Love the Struggle

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.

Integrity

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.

 

“Just Let It Go”

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.

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!

Don’t Just Listen, Stand There!

“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.

Go.

The Human Condition

We are naturally selfish beings; it’s important and often valuable to have self-preservation as an inherent trait.

People do things that positively impact them in some way.  We tend to do what’s best, or seems best, for us, and hope for good things to happen.  We put ourselves first.

Seeing oneself as #2 in your own world is really, really challenging.  It’s also a key to being a great team member.  Find ways and times to force kids to put themselves second to something, anything, anyone.  It’s great practice for team membership.

Go.

Why is Talking So Hard?

What if i’m wrong?  What if she gets mad at me?  …I might feel badly afterwards.

We resist the DEMAND that we talk out loud about our concerns, needs and commitments.  So often the need for safety and calm rather than storm overrides the demand that good open, honest and direct communication will provide relief and a chance to move forward.

Let’s make practicing honesty and communicating our needs, and simply what we think–even if we might not make everyone (even ourselves) happy–a part of our team training.  Start with the coach.

Go.

Fluency

We admire the people who have “made it,” been “successful”: make the most money, have the most happiness, win the most games…

We point to those people as role models, teach their tactics, employ their strategies, read their books.  Usually we’re fired up and maybe it even works for a time.  However, we seldom can bring their stuff into our stuff at a level that really makes a difference for us because we have to think about using someone else’s language.  The time it takes to translate makes it stilted and removes the flow and often the efficacy.

Create your own dictionary and teach the language to your people.  Once everyone in your organization speaks the same language without exception and looks at the world through the same lens you’ll be able to take big steps.

Go.

Horizontal Transparency

The state of recruiting in many collegiate sports means that many players have deep relationships with coaches as recruiters by the time the kids arrive on campus.  Soon, the team culture and friendships becomes an important part of their world as well.

Player to player relationships typically are socially based, leaving the physical, skill and even commitment-to-the-program development up to coaches in meetings, one-on-one sessions and off-season work.

What if teams spent time communicating what each member (players and coaches) was working on and how others could be a part of this improvement?  Is there room in your program for less behind-closed-doors communication?  Opening the “this is how i’m going to get better for the team” communication to all may help to both further understanding of what’s important and model transparency and common goals.

It will also help kids to see outside of themselves and recognize that they are responsible to add to the team, and also can take/get a lot from their teammates in ways that they may not have thought about.  Open, honest and direct communication will help move kids and teams forward.

Go.

Share!

Making your goals and dreams public is exciting and probably makes you nervous.  What if people don’t like your ideas or think you can’t do something (you KNEW it)?  Sharing is risky.

That’s exactly why you should do it.  Take a piece of your work and share it with your team.  Ask them to honestly assess, or just watch their reactions.  If it seems as if they can’t be forthcoming in response then you have a trust problem, not a communication problem.  Open yourself up and insist on detailed feedback.  This will likely be challenging for everyone.

Model acceptance of honesty.  Say out loud that you think honesty equals respect.  Ask for it, take it, give it back.

Go.