We have all heard that when we love what we do, it shows. There is a night and day difference when we go through the motions versus when we do something that we love. So, what is the key ingredient that leads to this drastic contrast? It is passion.
When nurtured well, passion is a powerful tool that empowers us to stand out from the crowd and move closer to our goals. It has us waking up in the morning eager to see what the day holds and seize the opportunities afforded to us. It is an invaluable asset in our daily lives, but it is also a fragile one. If it is not cared for, internal and external factors can smother its flames.
Take youth athletes as an example. A recent survey of sports parents conducted by Utah State University for the Aspen Institute found that the average kid today spends under three years playing a sport and quits by the time they turn 11. Its findings showed that one of the leading factors impacting this trend is players' experiences with bad coaches.
This result is unsurprising because, as every athlete knows, the environment of a team can make or break an experience. And at the heart of a team environment is the leader mentoring the team.
Coaches have the power to build up or break down their players, physically and mentally. They play a crucial role in every athlete's experience; a great coach can elevate players to new heights, while a toxic coach can lead to players losing their drive and love for the sport. This trend is common amongst younger athletes, whose budding passion for the game is still malleable to the circumstances.
In an interview with ESPN, the late, great Kobe Bryant once said about youth sports, "It's not about us as coaches, and it's not about us winning or losing this game. At this stage, it is really about helping these individual children, these kids, get better. How do you get them to become better people and better athletes?"
While the survey focused on trends in childhood sports, coaches continue to have an instrumental impact throughout an athlete's career. What makes a good coach evolves as players move up in age divisions, but there are commonalities of effective coaching across every level.
Constructive feedback. Despite the common misconception that good coaches only praise how a player did well, often it is the coaches that push you who help you grow the most. The best coaches are the ones who applaud players' strengths, recognize areas of improvement, and challenge them to become better without putting them down.
Creating a healthy atmosphere: Coaches have a responsibility to their players to ensure that they have a safe environment where they can hone in on their craft as individual athletes and come together as a team to work towards victory. The feel of this atmosphere shifts over the years to fit the demands of different levels and programs. However, it remains the coach's job to ensure their team feels comfortable.
Supporting players physically and mentally: As players advance in their sport, the level of pressure they experience increases. Coaches have a responsibility to prepare their players physically while also supporting them mentally. Otherwise, an athlete's performance will always suffer, hurting them individually and the team as a whole.
These expectations also apply to organizations looking to elevate their brand. An organization's team needs to care for their brand the same way coaches care for their players.
While there are always opportunities for growth, your strategy to reach the next level also needs to recognize all the strengths and positives your brand currently offers. After all, if your organization's internal team does not see and believe in the current strengths of your brand, then why should your audience? Be the coach your brand needs to soar and reach its fullest potential. Help it improve on its weaknesses, but let its passion shine bright by embracing all it has to offer.