Let's face it, we've all been there as coaches.
The game seems to be going along fine, and then something I like to call #FieldTilt, happens out of nowhere. Except, if we are being honest, it doesn't really come out of nowhere. It's a pretty common occurrence in sports. The challenge then becomes how do we respond when this moment arrives?
I sat down and penned my take on it.
Read through this short story scenario.
You'll relate to it.
I know I do.
And you'll also have a fresh perspective about why #MentalCoaching is so important in the development of our student-athletes.
What causes it? Momentum shifts and a team begins to play on their heels. But it starts before it becomes a physical problem. It even starts before players get quiet, and it’s a communication problem. It starts when doubt creeps in. It starts when moments of frustration become unwanted momentum.
It starts in the mind.
And once it happens, things get quieter. Touches get less clinical. And the field tilts. It’s as if the actual field is up in the air. The team "holding on" is playing at the bottom of the hill.
When feet get tired, minds must be clear.
Who you are.
Why you exist.
What you believe.
How you do what you do.
All of it working in concert.
Clarity lifts the eyes.
Clears the mind.
Raises the shoulders.
From heels to toes.
From frustration to anticipation.
From holding on to leaning forward.
The field starts to tilt the other way.
Your vision becomes your leverage.
The fulcrum slides, and the match shifts back.
In your favor.
As you honor.
Who you are.
And what you do.
Because at the end of the day…when you know WHO you are, you will know WHAT to do.
So how do we, as coaches, respond?
I've built a model that is changing the game, literally and figuratively, for myself and many others.
The MVP Model.
Mental. Verbal. Physical.
When you are mentally aware of your entire surroundings, and verbally articulate about who you are, and what you are trying to accomplish...only then will you be physically able to live it out.
And the bonus?
When you see and hear how to apply this, you'll be ecstatic!
Don't have a process in place to combat #FieldTilt?
Not sure how to build one?
Wish it was already done, so you can move forward?
Are you looking for a competitive advantage, when your team steps over the white line to take the field?
Done, done, done and done.
Email/call to talk about how to bring the MVP Model to your team.
Tilt the field in the direction you want it to go, instead of looking up later, and realizing you could have.
A physical advantage on the field, starts with a perspective advantage found in the mind.
Ready to learn the MVP Model?
5 Center Street
Fredonia NY 14063
If you Google the word, here is what you will find.
"A soft area of land that gives way underfoot."
"An awkward, complex, or hazardous situation."
And for many college freshman, that is exactly what it feels like to walk on to campus for the second time.
I'm not talking about the first time. You know...the one when you tour the campus, seeing the best of everything. When you get what J-Lo calls "the goosies". When you seal the deal that this will be your University with the rite of passage that has happened for decades. You buy the sweatshirt from the bookstore, and wear it all over your hometown.
Everything is full of hope and excitement on the first visit. But when it comes time to wave to your parents from the curb as they become smaller, disappearing into the distance that is your former existence...something shifts.
Don't get me wrong. You are still excited. Come on, man. You've just reached the pinnacle of freedom.
Where do you start?
So much freedom, so much time.
Until there isn't.
Yeah...it happens the moment the first syllabus drops in front of you, with the weight of an anvil. It's multiplied a few times over...from class, to class, to class.
All of a sudden free time looks like one of those freezer bags that gets any quantifiable amount of air left sucked out of it by a vacuum-looking device.
Welcome to college.
If you arrive at this point still unsure of "WHAT" you want to be when you grow up, "WHAT" your major should be, "WHAT" classes you should take...it can be a lot like knowing you are hungry, but afraid to take a bite. Why? Because you know you are allergic to some of it...you just don't know what part of it.
Silly analogy? Maybe.
Wouldn't it be nice to know what you were allergic to, before you consumed it?
I think there are 2 Quagmire-like times in a college freshman's life.
First steps and next steps.
Arriving and deciding.
How do you recapture the "sweatshirt-from-the-bookstore" feeling, when you are staring at the "what-the-heck-do-I-do-now" reality?
Take a step back.
Think about WHO you are and WHY you exist. Think about the very thing that drives you. Think about what you love to day-dream about.
Start to think about what you believe in. The non-negotiable values that steer you. The ones, that at the end of the day, will keep you on track, on time, and on point...amidst the attractive distractions (and they will come) that flood the world of every college freshman.
Think about it this way...
When you know WHO you are, you will know WHAT to do. You exist to do something of significance, based on who YOU are.
This may sound fancy and idealistic. Maybe it is. But from my personal experience, having lived it...and failed out...and hearing from current day college students...this matters.
And at the risk of losing you altogether, I have some homework for you.
Write down the problem that bothers you the most in the world today. Now write down next to it, what you are uniquely equipped to bring to it. (Not what degree you think you need, or major you think you need to declare) Be specific.
Write down the problem.
Write down where you would LOVE to participate in building the solution.
Once you get to the place where you begin to see the end, you will know where to start.
Once you start to see how you are built, you will know what you can bring to the table.
Once you know WHO you are, you will know WHAT to do.
That'll turn your Quagmires into Questions. Questions are a good thing. They lead to solutions.
No more loose footing and awkward unknowns.
Your first steps become confident next steps.
Your arrival is no longer about just survival.
It's time to thrive.
It's been talked about a lot, lately. Largely because it's a core attribute of the Millennial generation. With their ability to access almost anything from anywhere at the drop of a hat, how decisions are made is changing.
Collaboration is no longer a nicety, it's a necessity.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like I believe the concept was invented yesterday, and the many generations prior to Millennials never worked in groups to solve problems. But...the fact is that the needle towards how much emphasis is placed on collaboration is moving, and moving fast.
When you can get information from anywhere, it's expected that any voice that wants to be part of the conversation can be. And we no longer live in a world where that is up for debate. Ask just about any organization, and they will tell you (if they know what they are doing) they no longer "control" the conversation about who they are.
The same is true in higher education.
And that's not bad news.
It should be seen as an amazing opportunity.
To connect. To engage. To empower.
What's the alternative?
The exhaustion found in isolation.
Administrators having closed door meetings, deciding on the entire direction their institution will take. Faculty believing their only role is to teach, and retreating to their office with a closed door when they are done. Students understanding that thumbs on keyboards, and earbuds in ears aren't valuing the relationships next to them. All of it creating more isolation, when what we need is healthy conversation. Across all groups of people, and beyond just the walls of the institution.
I'm not over-generalizing, and saying this is the case everywhere, for every University. But I'd be willing to bet that there are pockets of this on most campuses. And therein lies the amazing opportunity. Again...trading isolation for conversation.
No University is an island. And it's time to look deeper into why the recruitment, enrollment, and retention challenges are here, and what can be done about them.
There are 3 things that the exhaustion from isolation
will do to any team. And more good news...it's avoidable.
1. Desperation: Some institutions of higher learning fall into this trap. It's trying every idea that comes across the table to be "relevant". Most of the ideas tried end up being ones other Universities have tried, and have been remotely successful with in the past. The problem? Notice I said "the past". There is no forward thinking leadership in desperation. It's hang on and survive, not step out and thrive. But, Brett..."new" might not work. You're right. If it does? You just traded in desperation for innovation. That's a solid upgrade.
2. Frustration: When enrollment and retention begin to decrease, frustration increases. Trying to solve the problem only through internal channels may seem like the natural play here. I'd suggest this is the time to look externally as well. A "both-and" approach. Taking the best of who you are and connecting it with the very connected world "outside the University walls". Fighting off frustration comes when leadership is committed to doing something very different. Daring to question the status quo.
3. Unmet Expectation: Unfortunately, this is the "blame game" portion of the program. It's when the numbers don't look good, so the institution looks for the person they need to pin it on. I would suggest it's less of a person problem at this point, and simply a vision problem. What do I mean by that? It could be one of a few things. The University may not have a vision that is clear and concise (not a wordy paragraph where every other word is five syllables, just to sound good). If you can't articulate it, how can anyone be expected to follow it? If the University does have this in place, it's possible that hiring faculty and staff is done more as a "fill the position" mode, than to "support the vision". Bringing in people who aren't sold out to who you are and why you exist is a recipe for unmet expectations, because the measure of success looks different to everyone. And lastly...the recruitment never stands a chance, because it's being done by best of intentions, rather than intentionally. The "fill the funnel" method...aka, just get them here, and get a deposit. It just doesn't work that way anymore. Sometimes you have to grow differently. Addition, by subtraction...so that you can multiply. Cut out what doesn't cling to your vision (prune), so that who you are can grow back even stronger over time.
I realize it can be hard to have these conversations, and I applaud all of the Universities that are currently taking the time to do so. It's time we look at collaboration as a gift. The alternative? Continuing to work in isolation...facing the unwanted acts of desperation, feelings of frustration, and the reality of unmet expectations.
I have a friend, who is a professor, that made a comment recently about what needs to happen in higher education. Short, sweet and to the point.
"Deconstruct to reconstruct".
The only way it will work is through true collaboration.
Administration, faculty, staff, students...
AND those outside the 4 walls of the institution.
In the same room.
Make the decision to be intentional about building these relationships,
so that you create teams of influence.
That's how you...
Change a campus.
Change a life.
Change the world.
One collaboration at a time.
Don't get caught up with only what you can see today,
focus on what you know the world needs tomorrow.
Commit to your vision.
In the face of doubters.
In the face of naysayers.
In the face of critics.
Or you can give in.
And we'll all be in exactly the same place tomorrow.
And the critics?
They'll have done nothing.
It's what they do best.
Critics create fear.
You have a choice today.
Live in fear created by critics,
or hope built on your vision.
Which world would you rather live in?
When we stop...we give critics credit for their work.
Are you ready?
Will you go first?
Will you step up?
We are living in a time that desperately needs someone to do this work.
The "other shoe"?
Will you sit there and be crushed by it,
or be long gone...blazing a trail of progress?
Today alone, I have been in contact with Universities that have the following titles on their leadership teams...
Director of Student Success & Retention
Director of First Year Programs
Director of Campus Life & First Year Experiences
VP of Student Success & Calling
Dean of Student Success & First Year Experience
Director of First Year Experience
When I hear these titles,
I can't help but get excited.
This is educational leadership at the highest level.
They are recognizing that the world of higher education is changing...
and doing everything they can to lead the way.
These titles tell me that campus leaders are willing to do whatever it takes to meet students where they are at. By doing so, they are walking with students on their journey, to get them where they are called to go.
It doesn't get any better than that!
It's an honor and a privilege to be part of that process.
The 2015-2016 academic year is going to be EPIC!
Buckle-up and enjoy the journey!!!
Helping students identify WHO they are and WHY they exist isn’t just something to do,
it’s giving them an opportunity to articulate the someone they are.
And without someone knowing WHO they are,
how can they possibly know WHAT to do?
I'll prove my point...
We are addicted to "WHAT" questions...
and we start asking them about the time kids can talk right through their college years.
WHAT do you want to be when you grow up?
WHAT is your favorite subject?
WHAT is your major?
WHAT are you going to do with that?
WHAT kind of job do you want?
But when questions are based on WHAT they should do, we miss the point.
On the other hand, when they are based on WHO they are, everything changes.
Try these WHAT questions instead...
WHAT breaks your heart?
WHAT do you daydream about when you are in school?
WHAT would you change if money were no object?
WHAT keeps you up at night when you can't sleep?
WHAT gets you so excited it's hard to sit still?
That will get you closer to understanding WHO students are, WHY they exist, and the unique purpose they are hard-wired to fulfill. They've got gifts, and talents that could change the world. But when they are simply used to check off boxes for majors and jobs to get through school and pay bills...again, we've missed the point.
When we value WHO they are (relationship) over just WHAT they could do (transaction),
we help them get to WHERE they will one day leave a legacy of massive impact.
That sounds exciting!
For your University.
And most importantly...
For the lives they'll change,
as they live out their calling.
Your "retention problem",
is really a relationship opportunity.
It's a much needed shift in perspective.
It's a much needed shift in focus.
From trying to come up with initiatives to keep someone (that sounds like prison),
to creating environments to get to know someone (that sounds like a lot of fun).
No two experiences on campus will ever be the same.
They can't be.
Every single student coming to your University brings different baggage.
And not just the ones on move in weekend.
The emotional ones they carry with them every, single day as they go to and from class.
The emotional ones they carry with them trying to look strong, when they feel weak.
The emotional ones they carry with them when they aren't accepted by someone.
The list is longer than we'd ever know.
And the effort it takes to carry them weighs on a person's heart.
It did for me as a college freshman,
and it does for many, many students on your campus as well.
But here is the good news...
The opportunity is greater than ever before.
Engage them in conversation from day one.
Empower them to talk about their baggage and they'll be more likely to open it up.
Excite them that their best days are still in front of them, on your campus.
Energize them by showing them they aren't alone, and that others carry baggage too.
Remind them they are a relationship you value,
by creating an experience that matches your words.
Give them access to people who have been through what they are going through,
not just people that want to "fix" them so they don't leave school.
That's a very important part of the process.
People respond to the opportunity to hear from someone who has been in their shoes.
You'll be amazed how willing they are to open up about what their greatest needs are, so that in 4 years or so they walk across a stage having reached their next milestone.
It's what you want.
It's what they want.
It's what I wanted.
And it will happen when we stop referring to them as a retention problem,
and start honoring them as real people, with real needs through a real relationship.
It's what helped me on my journey from failing out of college,
to becoming a scholarship musician and athlete, and graduating Cum Laude.
There are countless stories similar to mine waiting to unfold on your campus.
The only question is are you willing to seek out the conversations early on,
so that you don't have confrontations (removal from school) when it's too late?
I believe you are.
I believe you can.
I believe you will.
Please remember to connect with someone who has carried the burden of failing out, as part of your freshman initiatives. There aren't many Universities doing this. And if you are looking to lead...to differentiate yourself as a University, that would do it. It's an integral part of the success for every one of your students. And if you don't know where to start looking for that person, I've got good news...
You've already found him.
Another reason your "retention problem", is really...a relationship opportunity.
For you and me,
so that it is for you and your students,
at your University.
I was having a conversation with a client yesterday,
and I shared this important piece of advice...
"Be a problem solver, not a product seller."
Hit pause today, and ask your team the following question.
Are we solving an actual problem for our customer(s) today,
or simply begging them to buy what we are selling?
How do you know if you are solving or selling?
If you are serving your needs, you are selling.
If you are serving your customers needs, you are solving.
The irony is that when we serve and solve,
the selling takes care of itself.
If Ben & Jerry started a college.
What a thought!
Their enrollment would go through the roof because of these 5 reasons.
They've done what they can,
with what they have,
where they are.
That's why if Ben & Jerry ever decided to start a College they'd crush it.
Value Your People.
Seems simple really.
Yet so many Universities are stuck in the Vanilla ice-cream race,
trying to be just like that place down the road...or across the country.
Stop being a "me-too" University,
and you'll stand a chance of being the Ben & Jerry's of Higher Education.
The AmeriCone Dream.
Go create one the next generation wants to be part of.
It starts with a statistic, and ends with an opportunity.
By the year 2025, 75% of the workforce in the USA will be made up of Millennials.
(Millennials are born roughly between the years of 1980-2000).
That means 75% of the workforce will be 40 years old or younger in 2025.
That means leadership will be younger in 2025.
That means that consumers and their spending habits will be younger in 2025.
And all of that is starting to ramp up...now.
So what is the opportunity?
Education has the largest platform to completely change the game.
I wonder what it might look like to see the college student experience be different than ever before. For the purposes of this blog post, I'm not speaking to the way academics are taught in the classroom by the tremendously talented faculty and staff that does so. I'm speaking specifically to how life is done, lived and offered to the college students during their time on campus.
I imagine a different "experience". One that to implement will give you that "pit of the stomach I want to hurl on my shoes" feeling wondering if it will work. So much different that for it to work, we'll have to ignore a lot of naysayers and status quo lovers in order to do the hard work of launching such a thing.
And when I think about that kind of world...
that kind of University...I can't help but get excited.
I can't help but smile at the thought of my three children attending "that" University.
I'll even toss out some low hanging fruit ideas of what I think it could look like.
Your entire existence as a college student is tracked, in real-time, with something that rivals the "MagicBand" you see taking over Disney these days. Every swipe of the wrist tracks class attendance, grades, meals, volunteer service hours, attendance at sporting events and concerts. No, not a "big brother is watching thing". It would be built FOR the student, not to limit the student. It would be incentivized to create a 4 year, digital resume of excellence. The student could share it like they would something on facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram. A prospective employer could see their growth. No more "tell me one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses" cheesy interview questions. This is their life, 24-7, over several years. Employers see right away if the student is a fit for their organization, rather than them taking a job that they end up hating...and the employer loses tons of money recruiting, hiring, training and trying to retain them.
That's a financial and cultural win for the employer.
That's a cultural fit win for the employee.
That's a job placement win for the University.
Isn't it fun to see the wins starting to pile up for everyone involved?
Parents, Faculty, Administrators, Friends...whomever...not wondering how the student is doing, if they are making it, etc... It's live. It's real-time update-level stuff. Hey, if Mom and Dad are footing the bill for tuition, giving them a shot to see how their investment is paying off BEFORE it might implode is just sound investment strategy. AND...it could save a lot of students from making some pretty crummy decisions early on. That's a win-win. Oh, and that whole retention thing colleges are concerned about. That's a win for them too.
And the wins keep coming.
This whole thing isn't just about 4 years in college. It goes with the student, grows with the student, as they enter the workforce. They launch a company, and because they attended a University that "gamified" and "Disney-fied" their college experience they are better equipped to offer the same game changing experience to their team.
A world where "wonder" is about opportunity and possibility again,
not if a student was going to "make it".
This college experience is arcade not archaic.
75% of the USA Workforce will be 40 years old or younger by 2025.
Still think the current "college experience" (outside of the classroom) is preparing them for that?
I know quite a few Universities are pondering the recruitment & retention challenge.
I also know it isn't something to worry about.
It's the coolest, most amazing opportunity to launch a college experience today that will leave a legacy of impact tomorrow.
The sunset is coming (2025).
The work we do before,
dictates the view we have when it gets here.
It's time to create the University on a hill for all to see
as a shining example of what true innovation looks like...
And ends up with the best seat in the house come 2025.
That is a sunset I can't wait to see.
That is an opportunity to leave a tremendous legacy.
That is a world I want for all three of my children.
That is the University I want all of them attending.
Is that you?
From the desk of our founder, Brett W. Gould.