In separate conversations with four different coaches recently, a common theme surfaced—they wanted to show more joy and enthusiasm during the season. Even when they experience these emotions, they struggle to express them outwardly to others—especially to their teams.
While competitiveness and intensity are the hallmarks of great coaches, those strengths turn into liabilities when taken to an extreme. These four coaches strongly desired to live more joyfully—even, and most importantly, during the season. They had grown weary of allowing their joy to be stifled in the crucible of intensity, competition and pressure.
I’m reminded of a friend whose family has recently faced one medical trial after another. She signs her emails, “choosing joy.” That’s the truth, isn’t it? You and I have a choice. You don’t have to allow a bad game to send you into a three-day funk. You can live differently. You can choose joy, even when circumstances don’t meet your expectations. Try these three easy suggestions:
Smiling actually takes fewer muscles than frowning, not to mention that it’s tough to stay in a bad mood and smile at the same time. One coach told me that when she started intentionally smiling more, her team gave her a hard time, thinking she was up to something. “Why are you smiling all the time now, coach?” they would ask.
She noticed that smiling caused others around her to relax. Some coaches even use smiling strategically during tense game situations to help their players stay calm. As you’ve probably heard “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart…”
Create New Habits
A Division I head coach told me that normally a loss right before a holiday weekend would have sent her home sulking and watching film for days. Not this time. She watched film and noted ways the team needed to improve, but then she left town to visit friends. “There is so much more to life than my job,” she said. “I don’t want to miss out on six months of my life because I’m coaching.” She returned home feeling encouraged and better equipped to lead her team.
What new habits can you create during the season to intentionally choose joy?
Focusing on your blessings can help you choose joy. Some find that creating a blessing journal keeps them mindful of the positives of life. Simply put a notebook by your bedside or your favorite chair and take a moment to record some of the blessings of your day before you go to sleep. The worries and irritants of the day quickly fade as your gratitude brings big-picture perspective to life!
Rather than letting the intensity of the season steal your joy, use it as an opportunity to intentionally choose joy. Little adjustments like smiling more, creating new habits or keeping a blessing journal will give you a new outlook that leads to a more enjoyable season for both you and your team!