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Do You Talk Too Much?

Today marks the birthday of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States. He came into this world in 1773, the last president to be born before the Declaration of Independence.

Few things about Harrison’s life can rival the facts about his death. He served only 32 days, the shortest tenure of any president. He died of pneumonia after making a two-hour inaugural speech in cold and wet weather.

So essentially, a president died because he talked too much and didn’t know enough to come in out of the rain.

Sad to say, a lot of coaches are the same way, at least the part about talking too much. It’s not because they are bad people. In fact, it’s just the opposite. They are eager to share what they know with others. Trouble is, things work exactly the opposite way. The more you talk, the less people learn.

That’s not an opinion, it’s just science. The people at Gold Medal Squared, who present the best coaching clinics I have ever attended, have a catchword for it. The word is LAPI, which means “Limited Ability to Process Information.” That’s not an insult; it’s just the way we’re built.

A smart coach knows this, and instead of talking so much, will use images to make a point. Or they just edit their remarks.

In my work coaching coaches, I watch the athletes when the coach is speaking. Too often, their eyes will glaze over. It even happens in the NBA and in college basketball, where players in the huddle are not paying attention. You can hardly blame them, when the coach blabbers on and on.

By the way, you don’t have to be a coach to talk too much. It happens to lots of us.

“An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind,” said  English businessman and essayist Walter Bagehot.
“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference,” goes a saying attributed to Mark Twain.
There’s a cure for talking too much. If you truly try to listen to others — not just wait for them to stop speaking so you can start — you will be developing a valuable skill. And cutting down on a weakness.

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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. To order a copy of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know,” click here.


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