I was recently asked to challenge the Lanier High Football Team before they set individual & team goals for their season. The challenge was to approach season goals in a way that would pay dividends far beyond the game. Here are a few suggestions…
Great coaches, educators, and team leaders realize the value of leading individuals in an exercise to set goals that will challenge and motivate the team.
Such an exercise can provide much more than a target stat or team record for which to aim. It can also provide an opportunity to evaluate some foundational issues that will maximize the opportunities ahead of you.
As you evaluate the season ahead (in sports and life), consider these 5 ways to maximize your opportunity and turn pre-season goals into long-term success:
1) BE before you DO.
Before you determine what you want to DO, establish who you want to BE.
What you do flows from who you are. A right understanding of this can keep our focus in the right place. We get it wrong when we focus on the by-product more than the source.
Smoke & Fire
What if I woke up at night to a strong odor of smoke in my house and my biggest concern was opening the windows and turning on fans to get the smell out of my house? What would you say about me? That’s right…I’m an idiot!! Why? Because my focus should not be on the smell; my focus should be on the SOURCE of the smell…fire! Smoke is simply a by-product of the fire.
We realize this simple principle when it comes to fire, but sometimes we forget to apply it to our lives.
So many athletes are more concerned with:
– recruiting exposure than improving their game.
– having a microphone than having something to say.
– wanting to be a captain than actually leading.
The by-product always flows from the source. Get the source right, and the rest will take care of itself.
Like my friend Reggie Shaw (Head Coach, Byrnes High School) says, “You’ve got to BE before you DO.”
The Name on the Front
In setting goals, not only consider your identity, but also the identity of the team for which you play.
The name on the back of the jersey has got to embody the culture of the name on the front of the jersey. You have a responsibility to uphold the values and goals of the program that gives you an opportunity to play.
For example, Coach Korey Mobbs has determined that the Lanier High Longhorns are going to be about Character, Class, & Commitment in all they do. To put on a Longhorn jersey, each player must commit to represent those values both on and off the field. Make sure this is part of your goals.
2) Count the cost.
Determine what your goal is going to cost you. If it doesn’t cost you, it isn’t a worthy goal. Nothing great has ever been achieved without a great cost.
Your commitment and work ethic has got to match your goal.
Some people have got a $1 million goal and a 50 cent work ethic. That’s a problem. You either need to change your goal or change your roll!
If you are serious about your goal, what has to change to meet it? (5% more effort will probably not give you 60% more results.)
Nothing changes until something changes.
3) Take the lid off.
Don’t hinder the greatness that is in you from coming out of you.
As a coach, the hardest thing to see is wasted potential.
One thing I tell student athletes all the time is, “There is greatness in you….now go let it out!”
I constantly remind them not to put a lid on what they can achieve by:
– Making excuses. (“No excuses, no explanations.” – Tony Dungy)
– Listening to the noise of others’ expectations / opinions.
– Failing to see what they uniquely bring to the team.
You are unique and offer something to your team or organization that no one else can. Find what you offer, and give that better than anyone else. Realize your greatness and let it out!
4) Be Real.
Don’t pretend that you’re going to be someone on the playing field that you’re not in the classroom or in the community.
The playing field is simply a stage that shows a bigger audience who you really are.
If you are pursuing excellence in one area, but not another, then you have an identity crisis.
Social media has sold us a lie that it’s ok to change who we are based on the audience or circumstance. I know some students who are managing 3 or 4 social media accounts on the same platform. Why? Students are settling into a “Finsta” lifestyle of playing to different audiences.
How to be real
I love that Coach Mobbs is teaching his team these four ways to be R.E.A.L….
Relentlessly pursue excellence (in every area)
Exceed expectations (unmatched effort)
Always do the right thing
Live a life that matters
A life that matters
There is no better time than now to evaluate the things that matter most and make sure your priorities are in the right order. As important as sports are, they are not the most important thing in your life. Sports are not more important than Faith, family, or education.
If you look for fulfillment in sports, you will walk off the field feeling empty. Every. Single. Time. But as you understand the things that matter most and get those things in order, you can play the game with deeper significance. You can find more meaning and purpose in how you play and enjoy your sport. It starts with getting real.
5) We > Me.
Your biggest goals should be about the WE, not about the ME.
You shouldn’t strive to be the best ON the team before you strive to be the best FOR the team.
How are you putting the team above yourself?
In what ways are you seeking team recognition above your own exposure?
How are you adding value to your teammates?
The success of your team starts with you.
Your daily motto should be “If it’s going to BE for the WE, it’s up to ME.”
It’s not up to you to be the best player… but the best TEAMMATE.
I promise that those in the locker room with you care less about how good a player you are than how good a teammate you are.
– work hard to get better individually for the good of the team.
– make those around them better.
– adapt to the changing needs of the team.
– embody the vision of the program.
I’ve heard it said, “It’s not the team with the best players that win. It’s the players with the best team that wins.” This is true in sports, and it’s true in life.
The best part of the preseason is that everyone is 0-0. There is nothing but opportunity ahead…individual opportunity and opportunity for your team. Set goals that will push you to achieve your potential and make your team better. As you pursue such goals, I have no doubt that you will see success both on the field and in life.
Go let it out!