You Can’t Not Become Better

3 Minute Read or Listen

Recently, I interviewed a woman named Jordan Patterson on my podcast, Coaching Culture (click here to listen to Episodes 24 & 25). Jordan shared her story of playing softball at Alabama, when they won a National Championship. She was able to find joy and value in her experience, even though she sat on the bench for the majority of her four years there. When describing Head Coach Patrick Murphy, she said, “You can’t play for him and not become a better person. It just isn’t possible.”

While a player is largely responsible for their effort and development, what would it say about our coaching if a player attended every practice over the course of a season and still didn’t become a better player? I know most good coaches hold themselves responsible for the development of their players!

So what does it say about our leadership if we spend countless hours over the course of one to four years with a group of people and they don’t grow in character? Are we holding ourselves responsible for their development as people?

A transformational culture is one in which people experience a change in their “being” and thus, become better versions of themselves. In today’s sporting culture, teams CAN, but rarely do develop more selfless individuals as they work towards a common goal which is greater than themselves.

But how do we know if we have that type of culture?

Assessing your team’s culture can’t be done by their wins and losses record or the number of trophies you win. It isn’t measured in the number of all-stars or scholarship players coming out of your program.

After that conversation with Jordan, I decided that the simplest standard upon which to measure the culture of your team is to ask: Did my players become better people for having been a part of our team?

If we ask the people within our program, those that have gone through the program, and those outside of our program (such as parents, teachers, and administrators) will we like the answer we receive?

What was most impressive was the certainty and the conviction with which Jordan spoke about the culture of Alabama softball. She believed it was IMPOSSIBLE to be a part of the team and not grow as a person.

I can’t think of any higher praise to bestow upon the culture of my team. Can you?

–J.P. Nerbun