16
Apr
18

How to be a good coach

What does it take to truly be a good boss? Thanks to research, we are beginning to understand the factors that lead to workplace cooperation.

A 2007 study by Florida University indicated that 40 percent of participants believed they worked for “bad bosses.” Among the most common complaints were broken promises, not giving credit, and strangely enough, the silent treatment.

Notice that there is no mention of overtime, paychecks, or incredibly annoying copy machines. The common thread in the above complaints is communication errors.

1. Care about your business

If you are not personally invested in your business, how will you convince others to be invested? You won’t always be excited about work, but there must be fuel to keep you going. If you are in an industry that doesn’t inspire you, you’ll have a hard time even caring about how to manage employees.

By working in an industry you love, you can keep current on best practices without it feeling like a chore. Your enthusiasm will likely rub off on others too.

2. Manage individuals, not numbers

If you’re in a managerial position, you probably didn’t stumble into it. Authoritative, action-oriented people tend to drift towards these positions naturally. If you harp about getting things done and the “bottom line,” just be careful.

Employees won’t always care about your objectives, but they willalways care about how you treat them. So if you want productivity, don’t just dictate orders. If you want numbers to improve, think of how to position your employees to work better, not just harder.

The sooner you get out of that mechanical “numbers” mindset and into a relationship-oriented mindset, the better your business will be.

3. Adapt your style to each person

No matter how difficult it is, you should try to adapt your managing style for each employee- not only to appease them, but for your own peace of mind as well. It’s not easy to achieve understanding, but when it exists, everyone’s workday runs smoother.

Try to get a feel for how your employees thrive. Are they great under pressure? Do they work best alone? Once you understand these things, you can place them in a role that effectively utilizes their strengths. Team technology is a website with great tools to help workers understand their career and leadership styles.

4. Measure only what’s truly relevant

Sometimes it’s more important to maintain office morale than nitpick minor issues. If the company is doing well, don’t get bogged down by monitoring inconsequential details. This will stress your employees and give them the impression that their efforts aren’t good enough.

Instead, have the wisdom to distinguish what is crucial to the success of the business. Monitor these things, and if they begin to fail, that’s the time to get serious.

5. Set only one priority per person

By setting one priority per person, you can better monitor your objectives. Each employee will know what he or she is responsible for, and they’ll be able to focus their efforts solely in that area. Also, if someone isn’t working, the company’s weak link won’t be able to hide behind everyone else.

By singling out each worker’s priority, you are creating expertise within your company. Instead of 10 people with a bit of knowledge about everything, you’ll have a team of budding experts working towards distinct goals.

6. Stay even-tempered

Its an age-old question: do you want people to like you or do you want people to fear you? All leaders grapple with this, from teachers to CEOs. You don’t want to be angry and demanding, but you don’t want employees thinking you are a push-over. The best way to earn respect (and make your life easier) is to be as even-tempered as possible.

7. Share your thoughts and ideas

By being open with your employees, you show that you are down-to-earth. Sharing thoughts and ideas proves that you value your employees’ opinions and view them as equals. This is also crucial because it keeps everyone in the company on the same page, creating a general trajectory that everyone understands.

8. Take responsibility for your low performers

If you dig deep enough, poor performance will have a cause. You have to decide whether these employees are:
a. out of their element and need to be transferred to another position
b. in need of more training and instruction
c. letting personal issues get in the way of their job

While it may not be your fault, you must acknowledge low performers so they don’t drag the rest of the company down. Have a non-judgemental talk with the employee. Don’t blame and don’t assume. Instead, ask questions. Find out what they need in order to do a better job, and do your best to provide it. If they show no initiative, it’s your duty to terminate them and find someone who values your business.

9. Ask questions rather than provide answers

Socrates was a brilliant leader and thinker- not because he had answers, but because he asked questions. Asking questions can only provide you with a deeper understanding of a situation. A good manager doesn’t just direct, but also learns continuously from the company’s successes and failures.

10. Treat everyone as equally as possible

This is common sense, however it’s not always easy to implement. You may think that you are fair to all of your employees, but no one is without bias. Sometimes workers feel they are being treated unfairly, while the manager has no deliberate intention of doing so. Don’t get defensive in these situations. Step back and consider their perspective. Are they earning a lower wage, receiving fewer promotions, or somehow getting left out? Just because you didn’t mean for it to happen doesn’t mean it isn’t your responsibility to change it.

11. Expect only what you’re willing to give

We’ve all had that boss- the guy or girl who leaves at 2pm every day and vaguely hands the rest of the day’s tasks to confused and annoyed employees. You’ll never be a good boss with this behavior. It will convince employees that you’re incompetent and inconsiderate. If extra work is needed, be there to facilitate or at least support those involved. Being a boss doesn’t mean skipping out on the challenges.

12. Explain the reasoning behind your decisions

Employees will follow your lead with less resistance if they understand your reasoning. Even if they disagree, they will at least know that you’re using a strategy. You’ll be respected for keeping everyone informed. You’ll also feel more supported, as employees will better understand your reasoning.

13. Make decisions efficiently

Of course, one of the main requirements to be a good boss is refined decision-making skills. Avoid making decisions when you are under stress or experiencing unusual emotions. These can throw off your mindset and cause you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t. Make a habit of analyzing results from past decisions, and make changes if your choices haven’t been panning out.

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14
Apr
18

Qualities of a team player

If you think you are a good team player, you will have no problem at all in ticking off each of these 10 qualities. If you can do that, then you can confidently add ‘good team player’ to your resume. You will also be able to answer any questions in an interview regarding what this overused term means in the real world.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan

1. They are always reliable

Totally reliable members are like gold. It was always first on my list as a manager. Delivering work on time, every time is priceless. I also knew that a reliable team player would be able to cope with setbacks without getting sidetracked.

2. They are not afraid of failure

The good team player will not regard failure with great terror. In fact, head hunters are now actively seeking out those employees who can clearly recount what went wrong with a project and what lessons they learned. This is the essence of Kathryn Schulz’s book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.

3. They share information

As a manager, I remember a colleague who guarded her territory like a tigress. She certainly was not a good team player, because she regarded other team members with suspicion, envy and resentment. She never shared information or facts she had learned.

Sharing information is vital to efficient problem solving. Team members make no assumptions about each other’s knowledge and the phrase, “I assumed everyone knew this,” is rarely, if ever, used.

4. They say what they think

Instead of slavishly accepting the manager’s instructions, a good team player will be able to ask questions and also make suggestions or express doubts. She or he can do this in a constructive manner. This new way of looking at team players is mentioned in the book by Glenn Parker, Team Players and Teamwork: New Strategies for Developing Successful Collaboration.

5. They never dominate meetings

Good team players know instinctively that everybody should have their say and that there is no need to dominate. The team leader can invite everyone to voice their view so that there is some equity. As a rather shy middle manager at senior manager sessions, I actually hated this when it was done at our meetings. But I really appreciated the fact that the loud mouths and show offs were at least being restrained.

6. They never give in to negative tendencies

Steve Jobs had a terrible reputation as a manager. He made people cry, was a bully and also drove his car without license plates so that he could park in places reserved for the disabled! But he was dedicated to top quality in every aspect of his work, from the personnel to the technology. He despised those with negative tendencies, which he saw as destructive.

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs.

7. They understand team dynamics

There will be times when the less extroverted team members (like me!) will need to work in solitude but still be able to communicate effectively and meet deadlines. The introverts will have a different working style and they will hate team-building exercises. The good team player recognizes this and does not see it as a negative factor. There are some fascinating insights on this in Sophia Dembling’s book called The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.

8. They know when to say no

“‘No,’ is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamott

The good team player knows when to say no and how to say it. There may be pressures from management to multi-task or take on too much. There may also be time restrictions, an inappropriate skills match, or an impossible deadline. You know that being a people pleaser can only lead to more stress. You can say no beautifully and still be a committed and loyal colleague. ‘No’ is one of the best ways of remaining fully accountable.

9. They are adept at problem-solving

You can spot a great team player a mile away. He or she is the one who rarely dwells on a problem or seeks to blame circumstances and other people for not solving it. They are never satisfied with procrastination but prefer to get going and to resolve the issue as fast as they can by involving all the team members as well.

10. They go the extra mile

A good team player will rarely sit back and stare passively out the window. They know that there may be an element of taking risks when stepping outside their comfort zones. They know what is involved and are not terrified of failing but always willing to learn lessons and move on.

“It’s never crowded along the extra mile.” – Wayne Dyer

How did you do? Do you feel absolutely confident that you can talk about what it really means to be a good team player in an interview? Let us know in the comments below.

14
Apr
18

things kids need to know

15 Important Things Kids Should Know by Age 15

A few years ago, my own mum gave me a copy of a parenting book. I was both amused and highly indignant at the same time. Now a few years have passed and I must say I have on more than one occasion resorted to looking through “that” book!

Lets face it, I am not Supermom. I don’t have all the answers, and unfortunately, although I would like to take tears and heartbreak away from my kids, I know this is all part of growing up and dealing with the complexities and challenges of life. There are some journeys I can travel with them and there are some they must go alone.

Looking forward into the not too distant future, if I was to come up with a list of what kids should know by the time they are 15, it would be the following.

1. “Parents are people too and why I will never be your best friend.”

I will never be your best friend. I am so much more that that. I am your greatest supporter, a devout lover of you since the moment you were born, and that will never change, no matter what you say or do. I will never give up on you, abandon or forget about you. However, I have my own life too and would like to enjoy it! Yes, I have a sense of humor too. It helps!

2. “Think for yourself, that’s why you have your own brain.”

As a parent, I may try to guide and influence you when you struggle to make decisions that I believe are in your best interest. But I do want you to think for yourself, to use your brain more, make decisions that are right for you instead of caving in to peer pressure, and going against your better judgment and willpower. Easier said than done, I know, but I just have to say it.

3. “There will always be problems: focus, focus, focus!”

Yes, focus on the problem not the person, if it is a person who created the problem in the first place. That way, it is easier to leave emotions out of the problem. The problem loses some of its complexity and it becomes more manageable. If any problem seems insurmountable — I am here to help.

4. “It’s not the end of the world.”

It take guts to own up and take responsibility when you mess up. As adults we still struggle with it, and believe me there are some adults who will never grow up and admit they were wrong. They still play the blame game. Please do not be one of those people. It is not the end of the world. It is just another lesson in life to learn from and move on. This reminds me of a saying I heard recently: “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I am thinking of making a few more.”

5. “Remember what you are good at.”

Success means different things to different people. Create your own personal success story knowing what you are good at, what you want to be better at, and what you feel you should be better at! Above all, you are good at so many things. If you ever are in doubt, come ask me!

6. “You are unique. Yes, there is only one of you.”

Do you know how awesome that is. Think of the billions of people in this world and yet you stand unique, a one of a kind. You are not me. Don’t try to be me. I don’t want you to be me. I will try to be a positive role model for you, but I am not perfect either. This is your life, please live it fully, joyfully and in the best way that celebrates everything that is wonderful about you.

7. “Let your voice be heard, but in the right way.”

The power of words can heal, harm, uplift, inspire. I could go on and on, but it really comes down to this: Let your voice be heard, but in the right way. Say what needs to be said but do it in such a way that it is tactful, considerate and never with malice. There are so many ways to communicate and let your thoughts and feelings be known. Choose wisely my child.

8. “Sex and relationships: yes, there is a difference.”

I know this is not something you may be ready to talk about now but I’ll say it anyway. I hope it will mean more to you when you reach this point in time. Yes, there is a difference between sex and relationships. Sex is simply the physical acting out of an expression and that expression isn’t always love or carried out in a loving way. To enter into a relationship with someone there should be a situation where there is mutual respect, healthy interest, patience, love, consideration, and of keeping your relationship exclusive and to yourselves only. I hope this makes sense to you and it will save you from being badly hurt or from hurting another.

9. “Social media alert!”

Oh yes, if you are about to make a mistake or do something you may later regret, think again! You may have it shoved in your face and be constantly haunted, taunted and reminded of any wrongdoing you were involved in long after it took place! Be aware, be careful. Friends may not always be friends when it comes to social media. Be clued in and stay safe.

10. “A whole bag of emotions.”

Being a teen, I know you may find it hard to relate to me, but I still have a few brain cells left working that allow me to remember what I was like at your age! Its like being on an emotional roller coaster and you can’t always get off or even know how to. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever and things will settle down. Just try as best as you can to show an awareness of your feelings and emotions and how they affect you and those around you.

11. “Why respect can be your greatest ally.”

You may not feel very special or unique, but every part of you — your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being — thrives and is in balance when you show respect for yourself. You should also expect respect from others, not in a pushy, aggressive or challenging way, but in a way that shows you think highly of yourself and so should everyone else.

12. “Learning is not all about the boring stuff.”

There are so many ways to learn, and it’s not always found in textbooks. Be open and receptive to learning from others who are positive role models, learning from situations both positive and negative, learning from your parents — yes, your parents — and simply learning by experiencing life.

13. “Show me the money!”

Sure, having money is a valuable asset, but that’s all it is. Money isn’t elusive. It is something you can get and I encourage you to go get your own. Become more financially independent but to do so in a way that is within the law and won’t come back to haunt you. Of course, feel free to share it with me and we will agree never to discuss how expensive it is to raise a child! Cha-ching!

14. “Do you really need all this stuff?”

Gadgets, gizmos, or what I like to call “stuff”, do you really need it all? I know back in my youth, I had less and I was happy. I know that is hard for you to understand. Please just think about it. Do they really make you happier or do they make you feel like you never have enough?

15. “Keep a love for life.”

Please don’t ever fall out of love with life. Everything you need for a rich, fulfilling and rewarding life is there for you. Nobody owes it to you, but you owe it to yourself to make your life the best life possible. Find your passion for life and use this passion to motivate you to greatness.

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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21
Nov
17

On being grateful.

Those of you who know me know that there are 2 holidays that I really love. One is Halloween and one is Thanksgiving. So, tis the season; here is a little parable I learned many years ago. I hope this helps you keep your perspective in this holiday season.

2017051495102041001

Hoping I’m sharing wisdom with my boys

There was a man who grew wise as he grew wealthy. By the time he became a father he had amassed quite a fortune, and he wanted to make sure his children didn’t have to live the way he lived as a child. After all we all want our children to have better lives than we had, but as his son grew he realized that maybe he had been providing too much and his child’s perspective of the world was askew for never having experienced being without. He decided to send his family to live for a few days with a “poor” family in the country.  When the boy returned, the father wanted to discuss the experience with the boy to be sure he appreciated his rich and plentiful life. 

The father asked, “Well son, how was your stay?” The boy replied “It was Okay, I think I learned something. “What lesson did you learn son” the father asked expecting the boy to voice his appreciation of the life the man provided him. “I learned that many things are different between our home and theirs.”

The son shared,  “we have a dog in the kennel, but they have 2 dogs that live in the house with them. We have a great big pool, but they have a big pond with fresh water that they swim in, I think it even has real fish in it.” The boy went on, “We have a garden in our yard that has lights at night, but they have the stars and the moon that lights their fields. Our yard has tall walls but theirs seems to go on forever. ” 

The man look perplexed, this was not what he expected. The boy continued, “We fall asleep to music or the TV, but they listen to the sounds of birds and crickets at the end of their day.  Our neighborhood has gates and fences, but their door is always open to friends.”

“Here we are connected by phones, intercoms, and computers, but they are connected with nature and their family.” The father sat quietly and allowed the lesson the boy taught to sink in.

The boy innocently got up to leave, but stopped to conclude, looking back he said to his father, who sat with a tear welling in his eye, “Thank you dad for allowing me to see how poor we really are.” 

We do all strive to provide our children with a world free from want, full of everything they desire, and free from pain or hardship. We should always keep our perspective about how much is too much, and if what we provide is what they need.  Are we providing them a life free from worry or gifting them a life free from the reality of values. Do they know hard work? Do they know the value of what is laid before them? Are they aware that there are others who have less? Others who are in need?

Before we sit and break bread over this holiday meant to give us such perspective, I urge all of us to take stock in what we do have and remember that there are so many that have so much less. Maybe for the holidays this year we could give gifts to the truly needy, at least the gift of understanding.

09
Nov
17

Things I bet you never thought about when you got your kids in sports (Part 2)

In the last post we looked at several considerations that parents have to make when getting their kids enrolled in sports. There is a lot more to this parenting thing then just signing them up. Often some of the things that parents go through are not too difficult if someone would only have given them a “heads up”. Well…. Heads up.

Here is the second part of the series. Last time we presented 2 categories, one on perspective and one on sacrifice. Here are the final two.

In the category of “Sometimes Sports Aren’t Pretty”

  1. Be careful that your child doesn’t ONLY identify themselves as an athlete. Yes, they may be a gymnast, or a swimmer, or dancer, but they are also more than that. As a parent you are charged with the task of giving them opportunities to also be that something else. Be a sister, be a scientist, be a mountain climber, be a whatever. Be sure that they see themselves as more than the sport. As I mentioned, the day will come when the leave the sport; what will they feel they can be then?
  2. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. There will be times when your son
    Gymfinity Gymnasts

    (L to R) Bri, Kendra, Yuki, Lexi and (Front) Kaisey 2007

    or daughter will win honors, but there will be more times when they don’t. I have had athletes train all year for a chance to qualify to a championship meet only to have one bad routine and miss their chance. It’s soul crushing. There will be more consolations then congratulations; but, I look at it as a learning process. If we learn about what to do, or what not to do, then we didn’t really lose did we?. As a coach it’s often difficult to console an athlete after a disappointing performance, but we understand that it’s 10x harder for the mom and dad. You have everything from taking them home, seeing them the next morning, and bringing them back to the gym and all the minutes in-between. We understand, and we will help support you and the athlete, but make no bones about it, we don’t envy your position.

  3. Sports help kids develop in so many ways. They learn more life lessons through 5 years in sports than the average kid may learn in 20 years of living. But though they are advanced for their age, they are still young. Kids are still kids and they have problems processing emotions or grasping complex concepts. On occasion I have had to remind coaches that they might see highly trained gymnasts, but all that talent and skill is housed inside a young child. As a parent, you know that they might be advanced, but they are still your child. They will need opportunity to express themselves like children do. It may take time, or when puberty hits, it may take patience on your part, but give them the space to be kids. That is what they need for healthy development.

 The last category is called “Parent’s Wake Up Call”

  1. Your job description may include counselor, driver, and cook; but it also includes manager. Kids in sport are usually pressed for time. Because of the demands of their training they learn how to manage their time to fit school work and sleep into their schedule. There will be times when you will have to oversee their schedule. Watch that they do get enough sleep, enough kid time, and enough time to just hang out with the Fam. On meet weekends you will need to budget travel time to be able to travel, eat, and still be there for warm ups. You may need to have them study in the car, or eat dinner on the way to the gym until they start to develop their skills of time management.
  2. Your job description will also include the title of Angel Investor. Being a sport parent requires not only the investment of your time, but it requires a financial commitment as well. It may require being creative to find ways to cover expenses, for example, we have scholarship opportunities for work-study programs at Gymfinity. I have had parents sign up for cleaning duties after practice not because they need the financial break, though some do, but because they want to show their athlete that there is a value to their training. I have a lot of respect for that decision. It’s humbling. It may also be hard to have to make tough decisions on when to spend money and when to not spend. It may feel like you are being too tough, but every family has different circumstances. Again, for us, family is a priority. We don’t want to put parents in a position to have to short change one child to pay for another.

In any case, we know that parenting an athlete can be different than you may have thought it would be. Yes, there are some great times, some memories are never forgotten. There may be times when it is stressful to see the sacrifices of time, money, or social events. Worse yet, sometime all the sacrifice doesn’t pay off, maybe she falls off the beam, or falls on her vault. It could happen, but remember that sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

02
Nov
17

Things I bet you never thought about when your kids got into sports (Part 1)

 Many is the morning when a parent wakes up and has to drive their athlete/child to a meet out of town. They think to themselves “Why did I let her do gymnastics?” Then they get up, get dressed and chauffeur the gymnast to the meet. Ah…. parenting is hard work.

So why do they do it? Some get their kids into sports to learn skills, to exceed how good they, the parent, was at a sport, or to just have a constructive fitness activity. Some are looking for social development or the affective development of winning humbly and losing graciously. Whatever the reason, sports gives us way more for our kids than we anticipate. Read any of my other posts to see how much I believe in the benefit of sport.

Gymfinity Gymnastics

For Gymnastics moms, coffee is a must.

But there is another side of the coin. There are considerations that we may not have thought of when our kids got involved in gymnastics, or other sports. Here are a few considerations that we must have as sports parents. As a parent and a coach for over 30 years, I have included a few bits of advice for free. You’re welcome.

In the category of “Keep Your Perspective Mom”:

  1. To you they are the best in the world, but that might not be the case. We must be satisfied with knowing that the sport may not offer our children international fame or a college scholarship. It’s ok to know that the sport or activity just makes them happy. If they are having fun and learning (physically, mentally, and emotionally) then we have a champion in the family regardless of results.
  2. It may be the same sport you or Dad did when you were young, but this is a totally different person, with a completely different set of circumstances: they have different parents, different timing, different peers, different coaches, and are in a different era than you. Give them the space to be themselves, let them participate at their own level of comfort. You will see that they will exceed their own expectations. If they don’t exceed yours, then that’s your problem. Deal with it, but don’t throw it on them.
  3. You will have to plan for their retirement. Every athlete has a day when they don’t play anymore. If you think ahead and plan for things to do when they retire, then you won’t be stressed out when it happens. Sometimes kids quit by choice, maybe they feel it’s too hard or they’re over their head. Maybe it’s not fun anymore. Maybe, they are retiring because of an injury. Whatever the case we must support them if they make the choice. I always tell my team kids that I will support their decision if it’s well thought out and if it’s not just because they are frustrated. Frustrations can be overcome, so it’s not a good reason. I tell them, and it’s true, that, as a coach, I will be sad and disappointed but not angry. Many young athletes fear making the coach mad. Be sure, as a parent, that they don’t have that same fear with you.

 New category: The sacrifices.

  1. Being an athlete is demanding and the team is a hungry monster that is never satisfied. The sport will require a specific schedule. It will demand some early mornings and some late nights. It may ask that your child leave school early to travel to a meet, or it may ask that you leave work early to drive them. In any case be prepared to make some sacrifices for the team and the sport. It will be worth it every time you see her smile up at you from the competition floor.
  2. When your child gets to a level of performance where outside factors can affect performance you will find that you will have to develop new habits to support the athlete. Less fast food, more salad (this was tough for me). You will no longer be able to be a “walk-it-off” parent. Because now a twisted ankle may keep them from the game, so you tend to have it looked at instead of letting them shake it off. My favorite story in this category is about one parent that slept on the uncomfortable hotel room sleeper couch so her daughter could get a good night sleep on the bed. See what I mean? Sacrifice.
  3. It may be hard to keep your perspective on the 2 things that always matter more than sports: family and school. At our gym we do not require kids to home school or tutor (many gyms do) because our mission is to develop a well-rounded child, that means social development in school. But often school must work around the sport. As I mentioned sometimes they may have to leave school early, or have homework delivered in a bunch because they will miss a few days of school while travelling to a meet or game. Family for us, is always a priority. I have kids miss training for birthdays, grandparent’s visits, or other family events. I am not as understanding about missing a meet for those reasons, but I can be flexible. Remember what I said above, sports are selfish, they will ask for your sacrifices, but you don’t always have to give in. Prioritize.

Next time we will explore that last two categories: “Sometimes Sports Aren’t Pretty” and “Parents Wake Up Call”.

20
Sep
17

Why we shouldn’t focus on Success

I have a very different definition of success. I have always believed in the oft quoted “Shoot first, what you hit, call the target” philosophy. As a coach, I have guided many athletes to great success by my definition and as defined by other people as well. I have always believed that if we focus on success, rather than growth, we often lose the biggest benefits from trying to do anything at all. Here are 5 things that we tend to lose when all we focus on is success as defined in a traditional way.

Setting goals and success

Ancient Wisdom

You limit Discovery

When we follow the laser focus of working to achieve a specific goal we will often lose sight of the many opportunities along the way. I drove to Illinois yesterday and ended up stopping at a great roadside market. If I would have only been focused on my destination, I would have missed some of the best sweet corn I have ever had. Not to equate striving for our goals with shopping for produce, but it illustrates the odd and interesting things we can find on our path to success.

You limit your ability to Grow

If we are only focused on one outcome we lose the opportunity to learn as we go. We need to embrace our shortcomings, our failures, and mistakes. By doing so we learn to adapt and we learn to overcome future mistakes by developing resiliency. Striving for our goals is a long-term commitment; persistence, resiliency, quick thinking, and wisdom are natural byproducts of the process if we commit to the long term effort and stay open to the process.

You fall into Black & White Thinking

When we are solely focused on a successful outcome we are quick to label those errors, misjudgments and mistakes as failures. If we do not achieve our stated goal then everything else seems to be a failure. There is nothing more untrue. We cannot, in any effort, be so short-sited that we only see black and white. The world is made up of shades of gray and there is not only much to be learned in the gray areas, but there is a lot of happiness in them as well.

You will have a hard time finding Happiness

“Shoot for the moon, that way, even if you miss, you are among the stars.” We’ve heard this thousands of times and seen it on bumper stickers and tee-shirts. I apologize for bringing out this old chestnut, but there is a lot of value in it. The notion that our moonshot is only valuable if we reach the moon devalues our position in the stars. I have had athletes set goals to win national accolades and, some do and some don’t. Those that don’t have to often be reminded that they attained much more in the effort than they would have if their goals were limited only to regional or statewide success. It’s the process, as I mentioned above, that gives value to the result. If any of these athletes would have considered themselves as failures, then all the effort, all the work, would have been in vain.

You miss the opportunity to be Grateful

My mom used to say Don’t be sad about the rainy days, without them  you wouldn’t appreciate the sunny ones. There is so much wisdom in that statement. We need to embrace our struggles and the hard work we put in to be truly grateful for our results; whatever they may be. Also, persisting through hard times gives us opportunity to identify the people who stand by us. The ones who lend a shoulder in effort or a shoulder to cry on. It’s the process, the effort, that helps us see our true team mates and friends.  All of this is so worthy of acknowledgment. I believe that, though It’s hard sometimes, we need to really look for the things in life where we can express gratitude.

In our society, especially in sports, we are led to believe that we must “win”, that “there is no room for second place”, that we must “win at all costs” and so on. This thinking is outdated and detrimental.

I don’t think we need to celebrate losing, or glorify failure either, but I do think we need to be open to the possibilities and options we develop during our efforts. I never believed that every child should get a trophy and I do believe that there is something valuable in explaining to a child that 7th place is reflective of a single performance, of their effort, of their current situation, and of the effort of others. What could a child learn from that explanation of the results? Sometimes an athlete not winning can bring more in the long run than if they would have taken home the trophy. Agree?




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