“Have you ever had a sales rep try to sell you some “office solution” by telling you that 70 percent of your competitors are using their service, so why aren’t you? But what if 70 percent of your competitors are idiots?”

Key Takeaways:
  • Decision-Making with Limited Information
  • Manipulation vs Inspiration

To be fair, I have never been engaged with a salesman attempting to offer office solution, but the message is still valid. Coaches have to make decisions every day with the information that we digest from a variety of activities:

  • Practices
  • Individual Workouts
  • Grades
  • Classroom Behavior
  • Work ethic
  • Weight-room

The accumulation of various contributions can sway a coach’s decision on reps, roles, and other opportunities. Something I have utilized within our program after being a part of another staff with a head coach I have a lot of respect for is the bank analogy of deposits and withdrawals. Our decisions are made based on the daily deposits and withdrawals student-athletes make from their own decision-making. Some deposits are significant influences such as demonstrating leadership during challenging situations, while others are considered expected by simply showing up to practice. Those daily deposits enrich our bank account as coaches to increase the odds of making an educated decision on things that matter most to the student-athletes.

Simultaneously, our student-athletes are subconsciously collecting the same information on their perspective of the experience to participate with our programs that lead to increased buy-in, team chemistry, and overall willingness to compete.

“Every instruction we give, every course of action we set, every result we desire, starts with the same thing: a decision. There are those who decide to manipulate the door to fit to achieve the desired result and there are those who start from somewhere very different.”

Manipulation vs Inspiration

This is where the author, Simon Sinek starts to get into the central component of leadership – identifying tactics to meet short-term objectives or developing sustainable support providing purpose and deeper connection.

“There’s barely a product or service on the market today that customers can’t buy from someone else for about the same price, about the same quality, about the same level of service and about the same features.

… But if you ask most businesses why their customers are their customers, most will tell you it’s because of superior quality, features, price or service. In other words, most companies have no clue why their customers are their customers. This is a fascinating realization. If companies don’t know why their customers are their customers, odds are good that they don’t know why their employees are their employees either.”

Consider what inspires your student-athletes.

At the high school level – despite growing trends – there is less of a choice for kids when it comes to where to compete. However, at the collegiate level coaches earn their stripes on the ability to recruit. What separates a prospective student-athletes decision to go to one institution over another? Is it through manipulation or inspiration? As Sinek suggests, there are only two ways to influence human-behavior: manipulate it or inspire it.

There are a variety of practices of manipulation covered in Part One:

  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Fear
  • Aspirations
  • Novelty/Innovation

These tactics are effective. Yet, they are not sustainable.

“I always joke that you can get someone to buy a gym membership with an aspirational message, but to get them to go three days a week requires a bit of inspiration.”

Coaches can promise the world that makes any program appealing to get a commitment. But, the programs that sustain excellence inspire the student-athlete to get in the gym three (or more) days a week.


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