Thursday, January 30, 2014

What Coaching Youth Sports Has Taught Me About Business

We live in an interesting time... our personal and professional lives are more intertwined than ever. We can now research individuals as easily as we can the organizations for which they work. The line between work and life is ever-indiscernible. Smart organizations are designing in equal part to personalities as they are critical skills. We should celebrate all of it!

My weekdays are encompassed by adult conversations with Human Resources professionals. My weekends find me trying to relate to 5 year old girls and 8 year old boys. These lines blur...

So, what do a 35 year old HR Lady and a 5 year old soccer girl have in common? As in any situation, it is not so much about the audience but how we approach them. There are those who tell me I am crazy for trying to convince HR Pros to be strategic. Others think I am insane for thinking I can teach soccer to Kindergarten girls. Fortunately, I've never paid much attention to my critics...which leads us to our first lesson.

Have a Plan
Early in my career I was all action and very little theory. It was all a numbers game: if I made enough calls I would eventually sell something. Nowadays, I know that 5 well-researched calls are far more beneficial than 100 cold calls. At some point, I replaced blind effort with strategic communication. This art form makes the manic world of sales far more predictable.

Trying to keep the attention of young people is extremely difficult. You have to have every minute filled with repetitive direction. Keeping these little people on task turns habits into skills. We elders require similar attention.

Be Bold!
No one wants to see their child fail by fault of poor coaching; a grand responsibility to say the least. Coaches either develop greatness or cement bad habits. The best way to win trust is to earn respect. Respect is earned by succeeding on the field through developing camaraderie. 5 year olds will rock your world if you are not in control of the situation... a candor we should all possess.

In any business situation, second guessing yourself is never looked upon favorably. You have to make decisions and own them. Sometimes you are right, sometimes you are goes the merry-go-round! Great business leaders develop followers because they have great ideas and the confidence to turn theory into action. You cannot win people over with half-hearted commitments.

Have Fun!
People say that youth sports are not important. I disagree. We have an opportunity to effect young peoples approach to living their lives. If we instill that giving ones best effort will!

We tend to remember the games we win more than those we lose. We remember the friends we make more than those who seek to derail our mission. It is always more enjoyable to share victory.

In the end, it is just a game and a job is a job. We take things waaay too seriously. That deal you lost, the deadline you missed, the presentation you screwed up... none of it matters! People will remember you for the way you conducted yourself: your degree of honesty, your ability to make tough decisions seem logical, your willingness to take one for the team.

We all want to win, make some friends along the way, and to finish the game with our heads high!

Don't Forget to Remember!


* Photos provided by Jennifer Ricketts -

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