Disappointed in Your Actions


Several years ago, I was an assistant coach for a traveling basketball team of 15 year old boys. The tournaments were physically and mentally challenging events, far more so than typical high school basketball. It was common to play two up-tempo games per day over a two or three day period. That could mean four to seven games in one weekend with very competitive teams.

During a break between our games, the head coach told the team to rest. After a few minutes, Coach discovered two of the players missing. He soon found them in a nearby empty gym where they were shooting baskets. Did they need the practice? Maybe. Did they need the rest? Absolutely. Worse, they had ignored the coach’s direct instructions and had done so to the potential detriment of the team in the next games.

Coach had some harsh words. However, after the following game, he pulled them aside and made a great point. He said, “I want to apologize for how I responded when I found you in the gym. I also want to be very clear. I am not upset with you, I am upset with your actions. You are good young men and I’m glad you are a part of this team. That said, your actions were disrespectful to me and to the team. I know you can do better than that and I know that you are better than that.”

I thought it was one of the finest teaching moments of that season and the coach nailed it. No one was off the hook for poor choices. The two young men still were penalized for their blatant disrespect of the coach and the team. However, it was also not used as a means to attack individuals, particularly these young men.

Our actions are representative of who we are as a person. However, mistakes can happen. In fact, it can often be how we respond after a mistake that does more to establish our credibility than anything else. How we respond to someone else’s mistake also establishes our credibility. Credibility is critical to effective communication, so this is a lesson that is important to learn.

Now, I would like to point out that in no way am I suggesting you create problems just so you can solve them. I’ve seen that behavior and it often becomes a disaster to credibility, professionally and personally. No, I’m talking about appropriately handling the bumps of life.

The ability to avoid inappropriately magnifying or minimizing an event is important in relationships and effective communication. Coach knew this was not a reason to attack an individual but to address a mistake in judgement. That is all it was and he kept it all in a healthy perspective. It is a great lesson for us all to remember.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.