“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” – Samuel Johnson
This is a quote used by an Executive I work with as he addressed his direct reports earlier this morning. It stuck with me, not because Samuel Johnson essentially wrote one of the most widely used English dictionaries in existence but because of two questions I was asked at practice earlier that weekend. First, I was asked how I felt about being a coach. Then I was asked by one of my players, “What do you see that we aren’t seeing?” in reference to how his line was playing. I tried to answer both questions as best I could while trying to stay focused on a number of other tasks. Admittedly, I was not fully engaged and I believe I answered them from a literal sense and to the best of my ability at the moment. But hindsight is always 20/20 and if you give me enough time, I will study (translation: over analyze) something until I have an answer that satisfies me. So I started looking at this from a communication perspective. Here is what I have come up with:
As a leader, you can ensure that your message becomes a part of the culture of the team through repetition. (We have built a culture here. I can explain that further if you wish – let me know if you need clarification). The key factor is to make sure you don’t become frustrated when you have to say something more than once. This can be applied to leader, coach, captain, player…you get the picture. Repetition can change people by reinforcing the message (or at least, it should it depends on certain variables which I will address later in this letter). Solid leadership communication is about repetition, whether we like it or not. A good example of this would be close order drill performed in the United States Marine Corps. Now, repetition might sound boring to a lot of people but it has been my experience that it is one of the most effective communication tools in a corporate environment. So why can’t it work with our program? Well, I think it does. I believe our program is a good example of that actually.
If we really want our team to experience an organizational alignment, collaboration so to speak, with high performance results than repetition is indispensable. If we say it again, and again, and again or practice it again and again and again, a person who is diligent will see the results. They will begin to internalize it as they hear the same message over and over and over again. They will see the results of their lanes, their snap shooting, their communication improving as they drill, drill and drill. They will hear that “voice”. The concept is quite simple really.
Another factor and probably the most important aspect of this communication is to pick the right message. You want to make sure that the message isn’t something that you are afraid to repeat everywhere/anywhere all the time. Integrity is paramount. And we should say it every time with the utmost conviction and sincerity.
This, by no means, lets the listener off the hook. Communication is a two way street. There is the messenger, there is the medium used to communicate said message and then there is the receiver/target of the message. The receiver must play a role as well, they must be vested. They must understand the message then recognize that message for what it is and how it pertains to them. Then they must acknowledge it and provide quality feedback.
I want to be a good leader (who doesn’t?). And I want to be a good player. That means I need to repeat the key takeaways I want you as a team to have. It means I must listen and understand the feedback. But you also came to Prime to be a better player, a better person, a winner… right? You have invested time and energy to meet these goals, correct? We need to make sure we are all getting what we want out of this symbiotic relationship because that is what this is. We use the term family to define us. We are the Prime Family… Families fight and disagree but in the end, blood is thicker than water. So let’s agree that we all want the same thing: to be successful in our endeavor of becoming better paintball players and winning.
I didn’t realize this would be a book so let me try and sum this up. Simply, you will get out of Prime what you put into Prime. I, Mikey and the McGowan family have put a lot into this program as have many of you. Through clear communication and repetition between and among the team members, we can create an environment of consistency. That consistent environment will breed winning. And winning makes us all happy.
So let’s make ourselves happy. Let’s practice hard. Let’s create a consistent winning environment. And let’s listen to what’s being said, taught, and shown, etc. You want to be better? Well, you get what you put in.
Be water my friends…