[This post is based on a recent jam session by Jonathan Fields.]
When you coach, you WILL attract naysayers.
– That’s a stupid idea
– Your team is too small
– You don’t have enough experience
– You can’t win
You know these people. They are trying to bring you down. They have an opinion that you can’t achieve what you’re trying to do, and they let you know all-about-it.
Some naysayers are vocal. Some are quiet. Regardless of the intensity of their voice, they are there. Lurking.
So, are their words worth listening to? That’s something I deal with frequently as a coach, and I bet you do too.
I’d like to discuss a few words about their opinion, and then share a simple tool to help you determine whether their opinion is worthy of your attention.
THE OPINION’S STRENGTH
It’s helpful to know what the opinion of the naysayer is based upon. Is it based on facts? If so, then maybe you should listen. There MIGHT be wisdom in the words.
Based on jealousy? Has the naysayer failed at what you are trying to accomplish? If you were to be successful, does the other person stand to lose something (money, status, press)? In case of a fan, you win, he losses. That fan’s words are probably dripping with jealousy. Ignore jealousy-based naysayers-words. They ARE destructive and not helpful at all.
How about this basis for a naysayers voice — fear. I can still hear mom saying, “You’re too uncoordinated to go out for football. You’ll get hurt.” She was speaking from that very strong, very parently-voice of protection. She was really saying, “I’m afraid you’ll get hurt.” (BTW, thank you Mom, you were right.) Fear-based naysayer-words might be worthy of your attention. Maybe, but certainly not always.
WHO IS BEHIND THE OPINION?
The naysayer, who is she? A family member, or close friend? A mentor? Someone working in athletics, coaching your same sport? Some bored bozo in a chat room?
It makes a difference who is the person, in terms of the worthiness of their opinion. President Theodore Roosevelt weighed in on this, when he said:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood …
– from Goodreads.com
TUNE IN, TUNE OUT
As promised, here’s my simple tool that helps me quickly figure if I should listen to a naysayer. I award the point in the brackets if the naysayer fits the description. The higher the point total the stronger I listen to the opinion:
- [1 point] If the naysayer works in my field
- [1 point ] If the voice is based on fear
- [2 points] If the voice is based on facts
- [1 point] If the voice is from a family member or close friend
- [minus 1 point] If the voice is based on jealousy
Add up your total. The greater the number, the more I listen. In essence, I have a short list of people whose opinion I listen to, and I tune out the rest. And you?
How do the handle the sayers of “nay?”