Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day & What My Parents Taught Me About Coaching

I've been educating myself as a coach for 30+ years only to find that the best things I bring to coaching I learned from my parents.  I'm always saying how my core philosophy has changed very little over the years.  I've sometimes wondered, if I'm constantly educating myself to improve my coaching skills and tools, why that core philosophy hasn't changed more.  Maybe it's because the most important lessons I try to teach in my gym are lessons I learned before deciding to become a coach, lessons learned from experiences provided by my parents while I was a child.  For example;

If you choose to do something, do it with full effort. What I heard from my parents was "if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right." When Nike came out with its "Just Do It" ad campaign, we quickly converted it to "Don't Just Do It, Do It Right" and it has become a mainstay slogan in our gym.

Unless there was an emergency, I was on time to every game and practice.  By emergency, I mean something like a car accident.

I may not get this one quite right, but it goes something like this "clean under your own doorstep before cleaning under others."  In other words, if you're going to criticize, look at yourself first.

I don't ever remember my parents yelling at an umpire, referee or official. I do remember them making a point that the parents who did were wrong in doing so.
Successful people are self-disciplined.  Do what's right because it's right.  Don't do something wrong just because you won't get caught.  It's still wrong.

My parents didn't try to coach me, unless I asked.  But, if the desire was there on my part, they made every effort possible to support my efforts, including building a pole vault box in the ground in our backyard so I could learn to pole vault.

Admit when you're wrong.

Treat people right.  I grew up in the baby-boom era and my neighborhood was full of kids.  This message was reinforced in every house on the block. 

The feeling you get from doing a good deed is reward enough.  So, do good when you can, without expecting anything in return.

If you cause someone pain, either physically or emotionally, you apologize and do everything in your power to resolve the situation.  And, you shouldn't make the same mistake again.

Hard work pays off. My Dad was a Safeway store manager and sixty hour work weeks were pretty normal. He'd cut back to thirty or forty hours if it was his vacation week (unless we could get him to go somewhere for vacation).

Success isn't based on WHAT a person does.  People with similar jobs do similar tasks.  Success comes from HOW you do those tasks and the standards you expect from yourself and others around you.

The most important coaching lesson I learned from my parents was to be a good role model.  People learn more from the way you act than from what you say.  My parents were great role models for me and my siblings and they were great role models for the kids who grew up with us. 
I no longer wonder why my core philosophy toward coaching has changed very little over the years.  Although my knowledge and skills as a coach have improved, the foundation that supports those has been in place for a long time.  That foundation was there for me irregardless of the career I chose.  My brother and sister have built careers on the same foundation.  When I strip away all the sports skills I teach and look underneath to see what I've taught my athletes that will benefit them for a lifetime, I hope to find this foundation.

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