Principle #5: Learn, Intentionally

“Learning from the past” should not be a random thing.  We should have a planning process, make and execute plans and look at them after they are executed.  Ask, “What worked?”, and do more of that and less of what didn’t work.

When someone says they learned their lesson, it’s often simply because a thing didn’t work out, and not often enough because we took the time to review our plans and our actions.

Take time more often to learn–the good and the bad–intentionally.

Team Malaise

What happens when a team just loses it’s mojo?

Is this simply a “that’s what happens sometimes”, situation or can it be fixed?

Finding the cause, or lighting a spark…is one more important than the other?

Go back. Go deep. Go internal. Ask good questions about why this team plays or works on the things it does. What are the values at the core of the project or program? What’s its collective WHY?

If you can find the seed of its existence and agree that it’s one worth working for, then you can determine the actions that the group must take to move forward, to achieve and take steps in the name of the WHY.

Identify the WHAT, too.  What will you do? What things will you not do? Keep track regularly and enlist a tracking system to hold the whole group to.

These small things are the only things…one piece at a time a team can bring itself back to creating a great future.

Your Mileage May Vary

Have you heard someone talk about a tactic, a coaching idea of some sort, and implemented it in your program to no avail?  It didn’t work.

You’ve worked something in to a practice, or with a team and loved it.  Then, you try it again and are not satisfied?

There’s no simple one-size-fits-all response to these situations. Try it again? Do it differently? Changing a variable might change results, it might not. The most value is in your inspection of the situation. Your testing is important, and your consideration of the “why” and the “how” is just as important as the result.

Make a plan, execute, look back and assess.  Then, plan again.  “Try something new” is only one possible option.

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.

Midseason Form

What’s that?  Is that a good thing–hitting on all cylinders–or is that a stopover to great?  If so, how long will you stay?

Hitting your stride, finding the next gear…if you could quantify (and you should) these things, what would they look like?  How will you know?

Create a measurement systems and practice regular assessment (ask everyone, not just yourself or your leadership) on the way to continuous improvement.

Clear The Way

What’s your job? As a coach of a team it’s to push the team to improve, to win games, to develop athletes and people (your answer may vary but you need to have an answer).  This is your WHY.

What’s your HOW?  Most coaches spend the most time in the HOW of our world, yet that focus is often rampant with inefficiencies.

Your job, Coach, is to get obstacles out of your team’s way.  Think about and test the things that might be holding an individual or the whole team back.  Know what the variables are, measure and ID the struggles and the strengths.  Perhaps it’s skill level that’s repressing success.  Then, get to work planning ways to teach techniques and setting up routines to improve these areas. Perhaps you have reached a ceiling in any particular case and need to work on tweaking your recruiting plan and execution.  The answer itself is not the most important thing, it’s knowing the questions.

Maybe an obstacle is the way your program communicates, the way you communicate; perhaps it’s a misunderstanding of the standards and expectations for any part of your program, or goals that are not clearly defined…your facilities, the perception of your resources, the vision of your future, the abilities of your staff…there are many possibilities.

Pick a place to start, investigate, plan and work to clear a path for your team.

Go.

At Least You Have Your Health…

Things are not getting done well, games are being lost or played poorly, your business or team culture is not moving you forward…but at least you have your health.

This phrase is also commonly expressed as, “it’s not like it’s life or death…”.

These are excuses of the highest order.  What do those statements actually mean in this context?  What does death have to do with it?  Mostly it’s a way of finding something–anything–positive in a crappy situation.

The reality is that saying these things does not make you feel better, but you can pretend it does.  It’s a way of taking something totally irrelevant and giving it importance so that the failures are minimized.

It’s a coverup.

Of course your life and your health–and that of those around you–is important.  The sentiment is real, but not in the context of a coaching or team failure.  It’s the failure itself that you should be examining and celebrating as a catalyst.

Do the challenging work of planning, working the plan and then assessing the result, and get to work on making a better plan, or improving the execution. The PEAR process is a crucial, underutilized tool for improvement.  Stay away from the coverup.

Go.

Experience Holding You Back?

Experience can be a great teacher. Brains and bodies work more smoothly together after thousands of reps, we learn how we work and decide what works for us.

On the other hand we often do things simply because we’ve always done them that way. “This is the way I am,” “that works for me,” “I know the best way to do that, ” are things we tell ourselves.  Do we actually consider if these things are true? Perhaps we are just fearful of change. For sure we are fearful of change!

Experience also may cause us to miss out on new and positive tools and information.  “Keeping an open mind” is one thing, actively seeking the best way to do things is quite another, and doesn’t need to be a sea change.

Take time to look at your team closely. The drills, practice design, rules, methods of teaching; review and assess everything and see if you are still in love with your systems. You may find that it ain’t broke but still needs work.