I had the great pleasure of starting my week with a 6:30 am conversation with one of my favorite coaches this morning! I’m working with her team this afternoon and we were going over the plan while getting caught up on how things are progressing in the first few days of practice as they kick off the 2023 season. (Thanks for the energy this morning, Coach!)
Like many DI softball programs, Coach requires her athletes to pass a fitness test before being able to participate fully in practice. We did this as well.
The hope is that the desire to fully participate on day one will intensify the desire to stick to a strength, conditioning and skill work plan over the poorly timed winter break. Spring sport coaches work all fall to get their teams in competition shape, only to send them home for 6 weeks where all they gained can be lost. The hard part is that all the gains and more need to be met and exceeded in about 20 practices before the first games of the season.
Inevitably, for whatever reason, someone – or more than one – comes back unable to pass the test. (I can feel the angst of any of my former players that are reading this right now 😊!)
Here is where how we measure our RESPONSE-ABILITY begins.
How the players that don’t pass RESPOND make a distinct difference in what happens next…for themselves, for the coaches and the team!
We are talking about 2 kids out of 24, less than 10% of the team. But we all know, a small percentage can have a major impact on the team environment and success!
Here's the cool part…and part of the reason my friend had such palpable energy this morning.
These kids are RESPONDING to their failure (temporary failure, but failure nonetheless) with energy and unbelievable attitudes.
That’s right! They are CHOOSING to be great teammates. They are hustling to chase overthrows. They are jumping in to catch when they see someone needs to warm up. They are grabbing equipment to make practice run more efficiently. They are contributing in every way possible.
What does their RESPONSE do?
IT CHANGES EVERYTHING!
In what other ways could they have RESPONDED?
They could talk incessantly about how stupid the test is. They could be making excuses. They could be playing the victim. They could disengage in practice until they get to do what they want to do. They could stand on the sidelines with their arms crossed and piss-poor body language.
Think about the differences here. Then think about how their responses have changed EVERYONE’S experience, including their own.
What are the benefits of positive responses?
They are generating positive energy by hustling. They are receiving positive energy and responses from the coaching staff and their teammates. They are building credibility. They are building relationships. They are giving and receiving support. They are focusing on what they can control right now. They are helping themselves and everyone around them.
And ultimately, they are shortening the time it will take them to pass the test because they feel better, are connected and are showing they are committed, even when things are not perfect.
The flip side of this coin brings the exact opposite. As I type this, I feel heavy and dark even thinking about how the opposite sets the tone. And like you, I have experienced them both…blah -that’s the feeling in my chest to this one!
Choose to respond as the victim and you are damaging your credibility, bringing up questions about your commitment, let alone your ability to compete. You are eliminating the possibility of being praised or generating positive emotion or energy. The help you need to get the task done retreats. Your mindset moves you further and further away from the energy you need to perform at your best.
Your RESPONSE has made a bad situation worse! Keep repeating this response and the task gets increasingly harder each day because you feel defeated by a minor setback.
If this scenario doesn’t highlight the need for us to understand our RESPONSE-ABLITIY and how it affects what comes next, I don’t know what does.
These kids have done themselves, their teammates and their coaches a huge favor by being responsible for their preparation (or lack thereof) and they remind us of the great power we have to influence situations.
Everything moves in this cycle: APPROACH -> ACTION -> RESULT -> RESPONSE and back around.
In this case, we hope these kids adjust their approach next time so their actions get them the result they need to fully participate in practice. But in the meantime, their decision to respond in this positive way is certainly setting them up to have a positive approach when they get their next chance to knock this out!
Our second scenario…not so much!
If we tie this back to our E+R=O equation, the EVENT - not passing the test + their RESPONSE – positive attitudes and participation = OUTCOME - an empowering and productive environment that includes positive communication, support and engagement.
That’s a win, even though it wasn’t a “pass.” This reminds me of cheering for our kids when they chased a ball they just missed. They made an error, and their RESPONSE elicited praise.
That is the power of our response!
The bottom line...how we respond to what happens to us, because of us or around us influences how others see us, treat us and support us and all this moves us in one direction or another. If we want to be successful, it is in our best interest to RESPOND in a way that propels us forward, even in the face of failure.
Ultimately, the key to success is coming to terms with this. No matter what, we can ALWAYS CHOOSE how we RESPOND! No one forces us to respond in one way or another. Keeping the approach -> action -> result -> response cycle in mind determines everything that happens next.
Our true power lies in our ability to choose one response – one thought – over another. Training ourselves to choose productive thoughts and responses helps us make the best of the situation, even those in which we fall short!
Thanks, Coach, for sharing your positive take on a situation that could just as easily be frustrating. And thank you for your leadership that helped elicit this response!
There’s a “win” in everything if you are looking for it. And in the end, how we respond can set up us to win a lot!
Manage the moments…and your responses!
P.S. Want to help your team be more aware of the power of their responses? Set up a mental performance session to get most out of your team’s mindset. Reach out to set up a 45-minute team session today! Contact me at email@example.com or call/text 234-206-0946.
Mental Performance Coach
firstname.lastname@example.org • 234-206-0946