iStock_000017752318Small“I am not here to win…

Arms crossed.  Eyebrows raised.  You could sense the parents and players becoming uneasy and unsure about the coach as he shared his vision for the season.  In our “competitive, must-win-at-any-cost” society, the coach’s words were unusual.

…but to make you better.”

The coach went on to say that if they were looking for a winning season, they were welcome to go to another team.  His main objective was to improve each player individually.  His passion was to help his players get collegiate scholarships, not to win championships.

What set this coach apart?

1.  He was fully confident in his ability to get his players to the  next level.

  • Great leadership requires great self-confidence. (not pride)
  • He was able to “clear the mechanism” (compliments of “For the Love of the Game”) of the parents and players reactions and concerns from his initial statement and focus on his main objective.

2.  He looked at idea of being “competitive” from a different perspective.

  • In my mind, to be a “competitive person” means you always want to win. He allowed us to shift our thinking from always wanting to win, to always wanting to get better.
  • Personal success for him as a coach was not how many games he could win; in contrast, it was how many players he could help get scholarships to universities.

3.  He implemented a simple system.

  • Know your goal and what success means to you
  • Don’t let the negative opinions of others distract you from the main goal
  • Invest in each player/person individually
  • Master the fundamentals of the game
  • Get better everyday

4.  He cared about the growth of each individual, more than the opinions of others.

  • There were times he made me play only with my left foot during the games…why, because it made me better.

Because of a coach like this, myself and over a hundred players were awarded athletic scholarships. It was possible because someone cared more about developing others than having their own flashy career.  (And just a side note, we did win a lot.)

It’s pretty humbling when you really think about it.

Applying this to business, what is better than “winning”?