The Growing Champions for Life philosophy was built on the idea that the youth sports experience is most effective in meeting its true objectives when coaches, parents, and administrators create the most positive learning environment possible for today's youth.
Lessons in self-control, humility, and character have the potential to help all members of a sports organization discover their guiding principles, and for young athletes to apply those lessons to live a values-driven life.
To guide sports administrators along the journey, we created five cornerstones for personal growth that address leadership success in youth sports AND life. Mastering these five skills will yield improved performance in your organization, AND your athletes’ personal maturity for making good decisions in life.
- Live by your values
- Be coachable
- Stick to it
- Manage your thoughts
- Stay on your path
Cornerstone #1 – Live by Your Values
What do you pull out of your pocket when you’re lost in the woods? Assuming you don’t have a GPS device, a compass would be most useful for making a decision about the next step in your journey. For that same reason, every sports administrator needs a moral compass for moving forward in a direction that is consistent with who they are. Your core values are a set of guiding principles, or beliefs, that are so central to who you are that it would feel unnatural – or even false – to behave in a way that is inconsistent with them.
The strength and authenticity of the Five Cornerstones are that they require self-discovery and self-direction. Your answers to three questions will guide you through the process of launching Cornerstone #1. Each question purposefully urges you “to wonder.”
- I wonder how I can become crystal clear about my core values and beliefs.
- I wonder how I can resist the temptation to compromise my values in spite of peer pressure, self-doubt, and my fears.
- I wonder how I can build my character muscles and behave in a way that is consistent with my values.
As you “wonder” about these questions the real you will answer each one in a genuine way. Give the process as much time as it takes and allow yourself permission to refine and adjust your answers over several days until it feels just right. Being clear about your answers is transformational. You will be equipped to handle any situation, setback, triumph, or challenge that shows up in your world.
Once the questions are answered you’re ready to start living by your values day by day. This consists of four steps:
- Imagine your ideal behaviors in various situations of life
- Confidently know who you are, based on your core beliefs
- Develop principle-centered character qualities
- Make decisions every day that are directed by your values, not by your needs or fears
Start the process today…no need to wait! Land on the first cornerstone with faith in the good things that are sure to come from Living by Your Values.
Cornerstone #2 – Be Coachable
“When the student is ready, the master will appear.”
This familiar quote uses the word “ready” to describe the state of mind of a coachable student. Your attitude toward being coached is the most critical factor in being able to take advantage of new information.
It doesn’t matter how revolutionary the coaching might be if the student is not open or receptive to being influenced by a coach. You must find the sweet spot between confidence in what you DO know and humble about what you DON’T know at the same time.
Here are your self-discovery questions for Be Coachable:
- I wonder how I can be accepting of coaching information given to me even if it doesn’t fit my previous experiences.
- I wonder how I can learn to feel good about myself while I struggle with new techniques or skills.
- I wonder how I can build my self-confidence, especially when I don’t perform my best, or win.
To “wonder” activates your creative center so the real you can answer each question in a genuine way. Give the process as much time as it takes.
Being clear about your answers is enlightening, transformational, and stimulates your openness to being coached.
Once the questions are answered you’re ready to be coachable whenever a new lesson is presented. This consists of four steps:
- Practice an attitude of humility
- Learn to be open and receptive to new concepts
- Give 100% attentiveness to absorbing and attempting new skills
- Articulate helpful feedback about what you’re experiencing
Start the process today…no need to wait! Land on the second cornerstone with faith in the good lessons that can be learned from being Coachable.
Cornerstone #3 – Stick to It
“Adversity has a way of eliciting strengths that in normal times would otherwise lay dormant.”
This quote suggests there is a redeeming value to facing obstacles, setbacks, and adversity. It’s normal to “boo-woo” at first when calamity strikes, but the sooner you can see adversity as an opportunity – instead of a threat – the faster you will capitalize on its fruits.
Every adversity your encounter has benefits of great value, and the lessons hidden in each struggle will make you stronger when you Stick to It.
Here are your self-discovery questions for Stick to It. Each question purposefully urges you “to wonder” until your answer comes from within.
- I wonder how I can work consistently at 80% to 90% effort?
- I wonder how I can make myself do the things I’d rather not do?
- I wonder how I can continue to move forward in spite of my obstacles or any adversity?
Replace any fear with a belief that sticking to it will have big dividends. Say “thank you” for the next setback you face. Your GRIT (perseverance) to handle any situation or challenge will increase accordingly.
Once the questions are answered you’re ready to Stick to It whenever a new obstacle is presented. This consists of four steps:
- Work on your leadership skills diligently and consistently
- Exercise self-discipline when tempted to take short-cuts
- Overcome adversity by going over, around, or through obstacles
- Persevere repeatedly and demonstrate your GRIT
Start the process today…no need to wait! Land on the third cornerstone with faith in the good lessons that can be learned from Sticking to It.
Cornerstone #4 – Manage Your Thoughts
You are not your mind.
Your brain is capable of spitting out 60,000 thoughts a day with lightning fast speed, but that’s not who you are. Thoughts come to you faster than you can choose them sometimes, and that means some of them do not actually serve you well.
For that reason, you must learn to manage your thoughts. This requires you to become “the observer” of your thoughts so that you can choose thoughts that are in your best interest and ignore thoughts that don’t serve your highest purpose in life.
Your answers to these three questions will guide you through the process of launching Cornerstone #4. Each question purposefully urges you “to wonder” until your answer comes from within.
- I wonder how I can train myself to say “no thank you” when my mind produces negative or judgmental thoughts?
- I wonder how I can choose positive thoughts about myself when I don’t perform at my best, or receive negative feedback from others?
- I wonder how I can handle the mental distractions that bombard me and get in the way of proper execution of my skills?
Notice your thoughts in a non-judgmental way and practice replacing less productive thoughts with more positive and uplifting thoughts. Accept the fact that you are the author of your thoughts.
Once the questions are answered you’re ready to manage your thoughts which will mean your emotions are also within your control. This consists of four steps:
- Choose your moods by first choosing your thoughts
- Practice self-acceptance and become less judgmental
- Replace negative thoughts by choosing positive self-talk
- Dwell on progress made and tasks completed
Start the process today…no need to wait! Land on the fourth cornerstone with determination to enjoy the benefits of Managing Your Thoughts.
Cornerstone #5 – Stay on Your Path
The journey you have chosen requires you to blaze a trail or follow in the steps of others who have gone before you. Either way, you must stay on your chosen path in spite of the various forks and tributaries that might cause you to stray.
Those attractive alternatives will lengthen the journey, or perhaps take you to an entirely different destination. Operate with unwavering faith in the value of the goal you have chosen and say “No thank you” to shortcuts or lesser variations of what you really want.
Here are your self-discovery questions for Stay on Your Path:
- I wonder how I can see and appreciate today the positive outcome my work will have on me six months down the road?
- I wonder how I can avoid the forks in the road that might take me in the wrong direction?
- I wonder how I can make the necessary course corrections when I stray off my path?
Enjoyment of the journey itself is key. Every step has potential joy in it, even when it’s challenging. Visualize the outcome and imagine the feeling of the wish fulfilled.
Once the questions are answered you’re ready to stay on your path, which means your steps forward will be steady and true every day. This consists of four steps:
- Identify the path you wish to follow
- Function with faith in the inevitable outcome
- Accept the process and enjoy it
- Visualize the results you expect to arrive
Start the process today…no need to wait! Land on the fifth cornerstone with determination to enjoy the benefits of Staying on Your Path.
As I’m sure you noticed, there’s repetition in the execution of all five leadership cornerstones. This is intentional.
All five concepts require discipline and all five have predictable outcomes if you follow the sequence taught here. The answers to all the questions reside within you; just allow them to come forth as gentle instructions to yourself. Then implement the four steps taught for each cornerstone.
Your evolving maturity and credibility as a sports administrator will serve your followers well.