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Lighting a Fire



"In order to get them to move physically, we have to get them to move psychologically and emotionally" -Brett Bartholomew


Motivating others to do a certain task requires tremendous skill. If life was as easy as you asking someone to do something and they say "yes sir", or "yes ma'am" I don't think we would ever have a leadership issue in this country. But yet, we do. Getting someone to to say "yes" to a task is the result of days, weeks, months, and maybe even years of hard work and time. When first assigned to the job as a coach or leader, we think about all the coaches we see on T.V. or in a movie who are drill sergeants. You know the type, the blowhard who barks orders and takes no crap from anyone. We nod our head in approval and think, "that is going to be how I handle things" when I become a coach. We think that must be the way to coach and to motivate. BUT, I do not believe that to be true!


This type of thinking reminds of the work of Susan Cain, author of Quiet, who researched the relationships introverts and extroverts have in all facets of life. One interesting topic is what she calls the “Extrovert Ideal — the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha and comfortable in the spotlight. Our environment, for the most part, leads us to believe that in order to be a great leader, we must follow the extrovert ideal. For some of us, myself included, this belief leads us to be someone we truly aren't. We become inauthentic and feel like a phony. Over time, you end up realizing that personality type is not what motivates, it is caring about those you work with.


Without getting too sappy here, the best way to "light a fire" under your athletes or teammates is simply by caring about who they are as individuals. This relationship building starts on the very first day you are introduced to everyone. The priority should be placed on trying to build rapport. You make small talk with everyone, you ask them inviting questions, you learn everyone's name, you crack a few jokes, and then you listen. This is to be repeated every single day because in the end, if you don't care enough to learn someones name or what their interests are, why should they care about anything you have to say?


It is our job as coaches to find the best way to lead and motivate everyone we work with. It is not our job to blame "kids these days" for not wanting to work. One of my favorite quotes from Jocko Willink is "There are no bad teams, only bad leaders". If you can't find ways to build quality relationships with your team and get them to do what they are supposed to do, then it may be time to take a look in the mirror and adjust your approach!


Chris Fluck

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