Becky called Herb with some exciting news. She had just been hired as a teacher at her alma mater. It would be her first full-time teaching job since graduating college. However, her hiring came with one small caveat; she was required to also coach the school’s soccer team.
Herb had been Becky’ soccer coach in college and an influential presence in her life. While Becky was excited to finally secure a full-time teaching position, she was nervous about the prospect of coaching. She was calling Herb to get coaching advice.
Herb thought about what he should say to her. Becky had been a joy to coach. She bought into the team’s culture and got along well with her fellow teammates. She worked hard and pushed herself further than her abilities should have allowed. The driving force behind Becky’s play had always been her love for the game.
But like a lot of players, Becky had never put much thought into the nuances of coaching. She had only ever viewed the game through a player’s eyes. Herb suspected Becky realized this and her realization was the source of her anxiety.
The responsibility to order equipment, devise game plans, manage personalities, and organize practice sessions seemed overwhelming to her.
Herb also knew that Becky lacked the experience to appreciate the influence she would soon have on her players’ lives. She didn’t understand that the octogenarians that gather in the mornings at the local coffee shop may forget the names of their grandchildren, but they can recall with vivid clarity the hurtful and/or inspiring words their coach spoke to them in their youth.
A coach’s words are like tattoos on a player’s soul.
Herb didn’t want to compound Becky’s anxiety by calling attention to this reality, so he boiled his advice down to one simple sentence. He told her to “just share your love for the game with your players.”
He knew if she stuck to that single charge, everything would fall into place. She would find the energy to seek the best game plans and incorporate the right drills. She would be organized and prepared. She would reveal details about her experiences as a player. And above all, she would never deliberately say or do anything that would taint her players’ potential love of the game.
Herb’s advice captures the modus operandi of good teammates. They show they care by sharing their love for their team. His advice applies to new coaches, new teachers, new bosses, and anyone who wants to make a difference on their team.
When you share your love, caring eventually shines through all aspects of your craft—whatever craft that happens to be.
I was back-to-school shopping with my daughters last week and saw a t-shirt with the message “Radiate Kindness” printed on it. I saw several shirts broadcasting similar messages at different stores we visited, and I love the idea that promoting kindness has become fashionable.
Good teammates radiate kindness…and enthusiasm…and love for their team. They radiate them through every pore of their bodies, during every second of their days. Their willingness to do this is what differentiates them from average teammates.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.