4 things Most coaches don't want to hear about self awareness

written by Erica Quam

Self awareness is an important leadership skill. It's all about understanding your own abilities and limitations. It's about learning from experiences and taking steps to improve. It's about asking for feedback from others. It's about being yourself - understanding your own values and beliefs, and being clear about your goals. Coaches plan an integral role in helping their athletes develop better self awareness. Yet, how often do you work at developing your own?

1. Your biggest challenges are opportunities for your own personal growth.

If you've had a lot of challenges this year on your team then you're not alone. All coaches and teams go through challenges. Things will come up each season that you won't be able to plan for - no matter how hard you try. Accept that.

It's how you handle a challenge that really matters. It's easy to blame other people: "it's because the administration didn't give us the resources, it's because this generation takes no accountability, it's because my assistant coach didn't follow through with what I asked." We rarely see challenges as ways WE can grow. We see them as areas where other people need to change to meet our expectations.

Think about it though. Will blaming actually help anything? Will it actually teach you or will it just keep you stuck?

Chances are...you play a role in the challenge. It's much more productive to reflect on a challenge and ask yourself, "What's the lesson in this for me? How can I do things differently next time?"

2. Your athletes and staff already know your weaknesses.

A lot of coaches I work with get really frustrated with an athlete, administrator, or an assistant coach for things they need to work on themselves. Coaches can be quick to point out everyone else's shortcomings yet remain unaware of their own areas for growth.

Certain things that frustrate you about other people are always something you've got in yourself. You can't see it - if you don't have it too. Have you ever heard of the phrase, "You spot it, you've got it."? It's a powerful paradox!

If you give someone constructive feedback in an area you also need to work on...it diminishes the impact of your feedback. If you take ownership and admit, "this is something I'm also working on" it can make your feedback that much more powerful. This shifts to become a shared experience - a journey you're on together.

Some coaches believe it's weak to admit any weaknesses or mistakes. (Newsflash: your team already knows!) Do everyone a favor. Take a chance and admit to your team that you're also a work in progress. I guarantee your athletes and staff will respect you that much more. 

3. If you don't learn to communicate with the most difficult athletes on your team - you will attract more difficult athletes.

I really believe we attract people into our lives for our own personal growth and development. We also get to choose how we deal with them. How many times have you said something like, "I can't wait for Suzie to graduate...so I don't have to deal with her crap anymore." 

Guess what!? If you don't figure out how to "deal with Suzie" you're gonna get a lot more "Suzie's" until you learn a different way. I don't mean to be a downer...but it's true. If you can shift your perspective into a growth mindset, then it can become a fun little challenge. It may even take the emotion out of your situation with "Suzie."

Start asking yourself what you're supposed to learn from the Suzie's of the world to help you grow as a coach? Is there a different way you need to communicate with her? Are there expectations you have that you need to clarify? Is there a boundary you need to set to hold her accountable? 

4. Where there's a stress there's a lack of a standard.

If you're stressed about something, chances are you're tolerating something. If you're tolerating something, then there's a boundary you need to set.

Maybe it's a conversation you've been putting off. Maybe you've been avoiding someone. Maybe there's a decision you need to make. 

When you tolerate more than you can handle - your drain your energy. You need to take a step back to get clear. Is my energy worth the things that I'm tolerating? Figure out what you're willing to put up with. You have to set boundaries and let people know what's okay and what's not okay. Sure, that may be uncomfortable. You may have to have a difficult conversation or two. Once you do, you'll be amazed at how much better you feel and how much more energy you have. 

Self awareness is one of six leadership skills I emphasize when I work with coaches. The more you know yourself, the better you'll be able to connect with and help others. Are there other things you’ve done to develop your own self awareness? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you. Share one thing in the comments below.