CultureCoordinator Blog

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  • Far too many coaches spend far too much time trying to “motivate” their athletes.
    • Controversial opinion alert: I think trying to motivate your athletes is an utter waste of time. Many coaches take pride in being great motivators, and I think striving to be a great motivator is a colossal mistake.
    • Motivation, by definition, is the reason a person has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
      • When a coach establishes himself as the reason to choose certain behaviors, he creates a culture in which every member of the program is focused on an audience-dependent motivation.
      • If you’re a great “motivator” as a coach, the odds that your athletes are dependent on your presence to do their best is near 100%.
        • And that’s a massive problem because ultimately, the only thing you are accomplishing by being a great “motivator” is modifying your athletes’ behavior when you are present.
          • Your presence is the reward for good behavior.
          • You aren’t transforming the way your athletes think. You’re merely modifying their behavior.
  • I am not a “motivator.” Say it with me: “I am not a motivator.”
    • Take a look at the three motivators at the bottom of the motivation chart.
    • Fear, shame, and pride are all audience-dependent motivators.
      • By their nature, they require that an audience be present.
        • Athletes motivated by fear, shame, and pride only work hard when their audience, whoever their audience may be, is present.
          • This audience can be present at the moment, or it can be an audience they are looking forward to, like the fans in the stands or the college coach who is planning to come to their next game.
    • Whether they realize it or not, 99% of the coaches who claim to be great motivators motivate their athletes with fear, shame, and pride.
      • Coaches who are great motivators know how to push buttons and pull levers in their athletes’ minds in such a way that athletes choose to do their best.
        • Athletes will respond well in the moment to the coach’s tactics, but they are 100% dependent on the coach’s constant prodding and pushing.
        • But what happens to the athlete’s work ethic when the coach is not there to push the buttons and pull the levers?
  • Coaches think they have to be great motivators because they have never taken the time to understand from where motivation comes.
    • Motivation is fickle, fleeting, and hard to maintain unless you build it on a solid foundation.
      • If you are the foundation for your program’s motivation, don’t be surprised when your athletes make poor choices in the classroom, in the halls, and on the weekends when you aren’t there.
      • Buildings crumble when they aren’t on a solid foundation in the same way your athletes’ motivation will crumble if you are the foundation on which they have built their motivation.
  • Coaches often mix up and conflate the differences between ambition, motivation, and inspiration and, in doing so, also mix up and conflate their role as the Culture Coordinator.
    • To understand motivation correctly, we must get clear on some definitions.
      • Ambition: the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
      • Motivation: the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
      • Inspiration: a person or thing that incites behavior toward a goal or outcome.
    • Ambition: the why-power one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
    • Motivation: the willpower of someone to do something.
    • Inspiration: a person or thing that reminds you of your why-power.
  • Notice that the second set of definitions is the same as the first set of definitions except for the terms why-power and willpower.
    • The use of why-power and willpower helps to simplify the nuanced differences between ambition and motivation.
      • These distinctions are important because the more significant the why-power, the greater the willpower.
      • When willpower runs out, it’s time to tap back into your why-power or find a stronger why-power.
      • Ultimately, if you want to increase your athletes’ motivation, give them a compelling vision to fulfill, a why-power that excites them. Give them an ambition they can get on board with and inspire them to pursue that ambition.
  • Did you see what I just did there? I made you, as the Culture Coordinator, merely an inspiration.
    • Inspirations are nothing more than a reminder of your why-power.
    • The more you understand what makes people choose to do the hard work of becoming their very best, the more you will realize that you do not want to be anything more than a reminder of their ambition.
    • When you become a reminder of your athletes’ ambition, you will inspire them, and they will be able to choose to work hard and act in alignment with your program’s definition of success, whether you are physically present or not.
  • As we move forward in Course #1: Discover What is Motivating Your Team and Formulate a Plan for Installing Your Culture, you will learn how to:
    • Explicitly teach your athletes how to tap into their why-power all day, every day, and…
    • How to position yourself as nothing more than an inspiration.
  • What type of culture are you building? Do you focus on modifying behavior or transforming motivation? Are you hands-off, allowing your players to lead the way? Or are you intentionally and systematically installing YOUR culture?
  • Ultimately, there are four types of cultures. Each type is stronger and more effective than the preceding type.
    • Laissez Faire
      • Coach does not intentionally build or direct the culture.
      • The culture is completely dependent upon the players and changes from year to year.
    • Behavior Modification
      • Coach is intentional about building a culture.
      • The culture is focused primarily on how players behave and not on how players think or interpret the events of a season.
      • Expectations are set and are enforced primarily through a well-defined set of rewards and punishments.
      • This develops athletes who often do the right thing, but hate doing it.
    • Audience Dependent
      • Coach is intentional about building a culture.
      • The culture is focused on teaching players to be motivated by fear, shame, and pride.
      • The coach may use fear, shame, and pride negatively or positively, but the players are dependent on an audience or the anticipation of an audience to be motivated.
      • The fun and excitement of playing in “big games” and winning trophies/championships that will be remembered is the primary focus of motivation.
      • This can breed ego-driven and selfish athletes who want all of the glory.
    • Audience Independent
      • Coach is intentional about building a culture.
      • The culture is focused on teaching players to be motivated by love for self, love for the game, love for teammates, and love for the team.
      • The coach uses love as a motivator in order to build intrinsic motivation in the heart of the players.
      • Excellence is pursued, but it’s positioned as something exciting to pursue within the context of competing for a love of the game, love of teammates, and love of the team.
  • Understanding the differences between ambition, motivation, and inspiration and the differences between each of the four types of cultures is the first step toward discovering what type of culture you currently have in your program.
  • If you’re going to discover what type of culture you have, you have to understand that the cornerstone of every culture is ambition, or as we labeled it in an earlier lesson, the “why-power” of your culture.
    • Remember, an athlete’s ambition is their strongest desire in competition. It’s their “why” or their “why-power.”
      • Too often, we confuse why-power with will-power.
        • Will-power or motivation is a critical component of a great culture, but will-power is the overflow why-power.
        • You can’t be highly motivated if you don’t have a powerful reason to be motivated.
  • Here’s the critical takeaway: As the Culture Coordinator, you have to create and cast a vision that is so compelling it becomes the ambition of your players.
    • Goal #1 is getting everyone to buy into the vision for the program.
    • Once they buy in, you can start to serve as a mere inspiration, reminding them of their why-power again and again.
  • But before you can cast a compelling vision, you need to understand your team’s current ambition because ambition is the cornerstone of your culture. 
    • In that cornerstone, you get your first glimpse of what type of culture you currently have.
  • At the risk of oversimplifying the human condition, I will say that all humans naturally desire two things: to be praised, admired, and appreciated.
  • Therefore, as humans progress throughout life, they develop particular ambitions that help them fulfill their desire to be praised and appreciated.
    • Each of your athletes brings their ambitions to your program, and these ambitions interact and meld together to form your culture.
      • Some athletes, like your seniors or starers or players with prominent personalities, have a disproportionate influence on your culture.
  • The ambitions your athletes bring to your culture are directly related to their past experiences and influences.
    • Ruled by fear, some of your athletes desire to protect their image more than they seek praise.
    • Made to believe praise from others is the highest accomplishment of humanity, some of your athletes desire glory above all else.
    • Seeing they receive the most praise when they accomplish specific standards, some of your athletes desire to achieve as much as possible.
    • Having discovered that the best way to receive praise and be appreciated is to be a part of something bigger than themselves, some of your athletes desire to belong and contribute to a team.
    • Feeling the most fulfilled when they commit to achieving something greater than themselves, some of your athletes desire to make sacrifices and contribute to the team’s success.
  • Building a championship culture is all about desire which I refer to as ambition.
    • The key is to attract and grow athletes who become entirely like-minded.
    • There are multiple ways to do this, and you, as the Culture Coordinator, must be yourself. You do you as they say.
      • Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, and Tom Osborne are all very different people and have all been incredibly successful.
  • You must never use all of this insight as a tool for building your little kingdom. The insight you gain from the What Type of Culture Are We? Assessment must always use it to develop empathy and more profound love and compassion for your players.
    • Furthermore, all of this is intended to be tool for your athletes to use so they can self-assess and grow and so you, as the Culture Coordinator, can self-assess and grow.
  • Remember, when we talk about motivation, we are discussing willpower, not why-power or inspiration.
    • Motivation is the overflow of ambition, or willpower is the overflow of why-power.
  • Three broad categories of motivators
    • Behavior Modifying–must have rewards and punishments in place to be motivated.
    • Audience Dependent–must have an audience, either real or imagined, to be motivated.
    • Audience Independent–No audience is needed to be motivated.
  • Athletes who are motivated by…
    • Fear–work with a purpose to avoid negative consequences.
    • Shame–work with a purpose to avoid getting embarrassed.
    • Pride–work with a purpose to bring glory to self or the team.
    • A love for self–work with a purpose to achieve their goals.
    • A love for the sport–work with a purpose because they enjoy doing the work required to be great at their sport.
    • A love for teammates–works with a purpose with some of their teammates to help them achieve their goals.
    • A love for the team–works with a purpose with every teammate to achieve the team goals.
  • Love is the turning point.
    • When an athlete moves past fear, shame, and pride as motivation they begin to be motivated by love.
    • This is a critical transition because love is a motivation for a cause.
      • Love as a motivator means the athlete has moved to an ambition that audience independent.
        • The more athletes on a team that are motivated by love, the more the culture becomes audience independent.
  • As was the case with the levels of ambition, all of this is 
  • Let’s review the ground we have covered so far to get started.
    • The first component of culture the assessment measures is ambition, and we are referring to ambition as the why-power one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
    • The second component of culture the assessment measures is motivation, and we are referring to motivation as the willpower someone has to take action.
    • We are now discussing mindset, which you can think of as the product of ambition multiplied by motivation. 
      • In other words, an athlete’s mindset is the direct result of their ambition and motivation.
  • An athlete whose primary ambition is image and whose motivations are fear and shame will be stuck in some combination of a self-sabotaging and excuse-making mindset because they are doing everything they can to lower expectations and protect their image.
  • An athlete whose primary ambition is glory and whose motivation is pride will be stuck in a lone ranger mindset because they do everything to get the glory for themselves and care very little about the team.
  • An athlete whose primary ambition is achievement and whose motivation is love for self and love for the sport will be in a gamer or idealist mindset because they are doing everything they can to achieve their goals but have not fully embraced the team’s goals.
  • An athlete whose primary ambition is belonging and whose motivation is love for the sport and love for teammates will be in an idealist mindset because they are doing everything they can to belong but have not fully embraced the team’s goals.
  • An athlete whose primary ambition is success and whose motivation is love for the team will be in a campaigner mindset because they are doing everything they can to succeed according to the team’s definition of success.