A great book I’d recommend is The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey. Listening to an interview with her about school, sports, math and success, she says “The harder you work, the smarter you become”. Let’s let our kids work hard, grow and become successful more on their own. And fail sometimes too.
I mention Seth Godin when I run team camps. This blog post may encompass all of what we are trying to teach.
Doing the best I can…is actually not the same as, “doing everything I can.”
When we tell people we’re doing the best we can, we’re actually saying, “I’m doing the best I’m comfortable doing.”
As you’ve probably discovered, great work makes us uncomfortable.
What would we be if we did everything we could instead of the best we can?
I go back to this often as a reminder and to keep me thinking right. Maybe the essence of what we all need to learn.
Here’s a quote I heard this week at a conference.
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you.
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King
Last week my daughter’s club team Avalanche was losing 3-0. The real reason we are playing in the Utah state P1 league is to train for the ECNL league, where we see the best teams from many states. The girls didn’t like losing 3-0, so I reminded them that the way to find value in the game was to focus on what they could learn from it. We still lost 3-0, but the focus turned from losing to identifying breakdowns, weaknesses, formations and counter-attacks. Another focus was mental toughness, as the other teams’ parents were terrible and trying to incite and distract my players. The whole attitude and dynamic changed and the girls left the field feeling some measure of success.
One of the reasons I sought the position of Director Of Coaching was to emphasize the importance of creating a learning organization. The Aggies FC club is primed right now for growth and development. The profile of the club has exploded with the turf field and other ongoing projects. One of my goals is to elevate the level of training, player development, support and learning that takes place within the teams.
One of the best ways to do this is to focus everything on learning. Make learning the focus of everything that happens. Learning creates value. The value of playing the game, or doing most anything, is found in the things we learn. We learn about our limits, responses, strengths and weaknesses. Learning creates value in everything, even a losing season or season ending injury.
Parents, as you attend games and watch training sessions, think of what you can learn. You know more than you think you do. Listen to how coaches talk and describe things. The words they use. Then use those words and descriptions to support your player in their own training.
Players, bring a notebook to every practice and take a few minutes at the end to write down what you learned that day. The route for a set piece, the corner kick setup, the move or skill that coach taught today. You are responsible for knowing those things, so writing them down will help. Then come next time with that in your head.
I’d love to hear your ideas! Mitch