What’s In a Name?

by Ryan Krzykowski

One of the best people I’ve ever known is a pastor in his 40s.  More than once I’ve heard him tell a story from when he was in high school.  Looking for independence and unsure of what he believed, my friend decided to attend a new church on his own.  That first Sunday provided enough for him to come back for a second, and the second week hooked him for the rest of his life.  He is now a senior pastor at this church, and the thing that made the greatest impression when he returned for his second Sunday was that the church greeter remembered him and called him by name.

There is something significant that happens when a person hears his/her name.  Articles describe how infants learn and respond to their names in the first few months of their lives.  In my own career, I’ve made it a priority to learn names as quickly as possible, and call people by their names at least daily.  And the feedback I’ve gotten from students and athletes over the years indicates that this habit was noticed and appreciated.  Most of us need some alone time once in a while, and sometimes we like to be left alone, but I don’t think many of us want to be invisible.  Calling a person by name is one of the clearest ways to communicate, “I see you and you matter.”  It’s so easy to do.

For those who say, “I’m just not good at names”, there is good news for you.  First of all, you don’t have to be “good at names” to learn them.  You just need to care enough to try, and when that moment comes when you can’t recall a name you previously heard, it’s OK.  Saying something like, “I know you told me before, but what’s your name again?”, communicates that we care enough to ask, that this person is important enough for me to want to get this right.  And I promise, even though it might take a little time and a few reminders, we can learn their name.

Heading into a new school year and fall sports seasons, we can prioritize learning and calling young people by their names, and you never know the good it might do.

Let’s Coach With Purpose…