Act More Like a Coach & Less Like a Scorekeeper

"In today's world, if you don't win the whole thing, whether it's football or basketball, or this and that, people have a tendency to paint you as a loser or act like you just robbed the cookie jar. Well that's baloney. It didn't happen for us, but is everything going to go your way in life? You think you're on the Earth and everything you want to happen to you is going to happen to you positively? The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn't go our way."

Gregg Popovich, the coach of 5-time NBA Champions San Antonio Spurs, has an almost mystical presence around the league -- and for good reason. His philosophy on failure has resulted in 21 consecutive winning seasons. Nearly every measure of success in life would place him at or near the top of the list, but what sets 'Coach Pop' apart is his counter-cultural, counter-intuitive approach to failure!

Too many organizations today view failure as unacceptable. WE MUST ACHIEVE success at all costs. No Excuses. No Mistakes. No Setbacks.

The results are ugly. Tension, frustration, self-doubt, disappointment, sadness, anger, and fear of humiliation all result from what psychologists have dubbed the 'Perfect Trap': an unhealthy illusion whereby perfection promises order and control while offering no true solution for the uncertainty we face in life. And frankly... It just isn't working.

"Failure is often the best way to learn, and because of that, early failure is a necessary investment."

This is why great leaders create an expectation of failure. They don't run from it. They don't avoid it. They embrace it. They embrace failure in their own lives... and they embrace, understand, and promote an expectation of failure with those they lead. 

Why would they do this? Why would anyone think and lead this way when the world expects perfection?

Because great leaders, from all walks of life, have a desire to invest in and grow the people around them. And they make sure their investments count. Chip and Dan Heath (bestselling authors of Made to Stick and Switch) say it well:"Failure is often the best way to learn, and because of that, early failure is a necessary investment."

"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement."

Great leaders invest in those around them and in doing so 'act more like a coach and less like a scorekeeper'. Scorekeepers solely focus on wins and losses - the wins are all that matter and the losses are worthless. A coach is always looking for ways to help those they lead be their best. Even failures are opportunities for improvement. They’ve embraced failure as a means of growth and have effectively instilled this mindset into their teams. They understand and communicate (much like CS Lewis) that 'Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”  Their teams understand failure is normal and expected, and in doing so, they succeed in the end.


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About the Author: Josh Etress is the Director of Business Development at WildSparq, located in Birmingham, AL, and is committed to helping companies and organizations Enhance Culture and Multiply Leaders. You can contact Josh directly at josh@wildsparq.com