While at the Way of Champions Conference this past weekend, one of the coaches was telling me about his battle to create a better sport culture. He said the local club coaches in his small town were very toxic.
They created a culture of fear, demeaned the athletes, and were focused only on the ERR (Ego, Revenue, or Resume). Many of his athletes wanted to quit playing for them and only focus on high school (which is where he coached). This only made matters worse and created enemies out of the club coaches.
He said for quite some time the relationship between he and the club coaches had been very contentious. There was definitely a brewing hatred and he was seen as the enemy. The more he tried to espouse or model a more positive coaching culture, the more they seemed to despise him.
Then he revealed his breakthrough moment. For some time now, he’d kept doing his thing, being a model, not engaging in the drama, and hoping something he did would help them see a better way.
“Recently”, he said, “I noticed them incorporating some of my methods in their training and even using some of my positive phrases.” These coaches who despised him were copying him!
I cannot remember the show or movie, but I recently heard a quote that said “When enemies steal your lines, you are doing something right”. This coach was on the right path!
First off, change will always be met with resistance and the more violent the resistance, usually the more devastating the change is to the old guard. I had some extremely bad experiences in my coaching days, but I always knew those coaches “hated” me because they knew what I was saying and doing was a threat to their existence. It had merit, was backed by science, would change the game, and definitely would destroy their little kingdom of making money, building the resume, and stroking their own egos. The more they disliked me, the more I knew I was striking a nerve. This coach certainly struck a nerve. He was on the right path.
Secondly, though the battle is never over, you know the momentum has swung your way, or at least you are certainly making waves on the battlefield when the enemy steals your lines. When what you are doing is so undeniably good that even your enemies want to copy it, you keep doing it more! These coaches may say they hate him, but their actions say he is on the right path.
What a testament to the power of positive coaching and creating a safe environment for youth athletes. It’s one thing to do it on your own field, but to get your foes to copy it on theirs means even more children get to benefit from a great experience.
You may not always be able to make friends out of your enemies, but getting them to copy you is just as great.
We should all strive to create something so good even the bad guys want to do it.