I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a group of high school coaches across various sports, and I posed an important question to them: “What does it mean to be a successful coach?”
Many valuable definitions were shared, and when our time together was over, we had agreed that a successful coach is one that defines, establishes, and maintains a program’s culture.
In other words, successful coaches are culture keepers.
Truly great coaches (and programs) are known for their distinct and specific cultures.
And they don’t focus solely on the end result of individual games.
Great coaches embrace the importance of their role and the impact of journeying with their players.
These are the coaches that define their success as culture thermostats and not culture thermometers.
As you continue on your path to being a culture keeper, here are three C’s to help you set the thermostat for your program.
Culture keepers are fully committed to the task at hand, knowing that teams are like families, they have good days and frustrating ones.
They demonstrate this gold standard of commitment by not allowing circumstances, feelings or emotions to determine their commitment on a day to day basis.
Bob Ladouceur, the highly successful football coach at De La Salle High School, put it this way for his program:
“Our tradition [culture] calls for a commitment to accountability. This is not an assumption — this is a promise that I will be there for you; and I can count on you being there for me.”
Culture keepers understand the importance of being competitive and developing the best version of yourself.
This means building the habit of giving their best effort, every single time, even when it’s not easy or convenient.
As the great Vince Lombardi said, “Winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time.”
As the culture keepers of their program, coaches have to be intentional to implement the competitive mindset that Coach Lombardi is describing.
There’s an old adage that says certain things are “better caught than taught.”
This holds true when it comes to the culture of a team. No culture is truly special if those responsible for keeping the culture don’t spread it to others.
Research has proven that growth, just like a smile, is contagious.
This is when true success is realized — when a special, sustainable culture has not only been established but is also being passed on to, and by, others.
While each of these C’s may seem simple on the surface, there’s no secret ingredient to making each of them happen.
Rather, it’s a conscious and daily effort that each culture keeping coach must make to see a deep and lasting impact with their team.
Like John Wooden once said, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”