The Why [Union Springs Herald]
By: Nathan Dickson, Attorney
I coach youth sports. Outside of work and family, coaching my kids’ teams probably consumes more of my time than any other pursuit. I have never claimed any particular expertise in any sport I coach, but I put in the work to know and understand the game and field a competitive team every season. It has been a remarkable experience in getting to spend time with my kids and trying to be a positive influence in the lives of their teammates.
A turning point in my coaching experience came from reading a book by famed “coaches’ coach,” Joe Ehrmann. Joe wants every coach to be constantly asking themselves four questions: “1. Why do I coach? 2. Why do I coach the way I coach? 3. What does it feel like to be coached by me? 4. How do I define success?” I have gone through the process of writing down answers to those questions many times, and the process has been transformational for me as a coach and has benefited the kids on my teams. Not just in sports, but in any undertaking, we have to start with “the why.” Why are you doing this? Why are you a lawyer, a nurse, a minister, a volunteer at that organization? Why am I signing my child up for this particular activity? Why am I in this relationship? “Why” sets the stage for everything else that follows. “Why” gives everything else you do its purpose. “Why” gets you thinking about what you value most.
“Why do I coach the way I coach,” or “Why do I behave the way I do” is not a question most of us ask, and the answer many times is simply, “Because that’s the way someone coached me,” or “That’s the way someone showed me how to do it.” We really do have a choice in making our own path and doing things our own way. How we do things should line up with why we are doing things. “What does it feel like to be coach by me” or “be parented to me” or “be employed by me” or “be served as a customer by me” asks us to see things from someone else’s point of view. No matter our intentions, if we can’t put ourselves inside someone else’s situation and see how we are coming off to them, we are never truly going to get to fulfill the “why” we are trying to achieve. “How do I define success” brings us back to “why” from an endpoint. How will I know if I’ve achieved what I was trying to do? Wins? Straight As? More money? Or maybe “improvement” and “stronger relationships” and “positive experience” and “emotionally well-being” are what we are really after in the end.
The great coaches, leaders, and influencers go through this process. They know their “why,” they think through how they want to achieve it, they see things from the point of view of those they hope to impact, and they have deeper visions for success than the average person. We get our “why” right and work toward putting it in place, and success in other measures like wins, business growth, emotionally strong children, and institutional improvement are a natural outcome more often than not. When we keep focused on our values driving what we are doing, on behaving in a way that supports that, and empathizing with those we are influencing, we have a recipe for a meaningful and successful experience for everyone involved. Whatever our present undertakings, let’s take some time to really dig deep and find “the why” for what we are doing and keep it first.
“Why I coach, 2021: I coach youth sports to provide a fun, safe, and positive atmosphere in which kids can be supported, encouraged, affirmed, and challenged while developing skills and a lifelong love of a game and learning the value of teamwork, hard work, perseverance, character, handling and overcoming failure, and building themselves and each other up.”