3 Life Lessons I Learned Coaching Youth Basketball

I coached youth basketball when my kids were young. I loved the game and I love kids so it was a great match for me. Basketball is a perfect mix of skill and strategy. This was also evident in the kids. Some where great athletes and some made it through being smart and working hard. I was a student of the game. I studied and observed different defenses and offenses and also what made up good mechanics and personal skills. While I was the teacher when it came to basketball, I learned some valuable lessons that have been ingrained into the way I manage people and the way I look at the world. Yes, these are big statements, but they are true. I still go back to these truths and use them for teaching moments when I am mentoring or problem solving.

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Here are these truths:

Talent Blindness: Some coaches are great at judging talent but most are not. The reason is not because they are not skilled or unintelligent- they are human. We have a very tough time being completely objective. Coaches will tend to provide preference to the kids they like. The kids that make them feel good. The kids of the parents they like. The same can be true in the business world. We provide preference to the folks that are like us. The ones that make us feel comfortable. The ones that make us feel good about ourselves. We can be so talent blind! We judge talent based on how we see the world and how we feel. We can easily miss a diamond because they are different, peculiar and not like us.

Another Set Of Eyes: When I was coaching, I would sometimes get caught up in concentrating on the nuances of the offense and defense and miss big things that were going on. Sometimes I would leave kids in the game too long. Sometimes I would miss that a particular player had a hot hand and was scoring and I would inadvertently pull them out of the game. Its hard to watch everything. No really its impossible. I valued my assistant coaches to speak up and set me straight. In business, we can miss the big picture while we are drilling down on particular issues. I must have a group that I empower to tell me whats really going on and have the guts to confront me when I am doing something stupid. A support group. A few trusted advisors to help us avoid getting caught up in the game.

Emotion Cloud: I struggled with the referees. Kind of a lot. They were often times volunteers and high school kids and their skill level varied. Some were pretty good and some were just horrible. I remember throwing my clipboard on the gym floor of an auxiliary gym once in the middle of a game and then- the gym went completely silent! Not a shining moment for me but a great lesson. You just can’t let emotion take over. People will let you down and do things that are wrong and out of line. You can count on it. It’s how you react that matters. Once I let emotion rule, my head goes to mush and all I got is to fire back. A poor example of leadership no matter where you are. Keep your cool and keep your head!

These are a few of the valuable lessons that I learned while coaching. It’s funny how I consistently learn while teaching others! Learning just never ends. I am always seeking the lesson in things that happen to me. How about you? Are you learning as you go? Do you see the world as a giant classroom? Stay alert to things going on around you. You will be better for it. I promise!

So what do you think? Have you learned while you are teaching? Did this story remind you of a lesson your learned? Click on “Leave A Comment” and tell me what you think!

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4 Cures For Acute I Disease

I read a post on Twitter from Jim Kouzes where new research indicates a 42% rise in the use of “I” and a 10% decline in “we” in American books.  Jim pointed to a potential drop in teamwork as a consequence, but I think the rise in the “I” is really about something else.

Theodore Roosevelt.

We have become a nation of people who are obsessively self-centered.

We just can’t get over ourselves.

We have a real problem.

We have the “I” disease.

When you interact with a person with this affliction, all they really want to talk about is themselves.  Their problems.  Their successes.  What they need.   How they are being mistreated.  The focus is always about them and their issues.  This continuous inward focus is often all consuming.  It can dominate your thoughts and your actions. I bet you know a friend who is infected.  Or maybe you have these tendencies yourself.

To properly diagnose, I dare you to go ahead and count the amount of times that you hear the word “I” in a conversation?  We have done this before and it can be startling.  See how the person afflicted dominates the conversation by continually telling you about their problems, issues or triumphs.   They are skilled at consistently turning the conversation back to them.  They really show little interest in what is happening in your life.

If you are constantly obsessing about the injustices of your world you are void of the power to change it!  (Tweet this) (Facebook post)

Now I understand that there is a time and place for telling your story, tooting your horn and counseling a friend in a bad situation.   We need to share what is going on in our lives and talking it out is a path to healing and regaining self-worth.  Yet, there seems to be an epidemic right now of people that are stuck inside of themselves.

You must turn your focus outside.  See what is going on outside of your own little world.  Quit the pity party or selfish promotion and see the big picture.  What are some practical ways to do this?

  1. Serve Others!  As you begin to help others in need, you will see that your condition may not be as bad as you think.  Serving others gives a fresh view of things and provides a way to use your gifts and talents to help others- maybe even someone who is suffering in a condition like you!  By serving others, you are changing your focus to others.  We all have something to give.  Find a way to use your talents to serve others.  The opportunities are endless!
  2. Be Thankful!   Take an objective look at what you have.  This is not a comparison exercise.  We can all find someone who appears to have a better situation than we have.  I think that most of us, when we are completely honest, would say that we are incredibly blessed and have much more than we deserve.
  3. Ask Questions!   Instead of dwelling on your story as you interact, ask the other person some questions about what is happening in their lives.  Have a genuine interest in being an active part of their lives.  Begin to learn how to put yourself in their story and add balance to your conversations.
  4. Have Fun!  Lighten up!  If you are consistently sharing your struggles, you are likely a bit of a downer with your friends.  Find some common activities and get out and have some fun.  By focusing on fun activities, you will be removing the inward focus and giving your relationship some much needed nourishment.

I’m sure there are other strategies that work.  Anything that adjusts your focus will do.  We are certainly a spoiled and selfish lot.  The cure for the I disease may difficult, but I guarantee that you will be rewarded and gratified as you begin to reestablish your priorities where they need to be!

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  Theodore Roosevelt

Can you relate to this?  Do you have some insights on how to help the afflicted?  Press “comments” below and tell your story!

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