard

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?

Chasing Happiness

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.

Hey Coach, Watch Your Language

How often to you or your players use the words or phrases,

“I’ll try”

“I’ll see”

“Maybe”

“We’ll know when we get there”

“It depends”

All of those wishy-washy phrases really mean “probably not,” or some version of: “if I fail, it’s because I really never said I could/would”.

Pay attention to how often you say or hear language like that and see if you can move these out of your world.  I bet that the simple act of paying attention makes you more decisive.

And, I bet you’ll find greater efficiency and lower anxiety along the way.

It’s A Group Exercise

Working together is fun. Being on the same page with other people, finding a solution that requires others to add energy to the system, to match up the gears with colleagues, is a great way to move things forward.

That’s why so many of us love team sports, and why people pay to do the same workout with others that they could do for free by themselves.

Being around other people gives us energy. Working with others gets us to the intersection of enthusiasm and hard work. This is true on a team, within a coaching staff, position group, office pod or neighborhood.

Without a structured plan, however, working with a group can be annoying and unproductive. In team sports, this is where the “one chief” model becomes important. Someone needs to direct the work, start the music, evaluate the needs of the group.

How do you make working with others one way you get better as a coach?

 

Do More Weird

Just like the rest of the world, coaches are “judgy”.  We think that the way we do things is the best way (otherwise, why would we do it that way?) and we find reasons to poke holes in other ideas.

So many people doing “weird” things are having great success. Is this because of the idea, the implementation, the personnel, or a combination?  Hint: it’s almost always a combination.

What do YOU do that you think other people think is “weird” or outside the box? Do more of that.

Don’t Ever Change

In a world full of throwaway lines, one that gets me is, “don’t ever change!”.

Why would that be a thing you’d like to do? Why would person A not want person B to work to improve, to test new and better things, or at least to prove that the things they do currently really are the way to go?

We should always be growing, learning, indeed, changing. And, while we’re at it we should be mentoring, teaching and growing others.

Changing equals growing. So, “change!” need not mean to become something totally different or to get rid of the skills and habits that make you great, but to grow them and grow others along the way.

How could you grow yourself ?

What Works For You?

Are you one of the millions who pays attention through blogs, Tweets or books to the ways that those who have “made it” structure their lives?

Do you follow people, learn their habits and work to implement some of those things into your life? Me, too.

Do they work? Do you stick to them? Do you really know what works for you? Because if you don’t know then you’re not testing them well enough.

To me it’s not the ‘working’, it’s the ‘knowing’.  If someone else’s routine or plan for a situation is a good one for you then for sure you should steal it! If not, then you should pitch it and find another way.

Development of an assessment system that you can use for everything from morning routines to practice planning to developing players and assistants is a key to moving forward.

Test it. Ready, set, go.