It started years ago with an article (The Brand Called You) by that smart guy Tom Peters.
I can distill what I’ve learned into three short statements:
- People love short engaging stories
- Your brand is the short engaging story people tell about you when you are not listening
- As a sport coach the value of that brand is at an all time high
Read that last line again
The last statement (as a sport coach the value of that brand is at an all time high) should grab your attention by the shoulders and shake it.
Because the coaching story THEY tell about you, when you are not listening, can make or break the experience you have as a coach.
Who’s telling a coaching story about you?
Really, do you need to ask? Here is who is telling stories about you:
- The athletes are
- The competition is
- The refs/umps/linesman are
- Your recruits are
- The athlete’s parents are
- Your boss(es) is/are
- Your significant other is
What’s wicked important is that each and every one of those stories creates a painting of you, one brushstroke at a time.
Is this art?
Image you’re walking down a beautiful small-town street in France, on a brisk Fall day.
On the sidewalk is an artist working on a landscape.
You approach, she stops painting and offers to paint your portrait for free.
She looks like she knows what she is doing … “Five minutes is all it will take,” she says.
You sit. She paints.
“Voila, I am done!”
You look. Your jaw drops. Her painting looks nothing like you.
But it is YOU.
See…that is how she saw you, and her painting is the story she is telling about you.
Here’s why should you care
A coach’s experience depends on stories like that painting…and if they are ugly stories (ahem, like that painting) then:
- Your athletes won’t listen to you
- Your competition will hate you
- The refs/umps/linesman won’t trust you
- Your recruits won’t come play for you
- The athlete’s parents will want you gone
- Your boss(es) will not have your back
See why you should care?
Here’s why—bad stories lead to bad experiences.
And here’s the tricky part
The story that we tell ourselves—about ourselves—doesn’t matter, it is THEIR story that they tell about you that matters.
The story that we tell ourselves—about ourselves—doesn’t matter. It is THEIR story that they tell about you matters.
But, which coaching story do I believe?
I understand, sometimes the stories about you are terrible (He sucks as a coach), or they are too good to believe (She is the best coach E-V-E-R).
Discount either end of the spectrum of the stories about you.
Forget the sugary ones—they rot your teeth.
Forget the derogatory ones—they rot your confidence.
Find the ones in the middle, the high point of the bell curve, if you will.
That’s where the gold lies!
There is power in the middle. And that power can help take your coaching experience to the next level.
Now, take action
Here are two steps you can take to enhance your experience, right now.
First, go read the Tom Peters article. Published in Fast Company magazine, it is considered one of the seminal articles on the topic. An easy read, very thoughtful, very down-to-earth. Click here to read it.
Second, ask a handful of people you know in your sport to write a short story about you. Really.
An easy way to do that (and free) is to engage in a 360 personal survey. I’ve done it twice, and it was very insightful. (I am not connected with them in any way.) Scary, yep, but very, very insightful.
The stories being told about you are critical to your experience. You listening??