He who is brave in daring will be killed,
He who is brave in not daring will survive.
- Tao Te Ching
What makes great coaches great? They don't always win; they survive.
1. Make it about the players.
Our warriors are our players, Teddy Roosevelt's (1910) man in the arena. Their shared effort and shared suffering define the team.
2. Add value.
Teach. Simplify. Clarify. "Bad terminology is the enemy of good thinking." Peter Bevelin in Seeking Wisdom from Darwin to Munger
Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski calls the most common form of pick-and-roll defense, "fake trap," not hedge or show. His players understand what he means and wants through precise language.
Adding value prioritizes the focus on players." We are in charge of player education and our own.
3. Get the buy-in.
Effective coaches get players to compete for each other. Effective leaders provide the tools for followers to do 'whatever it takes.' It's not about "have to" but "get to."
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
We trade in relationships. Greet every player by name early in practice. Does the twelfth player on our team feel as valued as the first?
What is your perspective on the team? What is the players' perspective?
Crises arise. We don't control when or what. We control our response. Laurence Gonzales writes in Deep Survival, "Turning fear into focus is the first act of a survivor."
Be aware of one of the ten Standard Fire Orders, "Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively." Nobody benefits from a maniac commanding the ship.
5. Don't "Cowboy up," Culture up.
"Fight for your culture every day." - Kevin Eastman
Create an environment fostering growth with purpose, unity, service, humility, and gratitude. In Monday Morning Leadership, David Cottrell writes, "People don't quit jobs. They quit people." We all know good and bad leadership when we see it. Navy SEAL Jocko Willink calls it Extreme Ownership. “Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”
Sweat the details. Nobody said the job should be easy.