Key Takeaways:

  • Time-Management Matrix
  • Trust Bank Account
  • Win / Win

Although it may come as a surprise to others outside the coaching community; a daily itinerary for a coach does incorporate responsibilities beyond the scope of practice planning or the day of competition. With the inherent stress that comes with the role of coaching, being organized helps mitigate the number of headaches and will likely improve the effectiveness of each activity.

Habit 3: First Things First

The way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities.

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All things are created twice, right? Habit 2 creates the mental picture of a plan or project with the end in mind. Therefore, Habit 3 lives in the present; the physical steps taken to complete a list of things to do on a given day. Below is a Time-Management Matrix from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People illustrating how effective management is accomplished by prioritizing the right things based on importance and urgency.


Quadrant 2 is where you want to operate on a consistent basis. These 6 characteristics were identified as most important to stay organized:

  • Coherence
  • Balance
  • Focus
  • A “People” Dimension
  • Flexibility
  • Portability

None of what we can accomplish is done alone. The ability to delegate gives an opportunity to limit the workload of the head coach, but empowers the assistant(s) valuable responsibilities that can be conducive towards career advancement.

The more experience I’ve had as a head coach, the more I appreciate having motivated assistants on staff. The ability to reinforce concepts through different tones and language can be instrumental in creating buy-in among the team. It should go without saying how much locker-room camaraderie can carry over to on-the-floor productivity. This is all about the cultivation of relationships from staff to student-athletes.

Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience, and it doesn’t preclude the necessity to train and develop people so that their competency can rise to the level of that trust.

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Prior to any season there is always a plan in place. Some staffs go on retreats while others find their favorite sports bar and hash it out over a few rounds. However it’s done, before the first day of practice coaching staffs have to be confident that the plan in place is the right path to build towards success. The level of organization by the head coach along with the wherewithal to delegate tasks and role responsibilities to the staff sets up the most effective organizations to stay the course. And as a result the byproduct of this process can produce future head coaches and championship caliber teams.

Trust Bank Account

Tucked in between the chapters of Habit 3 and Habit 4 is a discussion on The Emotional Bank Account.

An Emotional Bank Account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust that’s been built up in a relationship. If the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.

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Read that quote and tell me that is not exactly how you put together playing time. Those that play the most have earned the most confidence from the coaching staff, particularly during the latter half of the game. I once worked with a coach at the Division III level that had been doing it for over twenty-five years. We brought in one of our student-athletes that had recently made a mistake on campus for reasons left unsaid. The interaction between SA and coach was paternal in tone about developing trust based on our actions later using an analogy to a bank account comparing good decisions to deposits of trust and poor decisions as withdrawals. Talk about a light bulb experience from a coaching standpoint; I’ve never heard the rationale for coaches handling every player differently in a more demonstrable way.

Treat them all the same by treating them differently.

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Habit 4: Win / Win

From a competitive standpoint, this concept can initially come off as counterintuitive. The essence of true competition – wins and losses – can create a lot of value from a learning perspective. However, as it pertains to leadership and coaching, we are expected to foster a climate to Think Win/Win.

Dealing with Win/Lose is the real test of Win/Win. Rarely is Win/Win easily achieved in circumstances. Deep issues and fundamental differences have to be dealt with. But it is much easier when both parties are aware of and committed to it and where there is a high Emotional Bank Account in the relationship.

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Covey, the author, sets up a scenario during a time when he worked with the president of a company that was struggling with a lack of cooperation amongst the employees. Covey continued to describe the situation using “defensive communication” and “setting them up in competition with each other.” The anecdote concludes that the president failed to recognize the emphasis for cooperation seemed disingenuous because there were underlying incentives to independently compete for promotions or bonuses.

Part of this story brings you back to the beginning of the book where Covey discusses the value of interdependence by combining talents and abilities to create something great together. How the potential of a group is maximized by organic competition pushing the threshold for what is comfortable to what is capable. But, to the author’s point with Win/Win, the focal point of competition can’t become internalized to the extent where it disrupts the collective efforts of the group to reaching the team’s goal. At the end of any game, the scoreboard will read _____ University/College or _____ High School, not individual performance. And while this is easy to say, if a team embraces a collective accomplishment over individual contribution there is likely a locked-in mentality to succeed. This kind of thought process is an example of the Scarcity Mentality.

People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people – even, and sometimes especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates.

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This is the part where we (you/me) can blame social media. But the reality is everyone wants to feel valued. And in the midst of any organization that is derived on competition there will be a sensation of Win/Loss. The Win/Win from a basketball program is pushing everyone within the team to be at their very best setting themselves up for an opportunity to participate for championship. The other side of that Win/Win is truly believing that regardless of role there is validation in the contribution made towards the overall success of the team.

WIN / WIN can only survive in an organization when the systems support it. If you talk WIN / WIN but reward WIN / LOSE, you’ve got a losing program on your hands.

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