An Inspirational Message – from a football coach

Look at your best days & say that is what you are capable of doing and believe it

Awhile back, I came across a series of articles based on interviews on the home page for Walters Speakers Ser­vice. In one, Lou Holtz – a former US football coach for Notre Dame University – raises a fascinating idea about how we think about our own performance, with incredible implications for all of us. Here is part of his interview…

“Great coaches are the ones that envision realistic greatness in people, then hold them to that standard.

When I tried to eval­uate what an athlete was capable of doing, I did not evaluate him on his everyday performance. I would evaluate him on what he was capable of doing in his greatest per­formance.

For example, maybe one day a gentleman would come out to prac­tice and have an unbelievable day. Maybe that was an exceptional day, but to me, that was his standard of what he was capable of doing. Not what he did every single day, or on the bad days.

Woody Hayes taught me not to look at average days as the standard. They don’t believe it, but it’s your job as coach to get them to believe it.

I promise you, when you have high standards, and you believe in people, they will achieve far more than they ever thought. They won’t like you when they are working on it. They will feel you are unfair and demanding, you’re not sympathetic, you don’t understand their difficulties.

We have a tenden­cy to say, ‘Let’s not push people out of their comfort zones,’ which makes them comfortable with an average mediocre performance. But I promise you, when you hold them to their highest performance standard, 5 years later, they will be so indebted to you, be­cause they achieved far more than they ever thought they could. Then they will say, ‘I was more comfortable with myself because I performed better.’”

How many of us take this view about our own performance in business? How many of us as manag­ers have ever raised this concept with staff?

It is an idea that is well worth considering.