Not because my mindset is all that complex (good attitude / bad attitude) or my skill set is all that deep (know it / don’t know it)…
It’s just that this is a good “chicken or the egg” kind of question for us.
Which one is more essential for success?
A positive mindset or a solid set of skills?
Here’s a true story that’ll clear things up.
At least it should be true since leadership and sports coach John Whitmore recounts it in his book Coaching for Performance.
One of his “coaching friends” ran a highly respected tennis camp.
One summer his friend experienced what must’ve been the perfect storm for any tennis coach running a camp.
As he about to begin a new camp session, the coach discovered he had “overbooked” the number of campers he had coming in – and had “undercounted” the number of tennis coaches he had lined up!
(And no, I wasn’t the tennis coach’s PR guy…)
Luckily, the tennis coach was part of peer-to-peer network (somewhat like an MSPRA for coaches) and he was able to talk several of his golf coach buddies into coming over to the camp and helping him out.
He told the golf coaches not to worry about teaching any tennis techniques.
In fact, he specifically requested that they don’t even try.
All he asked them to do was to carry a tennis racket around and “look the part” while they coached up what they were comfortable with: mental preparation, visioning, overcoming setbacks, developing consistency, and working on the wide range of habits that all winners share.
So now you can probably guess how this story wraps up at the end of camp.
(I couldn’t. My school PR training caused me to foresee a big lawsuit getting filed and the Tennis Camp Board of Trustees going into a “closed session” later to discuss it.)
Anyway, at the end of the tennis camp, the players coached by the golf coaches actually achieved the same or better gains in their overall performance than those coached by the real-life tennis coaches.
There’s a lesson here.
Did this happen because the golf coaches worked overtime to instill their messages about “mindset” knowing darn well they couldn’t teach anything at all about tennis?
This seems likely to me.
But whatever the reason…
I’m going to see if I can find a golf coach who can help me with my writing.
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Prior to launching SCN I was the communications director for Holland Public Schools in Holland, Michigan for 20 years. The challenges for in-the-trenches school communicators are many – and if I can help you in any way, give me a call. I'm a former teacher and I've managed more than 100 election campaigns of all types and sizes over the years. (I was even featured in the Wall Street Journal... a very, very slow news day, no doubt!) I created the School Communicators Network because I believe the noble purpose of education deserves the best marketing and PR possible. And there's a lot of talent and expertise we can tap into! I'm also convinced we can support each other while remaining human and having fun, too. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.