Deserved or not, it accomplishes nothing positive. Dale Carnegie wrote: “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

Carnegie’s statement may not be very encouraging but it is a word to the wise.

I had the privilege of coaching a uniquely gifted and unified team of competitive soccer players. We were undefeated for multiple seasons. As we rose through the ranks, the competition grew tougher and our victories were sometimes by the smallest margin. The players felt the pressure, the parents felt the pressure, and I really felt the pressure. Losing was not our culture nor our experience.

During pre-game warm-ups, a parent approached me. She was very gracious in her manner while mustering the courage to share an observation with me. “You’re an amazing coach and we all love you.” She started, as I braced for the BUT. “You’ve always practiced positive coaching, explaining and sometimes demonstrating what the boys should do and can do. It appears as of late, your instructions center on the negative. On what not to do.”

I’m sure I thanked her half-heartedly as I turned and walked back toward the team. Then it struck me like a bolt of lightning. Though I am a very competitive person, I am not a negative person. She was right! Under pressure, I revealed my fear of losing. I revealed my self-absorbed focus. The boys became a self-serving tool in my hands. Disgusting.

I woke up. I did some inside-out work. We continued our winning ways but we did it by focusing on improving not on fear or on mistakes.

Through patience, a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.
Proverbs 25:15


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