When I wrote the last blog post, I had this feeling in my stomach that was a little uncomfortable. Was I revealing too much; what would people think; why am I challenging the status quo? The results from that post have been amazing. It had the highest views of any previous posts. Over 500% more than any other. The feedback has been both positive and insightful. I expected lots of positive reinforcement from the coaches on Twitter as they follow me (and I follow them) due to having similar beliefs and values. However the numbers providing this feedback was truly humbling. Also, I received many emails and personal feedback. I particularly enjoyed the ones who said ‘I totally agree with what you said and it was very brave of you to call it out but I couldn’t say this publicly. Please keep going with it!’
So, in view of the reinforcement I received from the previous post, I would like to continue challenging how we do things around here and maybe, just maybe change the way people think. I am a member of the Deming Learning Network (DLN) and a sub-group in the Unreasonable Learners. They have a great tag line:
‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one tries to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man’
George Bernard Shaw 1903
So I am going to try and get that feeling that many writers have experienced when they sit outside their comfort zone. The DLN was all about trying to change people’s thinking. Moving from the traditional command and control to new ways of working where responsibility and authority is given to the front line workers. In our case, the players. This is not as straightforward as it seems. Jocko Willink talks about the dichotomy of leadership in his great book ‘Extreme Ownership’ He talks about command and control but also the importance of the guys on the ground ‘owning it’ He talks passionately about how you must take control of everything in your world. We must teach players to be learners and have that growth mindset. Can they own it and take responsibility without the shouty command and control coaches and parents? Can they make their own decisions and fail if needs be but learn in the process. We are not fighting for Ramadi, Iraq as Jocko did but we are trying to influence players in making them better all-round people. We are trying to have a positive effect on the upcoming generation. We are trying to produce as Joe Erhmann says in ‘Season of Life’ on his code of conduct for manhood, players who accept responsibility, leading courageously but most important serving others. Although these were very different books (both I read last week), they had a substantial impact on my thinking. One outcome is that they made me seriously think about myself, my values and how I can affect other people by having a cause.
The following real stories from last week happened with all the thoughts from both books swirling around my head. Two weeks ago I overheard Mira, our SFA CCO (Club Coach Officer) have a conversation with a girl from our 2007’s age group. Mira was setting her a few challenges for when she came back the following week. She was genuinely enthusiastic about her game and I could see how much she wanted to learn. Mira then asked what her favourite skill was. She replied ‘tackling’ His riposte was ‘Ah Scottish’ It is true when we talk football, we actually mean fightball. We fight for every ball, compete every challenge as if our life depended on it. Backing down is never an option. It is the same as a nation. Our caricature of hard drinking, hard fighting, strong and physical, don’t show emotion, is what defines us. What a load of bollocks. In Season of Life, Joe talks about false masculinity (and this is from a NFL linebacker!! – my US friends might correct me on this!). We hide behind this facade as we are too scared to show our real self. My last blog showed a bit of my real self so can we get coaches to drop this ego-driven part and reveal what they are really like? Can we get more to ‘come out’ and not just talk about development and actually do it. Can we get coaches to join in a cause that is bigger than themselves and their team? We can but only if they drop their guard and focus on others rather than themselves.
My second real story was from last week. I put on a purely voluntary session. All our teams train at least twice/week so I thought I would put together a voluntary programme which was totally focused on technique and skill development. It was a good session and all the boys seemed to enjoy it. The interesting bit was who turned up. There was a mixture of boys ranging in ability. My observation was that a lot of the boys were in the ‘needing development’ category which is great. What I was surprised at was the so-called better players at the club never appeared. I thought, the players who were doing well would want to come along and further work on their own game to further improve. This was not the case. This got me thinking back to Jocko’s book where the elite SEALS constantly worked to get better. These were guys at the top of their game yet they would be in the gym daily working out to extreme levels. they would work and plan to the nth degree their missions. They were beyond committed, they were legendary. So how can we create that environment? I know our grassroots football is a world away from fighting the insurgency in Iraq but the lessons are there. So when I am looking for volunteers it says players are only doing their training because they have to, where I want to try and get players who ‘want’ to be there. We will be working on this in the coming weeks and it will take time. We are starting with the youngest age groups. if we can change the thinking there then we have a chance.
Finally, returning to George Bernard Shaw, as coaches, let’s start to get unreasonable. We will then have a chance of seeing real progress. This is my cause.