What We Want

What do we want? What do others want from us? Do you know? Is it important to know?

If we say we absolutely know what we want, that we have our eyes on the prize, that our goals are crystal clear…are we selling ourselves short? Might that prize be “less than” we can achieve if we have a great set of processes and ways of doing?

“This is what I want”, is results-focused thinking without any real definition of “better”, or a goal to reach for and, most importantly, the process that it will entail.

Teams will say “we want to win a championship!”  Great. How? Do you have a plan to go with the want?  A really, really specific plan or set of behaviors that you commit or (or at least know you should commit to) in an effort to reach a goal?

What we want is not as important as what we’ll do and who we’ll be day to day. Help figure this out by asking the key questions like: what do people/teams who get what we want likely do day to day to move toward that want? Do more of that and teach your teams how to know what to do in the short term as you move toward that end game.

Still, no guarantees.

 

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!

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?

 

Intra-team competition

Coach, do you value competitive kids? Of course. Do you want your teams to know how to compete? Sure. Will you work hard to cultivate competitiveness in players who have been working on only their own game for too long? Yes.

It’s important to value competitiveness as a team, and not in a negative way between teammates.  Pushing others to “win” in a practice setting, to beat teammates is not good unless it comes from a place of love.

The sentiment of, “i’m here to make you better, teammate,” is a great way to push you team to compete, but think twice before you encourage kids to “win” at the expense of other kids, in practice.

 

Info Overload

We are flooded with information.  There are so many great books, articles, journals, lectures, videos and other material produced by smart, experienced and successful coaches and leaders in all areas that it’s easy to get overloaded by others’ thoughts and tactics.

We need to take action!  Develop your own strategies (feel free to steal them, but make them your own at the same time) and clarify your voice and ideas.  Consider what’s important to you and then get to work executing those plans.  Just like you tell your people: it’s ok to fail.  Get to work determining where you’d like to go and how you think it’s best to get there.  Devise an action plan and 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.

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.

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.

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.