[I wrote this post 4 years ago. I’ve updated it and am sharing it again because the topic is more important than ever.]
No coach is an island, and if you think you are…you’re doomed…
I’d been at the party for what seemed like a lifetime.
It was one of THOSE parties.
Y’know the ones, where your buddy invites you, you don’t want to go, yet you really need to go. So you go.
I went. And I stood. In the corner. By myself
And in 45 minutes only one person talked to me. He wanted me to move so he could grab a beer in the fridge. I did and then he didn’t offer me one.
But I didn’t care about the beer, not really. It was the isolation of coaching I felt. Saw. Tasted.
Half the party was coaches from the University I was just hired at. The other half were, well … civilians.
The coaches only hung out with coaches. They didn’t really interact with the others. In fact, they treated the non-coaches as aliens.
I asked my buddy why. His response, “Yeah, why would we talk to them?”
And that right there is a major downfall for many a coach.
Get Off Your Stupid Island
Why would you restrict yourself to only coaches in your life? Why stick yourself on a deserted island?
Is it because coaches are smarter, richer, better looking than others? Doubtful.
Restricting yourself to only people like yourself is called social grouping, and is something that all people do, not just coaches. And it happens because of things like:
- speaking the same language
- “They KNOW what I am going through”
Those reasons are exactly why you should NOT isolate yourself to coaches only.
If you do, you’ll be missing out on a rock-solid method to extend your coaching longevity, improve your legacy, and enjoy coaching to a much greater degree.
You Need Non-Coaches In Your Life
There’s a significant pile of research that indicates a diverse and vibrant (two awesome words) supportive social network is critical if you work in a human services profession, and coaching sports is a human services profession.
A supportive social network (which I’m going to tweak the name to coach support system) can do many good things for you, including helping you stay healthier and saner.
I can quickly come up with four ways.
A) A place to vent. It’s great to be able to express to others the crap happening in your coaching world. Misery DOES love company. That’s why bartenders and hairdressers stay in business, and get tipped. (You tip them, right?) And venting can be a great way to let the steam out of the pressure cooker before it goes nuclear.
B) Finding balance. Knowing that the guy you are talking with, who is a mechanic, has problems with his customers that sounds just like the issues you have with your athletes and parents may, on face value, sound worthless. Dig a little deeper. His customers want the same thing your athletes, or parents, or boss(ess) want. Bang for their buck. (Hey, even if you are a volunteer coach, money is passing hands somewhere. Count on it. COUNT ON IT.) It’s how the World works. Knowing that could give you balance. It helps me, knowing my sport World is not the only crazy World out there.
c) Ah…a solution. How said mechanic (above) solves his customer problems might give you ideas of how to take care of your said athlete/boss/parent problem. Listen to his solution. (Word of caution — if he espouses using his blow torch to solve problems, ignore that part.) Can you adapt his solution to your problem?
D) Be distracted. A quick way to forget about your two-point loss, even for 60 seconds is when your friend tells you how she made an error that cost her law firm partners $3 million. Or how she made her partners $6 million.
Stop Being “Too Busy” And Build Your Coach Support System
Three quick things you can do to de-islandize yourself:
1) Find freaks. Look around you for those who are different, weird, zipping around you at the speed of thought. In other word FREAKS. Freaks (I am a proud card carrying member of this group) see the World, hear, think, listen, differently. Tom Peters suggests taking a freak to lunch each week. Why not? Watch the movie “The Internship” for your answer. Spoiler alert, the biggest FREAK saves the day for the two heroes.
2) Connect with your friends who are not in coaching. Find one or two you relate to, and GO relate to them. Get off your coaching butt and do it. Try one friend a week. A one minute phone call is a great way to start. Build a core of buddies. And cultivate it. And grow it. And lean on it when the time is appropriate.
3) Track your social interactions. Send yourself an email, right now, with how many social interactions with non-coaches you had today. Keep the email, and next Monday find the email and respond to yourself with how many interactions you had that day. Do for one month. If you don’t see an improvement you are NOT trying hard enough, or you are a hopeless case. I don’t believe you are hopeless, so try harder.
Pixels And Your Face
Yeah, there’s this thing called Facebook. And texting, email and YouTube. But they, combined, don’t work nearly as well as having your beautiful coaching-face in front of a real human being.
There’s a lot of research that supports that, but forget the research—it just plain common sense.
Too busy to create your coach support system—get off Facebook for 15 minutes.
Too tired? Go to bed 15 minutes earlier, turn off the TV, or don’t watch it at all.
Too grumpy? That’s exactly WHY you need a coach support system.
Hey, here’s the kicker … if you coach, you are in the PEOPLE BUSINESS. So, put other people in your life to make yours better (and maybe improve their life while you are at it).
You are worth this, so are they.
PS: Hey, how about sharing this post with a fellow coach who might need it? It could be a good starting place to help a peer (or yourself) get that coach support system up and running.