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!

The Key

When I was a very young man I was convinced that knowledge was the key to success.  I was sure that it was “what you know” that was really important.  So, I worked very hard in school.  I really felt like learning was the key.  If I could just learn as much as possible and gain experience along the way, I would surely be very successful.  I was very driven and serious about school and also soaked in as much practical knowledge as possible.  I was absolutely sure that this was the key.  Learn and gain experience and this will be the pathway to success.

Skelton Key – Wikipedia

Once I finished college and had my initial experiences in the career world, I changed my viewpoint.  I could see the value in networking and knowing the right people.  I was sure that it was “who you know” that was really the key.  In order to excel in this area I worked hard to network and get to know as many people as possible.  I would join associations, meet and greet, and collect and organize business cards.  I watched as some of my friend’s careers skyrocketed because they simply knew the “right” people.  I was convinced that if I could just meet more people that this would be the catalyst for my pursuit of success.  Not “what you know” but “who you know” was the important component to success.

As I have matured, I have once again changed my view on this subject.  I don’t believe that the key is either of my earlier conclusions.  Although knowledge and networking are valuable and necessary at least on some level, I feel like there is one key that is even more important.  Much more important.  I now believe it is “how you know” someone.

Not “what you know” or “who you know” but-  “how you know”.

This may sound strange and certainly deserves explanation.  I truly believe that the key to success in life is the depth of your relationships and your ability to really connect with someone.  Not volume of relationships, but depth.  This is tough for those of us who want big.  We want to make the huge numerical impact.  We want the big following, the big audience, the big appearances.  We are planners and producers.  We need numbers to think that we have made an impact.  We want the stage. 

But really, the important number is ONE.  You must learn to be satisfied to impact and connect with one person at a time, and, one-on-one is the best way.  You must value that one person the same way that God does.  What is the value of one soul?  Infinite value- can’t be measured.  Priceless- just like the credit card commercial.  The same is true when you deal with everyday people.  Take it down to the true reality.  No matter who they are- they are priceless. 

The homeless man, the President, the co-worker, the sibling, the mechanic, the boss, the grocery store clerk, the landscaper- the ungrateful, the arrogant, the depressed, the unlovely. 

So how will this make you successful?  I have watched people that understand the priceless value of a person in every walk and responsibility.  Successful sales people get it.  Great managers get it.  Good parents get it.  Great friends get it.  They give you their 100% attention.  They are not afraid to show their heart.  They will go above and beyond to help you- not to help the situation or themselves- but to help you personally.  They make you feel like you are worth a million bucks (make sense now?).  These folks get it.  And they are generally wildly successful.  They draw a following.  They are always in demand.  They use this skill daily and are masters of connection.  One person at a time!

So what are you going to do about it?  I am sharing this because I struggle in this area- I am a big net guy.  So, this has not been my strength, but I am working on it.  I have personally witnessed the power that is available to anyone willing to open up and take the chance.  Are you ready?  Will you take the time to deepen your relationships in order to unlock this power?  Go ahead, get started- because now you have the key!

Is there someone that you know that has the key?  How can you help those you lead to understand this concept?  Let me know what you think!

Fire Hydrant or Wind Chime?

While driving back from the gym a few days ago a fire hydrant caught my eye.  It’s funny- there are thousands all around us yet we never really notice them.  The life of a fire hydrant is to sit patiently and wait for the rare chance that a fire occurs.  Yet, when a fire starts and the hydrant is turned on- then you are the star of the show!  Most fire hydrants will never be used to fight a fire.  However, when your house is burning. they are the most valuable thing in your life.  So they sit patiently and quietly.  They are nearly invisible, yet you are thankful that they are there.

There is a story in the Bible of a man named Job.  Job was afflicted with awful circumstances that resulted in him losing his family and his wealth along with physical afflictions that tested his faith in God.  When Job’s friends heard about his problems, they traveled to see him so they could comfort him.  When they arrived, they sat with Job for seven days and said nothing to him.  That’s right- nothing, absolutely nothing for seven days!  Could you do it?  Could you even sit for just a few hours in silence, being there to provide comfort?

To be honest, I struggle with this.  I want to fix the situation- give advice- be the rescuer.  Yet sometimes, you are better just being there and being quiet, like Job’s friends.

Then there is the wind chime.  I hear the one that is on our back patio right now.  With even the slightest breeze- it starts to sing.  The wind chime is designed to play beautiful tones and to be soothing.  And yet sometimes I just want silence.  It can actually be annoying.  Do you know someone who is a wind chime- always having something to say?  Do you find yourself sometimes skipping your story to avoid the chime?

Why do I feel like I have to say something?  Do I think I am smarter or have greater wisdom?  I can’t wait for them to ask me for advice?

Cancer patients commonly complain about feeling lonely and isolated.  Friends seem to avoid them as they don’t know what to say or they are uncomfortable just sitting with them, like Job’s friends.  What an awful paradox- the time you really need someone to be there is the time that folks seem to abandon you!  This is whacked.  How could this happen?

So what are you- a fire hydrant or a wind chime?  I am sure there are times for both- but do you find yourself jumping in with all the answers like the wind chime?  I know that sometimes I don’t want advice.  I just want some company as I sit under the tree like Job and try to sort out where I am.  Is there someone that you know that you could sit with and just be there?  Can you do it?  Can you sit and be silent and comforting?  Let me know what you think- comment below.

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