Friday, December 8, 2017

WHEN BEING DEMANDING


Here is something to ponder into the weekend:


When given the privilege and honor of being with struggling athletes,

I love to tell them I BELIEVE and have confidence in them .

THEN, I am very, very DEMANDING of them... relentlessly so.

And, I demonstrate PATIENCE and LOVE as I await their blossoming.

I see the alternative and it's OBSOLETE... ineffective at best. Not pretty!

Coaching is when I fight for the hearts of my athletes and have them

feel loved and valued and deeply connected to me, the team, the game and

ultimately to something much bigger than any of this.

Namaste'

Thursday, December 7, 2017

LEADING WITH LOVE


 I was having a coaching session, coaching a coach. She told me that she didn't love a few of her athletes but the rest were great. I told her that while you don't have to like everyone, to be effective you must have love in your heart for all.

I mentioned to her that it is easy to love the good ones, those who show up, give their all, are respectful, selfless and demonstrate a strong work ethic. I told her it is easy to be holy in a church or other sacred place, right? But the other troubling athletes are where the challenge lies, where the real coaching begins, where the most gain can be made, where you really make a difference. And, that difference is made when we have love in our hearts for these kids.

John Wooden, iconic basketball coach years ago, told reporters that the reason for his success was that he had a lot of love in his coaching. All successful coaches do...Steve Kerr, Phil Jackson, Anson Dorrance, Lute Olson, Gregg  Popovich, Tara VanDevere, Bob Hansen, Cindy Timchal and others.

When you have challenging, difficult to love athletes in your life you do not have to like them. In fact,they will change their behaviors ONLY when they are loved, they will go the distance only when they are loved and they with be respectful and loyal only when they are loved. LOVE NOT THEIR BEHAVIORS but love who they are...human beings who may be confused, insecure, uncertain, fearful, and nervous. These feelings cause them to be reactive and uncooperative, not listen, sabotage your plans and be rebellious.

So what's there to love? Simple but not easy. Love their intentions. They want to do well, they want to "fit in", they want acceptance, and their intentions are pure. Love this about them. BUT their feet are pointed south and they have lost their North Star, their inner compass and it is our deepest work to let them know " we love you, we want you to be here and we want to help you get what you deserve so tell us what you really want and how I can help you get it".

Pull such an athlete aside and privately touch the arm or shoulder, look her in the eyes and express that as her coach you want her to succeed and if she doesn't want to that perhaps it is better that she isn't on this team. Tell her that while you don't like her behaviors, you love and believe in her and that you will go the distance with her but she must want it too. THAT'S IT!!!  It is in Chinese the TAO concept of WU WEI , of effortless effort,  of no forcing, no conjolling, no disrespecting, no shame, no blame. Just express what you observe, value her and let her decide if she wants help or not and let it go. She may NOT BE READY and that means you can not coach her. Not your fault.

Bottom line is this. I LOVE all my athletes for who they are NOT what they do. Then I present them with the above approach and know that when I do, I am being a coach with heart.

One last word on meaning of love as I use it: LOVE is not a commodity, something we dole out if we approve of someone or not... it's a CAPACITY...the capacity to CONNECT and CARE about another.

For more on this way, see my book "COACHING WITH HEART". If you like this, you'll love it.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

ATHLETIC SERENITY PRAYER


Write this out, group text it to your friends and use it for your sports journey...Short Yet Sweet!!!

Grant me the serenity to accept my errors,mistakes, failures and losses,
Give me the courage to learn from these and change,
And afford me the wisdom to forgive myself, have self compassion, improve and go forward.

The price we all pay if we do not take this Yin-Yang path is to encounter harsh, rocky roads along the journey.

Sports is our perfect vehicle to help us cope with failure. After all, all that you've learned in life
has been the result of failure. I call this the "success of failure".

No posts for the next 7 days as I will be totally immersed in doing good work in Chicago.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

CATCHING ATHLETES DOING RIGHT


In sports, coaches are whistle blowers. Many feel inadequate as if they are not doing their job unless they constantly blow the whistle catching an athlete doing something wrong and correcting it. Aside from continually breaking the "flow of play", the whistle is like reinforcing the athletes waiting for the hammer to drop as they focus on mistake, errors, setbacks which makes them tight ,tense and tentative resulting in the action for which the whistle is being blown. Emotionally, the athletes become disgruntled with the process of practice and develop fear of being caught doing something wrong.

What would happen if your culture was a culture of "catching them doing something right"? I remember a coach telling me that an athlete was not listening to the feedback after repeated whistles and the coach was getting upset and impatient with this kid. Motivation for improvement became nonexistent. I suggested to the coach that she could try blowing the whistle whenever she saw this athlete doing something really good, even if it took forever. That day, she tried my strategy. The next day she continued but did it several times. Not only did the athlete start to feel better, more involved and valued, the coach ,herself, began to enjoy practice once again. One week after the start of the new approach, it was the coach's birthday. When she entered the office that morning, there was a huge bouquet of roses on her desk with a note that said: "Hey coach, I just want to tell you how much I am loving Lacrosse again and appreciate your being positive with me. Makes me feel valued and important and motivated to work hard". Guess who sent flowers?

The whistle is an effective coaching and teaching tool. Just remember to stop practice when you see something right happening. This will increase your effectiveness as a coach and, at the same time, increase the enthusiasm of your athletes as they become motivated to listen to you and go the distance as well. It will get the athletes to focus on doing something right rather than fearing doing something wrong.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

LEADING & COACHING,AUTHENTICALLY


The first time many years ago when I walked into a classroom to teach, I needed to wear my professional "mask". I felt I couldn't do my work without it. Standing behind a desk, covering up fears and inadequacies, advertising my credentials, afraid to make a mistake or look silly, wearing the impressive clothes were some of the ways I attempted to hide my insecurity and protect my role.

Now, many,many years later, with more experience and wisdom plus a boat load of achievements and credentials, I feel I can't do my work WITH the mask. Others see and feel the mask as a barrier to connection, caring and ultimately, a good relationship, so vital to making a difference in the lives of others. My goal has been to focus not on our differences but how we are alike.  I refuse to trade my humble heart and sense of humanity in for looking like an expert.

Every year I get closer to getting "mask-free" and emotionally "naked" on the never ending journey towards full authenticity. It takes courage and the willingness to take risks to "show up and be seen" in the words of researcher/author Brene Brown.  I continue to work at being unapologetically me. It's a frightening place to visit yet it is absolutely essential if I hope to remain sensitive, caring, respectful, authentic and genuine so as to truly make a difference in the lives of others. It requires me to lean into this fearful, scary place and that takes courage....BUT, I can tell you that when I have the presence of heart to do this, it is so worth it.

The result of being authentic is I gain the trust and respect of others and they, become loyal, secure, enthusiastic and committed to "going the distance" with me. This demands "outside-the-box" behavior, out on the edge, fearlessly fighting to win the hearts of my athletes.

Such authenticity means you must trust yourself...to be comfortable in your own skin....to see all of your work as a path of humanity and we all are humans just like those we lead and coach. Engage in conversation that unites not separates. For example, draw an athlete in by asking: "So, what is your go-to comfort food?". Everyone relates to that. Food is the universal connector. You'll be pleasantly surprised to see where this opening takes the conversation. And, in the process, we all act human. I remember The Dalai Lama once telling an audience that he was just like us all...same fears, concerns, troubles, desires. He was authentic and from that place, he could lead me and I would follow.

Whenever I am in a leadership role, I purposefully remind myself to "let it all go and just BE ME". That is all I need to do to continue to be effective in that role. That's how I can connect more deeply and more authentically.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

WARRIOR SPIRIT IN SPORTS

For practical purposes, I define the Warrior Spirit ( Wi Shi in Chinese)as a "heart mindset" whereby you sacrifice for others, push past your comfort zone ( get comfortable with being uncomfortable),have no regrets and work hard even when others are not looking. You accept responsibility, remain accountable and strive to "win the day" doing the best you can to be the best you can be. You accept opponents as partners and understand when soft is strong, when less is more which is thinking outside the box. As a Warrior, you are willing to suffer,sacrifice and fail if that's what it takes to be your best.

There is no prerequisite of age, size or shape to be a Warrior. The only requirement is to be willing to take on vigorous, rigorous spiritual training that awakens you to higher levels you never thought possible. This begins with practicing meditation which creates a positive effect on your body,mind and spirit. It is a process of quieting the mind, clearing it and creating greater awareness and calm which creates noticeable, palpable inner change for extraordinary performance. From this calm place within, you can introduce amazing images that enable you to feel yourself performing as you would like. I have a way to help you establish such a practice in my book, The Way of the Champion. You can google "meditation" and see what pops up...it has become a household word these days. I wouldn't leave home without it.

Begin to use meditation as a more spiritual path to motivation, inspiration and wisdom in your sport AND all of life. Feel more alive, vibrant,mindful and happier in your personal arena of choice.
If you search my Blog page on my website, you will find several other Blogs that will reinforce this piece and take you even further along the Warrior path.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

THE ALCHEMY OF SPORTS

Alchemy,as I understand it, is the unification of diverse metals to promote change with the result being a metal much more precious than any one individual metal that is in the collective batch. In fact, unifying all creates something even greater than the sum of its parts.

Sports are no different when we do it correctly. With athletics, we all have the opportunity to unite as a diverse population and promote massive change with the result being a unified, connected, compassionate,cooperative, selfless, giving, joyful, culture doing what we love for a cause that is something bigger than anyone involved. The outcome is a culture that finds its common heart, beating together and performing at levels comparable to our capabilities. This is an alchemy of blending over time, the diverse cultures of the athletes to form ONE unified culture with one heart, one soul, one purpose, one goal.

So, knowing this, we can now think about sports in a different way. Instead of fighting and battling each other in a war, we can use sport as a vehicle to achieve our very best. We can all come together and compete in the true sense of the word. The Latin root for competition is "compatiere" meaning "to seek together", our full human capacity. Our opponents are our partners on the journey of everlasting and never ending improvement and joy. We embrace each other and offer up our very best performance so that we achieve our mission of full capacity living.

Think about this... great performance is only possible in a culture where we UNITE  with all our diversity, where we respect and honor each other and connect in an emotionally and spiritually safe environment where greatness  and gratitude proliferate. Without this, there is no great performance.

What I describe here is the culture of the G.S.Warriors under the leadership of Steve Kerr and his remarkable staff. The antithesis of such we are witnessing in today's chaotic, turbulent, confusing and despairing country. I believe this administration needs to take a lesson from the playbook of the Warriors if we , as a country, are to return to a world leadership role, to unite, to accept differences and be a culture of world champions. Sport, I have learned, is a huge opportunity to create sane cultures and help to restore the sanity of our Divided States of America.

We can begin this process by LISTENING to the athletes protesting against social injustice and inequality. All they want is what the pledge of allegiance is saying: "liberty and justice for all".
There are several ALCHEMISTS in the NBA... Witness Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Brad Stevens,
coaches who are most successful. What I am saying is WHERE IS THE ALCHEMIST IN OUR WH?

THIS IS THE FIRST OF WHAT COULD BE MANY POLITICAL STATEMENTS. My work in sports is to build sane, successful cultures that function at high levels on and off the field. These are worlds I love to be part of and I am sad about how these core values are being destroyed by our administration.  I want sports to become the teacher, mentor and example of what we crave...sports as a microcosmic classroom for showing us the way back to what the USA is all about.

I love sports and I love the country I grew up with. Let's recapture our romance with decency. Put into one cauldron, trust, respect, courage, integrity, compassion, joy, selflessness, fearlessness, belief, love and see what results happen.