Among the very many important teaching lessons that my good friend, sports psychology Coach Jim Meier, has given me is the lesson "from whom do you get the truth?" www.ChampionshipThinkingCoach.com
For many years we have incorporated Jim's lesson content into our summer leadership camps. In this day and age of information overload, it is vital that we teach young athletes to discern not necessarily the veracity of every statement, but in a larger sense, discover people in whom they can routinely believe.
The concept of house league competition versus travel league competition has brought to the surface a difficult process for most families. One would assume that a travel coach would have done his or her homework to become an expert in what they are teaching. One might also assume that the house league coach has a casual recreational memory of playing and is basically just there to organize safe play.
Neither stands the test of a valid generality. There are numerous house league coaches who are quite proficient in teaching with passion and knowledge. There are also numerous travel team coaches who are proficient in nothing more than purchasing fancy uniforms.
Unfortunately and often, the task falls on the player to determine the validity of the training expertise. This task is even more difficult for a player since they are inherently respectful of coaches. The problem is compounded in any given year when players receive diametrically opposing information from up to three separate and distinct coaching authorities.
The Times Are a Changin’
Strike that – The times have already changed. A valid litmus test of today's "information age" coach is this simple question, "what have you read lately?"
A knowledge-based leader welcomes that discussion. It provides an opportunity
to broaden confidence in the leader’s expertise and credibility. The out of
step and primitive "industrial age" coach however rebuffs the
question as an insult to his authority. In the hope of seeking some baseline
credibility, advanced coaches are often asked by parents, "where did you
That experience is of course valuable and often provides a context
for a teaching analogy. But too many leaders use that opportunity as blanket
credibility. 'Glory days’ stories are entertaining but merely divert discussion
to the leader’s past and do not focus on the student’s future.
The information age athlete often must contend with an industrial age leader. The industrial age leader rules with supreme authority and manages with fear and intimidation.
That authoritarian leadership role is often arbitrary and ascribed based on
seniority and may have little to do with any baseline of expertise. The other
leaders approach coaching by simply organizing activity without a direct and
expressed end goal; which is basically the definition of "play"
rather than "sports."
We should all embrace a leadership style that is compassionate, educated, and contemporary with a focus on fairness and equality that directs activity to one simple goal - you will leave a better player than when you arrived! We should also
encourage players to contribute ideas, which instill leadership traits.
As mentors, we cannot in good conscience make these decisions for athletes. In order for athletes to become competent followers or teammates and eventually assume a leadership role, each individual must make these assessments on their own. So we come back time and again to raise the question and instill the skill of 'from whom do you get the truth?'
Challenging Year for Students of Leadership
This year provides an even more difficult challenge to the discovery of truth due to the poor role models of the political process.Truth in politics is an occasional necessity, under oath.
I hope you find that sentence as alarming as I do. As a businessman if I tell a lie about a competitor, we (my company and I) can be held legally liable. In the context of an election nothing could be more remote in their world of no accountability. The minute-by-minute saturation of information that (according to fact checking authorities) bears no relevance to the truth, or dramatically distorted and out of context statements, is and regrettably has become - the norm. The lack of integrity is overwhelming and sadly consistent.
The lack of truth extends into self-serving legislation. Politicians create laws for us and elastic clauses for them; road side signs are illegal for individuals and businesses, however quite permissible in the tens of thousands at every election; insider trading has put many people in jail, but was perfectly acceptable for politicians who reap millions; universal affordable healthcare is provided to every congressman, but totally abhorrent to some politicos for the average citizen; many legislate against big government, unless there's something that they desire.
All of this is very important because political leaders are the most public of leaders. They represent our culture and the way we govern, lead, and follow. As parents, citizens, employees, and employers, if we exist in a culture that doesn't value the truth and subsequently do not hold those accountable to the truth, we are surely in for a difficult age and --- a generation of confused children.
Listen to Jim Meier’s weekly Radio Show: www.ChampionshipThinkingCoach.com
Follow John Pinkman at PinkmanBaseball.com and on Facebook.