Find the Joy

by Ryan Krzykowski

Last month I wrote in this space about updating my Coaching Purpose Statement for the first time in its 9-year history.  It feels a little bit like trading in a car that I loved for a newer model — the old one was great for a long time and was still doing the job.  But the time had come for an upgrade.  The new statement begins with, “I coach to help young people compete joyfully”, and as I’ve coached with that in mind over the past month those two words, “compete” and “joy” have pushed and challenged me to carefully consider my plans, words and actions.  The idea of competing implies giving one’s very best, putting forth great effort, seeking to get the most out of ourselves and others.

“Competing joyfully”  means putting forth that kind of effort, exhibiting that type of drive, motivated by the desire to do something we love.  By definition, love is not self-seeking, but humble and deferential.  Love is others-focused.  So at the end of the day, I want to help the kids I’m coaching learn to absolutely get after it, giving all they have, and to do that in a way that builds others.  There’s no formula or blueprint for all that — but that’s what I’m after when I coach.  Even before I reworked my Purpose Statement, that was what I was looking for.  The difference is now I have more specific, targeted words to reflect on and help guide the process.

The idea of joyful competition came to mind last week when I read this short article about Chicago Cub third baseman Kris Bryant.  Asked in a recent interview about his tough 2020 season, and specifically about feeling joy while playing, Bryant shared:

“It really got to me sometimes. The stuff I was hearing. The first trade rumors [in 2018] that started to pop up really got to me. I find myself [thinking], ‘Man, is this even fun anymore? Why did I start playing this game?’ Because it was fun.  There’s a lot of other stuff involved. You make a ton of money and fame and all this. You have to get yourself back to why I started playing.”

Later in the article, we read this:

On the podcast, Bryant recalled the joy of his dad picking him up before he reached home plate after he hit his first home run as a kid. The six-year veteran wants to find that happiness in the game again, though he indicated there are more important things going on in the world right now.

“I found myself sitting there, ‘I don’t have that joy right now,'” he said. “I’m trying all I can to get back to that place.”

I’m fairly certain I will never going to coach a major league MVP.  But no matter how far they go in sports, I hope the kids I serve will take the idea of joyful competition with them to every team, game, practice and workout for years to come.  Then I hope they’ll coach their own children with that same type of mindset.  That’s the goal — to build something that matters and that lasts for generations to come.

Let’s Coach With Purpose…