Often, just when I think that I am a pretty smart guy, I realize that there is always so much more to learn… and often picking up a single small thing that can make a huge difference.
I remember my first season on staff at the University of Central Missouri. I was a grizzled veteran of 8 years of high school coaching… confident… had the world by the gonads.
I was visiting with my position group after a practice… my Linebackers on one knee, gathered around the feet of their “prophet”. I was extolling them to “get their head up and look at me when I was talking!”
After practice, our head coach, Terry Noland, quietly took me aside and reminded me that when I talk to my position group, I should have them put their backs to the sun (which was setting) so they would not be looking directly into the sun when I was speaking to them. Lesson learned… from that point on I made sure it was me looking into the sun, not my players.
Fast forward to many years later… so many years in fact that I had begun wearing prescription sunglasses to practice. I was coaching my son’s team, and it was a similar situation. Practice was over and I was speaking to the group… their backs to the sun (I had learned!)… with me looking into the sun… but this time I was explaining to the athletes about the importance of looking at their coach’s (or parent’s, or teacher’s) eye’s when they were talking to them. “Make eye contact– it will show them you are really listening, you care about what they are saying, and want to learn!”
After practice on the way to the car my son told me “You know, dad, when you have your sunglasses on, we can’t see your eyes… we can’t make eye contact with you”. Lesson learned… from that point on I always took off my sunglasses whenever I was having a discussion with one, or many of my players… or my son for that matter.
Continue fast forwarding to this year… 30+ years of coaching. I was in the weight room teaching our core lifts like I had done many times in the past. I use one rack for demonstration purposes and have the students arrange the other benches around the rack “amphitheater style” around their “guru”. Only this time as I was introducing the lift, it was different… giggles… funny faces… not paying attention… distracted…
I thought, “Man, am I losing it… maybe this group just can’t do this”.
It wasn’t until we were well into the period that realized what was happening… that behind this particular rack was a huge mirror. In all the years I had taught Strength and Conditioning, this was the first time the demonstration rack had a mirror behind it. Add that to the fact I was teaching middle school students, and it was a recipe for distraction… there is little that middle school students like more than seeing themselves in a mirror! The next period I changed the demonstration rack to one that was not in front of a mirror and it was back to normal… another lesson learned.
I continue to learn… and be humbled by the little things that at times escape me.
You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org