Discovering Talents

Discovering Their Talent

By: H. Reed Emsick, Senior Analyst @ Uvolv

Discovering one’s talent should be a lifetime activity that is filled with lots of self-discovery, fun, excitement and a lasting sense of personal fulfillment. Achieving worthwhile goals, that one has worked long and hard to achieve is a joyful moment that is remembered for the rest of one’s life. Coaches and parents can help give this special gift to those individuals with whom they are entrusted for their development.

What will ensure that you will be successful? There can be no guarantees, but I offer some thoughts that will help you to stay on track even when the path is filled with obstacles. I suggest that you commit to five (5) guidelines. They are the keys to the successes of our greatest mentors/coaches and can be a wonderful gift to the lives of those you coach and mentor. The break point here will be that you have already heard them, so I am not going to tell you anything you have not heard before. They sound “pure vanilla”. Something is wrong with these messages however because it is not getting through. And unfortunately, they are rarely used skillfully, and they are often terribly violated.   

Five key guidelines:

1)  Focus on positives

2)  Listen carefully

3)  Stay open minded

4)  Be willing to experiment

5)  Have the right expectations 

Understand and skillfully apply these to your developmental efforts and you will be able to work miracles by helping others realize the most from their God given strengths and talents. 

Far too many approach developments from the exactly the opposite perspective. I was guilty of it myself and have often reflected sadly on the instances where I had very gifted athletes leave  the team because they said it was not fun for them anymore. At the time I thought it was just youth and they were unwilling to pay the price. I NOW REALIZE THAT WAS NOT SO, IT WAS MY FAILURE. 

I coached and parented in the manner and ways that I was coached and parented. Parroting these methods was the only way that I knew how and I eventually “made it” but it took me far too long to figure out a better way and many had to endure my mistakes. 

Our human “survival” instincts are pretty good, but I have found that the likes of John Wooden, Tom Osborne, Vince Lombardi, Sparky Anderson and other super star coaches knew a better way. For most of us It seems best to coach by following our natural “survival motivated” developmental instincts. I’m sure that the “cave men/women” had lots of don’t(s) to teach because they were teaching about survival skills. Most of us are still stuck with the notion that those are best. Allowing our nurturing instincts to dominate our coaching tactics must seem like a “cop out” and there is a faction of our culture that view kindness and caring as weak and indecisive. Today I abhor such stigmas because they are destructive and have no place in coaching. 

Given that, please consider more about adhering to the guidelines I suggest:

Focus on positives. When a person makes a mistake they likely knew it before anyone else did. What good does it do to come crashing down on them. Take steps to fix the situation and move on with a smile.

* How about listening… That means answering questions. Time and again I hear about coaches admonishing athletes for asking “why” questions. Time is always short and thus listening has become a lost art. If you want to inspire people, they must feel that they matter. If you avoid their questions they know they don’t matter.

* Open mindedness… Avoid assumptive conclusions. You may be correct most of the time but being totally wrong just once is the recipe for disaster.

* Willingness to experiment…  Engagement and ownership of anything is critical to commitment and achievement.  When a person feels that everything is at stake they are eager and willing to give all they have to the cause.   Think about modifying play schemes to fit the talents of the players and be sure to explain to them the adaptations that have been adopted.

* Have the right expectations…  I don’t believe there is anything more powerful than have expectations that are “right” for the person. Conversely, the wrong expectations can be severely destructive. “I know you could if you just wanted to.”  It is fits the situation you may inspire but if they are trying their best and just can’t deliver, with those words you may have severely damaged your relationship with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Frank Emsick, Founder and CEO of Uvolv Corportation