Coach (Capt.) Fletch here winding down a wild and wonderful spring. This month, I want to revisit patience. How do you keep your motivation through the hard work of putting a team back on a path to success?
People often judge success simply by tasks finished or, in the case of sports, by the standings. Yet, success comes in many forms and on many levels, and good leaders know to recognize and capitalize on even the smallest accomplishments. People often ask me, “Jake, how do you maintain your composure in moments of frustration or setbacks?” I am human, like anyone else. I am highly competitive and I strive for success. But leaders have to see the bigger picture while rebuilding any faltering team.
Doubt can sneak in, causing stress. You begin to question yourself as a leader: Am I doing the right thing? Does the team trust me? Are we going to achieve the success we seek? I have asked myself all of these questions in moments of distress on the road to success. How do we combat this?
Much of the answer ties back to what we discussed last month and why I encourage the implementation of a basic framework. Structure does not just benefit the members of a team; it also benefits the leader. The road to success stretches through many long days in which you can easily lose sight of things. A well-structured team can help you keep daily events in perspective.
For instance, many days early on with the drilling team at RED HORSE we drilled for 12 hours only to have to trip out and move the rig to try again in a new spot. This happened multiple times in those first few months and could have easily sidetracked the entire team. However, because we spent time upfront structuring ourselves, we could adapt and continue improving. We learned to look at failure as a steppingstone to success rather than a setback. Each iteration pushed us closer and closer to the indescribable experience of making water emerge from the ground we walked on.
Beyond a solid framework, combat doubts and what-ifs by remembering your purpose as a leader. People often associate leadership with selflessness. Yet, too often — whether in sports or military operations, leaders lose their focus on the team.
Beyond a solid framework, combat doubts and what-ifs by remembering your purpose as a leader. People often associate leadership with selflessness. Yet, too often — whether in sports or military operations, leaders lose their focus on the team. When we remove ourselves and put team first, moments of frustration become easy to digest. When we insert our ego into those moments, we take team failure personally. Taking those emotions out on the team can be detrimental.
As a coach this year, I had many moments to remind myself — in the face of frustration and adversity — that the team comes first. I would ask myself, “Jake, why are you upset?” The answer, when I truly thought about it, had nothing to do with me. I could see what my team was capable of, but that they had also come up short. I felt their frustration. I wanted them to have the success they deserved but had missed. Using that approach, I found it easier to talk to the team and use these adverse moments to show them how it all fits in the bigger picture.
You probably wonder whether I consider this season a failure or success. The truth is I consider it a great privilege to guide and watch over others as they achieve success, however small or large. I have watched many men and women achieve things they never would have believed. In the last few months, I have seen young men develop greater character and hold themselves and each other to a higher standard. For example, one principle on my team is zero profanity. Just the other day I walked by a young player, who did not know I had arrived, and I heard him correct a friend of his — not on the team — to watch his language. No scoreboard could ever reflect that success. A season filled with moments like that can easily overshadow anything that happens in the scorebook.
As we close out another baseball season and return to our regular leadership broadcast, I leave you with one final tale of a famous team that seems relevant. In November 1970, Marshall University lost nearly its entire football program in a devastating plane crash. The road they took to get back on the field was filled with adversity and setbacks that should have easily derailed them. Coach Jack Lengyel could have easily let performance on the field or pushback he faced off the field discourage him. He recognized that it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with the success that would someday return to the team and the town — whether he was there to see it or not in the end. In the years immediately following that plane crash, Marshall University lost more football games than any other program in the country. Yet they eventually emerged to collect several conference titles and two national championships.
I am thankful for leaders like Lengyel and look forward to what the future holds for all teams I am fortunate enough to be part of. Until next time, Coach (Capt.) Fletch, over and out!