Public Speaking, Youth Leardership, From passion to purpose

5 Lessons Coaching has taught me about Leadership

I have never been a big fan of video games and being indoor for long periods of time. When I was in the 7th grade, I found myself spending too much time at home, so I started staying after school helping my school’s coach with the 1st-4th-grade soccer class. As I started the 9th grade, I was offered a position as an assistant coach in the after school program with the 1st-3rd graders and goalkeepers.

My high school years flew by and I fell in love with coaching. I went from teaching Monday’s and Wednesday’s from 2:45-3:45 PM to becoming one of the school’s coaches for the 1st-8th grade teams. Four years after my graduation from the Saint Thomas School of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, I reflect on the 5 lessons being a soccer coach taught me, and how it has impacted my educational and professional career as I progress to graduate college in the Fall of 2017 and venture off to what we like to call the “Real World”.

1) Criticize in private, praise in public: As hedonistic as it may sound, no one on Earth likes being reprimanded or being told they are wrong. You don’t have to read a business-related book about leadership or team building to know that one of the worst qualities a leader can have is to criticise or point out someone’s flaws in public. When I would reprimand a child in public, they would not really pay attention to my words because they were too busy paying attention to the other children reacting about him being put on the spot. On the other hand, when you take the time to correct that person’s mistake in private, they take in the words better because they know their errors are not being exposed, and it is in your best intentions for them to improve. In a business setting or soccer field, praising in public increases the person’s morale, and improves their leadership position among the team.

2) Plan ahead: When I started coaching, I would never take time to plan a practice session in advance. Most times, things would flow smoothly, but other times I would find myself trying to figure out what to do on the spot. In a professional scene, seeming unprepared can severely affect your reputation amongst your teammates. Writing down the thoughts or ideas you wish to discuss in a meeting is key. Whenever I would take the time to organize every exercise I wanted to do in practice, I would find the practices flowing more efficiently.

3) Hard work beats talent when talent does not work hard: This was my quote on my Twitter Bio when Twitter became a thing in 2010, and I truly believe on the importance of being hard worker. People always say Messi got to where he is today because of his talent and Cristiano because of his hard work. But how many soccer players, just as talented as Messi, have we seen fall behind in their career due to lack of work ethic. Translated into the business world, it is easier to acquire talent with a strong work ethic than to acquire a strong work ethic with only the talent.

4) If you’re trying to influence a group, start with one person. While visiting San Francisco this part March, I stopped by a book store and ran into the Founder of Pencils of Promise, Adam Braun’s book “Promise of a Pencil, How an Ordinary Person can Create Extraordinary Change”. In his first speech trying to introduce Pencils of Promise into college campuses, only one person attended the meeting.

This person followed to become a very important part of Pencils of Promise and played a crucial role in its growth. Often we try to introduce ourselves in a new group, or pitch an idea to different people, we forget that it’s always better to fully attract one person, than have 10 semi-interested. There were times when I had a hard time trying to grasp the attention of a group, and instead of trying to win the “Best Coach Award” collectively, familiarizing myself with one student at a time became a more efficient technique.

5) Stop and listen every once in a while, we all have our own issues. Leaders come in different shapes: Team captain, ship captain, or school project leader. Nevertheless, leaders are leaders because they take the responsibility of leading the team towards their goal. As a coach, either giving a practice or coaching a game, my goal was always to achieve the best results. When things did not go right, and specifically because players did not follow instructions, it is very easy to scold them and point out their mistakes. When I would try to understand why that player had made the mistake or not performed adequately, taking a step back and listening to his/her problem, overall made me more understanding of peoples mistakes.

Working with children taught me very important lessons that have ultimately made me more understanding and patient when dealing with adversity. We often forget that the true progress of a country comes from nurturing and educating our upcoming generations. That’s why I have found my journey with Aspiras Foundation so enriching and fulfilling; impacting lives one “Golazo” at a time.

I truly believe that we can all learn a thing or two from children…

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