I’ve discussed this with some of my peers and most disagree that coaching’s about hustling and selling. In fact, one of them got really annoyed when I suggested that coaches should be put through sales training.
No surprises though, most of us do not perceive the selling profession favourably. I don’t reckon this perception is common only in Singapore. In his bestselling book, ‘To Sell Is Human’, author Dan Pink conducted a survey in the US where he asked people to state the first word that came to mind when they heard “sales” or “selling”, and this is the word cloud that came about…
Pink argues that the above is an extremely outdated perspective about sales. In reality, when we combine traditional selling with “non-sales selling”, all of us sell. Specifically, as part of our work and lives, we need to constantly influence, sway or persuade others to take action. Doesn’t that sound like coaching?
I was excited to visit the US on a sports diplomacy trip to learn and develop the content related to Inclusive Coaching for SG-Coach’s formal coach education. The trip was organized by the US Department of State, SportCares, SportSG and FHI 360.
Looking back on the trip, two things stood out. The first would be the new friendships forged. With those that I’ve known prior to the trip, we grew closer and renewed our commitment to make Singapore a more inclusive society.
Secondly, I am so thankful to be given the chance to learn from the many successful American sports teams, schools and non-profit organizations such as Cincinnati Football Club, US Paralympic Swimming, University of Texas Swimming and Dive Team, Starfire Council, Special Olympics Texas and The Play for All Abilities Park.
“What is their formula for their success?”
“What makes these organizations achieve the seemingly impossible?”
Success leaves clues and these were questions that I needed answers to. This post is a reflection about the fundamental commonalities that make these organizations successful.
Two of the biggest influence on my approach to coaching – Process Focused Coaching, are Albert Ellis and Ken Ravizza. Both have passed on, and both were heavily influenced by the Stoic philosophy.
Ellis was described as a ‘Stoic Philosopher with a Sailor’s Mouth’. He was inspired by the writings of Stoic Philosophers to devise Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT was the first form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and is still my preferred technique for athlete counseling.
According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.” This is a dead ringer to the quote below by Epictetus (one of the three most important Stoic philosophers along with Marcus Aurelius and Seneca).
“It isn’t the events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgments about them.” – Epictetus
The question put to me by a friend was essentially – what can she do to ask her daughter’s primary school coach to be less harsh and loud?
The primary school softball team had started holiday training in preparation for next year. She observed that the coach tends to yell at the kids when they make mistakes, as a result they tend to be very tentative when they play. Her daughter tends to “freeze out” especially when it’s her turn to bat.
A friend serving as a student development officer at a Polytechnic was sharing with me how one of his sports team lost a good coach. The coach did not have her contract renewed because she could not produce a detailed enough training plan. In her place was a new coach who could write a very detailed periodized training plan, but apparently sucked at coaching.
Sadly, there seems to be quite a few administrators (who spend more time behind their lap tops rather than coaching) demanding unreasonable specifics from coaches.
“When One teaches, Two learn.” This statement aptly sums up my experience conducting the ‘Coaching and The Growth Mindset’ workshop last week for Singapore Gymnastics. The coaches present were from culturally diverse backgrounds. There were coaches from Japan, China, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Singapore.
This group of coaches were particularly generous with their sharing (without going off tangent), and I learnt so much from them, especially when they related their experiences to the Talent-Effort Fallacy.
In the previous post, we discussed why praising athletes “shamelessly” might foster the Fixed Mindset. That does not mean we should hold back praises. Instead, we may want to be more deliberate in reinforcing the actual effort that leads to learning (rather than ability), and to mix up external praises with process based feedback.
The objective for this post is similar to the last one – to provide anyone in a coaching role (you could be a teacher or parent) with strategies that will help their athletes foster a mindset that pushes one to train consistently, cope with inevitable failures and to bounce back even stronger and better.