Saturday, May 12, 2012

5 things winners do-Stan Jones

Stan Jones is the Associate Head coach at Florida State and has been a vital part of their success.  he is a great follow on twitter as well!

Pat Riley once said, “If you are really into winning, there are only two things; winning and misery.” And in Don Yaeger’s book, “Greatness: The 16 Characteristics of True Champions”, the first sentence in chapter one reads, “The truly Great hate to lose more than they love to win.” It is becoming more aware to me as I advance in my coaching career that young people have less reference points in their lives as how to truly win. They just don’t understand that winning is a learned attitude and that it just does not happen naturally. As coaches, I think it is imperative that we develop into our methodology what it takes to win as much as perfecting our offensive and defensive philosophies and systems.
Obviously, if there was a developed curriculum that never failed, we could all follow the formula and winning would happen for everybody. So in our positions of leadership, we must constantly be taking a needs assessment of our team and be proactive in consistently educating our players both collectively and individually, what is necessary for them to be in the best position to win. Our biggest challenge in this education process is the 24-hour a day battle for their mind space and their ear space. With all the rapidly growing opportunities to technologically stay in communication with one these days, it is much harder to get them to absorb the concepts of winning, we as coaches’ work to provide them. I believe it is imperative; that we adapt and use these forms of technological interaction as pulpits to get the words of wisdom in front of our young people and their support people. Here are some themes that I have learned in my athletic career that I try to reinforce daily to our players in trying to build and maintain a culture of winning in our program:
1.       Stay in the present moment: This is so crucial for a competitor. On our team this year, we have six seniors. Old school logic would presume that a team would get great leadership because this is their last year and they want to do something special and they do. But what happened to us early in the season was the fact that they were thinking about and to a degree, worrying about next year more than this year. Our coaching staff spent many conversations working through those thoughts and we had to stub our toes a few times before our group of seniors got locked in on the now. Hopefully as they see the finish line they will desire the challenge of the now and understand the future will take better care of itself the more than accomplish now. 
2.      Trust themselves and the associations on their team: So many individuals fail to realize that the real winners take great value with who they associate with on a day to day basis. Champion athletes want to be pushed and they are willing to push their teammates. They abhor non-competitive people and they realize they can’t get better by being comfortable. In the same vein, they want leaders to challenge them. They want to be educated, criticized then educated some more. Players who lament that their coach is always negative are usually players who are basically lazy and want to be successful as long as they can be comfortable. Winners are not whiners and finger pointers. They have a great sense of the situation and trust their associates to get their job done because they have all held themselves accountable. As coaches’, it starts with us holding ourselves accountable and always being prepared to give our players the proper direction during the most stressful of situations. Players will always trust that demonstrated behavior. 
3.      Appear more calm and direct when they are most tense:  Building off of the last point, it is always a thing of beauty to see those teams that always have ice water in their veins in big moments. They are like a duck swimming on a lake, they look calm and smooth on top of the water but they are working like heck below the surface where no one sees how hard they are paddling to get where they are going. Similarly, I have learned that when you look at the bench, you see the same coolness when the game gets to be the hottest. The big time winners in coaching have a demeanor that gives their players confidence that we are going to win. There is order and direction during critical junctures in the game. And you don’t see chaos and confusion at any of those points. 
4.      Take calculated risks:  Winning leadership understands that situations may not always go as originally planned. But they never make panicky decisions that totally take them out of being able to change the momentum of the moment. They know their personnel and their personalities and they also know their enemies because of their detailed preparation. Under duress they sense if change is needed or if convincing your troops to stay with something that doesn’t appear to be the answer is the right risk. I learned that in my last high school coaching position in the very first game of my tenure. Having worked with my new players through the summer and spending hours studying film of the teams on our schedule, I had put in a fast paced system that I thought would energize the program and start us on an upward path for long term success. In the second quarter of the first game, we were getting blown by 17 points. Calling a timeout right before halftime, I confidently shared with our guys that our opponent was about to break, if they would believe in our system and keep working it. I was hoping I was right on the inside but I knew my athletic director watching from the stands thought I might be nuts. Fortunately, my confidence in my decision carried over into my guys and we ended up winning the game decisively and helped set the tone for more success to follow.
5.       Expect the best:  So many people fail because they never try. The fear of failure is greater than their belief in themselves. True winners have fun and love to compete because they believe they will achieve positive results. They don’t hesitate to put themselves on the line and that confidence becomes infectious to all those around them. I have also observed that all winners believe in a power greater than themselves. For some this belief is based on a spiritual power source but I also see leaders with a confidence from the power that comes from the collective efforts of their organization. I think winners believe so much in their system that magical things happen because they believe in what can achieve together. Anatole France said, “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.”
In the big business world of athletics in today’s world, I observe many coaches who lose their positions not because they are poor coaches but because they quit fighting the battle of building a culture of winning in their program. The won-lost record and the fear of the future paralyzes their thinking and it becomes a pressure packed negative mindset of how do we just win the next one. It is obvious that we have to take each game one at a time. But I truly believe that the programs that have perpetual success have spent the most time feeding the soul of their players with what it takes to be a winner!

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