Craig Groeschel (Pastor/Founder of Life Church) says: “When the leader gets better, everyone gets better.” However, it is far too common that the focus is on those we are leading and we forget that we must first be able to lead ourselves.
In March of this year, I chose to take a sort of sabbatical from coaching. I came to a place where I realized I wasn’t leading myself, nor my family well. It was a difficult decision because I believe my future is in coaching, but the reality was if I didn’t learn how to lead myself and my family, the effect I would have on others would be minuscule.
You see, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the grind of coaching. We work our butts off to improve our teams and help those around us, but we forget to take care of ourselves and our families at home. The stereotypical coach to me was overweight, exhausted, and stressed beyond their means. They devoted so much time into their teams that they weren’t able to be where their feet were when they had time alone or with their families.
However, I believe this needs to change, here are 3 things I’ve learned since I’ve taken my sabbatical:
- ) Who we are speaks louder than what we say
As a coach I preached effort, I preached working hard, and being a We over Me team. One way we instilled this in our players is through a team building exercise we stole from ‘The Program’. Which is where athletes get in 3 lines, with 3 leaders. They then have to perform 3 basic exercises, but they have to be in unison. If anyone messes up, they start over. If anyone complains or talks down to a teammate because they messed up, they start over. You get the drill. Anyways, while this was a great team building exercise and our athletes performed it well, I couldn’t help but think about the example I was showing to them, because if I had been asked to be a part of it, I couldn’t have performed the exercises because I was out of shape. I preached effort and hard work and yet I didn’t put that effort and hard work into myself from a physical stand point. Though I spoke a certain way, my actions spoke differently.
2.) Our families are too important to sacrifice
Coaching is a busy job, but it can’t be too busy to give our families the time of day. When I was coaching, I felt like it was a burden to be home by 7 PM when my son went to bed. I felt like my wife was nagging because she wanted me to be home to help. What I’ve realized in my time away is that most coach’s spouses are single parents during the season, but that doesn’t mean they have to be all the time. We need to step up and consider that the job of parenting/being there for our spouses doesn’t change in-season and out of season. Yes, the time commitments are different, but our families are too important to sacrifice for our careers. As important as our players are, they aren’t more important then the ones that stand by our side through thick and thin. We must prioritize our families and give them as much as we can, and show them that they mean more to us than baseball.
3.) If you don’t live it, you can’t do it
This is similar to point number one, but what I’ve come to realize is that I have to be a living/walking example of what I preach. If I want my team/coaches to be organized, I need to be organized. If I want them to be calm in pressure packed moments, I need to learn to be calm in those moments. If I want a certain culture, I need to live that culture. Leadership drives Culture, which drives Behavior, which drives Results. It all comes down to leadership. In Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink says: ‘No bad teams, only bad leaders’. He talks about boat teams and how they would perform differently based on who was leading them, without changing anyone on the team. It’s up to us as leaders to be who we want our team to be. We must live it.
These last 7 months I’ve missed the game like crazy, and I can’t wait to see how I get to be involved in it again. However, the growth that has come from my time away has been invaluable to who I am as a man, husband, father, and coach in the future.