I love Seth Godin and his bald head. Well, more accurately, I should say that I love reading Seth Godin; the cue ball is just a bonus.
He’s distinctive. He’s innovative. He’s someone who makes you stop…and think.
If you haven’t read his transformational books like Purple Cow, Tribes or Linchpin, you’ve probably been living under a mossy rock. Just as Dale Carnegie and Stephen Covey have inspired us, Seth is an unreasonable voice in an uber-connected and unreasonable world. It fits perfectly.
Thanks to Chris Brogan, I stumbled across Seth’s passionate educational manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams - and immediately thought about the parallels in coaching. The 30,000 words thoughtfully strike – without caution or reverence – upon the decaying heart of the current educational system. Our current system was produced to create obedient, efficient factory workers to fuel the industrial revolution. It’s no longer the world we live in today.
With free trade and our race to zero cost labor, the economy has changed. Our system of schooling has not. And, with such a focus on testing, I see no revolutionary changes forthcoming that will unlock the potential within our students and prepare them for the new realities of our world.
Coaches Employ the Same Tactics as Schools
With a lack of coaching education by clubs, state associations and national governing bodies, coaches are left to fend for themselves and do the best they can. As disciples of our own schooling, it stands to reason that we would employ the same tactics as our teachers. Makes sense to me. But are they working?
For many, this means focusing on order – not creativity – so lines, punishment, fear and obedience in “following the plan” is cherished above all else. As if there is only one way or one plan…
In order to efficiently jam as much testable data into a generation of kids, we push to make those children compliant, competitive zombies.
The shortcut to compliance, then, isn’t to reason with someone, to outline the options, and to sell a solution. No, the shortcut is to induce fear, to activate the amygdala. Do this or we’ll laugh at you, expel you, tell your parents, make you sit in the corner. Do this or you will get a bad grade, be suspended, never amount to anything. Do this or you are in trouble.
Our goal at Soccer Classroom is to help develop creative, thinking soccer players. The only way you, as a coach of young players can do this, is to foster fun environments that create a love for the game and ignite that passion from within players. We need to connect with our players in meaningful ways, so we can foster the dream – whatever the dream may be for them.
Selecting Coaches and Changing the Approach
I think we can all agree that staged, stale environments that focus on pressurized outcomes no longer turn the trick for our “always on” players. Certainly, we can’t have disrespectful chaos and still expect to progress. But, what if coaches exude enthusiasm, love and interest in their players while focusing on fun, engaged environments? The players would, in turn, naturally become respectful and follow along – entranced for the next opportunity to succeed and grow.
There really are only two tools available to the educator. The easy one is fear. Fear is easy to awake, easy to maintain, but ultimately toxic.
The other tool is passion. A kid in love with dinosaurs or baseball or earth science is going to learn it on her own. She’s going to push hard for ever more information, and better still, master the thinking behind it.
Passion can overcome fear—the fear of losing, of failing, of being ridiculed.
After all, soccer is a microcosm of life. And, while playing soccer is an important life experience, it pales in comparison to the potential lessons learned and loves and passions fostered. We should be using the game to develop better people. Players who are kind, generous, confident, thoughtful and motivated…and passionate.
It would seem to reason then that to create the most successful players and teams we must select the right coaches and equip those coaches with the right approach in creating learning environments. Right?
Passage #19 – Dreams are Difficult to Build and Easy to Destroy inspired me to write this rant. I’ve always believed, “When better is possible that good simply is not good enough.” From Godin:
By their nature, dreams are evanescent. They flicker long before they shine brightly. And when they’re flickering, it’s not particularly difficult for a parent or a teacher or a gang of peers to snuff them out.
Creating dreams is more difficult. They’re often related to where we grow up, who our parents are, and whether or not the right person enters our life. Settling for the not-particularly uplifting dream of a boring, steady job isn’t helpful. Dreaming of being picked—picked to be on TV or picked to play on a team or picked to be lucky—isn’t helpful either. We waste our time and the time of our students when we set them up with pipe dreams that don’t empower them to adapt (or better yet, lead) when the world doesn’t work out as they hope.
The dreams we need are self-reliant dreams. We need dreams based not on what is but on what might be. We need students who can learn how to learn, who can discover how to push themselves and are generous enough and honest enough to engage with the outside world to make those dreams happen.
I think we’re doing a great job of destroying dreams at the very same time the dreams we do hold onto aren’t nearly bold enough.
How bold are the dreams you’re fostering in your players?
How focused, motivated and confident are your players?