// you’re reading...

Coaching Tips

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Before entering the hospital for open-heart surgery, my mother-in-law spoke lovingly to her daughters.

“I’ve had a long, wonderful life,” she said. “I have wonderful children. I saw my grandchildren, and even my great-grandchildren. I’m ready for whatever happens.”

My mother-in-law, whose name was Fran, never left the hospital, and died Thursday. With her words, however, she left a priceless gift of consolation that the family can hold through what will be a difficult Christmas season.

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place,” said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw.

My mother-in-law left no doubt about what she was feeling. But too many of us do, whether it’s in the family, the office or on our sports teams. Poor communication leads to hard feelings, friction and a loss of unity.

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives,” said motivational speaker Tony Robbins.

This is especially true during the holiday season, when family dynamics lead to conflicts can quickly turn the mood less than jolly.

“Speak when you are angry,” said Dr. Laurence J. Peters, “and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”

On sports teams, the problem is just the opposite. Coaches often find it difficult to say things that must be said. They struggle to find words to tell athletes they’ve been cut from the team, or traded, or put on the bench. These coaches wind up wishing they had been more direct.

Fran, who became a hockey fan when one of her daughters married a sports writer, would appreciate this story about Herb Brooks. In coaching the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, Brooks never lacked the ability to be blunt. “You’re getting worse every day,” he would tell an offending player, “and today you’re playing like it’s the middle of next month.”

Of course, Brooks learned from the best. He was the last person cut from the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Back home, he watched with his father as the U.S. team won the gold medal. “Looks like they cut the right guy,” Brooks’ father said.

In her own way, my mother-in-law spoke just as directly. But her words were not meant to criticize or to needle. They carried a love and peace that will comfort the family in these days and in all to come.

*** *** *** ***

TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836.


No comments for “The Perfect Christmas Gift”

Post a comment