Humans love a good story.
We don’t remember facts well. We’re not great at spitting back the periodic table of the elements. Or Pi past three number. And we make terrible observers.
But we are exceptional at stories.
George Washington and the cherry tree. Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. Babe Ruth and the homer.
Stories are what bind us. Entertain us. Motivates us. Help us teach.
Stories in coaching
You may have never met John Wooden or Pat Summitt, but you probably know of them and their coaching abilities through stories.
Many coaches I know use stories to get points across to their teams. I bet you use stories in your coaching.
They are a great tool. However, there are three aspects of stories to be wary about.
A cautionary tale about stories
The first is the self-serving story.
All of us have being bored to tears at least once by a coach/teacher/friend telling a story for the sole purpose of hearing themselves speak.
Mr. Douglas, a high school teacher of mine was notorious for it. He caused more than one of our fellow classmates to nod off with his Douglas stories.
The second is the wandering story.
This is when the point, the epiphany, the “A-ha” is buried or lost.
One time Coach Bill was so excited about the story he was sharing with us, he lost his way dozens of times. We were infinitely grateful when his office phone rang and we could escape.
The third is the void story.
Humans don’t like a void, so if a story is missing, human nature is to fill in a story.
When a fellow coach was absent for three days, with no explanation to the team, the stories swirled. He had taken vacation to see his brother who was returning from a long tour of active duty. The stories created in the void were nowhere near reality.
Use stories in your coaching to make a point (as I just did), because coaches are storytelling machines.
But keep in mind, people will be telling stories about you and your coaching.
What do you want that story to be?