Lessons Learned From Being Fired (Part 1)

When I decided to become the Associate Head Coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College last year, I did so thinking I was ready to be a head coach, that this would be one step closer to solidifying me for that role. Little did I know that my good friend, mentor and head coach would resign mid-November and that I would be thrust into the role of Interim Head Coach.

This week I will blog about my recent season at Kentucky Wesleyan College, where I was the Interim Head Coach for Men’s Basketball.  I was not hired as the Head Coach after the season.

Lesson 1

Recruiting is both an art and a science.  The repetitive contacts, mail, social media postings, academic monitoring and live evaluations comprise the science part of recruiting.  However, it is the relationship building that comprises the art.  I’ve always thought that the science of recruiting communicated your school to the prospect and the art of recruiting connected you to the prospect.  There is an important difference between communicating and connecting.

When I first became a father, putting a crib together was a task I wasn’t fully prepared for.  The instruction manual communicated how to put the crib together (in five different languages), yet it was seeing my son sleeping peacefully in the crib that connected with me.  You see, what we communicate to people isn’t nearly as powerful as how we connect with people.

Partially recruiting only one player to this past season’s team (due to my late arrival) didn’t allow me to connect with the players.  So when my role of assistant coach changed  to head coach, the most important aspect of a player-coach relationship was weak – TRUST.  Oh sure, the honeymoon phase (and a home non-conference schedule) allowed us to win games and provided a false sense of accomplishment.  However, when the grind of improving this team and holding it accountable to every detail associated with that improvement faced moments of adversity there was no trust available to push through the discomfort.

Let’s face it, when a player is uncomfortable their greatest growth occurs.  That withstanding, it takes the player believing and trusting in the head coach that the pain and discomfort they feel will make them better.  For a team to reach its potential, a coach constantly stretches and grinds a team to improve beyond where they were the day before.  In order for a team to accept this, trust is everything.

Lesson Learned:  Connect more than you communicate.


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