What are your core values? Are they verbs? It is hard to have “honesty and integrity” on the wall of your locker room and have those words on display on the court. We feel better about reminding ourselves and our team of our values (Innovation, Communication, Toughness) by plastering them on the wall for all to see. Nouns are not actionable. They are things (Start With Why, Simon Sinek, p. 66) As a coach, you can’t build systems or structure around those things. Think: how can you hold a player accountable to a noun? Regardless, if we have to place “honesty” on our wall to remind us to “do it,” then you probably have bigger issues in your locker room.
Verbs are actionable things. Rather than “Integrity,” it should be “Do the right thing.” You can hold your team accountable to actions they are to perform. You can incentivize actions, encouraging your team to repeat such positive behaviors.
Why discuss nouns, vs. verbs in this post? Think about your core values as a person. Turn those values into verbs, or actionable items. I coach to mentor young men through the game of basketball. I can gauge how I am mentoring the young men in our program. Am I meeting with them regularly, am I in tune with their personal lives, are they on track to graduate?
Coach Pete Carrol of the Seattle Seahawks once told Steve Kerr to tell him what one of his core values is. Coach Kerr responded with Joy. Coach Carroll encouraged him to have every practice reflect the value of Joy.