There have always been correlations between professional life and sports. Work hard, be on time, be a good teammate. The list goes on. Playing sports my whole life, I did not realize the impact coaching would have on my career outside of athletics.
For the last two years, I’ve been coaching a youth lacrosse team in McLean, VA. The majority of that time has been with kids who are now going to be 5th and 6th graders. These are a few things I have learned:
Patience is, in fact, a virtue – Coaching young kids can be a challenge. They do not listen as well as you would like and often have other things they would rather be doing. What no one tells you when you’re young is that some adults can be the same way. When you are working with anyone, young or old, you need to realize that what you think is priority #1 may be priority #10 for that individual. Things can move slowly at times but be patient and collaborative with them to find the best solution moving forward.
Encourage others – For better or worse, kids generally do not have a filter. Instead of blaming others when things are not going well, look at what you can do to help solve the problem at hand. If you want your colleagues to help you down the road, you need to take responsibility when you can. Maybe they could have done something better but scolding them will not help you or them. Be a leader and push others in the right direction.
Winning and losing – As a competitor on the field, I always hated losing, as anyone would. When I started coaching, I had a stark realization that I could not make plays on the field anymore. You can only put others in the best position to win games with you. When you are working with other people, your teammates, make sure that you put them in the best position to win with you. Don’t short others to try and take all the glory. And when you lose, think about how you can prepare better for the next opportunity and capitalize. Don’t sulk because while you are sulking, someone else is taking your next opportunity.
Coaching has been one of the most frustrating and rewarding experiences I have had thus far. I’d encourage others to take any teaching, coaching, or volunteering jobs you can because the lessons learned are applicable and invaluable. While you are working with those individuals, think about what you can take away and apply to your professional life. There is always something.