Fire. It can be dangerous, but on a sports field its pure gold. It is the intangible element that generates the unbelievable. It fuels a person to break down barriers and reach unimaginable goals. It can be called “passion” or “drive,” but, regardless of the name, it lives within all of us ready to be lit at a moment’s notice. A brilliant and powerful force that makes us work harder, move faster and dream bigger. It also generates a critical “by-product” (sorry for the science reference) called Courage.
Courage. The unexplained yet unquestioned confidence that we feel when we know we can accomplish something previously thought impossible or, at least, improbable. It breaks through barriers of caution, suppresses waves of doubt and down-right pummels second-thoughts. With courage, truly anything is possible because the fences to your world as you know it now no longer can hold you back from exploring new limits. However, courage is also fleeting and can be tough to harness. Thus, in sports, the greatest coaches are able to build and stoke that Fire to breed Courage through a little tool called Encouragement.
Encouragement. One of the most powerful motivating tools available to a coach, encouragement can be the key to unlocking a player’s or a team’s new level of ability. Using just the right mix of intellectual tools, communication skills and an inner Fire of their own, a coach can use encouragement to cultivate a player’s fire. And once the fire is at full-furnace and billowing with courage, the coach can help the player manage the flames to blast through at just the right moments. After that? Then the player can become better than anyone (including themselves) ever thought they could be.
Jim Harbaugh exudes these qualities as a coach. At Stanford, he built a consistently Top 25-caliber program and a Heisman runner-up/number one pick at school that probably forgot they had a football team. He then crafted a perennial playoff team (the San Francisco 49ers) in a city that was still recovering from its glory run two decades prior. He also developed two Pro Bowl quarterbacks, from a downtrodden former number one pick (Alex Smith) and an unorthodox gunslinger that was too raw to play (Colin Kaepernick).
Now we would like to hear from you — what “coaches” in your life embody these elements? Post it in the comments!
Yesterday’s Daily Driver (01/15)
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