Friday, February 27, 2015

My Coaching (and everything else) Philosophy

My Coaching Philosophy

Coach Liam
It is my belief that man is made to be a teacher of life in everything, regardless of his profession.  Coaching is simply the avenue through which I am able to “teach life”--A means to develop people.  An analogy to show that life is, indeed, a team sport.  An object lesson to demonstrate that hard work pays off.  A test to challenge priorities and shake resolve.  A parade of opportunities to pass or fail, lead or follow, cheat or be true, persevere or give up.  I can not describe to you a philosophy that is solely my “coaching” philosophy.  As I say to the athletes that I coach, “Character is an all-the-time thing.”  So, this is simply the philosophy I apply to life, and coaching has become a big part of that.  

The foundation of a successful man (and, by extension, coach) is made solid by adhering to a strong code of honor, striving for a character of integrity, and fostering a heart of teamwork.  It is my desire to nurture this foundation in myself and those around me, including my athletes and fellow coaches.  My intention is to do this by demanding hard work and discipline from the athletes, coaches, and (most of all) myself.  Just as an athlete can only be successful in a sport where the rules and objectives are known, so it is with leading a successful life. These are the rules I strive to live by.

Code of Honor
Recognizing priorities and structuring life based on those priorities is what creates a code of honor.  One who has constantly shifting priorities or consistently acts contrary to his professed priorities is a dishonorable man. The order of priorities necessary for me to be a successful man are as follows:
  • Faith
    • Love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
  • Family
    • Respect, and honor my wife above any other person.
    • Love, serve, and protect my wife and children above all other people.
  • Others
    • Esteem and obey those in authority.
    • Respect my peers and equals.
    • Be an encouragement and example to those over whom I have authority.
  • Self
    • Commit to personal development of mind, body, spirit, and service.

The demands and distractions of life are constantly jockeying for position in this priority list.  Priorities are maintained only through intention and purpose.  If these priorities slip, get juggled around, or if something mundane sneaks into this list, then everything on the list suffers.  At that point, I am rendered ineffective as a Christian, husband, father, coach, employee, and man.

Character of Integrity
The root of the word “integrity” comes from the Latin word integer which means “entire, whole”.  The idea being that “integrity” is used to describe something that is complete, undivided, un-fractured.  When this word is applied to a person, it conjures up ideas about how that person shows outwardly that they are adhering to their internal Code of Honor.  A man who has a character of integrity displays certain characteristics:
  • He speaks honestly.
  • He uses language appropriate for all potential audience members.
  • He treats women with respect, and is courteous and kind to children and admirers.
  • He leads by action and service, not by delegation and dictation.
  • He places the needs of others above his own.
  • He keeps all (written, verbal, or implied) agreements, promises, debts, contracts, etc.
  • He takes full responsibility for his life, both his successes and his failures.
  • He owns up to his own mistakes, and works to resolve the mistakes of others without assigning blame.
  • He balances the correction of others’ faults and the celebration of others’ successes; and uses both as a channel for encouragement.

Heart of Teamwork
They say it is a small world, and it is getting smaller with each technological advancement, it seems.  The “Lone Ranger” is not the hero anymore.  Collaboration is key to be successful in any worthy pursuit.  I believe team sports teach this lesson in a way that simply can’t be duplicated in a classroom.  Several of the characteristics of integrity and honor lend themselves to being a good teammate, but I’ve boiled it down to what I call the “7 Cs of Teamwork”:
  • Communication
    • Being an effective communicator is so integral, both in expressing ideas and listening to others.  If this breaks down, the team breaks down.
  • Commitment
    • The more one invests in something, the more he needs it to succeed.  If a teammate is less invested than the rest of the team, his expectations and results will likely lag behind as well.
  • Control
    • When emotions dictate action, destruction is close.  A good teammate is free to feel anything, but those feelings must not take over how one acts or speaks.
  • Consideration
    • A good teammate is constantly mindful of how his actions affect those around him.
  • aCcountability
    • So this one is sort of cheating, but it is no less important.  Teammates who answer to each other for their actions are imperative to keep operations working smoothly.
  • Confidence
    • A teammate who is wishy-washy or doesn’t speak up will get overrun by those more brash than he.  This is bad for the individual and for the team.
  • Compliance
    • There is also a time when it is best to put your guns down and go with the team.  Recognizing these situations will help the team build and grow that much more quickly.

Honor, integrity, and teamwork are the cornerstone of my coaching philosophy.  Honor, integrity, and teamwork are the cornerstone of my life philosophy.  By no means do I have this all down flawlessly.  It is a process and I am still growing.  A characteristic of life is growth.  If I ever stop growing in any one aspect, it means that I’ve died; or some part of me has, anyway.  As a youth, my parents instilled in me this idea that if you are going to go ahead and do something, do it as well as you possibly can.  Shakespeare said it more poetically. “Whate’er thou art; act well thy part.”  The part I wish to play is that of a “master coach”.  These are 14 qualities of a master coach that I aspire to (adapted from Alan Stein of

  1. A master coach has a purposeful mission.
  2. A master coach is a big thinker.
  3. A master coach has high character.
  4. A master coach embraces change.
  5. A master coach has empathy.
  6. A master coach takes calculated risks.
  7. A master coach has a high sport-specific I.Q.
  8. A master coach is decisive.
  9. A master coach uses authority appropriately.
  10. A master coach is an effective communicator.
  11. A master coach is a servant leader.
  12. A master coach is courageous.
  13. A master coach is fully committed to the betterment of their players (on and off the court/field).
  14. A master coach works on their craft every single day.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Importance of Resolve

One of the most important lessons I've learned as a father/husband/man is the importance of having resolve...being a man of resolution.  It is only these last 6 years or so that I came to realize just how important it is to make resolutions throughout my life.  Like many people, I used to wave off the notion of the "New Year's Resolution" with all kinds of reasons excuses to back it up: "It's too mainstream." "It's setting yourself up for failure." "It's so arbitrary." "I don't need to make a resolution to make a positive change."  The truth underlying those arguments was that I was simply too weak, fearful, and lazy to resolve to do much of anything.  Thankfully, I was convicted to do something about it before that weak spine allowed me to sway into trouble.

It doesn't matter when you're reading this, and it doesn't matter if you're making resolutions on January 1 or some other date.  The important part is that you are making a positive change to make yourself a better person.  In fact, if you are convicted that an area of your life is damaging and needs some resolution on your part to be set straight, set the wheels in motion to make that change right away.  It would be silly to continue down a destructive path just to wait for the new year.

Okay, so resolutions are important...where do I even start?

There is an economic concept called "path dependence" which basically says that where you end up depends on where you start.  So, just where AM I starting from?  Self-evaluation is a huge part of healthy development for an individual, just ask any modern psychologist, career counselor, coach, teacher, boss, etc.  This is not a new concept!  There are many places in both the Old Testament and the New Testament where we are urged to examine ourselves, a few I've listed below:

  • "Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord." (Lam. 3:40 HCSB) 
  • "I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws." (Psalm 119:59 NLT)
  • "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves..." (2 Cor. 13:5a ESV)
  • "Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else." (Gal. 6:4 NLT)

What, exactly, am I to be evaluating? What makes a meaningful resolution?

We see in the Bible that a person is comprised of three parts--body, soul, and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23).  This makes sense considering we are made in the image of a tripartite God. To be balanced, we need to feed each of these parts and nurture growth in them.  We also find that these three aspects of being overlap.  For example, discipline learned through exercise can also be applied to spiritual discipline.

  • The Body.  The physical part of us that can been seen and touched.  This is also, in my estimation, the part most often neglected by Christians.  The Bible, however, does point to the importance of keeping a sound body. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27a "Therefore, I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.  Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control..." (HCSB).  In Proverbs we read "A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might," (24:5 ESV) and for the ladies "She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong" (31:17 ESV).
  • The Soul.  In the Bible, the "soul" generally refers to the mental capacities of a person.  It includes the emotional and the intellectual aspects of our being.  These are sometimes separated further, referring to emotions as our "heart" and intellect as our "mind".  We learn from Peter that knowledge is a necessary supplement to our faith to avoid corruption (2 Peter 1:4-6).  All of the Proverbs that Solomon wrote were to impart knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to his son (Proverbs 1:1-7).
  • The Spirit.  This is the eternal part of a person which is characterized by our spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-23) and is directly reliant on our relationship with God.  This spiritual fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) are not part of the psyche/mind/soul because they are not emotions or reactions.  These are attributes that do not stem from outwardly circumstances; they are affected by our tie with our Heavenly Father.  Through this connection we grow in this fruit.  We can strengthen this connection the same way we strengthen any relationship--companionship and communication.  If you want to grow in this area, you must:
    • Be with God.
    • Talk with God.
    • Be with and talk with others who are being with and talking with God.

Make "You in 2015" > "You in 2014"!

God will bless your efforts toward improvement if they are pointing back to Him.  If your body goals or professional goals (or even spiritual goals) are based in vanity or pride, there will be trouble on the horizon.  If your aim, however, is so that you can be a better representative for Christ then you've got a really, really good sponsor backing you!  Keep your priorities straight, be determined, have resolve!  And happy 2015!

I would love to hear what resolutions you have made for the new year or any other time! Need prayer or accountability to help you through it?  Let me know in the comments. Come like my Facebook Page!