Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Susan Fletcher on Stress Management

Coaching isn't easy. We all know that. The fact of the matter is we are dealing with young men and women that are still trying to figure themselves out. Basketball Hall of Famer, Ralph Miller put it best by saying the definition of an 18 to 22 year old is inconsistency, and if you are expecting consistency from inconsistency you're screwed. But we do expect consistency! And we should.

The fact is that most every coach gets stressed out over their team, their season, practice, games, players, etc... The list goes on and on. Most times, we as coaches create this stress on our own. So how can we defend ourselves from this?

The following are some tips from Susan Fletcher, psychologist and stress management expert, on how we can protect ourselves from ourselves:

Don't read into things so much. "Sometimes a look is just a look and a dirty coffee cup is just a dirty coffee cup. It's not a passive-aggressive way to say you are not appreciated," Fletcher says. Don't make things bigger than they need to be - with people or work. Some people make a project bigger than it needs to be in an effort to increase their own value, but they are increasing their own stress as a result.

Learn how to transfer trust. "I really like Stephen M.R. Covey's stuff from his book Speed of Trust. He says people have to be able to trust before they feel it. Just like with your kids when you give them a little rope. And with someone who works for you, you have to let them fail because failure is feedback," Fletcher says. "Don't just say, 'It's easier to do myself.'"

Recognize when you are being inefficient. "People who are stressed get stuck answering e-mails for two hours at the expense of higher value items that need to be taken care of," Fletcher says. "Don't get lost in inefficient behavior. Ask yourself, 'What's my ultimate outcome I want here and what do I need to get there?'"

Find an accountability partner to help you meet goals. "Choose a friend or family member - probably not someone who lives with you because you don't want to muddy the waters. It has to be someone you will listen to but who will hold you accountable."

Say no sometimes. "You have to say no to things you might enjoy, but you are not in line with where you are professionally or personally at the moment," Fletcher says. Then you can spend your time on what matters to you most.

The last tip I'll leave you with is from an article a few years back written by NABC executive director, Jim Haney. In the article (which I have since lost, do not remember the title, but was in the NABC newsletter) Haney suggests leaving work at work. I am notorious for bringing a bad practice or game home with me, just ask my wife. What Haney outlines is a plan to pick a landmark; a stop sign, intersection, gas station, whatever you choose; on your way home where you make a conscious effort to LEAVE everything behind. As you get better at it, move the landmark closer to the gym and eventually make that landmark the door that you exit the gym.

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