Playing Catch Up

I truly enjoy coaching hockey. There are dozens of reasons why organized sports are good for childhood development and being able to share in that experience and having even a tiny impact is an amazing reward. Sharing a passion is always fun. The big kicker here is that, by and large, all the people involved are doing so on a voluntary basis. Issues with parents stems from unreasonable expectations and they are almost never a volunteer. Issues with the kids are quite rare, and if they do occur, it’s almost exclusively because of a parent’s involvement. Once you let the kid know there’s no reason for them to stick around if they are not happy, that outcome becomes rather clear.

The theme here is that the kids themselves have a fundamental need and desire to learn. You can break it down into smaller digestible pieces, demonstrate practical examples, and then see results upon which you can build the next lesson. You’re not born a rocket scientist, you are crafted into one, with a LOT of external help.

Adults are not the same. Many of us are set in our ways and the concept of learning as an adult is implicit rather than explicit. If people take any form of training, it’s less for the journey and actually learning, and more about the result – the certificate or such. It doesn’t help that a lot of training is non-practical, and only deals with theory. There are apprenticeship programs where the entire program is based on practical application over years. I’m more in the space of a week/night/end training session where people are provided the high level theory and come away with a piece of paper saying they have all they need to apply the knowledge. I have many books on home repair. No way you’d want me to build a house.

It doesn’t help that as adults, few of us make time to concentrate on learning. It’s often incidental, a happy coincidence that you have experience doing something, not necessarily understanding how it all works. How often have you met someone who claimed to be an expert in your field, demonstrated their work, and you were just plain amazed at how the house of cards hadn’t fallen yet? Adults are prideful and not willing to accept that there is something they may not fully understand.

I’m more than happy to help people along that path. Either through coaching (the how) or mentoring (the why). I’ve done it many times in the past and hope to continue to do so. The “success” in that work is predicated on a single factor – the people wanted to learn. One standout was an individual who was emotionally upset that they had done “all the right things” but had been continually passed over for opportunities. We sat down, reviewed what they thought was “all the right things” and realized there was a noticeable gap between their perception of expectations and reality. Built a plan, coached and feedback throughout, and a year later they got the opportunity they were looking for.

That first session was not a pleasant one. When one thinks they are doing everything right and have never had feedback along the path, it’s a massive strike to the ego when there is critical feedback. Separating the individual from the performance is essential. Clearly the desire was there, it was the approach and tooling that needed work. Someone who is willing to accept feedback and apply it, that’s exactly the type of person people want to have around.

And then we have the other side of the coin, where there are people who are not willing to accept feedback and are part of the team through obligation. There are times where it’s just not possible to find progress with individuals – less a failure of the process than of the relationship. In my entire adult career, I have only ever met 1 person who was purposefully doing a bad job. I’ve met plenty who willfully disregarded the rules, because they thought they knew better. They were being sheltered from the consequences of their actions, and once they were held accountable for the results, the behavior changed quickly. Being able to have a conversation where and individual is respected but understands their tools/approach needs work is a ridiculously exhausting process. Every person is different and merits a different level of tact.

I’m in a spot now where I am coaching 2 sports teams, mentoring a half dozen people at work, and coaching 3 individuals. I am growing conscious of the mental & physical toll this is taking. It’s like a slow leak, and every day I have just a tiny bit less energy to get through the day. I know what needs to be done to address this, and I can’t do that alone… the plan is in place it just needs to come to fruition in the next few weeks.

I’d like to get back to a sense of balance while still being able to help other folks. Fingers crossed.

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