by Dr. Mike Davenport
Whatever you’re doing, take a break.
Put your mind in reverse and flashback to all the things you’ve done as a coach. Your accomplishments, your successes. The good and the bad.
Chances are you used the perspective of winning to do this review.
A DIFFERENT LENS
A win/loss record is how most coaches filter their career. It’s not wrong, but that perspective may just miss the true measure of the value of a coach.
Let’s try a different lens, one that might offer you some unique insights into your coaching and who you are. Let’s look back using gut churn.
OFF TO SUCCESS
Jad Abumrad is a huge success. Deservedly so. His show, Radiolab (www.radiolab.org), is considered pure genius by many and Abumrad, the talent behind the show has many awards for what he’s achieved.
Yet during the process of creating Radiolab there were many times when Abumrad had to kick in his fight response. There were times when the show should have been canceled because of lack of funding. There were times when the future wasn’t clear. There were times when he wasn’t quite sure what the heck he was doing.
And during those times he had what he describes as gut churn.
Gut churn is the feeling when the body shuts down the digestive process. It’s an involuntary response to help us get to the next level.
For example, the brain says, “Whoa, we’re being chased by a lion!” Everything not important gets turned off, like digesting that cheeseburger you just ate. Resources are allocated. Digestion is shut off. Churn happens.
HOW’S YOUR CHURN?
Regardless of how long you been coaching, I bet you’ve had churn. For most coaches, it comes with the territory.
When you are deeply engaged in something meaningful the churn can kick in. For the first five years of my coaching I threw up every contest. Every-single-contest. I did not want to, I had to. My gut churn was off the chart.
Yet, when I look back at my career (over 33 years) through the lens of gut churn I notice things much more important than the contests ever were:
- The churn was there during the conversation with the athlete about her dying father.
- While I pitched a new coaching-education program to my school’s administration I had gut churn.
- I remember the churn while telling an extremely talented athlete she could no longer participate due to an addiction.
Here lies the value of gut churn as a filter.
IS GUT CHURN MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WINS?
I’m not complaining about being evaluated by a win/loss record. I get that. It’s important.
What I am suggesting is that what we do as a coach transcends the contest. I could make a list, a huge list, of what coaches do that doesn’t relate to THE contest. I bet you could also. However, too often we get mired down by that pesky win/loss record. Gut churn can give you insight into what you truly consider important, stressful, valuable.
To help you improve your career it might be invaluable to reflect back through the lens of gut churn. Sometimes we can learn by listening to our stomach.
The author Mike Davenport has been coaching 33 years and has learned to love all aspects of coaching (yes, even the ups, the downs, and the losses.) He writes about professional sustainability for coaches over at www.coachingsportstoday.com and will be a featured instructor at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.