If you let things build up, get ready for a blow up

written by Erica Quam

The real subject of this post is about control.

The more we try to control things, the less control we actually have.

At times, we’d probably prefer to control the behavior of others...or at least change them enough to fit our needs, meet our expectations, and make things more comfortable...for us.

We may think to ourselves...can’t they see how wrong they are? can’t they see how frustrating this is and how difficult they are being right now?

When we find ourselves in a place of irritation, blame, or even anger...take a step back to get curious. Explore the feeling. Sit with the emotion. Develop this awareness.

Blaming others for things that we find frustrating makes us the victim. It never leads to positive change or transformation. People get sucked into this pattern all the time. The complain and blame approach is all around us. It’s in the media, it’s in politics, we may have grown up with it in our families. 

It seems easier to point to one group, or one person instead of owning our part of things...or taking any responsibility. 

The only behavior we can control is our own. The only person we can really change is ourself.

I’ve worked with a coach named Susie for the past five years. (Her name really isn’t Susie...). We talked about one of the challenges she’s dealing with this week. She’s in the middle of the season and feels stuck. 

Susie wants to take on more responsibility and play a bigger role. She expressed this desire to her head coach at the end of last year. He seemed open and eager to the idea. Yet nothing has changed. He hasn’t expanded her role. He hasn’t even talked about it again...since the meeting. Sound familiar?

Susie believes it’s because her head coach likes to be in charge and hold all the cards. When I dug a little deeper, I found out Susie never asked for anything specific.  She had an ah-ha during our talk and realized he actually had given her more responsibility. He put her in charge of recruiting. That wasn’t the kind of change she wanted.  

“I want to be more involved in planning things for team meetings and team activities - with the women’s team, specifically. They have so much potential...and right now they’re just following along behind the guys. They don’t work together at all and support one another like they could.”

I asked Susie a little more about her head coach. We realized through our chat that the head coach isn’t a planner. He doesn’t do much of anything in advance - especially when it comes to team meetings. He’d much rather show up, get a pulse of what’s going on, figure out what needs to be said, and say it. He shoots from the hip, meetings are short, and then it’s off to practice.

I challenged Susie to have a talk with her head coach. Ask him if he was interested in knowing her perspective on what she thought the women’s team needed to help them be more successful. She would request to lead a few simple activities over the next couple months. She would ask him to be as well (to give her support and show the team it was important to him, too.)

We’ll see how it turns out. Either way, I think it’s going to help Susie. If he supports her request, she’ll feel empowered. If he shuts her down, she’ll know that this isn’t the place where she can stay to learn, grow, and tap into her potential as a coach. If she waits until the end of the year to have this conversation...the same thing could happen.

We have to let people know what we need. We can communicate our specific expectations. Sometimes we have to get a little uncomfortable to directly address the challenges and situations we’re frustrated with. And that’s not easy. The easier road is to say nothing...then blame and complain about things. 

When we let things build up (big or little), then prepare for a blow up. Things we don’t address eat away at us. Eventually we react. We may not even direct our reaction to the person we’re frustrated with. Instead, we off-load. We take it out on someone else.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You can’t expect someone else to make the changes you need them to make. YOU have to change.

So, if there are situations that keep coming up within your coaching staff or on your team, take a step back and look at your approach. What will YOU do differently? What are YOU willing to take responsibility for? What change are YOU willing to make?

Step up to be the leader of yourself. Do what you can do within your own sphere of influence. When you do, you will get the results you are looking for in life.

This...is the only way forward.