One of the amazing things of having coached youth sports since I was 16 years old, is that I have now coached for 26 years in various sports (mainly basketball) and many of the players that were no taller than my waist are now bigger and faster than me, and also married with kids, and in careers of their own. I enjoy connecting with players who to this day still call me “Coach”, even thought it may have been 20 years since I coached them.
One particular joy is hearing from young men I coached that got inspired to coach as well, and hearing about their teams and experiences. I always try to provide encouragement and support – kinda like being “the coach’s coach”.
I wanted to share an interesting exchange with one of my players from the early 90′s who is now a junior high coach.
He wrote me to share a frustration about his team being 0-4 on the season, and not even close to being in a postion to win a game. He told me,
“Bob, they are good kids, just very untalented and they don’t understand the concept of moving around without the ball…or any kind of zone press….We are lucky to get the ball up the court without any kind of pressure. There is no heart, no drive…Very lazy play…Not my kind of basketball. Any suggestion on how to motivate the unmotivated and constantly confused?”
Having been a coach of teams like this in the past, I recalled what worked for me. Here’s what I told him:
“Any chance you can show them an example of how it’s done? Go big picture with it. Video of a team displaying what you are trying to teach, or even a live game of an older team. The other thing you can do is get them a small goal to complete for a prize (food always works). Set a defensive goal to start, then maybe an offensive goal. Get them to focus on the small victory separate from the scoreboard and they will perhaps start to feel like winners.”
I was struck at the parallels to some of the sitatuins I come across in my coaching calls. First, many of the entrepreneurs who start out have a deficiency in the fundamentals, and they just don’t yet have the experience or practice to be considered “a talent”. However, you know that with practice,the fundamentals can be mastered. That is not an overnight thing, and it’s a huge frustration that you cannot compete like the other marketers. How many of you are jealous of the guru’s who seem to have SEO, Adwords, Facebook, Landing Pages, Sales Letters, Video Marketing, and Direct Mail mastered, and you can’t someone to even visit your blog or buy a $10 ebook? You wonder what talent they have that you don’t? The answer many do not want to hear, but is the down-to-earth truth is a willingness to practice, a desire to succeed, and the guts to try and fail dozens of times before you get a victory.
So when you’ve lost 4 games in a row, or had 4 letters or emails that generated zero response from buyers, you are likely to feel defeated, overwhelmed, and unmotivated. This is where you need to heed the advice I gave my protege:
- Model skilled players – Find people who are actually “winning” and model (don’t copy) their actions
- Study game films of teams that are successful – In this case, keep swipe files of exceptional promotional copy and campaigns so you can study and reference them later
- Set small goals and reward yourself for meeting it – Maybe you are having trouble making a $500 sale. Perhaps you need to try and make a $50 sale, or better yet, 10 $50 sales. Perhaps instead of trying to sell the $500 online, you drive leads to a phone call and you strive to have a set number of appointments to learn what people in our market want.
- Don’t focus on the scoreboard, focus on your goals: Focus on today’s tasks and realistic expectations for yourself. Comparing your business to a guru’s business is not going to help you feel like a winner. In fact, comparing yourself to anyone else is always a recipe for failure in my book. Don’t look to others for validation, set your own goals and validate yourself.
Maybe in following this advice, I might just get an email response from you like I got from my protege just a few days later:
“Bob, thank you for the good advice. I challenged my kids to keep our turnovers to 5 or under and to keep the other team off of the offensive glass and to hold them to 5 off. reb. Two nights ago, we were on pace for those goals in the first half and then slightly fell apart in the second half but kept fighting. We lost, but we didn’t get blown out. We reached the off reb goal but lost the turnover battle. Last night, we reached both of our goals and wouldn’t you know it, we won! It was a good lesson for the kids. They learned that by doing the little things, the ultimate goal can be achieved. Thanks again!”
So focus on the litle things, master those, and the big picture will come into focus sooner than you think.
Love to hear your comments!