Thanks to our guest blogger Helen Williams for this article.
Athletics is a great teaching tool; for coaches as well as their players. Sometimes we coaches forget that it’s as important for us to learn from our experiences as it is to help our players grow. I learned several things as a head coach that you can’t know until you sit in the big chair, and I use these lessons in my daily life.
Winning Is Important But… Winning or losing games should not define who you are as a person. And even though that should apply to everyone I would venture to say that coaches who don’t win many games say that much more than those who do. No matter how you rationalize it, it is awful when you lose. You feel horrible when you put your heart and soul into something and it doesn’t turn out the way you imagined. But you know what? Life isn’t fair. I read a great quotation from the speaker Tony Robbins, “Expecting the world to treat you fair because you are a good person is like expecting a bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian.” So win or lose, live your life.
Have a Strong Sense of Self. Everyone will think they can coach your team better than you. You need thick skin in the coaching profession (and in life). Go to work every day and try to do the right thing. But never, ever base your opinion of yourself on someone else’s perception of you.
Try Not to Make the Same Mistake Twice. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. And even though it doesn’t feel good mistakes help us grow. Learn from those mistakes. I always think of the saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Don’t be stubborn and think you are always right. It’s okay to admit when you are wrong. It’s okay to be human.
Try Not to Make a Mistake So Big it Ruins Your Career. We all have that inner voice telling us when things aren’t right. Listen to it. It only takes one small indiscretion to ruin a career. Be smart.
Forgive Yourself. You are not always going to do or say the right things so lighten up on yourself. Many a night I lay awake worried because of something I said to a kid or the way I handled a situation only to go to work the next day and the kid had either forgotten, moved on, or forgiven me. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s wasted energy you could be using elsewhere in a more productive way.
Appreciate The Good Times. Coaches forget to “live life” sometimes. After games I let myself enjoy the win only for the amount of time it took to ride the bus home and then my thoughts immediately went to what I needed to do for the next game. There were times that, although I was extremely happy for and proud of my players and their performance, I didn’t allow myself to fully experience any of their joy. I think about that and hope that in the future I won’t forget to be “present” in the moment.
Relax. If you’re doing all that you can your dedication will make you successful eventually, whether it’s with what you are doing now or something else. Don’t be discouraged by failure. It’s better to try and fail than to sit and wonder what could have been “if only…”
Have Patience. Not everything is going to happen when you think it should. Everyone has a schedule in their head of how their career should progress. Guess what? You’re not always in control! Robin Roberts had a great quote, “God’s delays are not His denials.” We don’t always get what we want when we want it. Sometimes what we want isn’t supposed to happen. Often our destiny is greater than we could ever imagine. We just need to get out of our own way to achieve it.
Keep Knocking. So many times people give in to doubt when they encounter obstacles; some literal, some figurative, many created by themselves. Whenever I feel passionate about something I pursue it even though I may have doubts. I believe that if something is on my mind and in my heart every day, then there is a reason for that. So when one door closes I keep “knocking” until the one I need opens.
Enjoy. Being a coach is a privilege, an honor, and a blessing. Be grateful you get to do what you love even though the path is not always smooth. And be sure to remember that on your worst day, when nothing goes right, there is always someone worse off.