First Step in Leadership? Learn to Learn

I am coaching tyke football for the Nepean Eagles and I am excited!

My excitement extends from my love for the game and from my wanting to coach my 8 year old son who has decided he wants to play!

I get to coach kids up!

We will win some games and lose some games. That is a guarantee. Funny thing is the kids forget the scores of the games (win or lose) about 24 hours after the fact, so the focus for me is not on the scoreboard. Yes, I want them to compete but more importantly I want them to learn how to learn and the value of putting themselves in the position to compete that will invariably offer a high rate of success.

Now keep in mind, the team is made up of 7-9 year old boys who for the most part have very little knowledge of the game. They may think they know a lot about the game but in all honesty, they don’t know squat which is why I am excited.  They are a fresh canvas and their football experience as a tyke can set the tone on their relationship with the game as a player and/or as a future coach.

WORTH NOTING>>>The photo below is not of the Eagles! 

Let’s continue!

There is a great responsibility with being a coach! I have seen far too many get locked in on the trophy rather than the teaching! I have seen a lot of coaches enjoy early success but have no plan B in place when the opposition figures them out. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I have seen a dynamic running back who is the fastest kid on the field take off on a sweep and score a bunch of touchdowns but look lost when a well prepared team neutralizes his speed. The kid is looking to the bench for answers and the coach is telling the kid to run the play, not wanting to admit that the play doesn’t work and that the failure to develop a plan B, a counter punch is on him!

So, coaching up means coaching with competency! Competency begins with a willingness to grow, to evolve.

Which leads me to share what I think is an invaluable foundation for anyone who is tasked with helping others up to succeed regardless of the arena! It could be  a tyke football team or a high tech startup. Football team or Fortune 500 company.

Initially described as “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill”, the theory was developed at Gordon Training International by its employee Noel Burch in the 1970’s. I found it while studying former Navy Seal Mark Divine (https://sealfit.com) and how Navy Seals are trained in a bid to enhance their performance in the field. Now, I am not asking my Eagle tykes to plank for an hour but I will utilize the “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” theory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4 stages are as follows…

  • Unconscious Incompetence – Almost all of the kids have no idea what they don’t know! They may think the way I coach isn’t useful. They will want to go run into each other with no sense of technique or skill because they are unaware that they lack the technique and skill. The only way to move to the next level of consciousness is to coach up until the light comes on. Once that light goes on..the real learning begins! By coaching up I can stimulate the kids desire to learn and that is when the game becomes a craft!
  • Conscious Incompetence – So, now I have an athlete that has conceded to the fact that there is a skill or knowledge deficit.  This is a stage where the margin for error is great! Coaching Up with a high degree of competence will set the tone. When a kid bumps into his/ former coach a few years down the road, how the coach taught that athlete in this stage will determine how they react. Happy and excited = coaching success! Unimpressed and disconnected = coaching failure.  No one is perfect. No one masters a skill in a moment. The making of mistakes in a safe environment is integral to the learning process at this stage. Explaining the 5W’s (what, when, where, who and why) is invaluable! Hey kids, this is what we are going to do, when we are going to do it, why we are going to do it, where we are going to do it and who will do it!) Again, it goes back to their becoming craftsmen or craftswomen!
  • Conscious Competence – The Eagles now know how to do something! Tackle, throw a ball, carry a ball or run a play! Yet, repeating the skill a couple of times does not make one a master. To get there, some muscle and mental memory work is required. That requires concentration! The kids may get the play right, then try again and misstep, try again and misstep, then try again and get it done correctly. Limiting the number of missteps requires a refining of the conscious involvement requires concentration. Practice makes almost perfect!
  • Unconscious Competence – Ah grasshopper! You are now a master! You have put the time in! The light is on, the motor is purring like a kitten and you can drive the mission
    with one hand on the steering wheel and one hanging out the window! The kids have had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Once the Eagles have mastered a skill they can now build on what they have learned and begin the process of mastering another skill. Soon, based on habit forming behavior, they can source out the new challenge and attack it on their own, trusting the learning process.

When you ascend to the top of a mountain, you don’t stand there overlooking the land below and exclaim to the world, “I am a mountain climber…lets go sit on the couch!”.

No, you want to climb more mountains. Bigger, taller mountains!

You want to build on what you know. You want to experience the “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” again, again and again!

My goal is to prepare the kids for the challenges that lie ahead, short term and long term. I want to coach them up to succeed in the now and for that moment when they move up to the next level of play! I want them to apply “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” to all that they choose to do and for it to become a habit that they can rely on in all facets of their lives.

By doing so, the victory lies in the moment when I bump into them ten years down the road. If they are excited and remember their football experience like it occurred the day before, then I did my job! If they turn the other way or have little to say…I failed!

Coaching and leadership has absolutely nothing to do with the little trophy they give you for winning a game. Changing someones life through empowerment will never fit on a mantle at home!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at ken@kenevraire.com.

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
evraire.com
or visit him Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/ or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wayne Gretzky lied to me (well kind of!)

It was the summer of 2001. Team Canada’s Olympic training camp began in Ottawa at Ottawa U.  A who’s who of media types were on hand including yours truly (who was not part of the who’s who club!).

I took a seat in the front row of the press room like a kid looking forward to the first day of school. I was going to get straight A’s this year! Honor roll here I come! This one was going on my demo tape!

The Team Canada Olympic Team brass entered the room and made their way to the stage and after a brief review of press conference instructions from the media rep, the floor was opened for questions and, like everyone else in the room, I raised my hand.

As luck would have it, I was selected first. I had a great question for Team Canada Executive Director, Wayne Gretzky.  I was going to set the tone! With one question I was going to trigger an in-depth, thought provoking, life changing, symbiotic dialogue between The Great One (TGO) and Kenneth Russell Joseph Simon Maurice Evraire Jr. (KRJSMAJ)! A question that would lead to a lifelong friendship. He would call me by my nickname (Cowboy) and I would call him Gretzk or Wayner!  All because I had a question that no one in the room would have thought of but would all would go on to poach for their stories.

Boy, was I wrong! On all counts!

I asked, “With a roster filled with star players, the worlds best, will it be difficult for some of them to adjust to 3rd line and 4th line roles and less ice time?”.

He pondered my question for a millisecond then responded, “No, they are the best players in the world and if they can’t adjust, they wouldn’t be here.”

Ta-da! There it was.  Short and sweet. Nothing more, nothing less!

The media relations guy took the mic from me and gave me a look that reminded me of the Soup Nazi character in the series Seinfeld. “No more questions for you!”. I could almost hear the rest of the media throng mumbling “what an idiot!” to themselves. Back to media 101 summer school for me!

All I could do was sit there and pretend I was completely intrigued with all of the other questions and answers shared during the presser, when in truth, I just wanted to get the heck out of there! Time just seemed to slow down! I was pissed. I was pissed because, one, I thought I had a great question,  two, I thought it warranted a longer answer and three, I thought..no wait, I knew The Great One was wrong! I had been in a room filled with pro athletes before. Adaptation and change only take place when it benefits the individual. I get the entire team sport thing but it has been my experience that great team players are great team players when it benefits them.

My football instincts were telling me to crack back block the crap out of WAYNER when he left the stage. (Wayner…what a dumb-ass nickname!).  Yep, the solution was to just ear-hole his hockey playing, jofa helmet wearing, frosted hair tips attitude then and there. Dave Semenko isn’t around to protect you now pal! Call Mark Messier and I will call Darren Joseph.  Shout out to Marty McSorley, I will make a toll-free call to Glenn Kulka!

If you google search “football player ear-holes the greatest hockey player ever” you won’t find anything because after taking a couple of deep breaths, I chose to take the high road and keep my emotions in check.  Why? Because I knew I was right. Talent doesn’t always win out. The ability to adapt does.

    (courtesy of The Hockey Hall of Fame)

It took some time (6 months)  but I was eventually proven right.

On February 18, 2002, Gretzky lashed out at the media at a press conference, frustrated with media and fan comments regarding his team’s uninspiring 1–1–1 start in pre-Olympic Games exhibition play. He would go on to say his rant was designed to protect his team as they adjusted and worked to become a gold medal winning team.

I jest when saying The Great One lied to me but the fact of the matter is,  any roster including a team made up of the world’s greatest players, needs time to adjust to new roles. Head Coach Pat Quinn had to find those players within this all-star roster willing to change their game. He had to find a new set of strengths within a number of players that would translate into success. As good as the players were, Quinn and his staff had to do some serious coaching. Team Canada didn’t just show up and dominate. They had to earn their title of Olympic Champion the hard way. I think that is part of the reason why the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games gold medal meant so much to so many and continues to, to this day.

Every team will need to adjust….it’s inevitable. This truth applies to sports teams, small businesses all the way through to Fortune 500 companies.

When watching a best of 7 playoff series be it in hockey, basketball, baseball etc, the ability to overcome the physical challenges combined with being able to counter punch from a strategic perspective is everything. The margin for error is far greater in the playoffs versus a regular season game because the teams see each other every second night. The differences between the teams become so finite thanks to the in-depth understanding of the opposition. The same applies to the business sector. Everyone is competing for their piece of the pie. The tide can turn at any time. Being able to adapt is key.

This fact leads me to the 3 Cs…Communicate, Collaborate and Conquer. They should serve as the principals that make up the foundation that every team is built on.

Communication is everything. It begins with 5 Ws (what, when, who, where and why).

There was a time when a coach/CEO/manager would tell the employees to do something and they would just go about doing it, whether it made sense or not. It’s the “Jump! How High?” approach. Fact is, the one voice, the providence of one and only one offers a high risk, low reward outcome. Times began to change in the late 70’s. The realization that the silent majority had been an untapped resource came to be. Silence was no longer accepted. Speak up and forever support your team was the new approach.

Today, asking the 5Ws (what, when, where, why and who) helped to create a low risk-high reward scenario. It is the foundation of my coaching.

Create the opportunity to succeed by providing answers to questions before they are asked. Answer the what we are going to do, why we are going to do it, where we are going to do it, when we are going to do it and who is going to do it questions. By doing so you create a win in the bid to elevate overall team proficiency and competency!

Communication segues to Collaboration. A leader/decision maker is not always right. The idea may be bang on but the roll out strategy may need some significant tweaking. Collaboration is designed to utilize people’s strengths. Collaboration sets individuals up to succeed. Fewer questions are left unanswered and more problems are solved when working with others.

Conquering is the by-product of healthy communication lines and ensuing collaboration.  When a mountain climber makes his/her way to the top of the mountain, the very next thought should be, “I need to go find me a taller mountain, a greater challenge!”. 

No matter how talented your team, the need to adapt and overcome, the need to expect and accept evolving roles in a bid to succeed as a team is inevitable.

Coach Up!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at ken@kenevraire.com.

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
evraire.com
or visit him Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/ or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17

 

 

 

Thank you Ottawa 67’s AAA Minor Bantams – CHAMPIONS!

There are many moments when I am amazed at the transformation a team can experience by simply buying in. I have seen it in the boardroom. I have seen it in career transition seminars.

And now I have seen it in the Ottawa 67’s AAA Minor Bantam hockey team. Now, getting a room full of teenage boys to focus for any length of time can be challenging, to say the least, but this team was destined for great things!

Head Coach Jim Cooke gets it! He understands the value of building the team and he understands that bringing a new voice to the locker room was the key. I signed on for 5 sessions, scheduled through the season. They were a very good team that could become great with a little help.

I spoke to them about incremental growth, focus, the finite difference between winning and losing and the knowledge that it isn’t about their opponent but rather, it was all about them and what they do. They would reap what they sow…guaranteed!

Tonight, they face the best team in the league in a do or die playoff game that will reward the winners with a trip to the semi-finals. The losing team would be done for the year.

Like the Grey Cup Champion Ottawa REDBLACKS, the 67’s had an up and down regular season.

The REDBLACKS were underdogs going into the championship game against a Calgary Stampeder’s team that went 16-2 during regular season play.  But they prevailed. Here is a link featuring the day before the championship game clips. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWMqKHSN7lo&t=65s

The focus was on the REDBLACKS being a team that had overcome challenges during the season and were battle tested, unlike the Stampeders. I asked them about the Stampeders not being punched in the face all season (literally and figuratively). They had not faced adversity like the REDBLACKS.  Talk about a fun study of quiet confidence in an athlete and a team!

The 67’s had 6 games left in the regular season. I showed them this video and I challenged them to go 5-1 and become the most dangerous team heading into the playoffs. I wanted them to become the team that no one wanted to play.  They re-focused, promised an incremental improvement in their individual game that would benefit the team and guess what. They went 5-1 over their final 6 games.

They eliminated the Ottawa Senators AAA in semi-final play and then overcame the Ottawa Valley Titans to win the title.

Congrats to the boys and the coaching staff on a job well done!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at ken@kenevraire.com.

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
evraire.com
or visit him Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/ or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17

Tomato or Tamata? Know your team!

 

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit…wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad!”. 

What a great line! You never know when you are going to find a pearl. Case in point with this line. I found it in a Steve Berry authored book titled “The 14th Colony”.  Thank you!

If you are responsible for leading a team this quote should resonate deeply within you because it is the cardinal rule of all cardinal rules when it comes to setting up others to succeed.

Knowing your team…understanding your team’s individual and cumulative skill set is always the first step. Do you have a roomful of tomato’s, apples, apples or rutabagas? The odds are you have a veritable mix and if you fail to acknowledge the exact make-up of your team you are destined to fail because somewhere along the way you are going to ask a tomato to do something that a potato does quite well.

Oversimplified? Certainly but it is the most common flaw of leadership.

How can you build anything without looking around and asking if you have the ingredients, components, pieces, tools etc.? It doesn’t matter if you are building a team, a cake, an airplane or one of those uber complicated IKEA closets.

So, why do so many leaders get it wrong coming out of the gate?

They have the best of intentions and they certainly want to succeed but getting locked and loaded on one way of accomplishing goals is the fatal flaw. The ability to adapt is everything.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have won appeared in 9 Super Bowls and won 5 (to the shagrin of all non-Patriot football fans)!

They are known for doing things the “the Patriot way”. The Patriot way is the unwavering understanding that adapting to all challenges and doing all you can to put your players in a position to succeed is key. They won’t always succeed but more often than naught..they won’t fail. No one player is the hero every Sunday afternoon. Week in, week out, they find ways to win with different chess pieces on the board. As soon as you think you have the Patriots figured out…they adjust and offer a new challenge to the opposition. They dictate terms and the ability to do so hinges on the knowing what every player can do and cannot do.

So, why hasn’t every team simply copied the Patriots? It’s because the Patriot way requires patience, perseverance, precision and the willingness to make the tough decision. Its a long haul and many teams need to win today which forces their hand. Patience is not a commodity they own.

The Patriots are always in a position to manage the inevitable, difficult times with clarity, with patience and precision. The bar of competency is never lowered! If a player is injured, traded or retires the adaptation begins. They do not rebuild…they re-load.

As a team builder and movie buff, I am always looking for storylines that inspire.

The movie “Apollo 13” ranks among my top choices. Plenty of very smart people want to work at NASA…very few people actually get to work there because NASA wants a specific type of smart.

They don’t only want people who can help get a 45,931kg rocket to the moon and back but rather a team that can get a flight crew back when the 45,931kg rocket craps out which it did for the Apollo 13 crew.

Apollo 13 Flight Director Gene Krantz discussed one of the crucial issues they had to overcome after an explosion on the ship forced the flight crew from the command module into the landing module which was not designed to carry the crew around the moon and back to earth. Somehow they had to re-build a filter that would save the lives of astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert.

“The trouble was the square lithium hydroxide canisters from the CM (command module) would not fit the round openings of those in the LM (landing module) environmental system. After a day and a half in the LM a warning light showed us that the carbon dioxide had built up to a dangerous level, but the ground was ready. They had thought up a way to attach a CM canister to the LM system by using plastic bags, cardboard, and tape- all materials we had on board. Jack Swigert and I put it together: just like building a model airplane. The contraption wasn’t very handsome, but it worked. It was a great improvisation- and a fine example of cooperation between ground and space.”

The only way a team can enjoy success is for leadership to know what each team member can do individually, incorporate their skill set into the team and then ask to savor the ask of performing at a high level of competency.

So, to get somewhere, get to know your team! Getting off on the right foot is challenging and rewarding. Getting off on the wrong foot is easy and consumes time and energy. For every step in the wrong direction, there are 2 steps backward to make up for getting lost.

Ken Evraire is an award winning presenter, team builder and coach. As a former professional athlete, he has learned a from great coaches…learned even more from his bad coaches!

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.kenevraire.com or visit him Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/ or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17