Perspective has an enormous impact on the ability for athletes and teams to perform at their potential. Keeping the proper perspective, then, something that all Coaches must help their teams/athletes maintain.

photo credit: IMG_7322 via photopin (license)

photo credit: IMG_7322 via photopin (license)

The best example I have ever heard of a Coach helping his team keep perspective, and therefore playing at their potential in an unbelievable way, is Coach Larry Gelwix. The passage below comes from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Essentialism is a must read if you haven’t read it yet!). Since I can’t say it any better than Greg McKeown, I figured the most effective way to share this message would be to simply share the passage below. Using Coach Gelwix’s strategy for helping your team/athletes to keep a healthy perspective makes it possible to “W.I.N.” 100% of the time:

Larry Gelwix coached the Highland High School rugby team to 418 wins with only ten losses and twenty national championships over thirty-six years. He describes his success this way: “We always win.” With a record like Highland’s he has the right to make the statement. But he is actually referring to something more than his winning record. When he says, “win,” he’s also referring to a single question, with its apt acronym, that guides what he expects from his players: “What’s important now?”

By keeping his players fully present in the moment and fully focused on what is most important— not on next week’s match, or tomorrow’s practice, or the next play, but now— Gelwix helps make winning almost effortless. But how?

First, the players apply the question constantly throughout the game. Instead of getting caught up rehashing the last play that went wrong, or spending their mental energy worrying about whether they are going to lose the game, neither of which is helpful or constructive, Larry encourages them to focus only on the play they are in right now.

Second, the question “ What’s important now?” helps them stay focused on how they are playing. Larry believes a huge part of winning is determined by whether the players are focused on their own game or on their opponent’s game. If the players start thinking about the other team they lose focus. Consciously or not, they start wanting to play the way the other team is playing . They get distracted and divided. By focusing on their game in the here and now, they can all unite around a single strategy. This level of unity makes execution of their game plan relatively frictionless.

Indeed, Larry has a fundamentally Essentialist approach to winning and losing. As he tells his players: “There is a difference between losing and being beaten. Being beaten means they are better than you. They are faster, stronger, and more talented.” To Larry, losing means something else. It means you lost focus. It means you didn’t concentrate on what was essential. It is all based on a simple but powerful idea: to operate at your highest level of contribution requires that you deliberately tune in to what is important in the here and now (Mckeown, Greg (2014-04-15). Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (pp. 215-216). Crown Religion/Business/Forum. Kindle Edition).