Four Questions To Answer To Understand Your Value As A Coach (HINT: it's not what the scoreboard says)

written by Erica Quam

I caught up with a coach the other day who was really bummed out.

Her team had competed well, yet she was frustrated. The competition also had strong performances. Last year her team would have been four places higher in the overall team standings...with the same results. She told her team what she thought they were capable of achieving...they did it...and yet those results weren't reflected on the scoreboard.

She had originally planned to take some much needed downtime after the season. Now, she was questioning her time off..."What would my boss say if I take time off...when what I really need is to sign another recruit to help our team next season? I don't feel we did well enough for me to deserve a vacation."

I'm wondering if you can relate. Have you ever felt like this? 

There can be a normal let down at the end of the season - no matter how well you're team has performed.  Many coaches - if they're being honest - either feel flawed in some way OR feel the need to constantly prove themselves.  Unless you've just won the national championship, there's always room to improve. (Even then, if you've talked to any national championship coach after they've won...the pressure and expectations simply go up instead of down.)

It's so easy to let the results on the scoreboard define you. It's easy to let the outside world dictate how you FEEL about yourself. It's easy...and it's not helpful!  This kind of thinking makes you shrink and contract.  This kind of thinking does not move you forward.  These thoughts don't help you grow and expand. 

That's why I teach coaches how to identify and focus more on their true value. 

I'm not talking about value as in a higher salary.  (Although recognizing your value can help you be more confident when you do go in to ask for a raise.)

I'm talking about recognizing your true power. Begin to acknowledge and celebrate all the unique abilities and skills you have as a coach. The way you coach and connect with your athletes to help them learn, grow, and develop is something that's unique to you alone.

Imagine if your athletes had to struggle all by themselves all season long without you?

Picture this scenario for a moment:

You begin the season with your team. You create their schedule, give them a plan, share your expectations, and then set them free to accomplish their goals...all on their own.

How successful would they be? 

How many of them would push through, survive, and persevere? How much smoother and easier would it have been if they had your support? How much faster would it have been for them to achieve those same results?

Think about all of the things you're able to provide for them throughout the season that help them stay committed, inspired, and accountable to the things they say they want to accomplish.

When you reframe your role this way, you may find it easier to see the consistent value you provide...every single day...throughout the season.

3 REASONS WHY IT'S HARD TO RECOGNIZE YOUR VALUE

1.  Your athletes rarely acknowledge your value

Knowing and honoring your value as a coach can be a real challenge. Especially when the season is hard, the team is struggling, and your athletes get into a funk because of the myriad of unique challenges they face. They lash out at the closest thing to them...YOU. 

They blame, judge, or criticize you for the challenges that come up or when they aren't getting the results they think they deserve. They complain about you to their teammates, parents, your staff, your boss, or anyone else who will listen. It's hard to stand alone as the leader and not take these things personally. No matter how thick your skin...criticism hurts.

Remember: No matter what your athletes say to you, they do want you to lead them. They want you to stand in your power, share the value you have to offer, and help them become better athletes and better people. They need that. 

You aren't going to serve them by making sure they're happy all the time - so they'll complain less. You won't help them by allowing them to play small or letting them bargain and negotiate their way out of the hard work that you know is required for the goals that they've set.

You have to be the one to hold the vision and guide them through the season - one step at a time.

2.  The scoreboard does not compute your value

Most of the world measures success on what the scoreboard says, the attention you get from the media, or how many likes you get on social media. What's your record? How many points did you score? Did your team standings improve?

That's the nature of sports. And...we all know deep down that our true success and accomplishments as a coach extend well beyond what's on the scoreboard.

You have to be the one to remind yourself of the small steps you're making with each athlete. Be proactive in recognizing the small breakthroughs, the key insights, and the subtle transformations that happen throughout the year. 

Speak to these - frequently - throughout the season...and especially draw upon these things at the end of the season when it's all said and done. 

3.  You're not taught how to acknowledge your value

Most of us are taught to play small from a very early age...especially women. Instead of standing out, you're supposed to fit in. Look around - outside of yourself - to compare, compute, judge, and label (good/bad, right/wrong, better/worse). 

Not valuing yourself leads to low self worth. How does this show up? What does this look like?

  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, scattered, and unclear
  • Not asking for what you want; not reaching out to get the support you need
  • Believing that there's one way; that you need to fit into 'the system'
  • Waiting...to make a decision, take a risk, or take action until you're ________ enough (old, experienced, talented, strong, confident, intelligent, skilled, certain, perfect)
  • Blaming...playing the role of the victim...things happen TO you
  • Viewing yourself as less worthy than someone else
  • Not ________ enough (good, smart, fast, pretty, skinny, intelligent, loud, quiet)
  • Belief that your time is worth less than someone else's time
  • Staying quiet instead of speaking up for yourself
  • Doing it yourself instead of delegating and stating what a task looks like when it's done well

It's deeply engrained to struggle all by ourselves. We're taught not to ask for help. We take on other people's stories, criticism, judgement, and blame. We listen to our thoughts and think they're actually real. It's exhausting!

Answer these four questions to help understand the REAL value you offer:

1.  What desires and/or dreams do you help your athletes achieve?

2.  What doubts or limiting beliefs do you help them overcome?

3.  What mistakes do your athletes make that you've helped them understand and/or change?

4.  What problems do you solve or solutions do you provide to help your athletes through their challenges and struggles?

You see, there are hard results that are measurable and tangible. That's only a small slice of what you do.

You provide people with soft results. While the 'soft results' are less tangible and harder to measure...these are the results that are changing lives.

It's never just about the last game, race, hole, or point. It's about the whole body of work that you've helped each athlete produce over the duration of the season...and the course of their career with you.

The most important results are their character, leadership skills, and outlook on life. These stats will never shows up on the scoreboard!

Now, it's your turn. Share one insight or ah ha you had about your REAL value as a coach in the comments below.