Rule #8 – Baby a loser; Beat on a winner.

Here’s another one from Gary Kent. (See Rule #4: You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re hanging with the turkeys.) It can be helpful to coaches, parents, teachers, supervisors or pretty much anyone in any kind of leadership role.

Back when I was a young coach, I found myself working with a talented group of lacrosse players on a losing streak. Tortured with anguish, I took it out on the kids. I railed on them about lack of hustle, lack of desire, lack of killer instinct, and any other “lack” that came to mind. Gary was working with me as my assistant coach. (As an aside, Gary would coach anything and anyone at any level. While football and wrestling were his domains – In fact, he’s a Maine Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee. – he was one of those guys who just had to be out on the field.) Gary helped me out even though he admittedly didn’t know much about lacrosse. I was glad to have him because, well, he had forgotten more than I knew about winning and character development through athletics.

One day, after I had sent the kids to the showers following one of my harangues, Gary pulled me aside and laconically observed, “Baby a loser & beat on a winner.” Perplexed, I asked for an explanation.

He replied, “When your team is losing, praise their efforts and tell them you believe in them, assuring them that the next win is just around the corner.  When they’re winning, tell them they’re slacking off, that they have yet to play a competitive team, and that they need to improve or else they’re gonna get creamed by the next team on the schedule.”

It dawned on that my approach had been the exact opposite of what Gary was recommending. So I tried it his way. It not only brought about a dramatic change in my coaching style, it worked. The next time you are called upon to lead or supervise someone, give it a try.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld