The holiday hiatus from the blog lasted longer than I expected, but I’m back and ready to roll! If anyone out there has been reading this thing diligently, I apologize for my absence. I adhere to Steven Covey’s philosophy of “sharpening the saw”, and that’s what I’ve been doing since Winter Break began (spending time with family, reading, playing board games, attending sporting events, watching movies, going to the movies, etc.). Maintaining the blog while traveling and staying with relatives seemed a little too much like work, so I took some time off.
Goal: Keep adding books/reviews to GoodReads each time I finish a book/Goal: Coach Varsity basketball (male or female, but preferably male)
I got Steve Jobs’ biography for Christmas, and at this point, I’m more than halfway through it. Overall, the book has me feeling conflicted due to the depiction of Jobs’ character. I want to like him because of his vision of true excellence and drive for attaining it, but I also find myself disliking him because he often treats people poorly. As the modified boys’ basketball season kicks off, I am thinking about my coaching with Jobs in mind.
First, I am continuing the constantly evolving reflective act of building my basketball philosophy, particularly the notion that good basketball teams do many (if not all) of the basics extremely well. Last year, I shared a “thought for the day” with my team at the start of each practice, and one of the thoughts was the following: “The many little things are a big thing.” I truly believe this and structure my practices accordingly, and based on what I’ve read so far about Jobs, I think that he and I would be on the same wavelength. One anecdote in the biography tells of how Jobs, when designing the first Macintosh, was adamant that his engineers make the “guts” of the computer simple and symmetrical. When his engineers pushed back, arguing that no one would ever see the insides of the machines, Jobs basically wigged out on them and claimed that that’s not the point—the point is that as creators, we should strive for perfection and be proud of what we do. This fits perfectly with my sense that something as simple as a Form Shooting Drill in basketball practice should be done slowly and precisely, even though the drill itself is not all that exciting and does not even replicate true shooting form. Instead, the drill takes the act of shooting a basketball down into one of its components (its “guts”, if you will), thus improving the finished product of each athlete’s shooting form. It’s a little thing that amounts to a big thing—scoring points needed for victory.
The other way in which I’m thinking about coaching through the lens of the biography has to do with Jobs’ treatment of people. As a coach, I have always believed in the power of positivity. I had coaches in high school who screamed at me, and I definitely remember what they taught me…to block out their obnoxiousness. I bet this isn’t the life lesson these coaches had in mind for me. With that said, I will never be “yeller”. Jobs was a yeller (and a swearer, too!), and though he was extremely successful, he also turned a lot of people off. I do realize from his example that there are times when firmness and passion are necessary for making a point and getting results, but I still believe that leaders (CEOs, coaches, teachers, etc.) can go too far. “Going too far” in this sense makes me and many of my athletes uncomfortable, so I won’t do it—I’ll consciously reign myself in. When Jobs really hit his stride was the times when he praised workers and rewarded them for their efforts. One coworker interviewed by the author of the biography noted that Jobs had the ability to make people feel like they were the center of his universe, and when they felt this way, they would do anything for him. This boils down to our desire as humans to feel appreciated. When we don’t, we don’t perform. I will make sure to stay positive this season as I work with the 7th graders so that they feel good about themselves and experience a sense of accomplishment.
*Note: You may have noticed that my goal mentions coaching at the Varsity level—ultimately, this is my goal, but in the meantime, I coach my 7th graders with planning, precision, and pride in much the same manner that I will coach a Varsity team if I ever get the opportunity.)
**Note: I did not include a picture of Caleb today because he is very sick—I didn’t want to subject him to the camera!