By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeckI read a quote attributed to Daniel Pink which was, “One of the best predictors of ultimate success is how you explain your failures and rejections.” What does this mean, and how does it apply to our coaching and parenting?
What Pink is saying is this: If the explanation a person gives after failing is that they were to blame, the chances of them getting better and ultimately becoming successful are greater than if they blame someone or something else.
Successful people overcome adversity. In order to overcome adversity, one must be willing to accept responsibility for shortcomings and, thus, be willing to improve one's self. The person who is constantly mired in a cycle of feeling like they were shortchanged, cheated, dealt a bad hand, is never going to move in a positive direction. It is much easier to say someone else was at fault than to find the fault from within. When discussing adversity, a successful person will often recount mistakes they made which they learned from. Less successful people don't admit to making mistakes. And when it comes to children, this pattern begins when we make excuses for them. Consider these scenarios:
Your child gets in trouble at school and tells you it wasn't his fault. Do you instantly believe him and take his side?
Your child doesn't make the team or the starting lineup and tells you he's better than the other players. Do you immediately assume he's the victim of “daddy ball”?
Your child receives a bad grade even though she claims she studied hard. Is it the teacher's fault?
As parents, and coaches, when a child or player is not not successful or when the team loses, do we blame the officials?
I have watched countless high-level college sporting events where I felt the officials were awful, where the calls clearly favored one side. Yet in post-game press conferences the coaches of the losing team almost invariably refuse to criticize the referees. Instead, they focus on what their team could have done better and point out that there were good and bad calls made for both teams. These coaches know that part of their job description, in addition to winning games, is to mold character. They also know that if their players hear them blame a loss on something out of their control, it will make it easier to surrender when the going gets tough in the future.
In baseball, often a player will claim that a ball got past him because of a “bad hop.” But there is an adage in baseball, “There are no bad hops. Make your own hop.” This means instead of waiting for the ball to come to you and hoping that it doesn't bounce awkwardly, move your feet and attack the ball so that you get to it before it has a chance to veer away. If this isn't a metaphor for life, I don't know what is.
So when a player you're coaching or a child you're parenting tells you, “The sun was in my eye” or “There was a rock in my shoe”, consider advising them to make their own hop. They may not like the message now, but they will benefit from it in the long run.
Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org