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  • Jack Fleming

Why Don’t We Support Other Coaches?

“human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others. These values are considered “intrinsic” to human happiness and far outweigh “extrinsic” values such as beauty, money and status.” Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Recently fired coach Stan Van Gundy admitted to feeling ‘as lost as I’ve ever been’, I wonder how many coaches who asked for his help or access to his knowledge over the past 15 years in the NBA have reached out in support? Stan Van Gundy was always the first coach to speak out and stand up for his peers, or against opinions he didn’t believe in; even at the expense of a heavy fine. Coaching can be a lonely, uphill challenge. While it is great to be happy for the coach who has success, what about your coaching colleague who is having a rough season?

In an innately competitive environment it is only natural to be looking for the next job, but this should never mean wishing upon the ‘failure’ of another coach. We all know that the secret to success is the willingness to attack your commitment with 100% conviction and effort, which has the great possibility of not working out. Author and famous marketer Seth Godin says that “if failure is not an option, neither is success”, if we do not put ourselves out there what chance do we have? Our greatest obstacles often down the road turn into our greatest opportunity. However we all face the mental challenges of dealing with getting fired, a losing season, tarnished relationships, external pressures, self doubt and an endless list of problems along the way. Sometimes these can break people, and block vision of ‘why’ they started using their amazing gift in the first place. If you have had one of these limitless problems in the past year, I guarantee that your colleagues are going through the same thing.

Your closest colleagues or not, everybody is in coaching for very close to the same reason — to have a great impact on other people. It is a waste of your best energy to hold onto a grudge or have coaching enemies, you are on the same team fighting the same battles every single day. So what can you do to lead with value and make a small impact on those who have had a connection with your coaching journey? We don’t acknowledge people enough, it goes along way. We should try and model leadership in every arena we play, on and off the court — because as coaches we know that when you give you feel greater than anything else in the world.

Here are 4 things you could do to support other coaches:

(1) Send them a short quote or message that could have a profound impact on their day. Could be as simple as “a life without problems is not a life, stick at it you’re doing a great job”.

(2) Compliment them! The thing we want the most, praise, we don’t know how to receive — it matters. “Hey coach your team has really improved since last time we played you, great job.” A random coach told me this last week and it is a simple reminder to stick with the process of what you’re doing. I brushed it off but should’ve shown more gratitude for the praise as it did have positive influence on me.

(3) Speak positively in public about other coaches, don’t fuss about critiquing what you think was right or what you believe in. Everybody has their own unique set of values and philosophy, so leave them to that and find the good. While maybe you don’t align with a coaches player development philosophy, in a public setting forget and alternatively say “I love the way this coaches kids are always working on their game.”

(4) Be CURIOUS. The greatest question you can ask is WHY? Tim Connelly President of Basketball Operations at the Denver Nuggets always mentions being curious with his head coach, not critical. When you ask another coach why, do it in an inquisitive manner without judgement and you might just learn something. It will challenge your thinking and the stability of your philosophy.

“Greatness isn’t for the chosen few, it is for the few who choose.” — Jamie Gilbert

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