Key Takeaways:

  • Relationship Map
  • Small-Group Sessions
  • 7 Tools For Growth

This week’s Book Club covers building relationships and the contributing characteristics (“Tools”) necessary for the growth of any program or organization. Below is an image pulled from Water The Bamboo (p.37) where author Greg Bell illustrates the four stages of a ‘Relationship Map’ towards mutually empowering relationships.

Coming back to the gym having been removed for nearly 9 months can take a toll on the connectivity of any program. Specific to the high-school coaching landscape, every state and school is unique to the limitations of participation or even communication with players during an off-season. At any level, this year has been particularly challenging for coaches continuing their efforts to shape a locker-room and the identity of the program. Thus, it has and forever will be about the ability to authentically manufacture relationships in the room.

Upon return to campus, the PLAN as discussed from last week’s Book Club is to first prioritize re-connecting with the guys. A lot has transpired between our last meeting together and the upcoming season, including everything beyond the realm of sports. An open conversation has to be the starting point to better understand where we stand today based on what has happened and where we intend to go moving forward. Other programs may have had more time with their kids and will continue to focus on different parts of the ‘Relationship Map’. Sticking to the metaphor of the bamboo; the strength of our relationships is comparable to the roots in the ground nurturing the growth for our future.

Small-Group Sessions

One way to get the ball rolling with regard to communication can come in the form of small-group sessions. Putting groups together could be a way to integrate youth with returners or having teammates with most in common join together, such as by position or class. However it is organized, smaller groups can produce more substantial conversations and possibly accelerate a variety of positive attributes to the team (i.e. camaraderie, trust, etc.). This could also be a time for leadership skills-training opportunities or addressing program expectations that could be shared with the team.

During previous seasons, we have had weekly – some years better than others – meetings with our captains simulating small-group sessions. The conversations often focused on team dynamics, the progression of practice, and varied thoughts to improve moving forward. It is one thing to have a discussion, it is another to create the plan in place to complete said objectives. Water The Bamboo discusses the significance of goal-setting and how small-group sessions can play a role to accomplish those goals. By adding specific objectives to our captains’ meetings with an expected timeline to complete there could be more transparency and understanding for our leaders to push the rest of the team in a unified direction. An example could be to implement our press break within the first week of the season. Despite working on a variety of other skill-development and system installation schemes, our guys should feel confident of any if/then situations related to a press-break based on the number of reps during the week of practice. The following captain discussion should be able to clearly address where are with our press-break and allow the staff/team to make a decision to move forward or spend more time if necessary. The hope is players with leadership roles will be more inclined to self-correct and collaborate with the rest of the team ensuring collective understanding for when/where/how we’re supposed to move if facing full-court pressure. Small-groups can key in on accumulating objectives, in addition to providing checks and balances taking ownership in our progression as a team.

7 Tools For Success

The last section for this week’s Book Club is titled Use The Bamboo Farmer’s Tools. There were 7 smaller chapters identifying the 7 characters considered integral to the successful development of an organization. Below is the list of tools with an attributed quote from each chapter highlighting the value for utilization:


It takes no more effort to believe than it does to doubt. While doubt is draining, belief energizes you to do the things that will make the belief a reality. When people or teams believe they will succeed, they bring their best efforts, they persist past obstacles and they consistently find evidence that they’re on the right path.



Self-discipline operates twofold: on the one hand it is your ability to take the necessary action for success; on the other hand it is your ability to say no to activities that could take you off target.



Program your language to affirm the person (organization) you want to be and the life you want to have.



A person’s actions may be courageous, but it doesn’t mean he or she is always courageous. The danger with attributing courage to personality, rather than an action, is that it suggests you either have it or you don’t.



Sincere appreciation motivates. It works both internally – when you take to recognize what you appreciate about yourself or your situation – and externally – when you appreciate others and model appreciation for your team’s strengths and accomplishments.


Lighten Up

People who view their work as fun are more productive and creative than those who are merely satisfied with their jobs. And most importantly, creating an environment where people can be light and have fun with each other can lead to a culture where valuable connections between colleagues and departments are formed.



Optimism helps you cope with the daily grind and the inevitable challenges you will face as you water your bamboo. It is a state of mind that is well worth developing and strengthening.



2 thoughts on “Water The Bamboo: TOOLS

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