The exact micro-second I took over my own program things changed. I could no longer hide. Everything I did was magnified. Everything.
My strengths, my faults, become wickedly visible. I was on a stage with nothing between me and the audience.
The same is even more true today for head coaches. The magnification is intense. Proof — within .38 seconds I found thousands of results when I searched “dumb head-coach video.” (I hope you weren’t in any … heck, I hope I wasn’t.) Being a head coach means the paparazzi is watching.
The magnification is like having your own Paparazzi. It may be nothing more than one lone kid with a smartphone, but today that might as well be a complete news crew with a satellite feed to CNN. It is intense, it’s invasive and it’s real.
Here are some of the things that get magnified when you lead a program:
- Your words
- Your actions
- Your thoughts
- Your errors
- Your moments of grace
- Your attire
- Your diet
- Your job performance
- Your family
- Your relationship with athletes
- Your choice of vehicle
- Your … fill in the ______
New head coaches, you have to expect this. The magnification is 24/7/365. It comes with the territory. Breathe deep and get ready for it.
A few more thoughts about handling this magnification thing:
Thought ONE: “Should I change?”
Should you act, talk, dress different because of your Paparazzi? Honestly, yes. If the way you act, talk, dress does not meet expectations. And this means you need to figure out those expectations. I’ve written about that in detail here.
An example … I coach rowing. My competitions are outdoors, subjected to the weather. In rain/mud, or heat/dust, or somewhere in-between. It is not expected that I dress like our men’s basketball does at his games — he in suit and tie. And it is not expected that he dresses for contests like I do — me in whatever-it-takes-to-survive-the-elements. If it was expected then I should change. Kapeesh?
Thought TWO: “Is it getting worse?”
We are to the point of having to view ourselves as CONTINUALLY on stage. That won’t change. But what seems to be changing is the intensity of the magnification. With video intertwined in social, and the proliferation of camera phones, your exposure on a world-wide stage is only seconds away. I know it’s not just happening in coaching, it’s everywhere, but the intensity in coaching is getting crazy.
The increasing magnification is catching many seasoned head coaches off-guard. As social media becomes more pervasive and invasive, and the expectations of parents, athletes and administration grow, so does the magnification.
Yes, it IS getting worse.
Thought THREE: “Is magnification a BAD thing?”
In some ways, we have brought this upon ourselves. By not policing our own profession, by keeping quiet when bad coaches do horrific things, we’ve opened the floodgate to inspection from every angle. So I think there is a good part of this magnification, because when we think people are watching we are usually on our best behavior.
Of course there are bad parts, such as when magnification can make mountains out of molehills. More and more our law enforcement find themselves being magnified, especially in the wake of tragedies like Ferguson. Is this good or bad? Time will tell.
Thought FOUR: “Is there any protection?”
Forget invasion of privacy, you are a coach/celebrity, no protection there. The Paparazzi has a right to you. And “Hey, I just coach pee wee badminton, no cares about me,” is ludicrous. Don’t fool yourself, if you are a coach, especially a head coach, the magnification is on.
A few things you can do that might help mitigate the magnification:
- have a good track record
- build a great relationship with your boss/es
- be proactive – a “code of conduct?”
- don’t give the jackals anything to eat ; )
The smartest coaches around are the ones who get ready to be magnified, to be put on stage. Before we know it, we WILL be on stage. Come on over to Google+ to discuss this more, or blast me on Twitter.