Lessons on How to Become a Better Coach for Your Company
Jeremy Burkhardt (jburkhardt@speaker craft.com) is president of SpeakerCraft in Riverside, California.
You are the coach of your business, but it is up to you to determine what game you are playing and what winning means, from the types of installs that you do, to how much profit you make, and how many jobs you want do per year.
But even coaches need coaches. We all need mentors and people to whom we can turn for advice on processes that can help us succeed.
Learning From Phil Jackson
Ten years ago I had one of my childhood dreams come true when I got to hear NBA legend Phil Jackson explain coaching in a sponsored session called “Chalk Talk.”
Michael Jordan was amazing, but to me Phil was the one who really led and designed the Chicago Bulls and now the L.A. Lakers basketball championships as the head coach. The principles he shared on coaching were not original; in fact many were from Native American or Zen teachings that are thousands of years old. Yet they led me down a unique path.
I try to practice many different facets of this philosophy, daily, from meditation and breathing exercises to yoga, stretching, and just enjoying the moment. Life is better when you live for experience verses the theoretical way many people think of living by imaging a future that may never come and dwelling on a past that they cannot change.
We’re Always Rookies
Phil Jackson’s first-year coaching card has been on my desk for 20 years and reminds me of a Zen idea that we are all rookies at something every day and that being a leader and coach is an ever-evolving process. To grow, we must cultivate a childlike and open mind. It’s when we have difficult and predetermined thoughts that we become less able to flow with life and learn new things.
Phil Jackson’s first-year coaching card has been on the author’s desk for 20 years to remind him of a Zen idea that we are all rookies at something everyday and that being a leader and coach is an ever-evolving process.. Do Your Players Respect You?
I love this quote by Phil: “Despite their tremendous talent, [NBA players] are still, by and large, young adults, seeking validation from an authority figure, and there is no greater authority figure on a team than the coach. Needless to say, in today’s warped, self-indulgent climate, too many players couldn’t care less about appeasing the coach.” How true does that ring in your business? How can you gain your players’ ultimate respect?
Here is an old Zen saying that relates well to managing your team: “To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.” I find that often you can get more out of employees by setting up the goal and time line and leaving the tactics up to them.
Prepare Well, Visualize Success
During a time out in an NBA game featuring one of Phil’s teams, it’s not uncommon to hear him say something like, “OK guys relax and breath deep; you know what to do, so enjoy this moment and go make it happen.” Most other coaches are busy drawing up plays, yelling about fundamentals, and rushing through the whole timeout with non-stop coaching. Meanwhile Phil’s team takes a breather and visualizes success. They can do that because they have practiced what needs to be done, and now they must execute the game plan. Often after a win, instead of boasting I have heard Phil say some version of this: “Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is the experience of being fully engaged in whatever I’m doing.”
We often don’t realize that we can gain more by letting go, or just “going with the flow.” When I sit in front of a stream or watch Koi and just “be” as the water flows, I often recite “Panta Rhei” or “Everything Flows” by Heraclitus to myself.
I want my life and business to be like water, because nothing in nature stops it, and it continues and adapts, without hard rigid straight lines, to find its way. I think we can continue to play the capitalist game we choose and enjoy winning even more by letting go, focusing on our breathing, and enjoying every moment without labeling it as good or bad.
Who is Heraclitus?
Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. He is famous for his doctrine of change being central to the universe, as stated in his famous saying, “You cannot step twice into the same river.”