I spent a good chunk of Saturday cleaning out my personal email inbox. What started the day at approximately 4,900 messages ended at 173. Among the 4,500+ emails I eradicated from my inbox was a huge collection of marketing and promotional emails from companies I have purchased products from or joined their membership clubs. The “unsubscribe” button came in handy more than a few times.

The biggest chunk of emails that I had to sort through was the glut of leadership blogs and email lists I had subscribed to. Most of these delivered a message to me every day or a few times per week. I saw every one of them come in and then proceeded to not make the time to read them. But I kept them in my inbox, creating an unmanageable reading list of leadership material.

Why? FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.

I knew there were valuable nuggets of information in those messages. Maybe one had the insight I needed to help myself, my players or my team achieve the success we’re working towards. Maybe one of them held the key to unlocking my true potential. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

On Saturday, I decided to delete all of the leadership emails that I had not yet had the time to read or digest. The reality of life is that our brains can only process and retain so much information. There is a finite amount of time to read and mental capacity to retain. Attempting to play catchup on the 2+ years of leadership material that I had yet to read seemed futile. My Fear of Missing Out on some invaluable piece of information was conquered by my understanding of my own limitations. From now on, I will read the leadership blogs that I can each day, and delete/unsubscribe the ones that I cannot.

The world in 2015 is permeated by a sense of FOMO. We are constantly checking our notifications and messages for something that we should be doing/reading/seeing/talking about instead. The Pavlovian response mechanisms in our phones train us to be this way. Businesses are constantly searching for the next edge, the next big thing. Scouts. recruiters, and coaches are always looking for the next great player. Society doesn’t take time to appreciate our limitations and work with what we have.

“Comparison is the thief of all joy.” – Joshua Medcalf, Train 2B Clutch.

FOMO is the overwhelming comparison of our own present state to others. We need to stop comparing ourselves and start reveling in what we have. Don’t worry about what else is out there. Stay in the moment. Stay in the present. Do the best you can with what you have where you are. The rest will take care of itself.

Starting with my inbox, I’m fighting my own battle to conquer FOMO.

AHCA: Don Vaughn on Development & Leadership

Part of the Hot Stove talks at the AHCA Convention was Don Vaughn, the Head Coach from Colgate. His talk centered on Leadership & Player Development. The highlights:

  • They had a young team (17 freshmen & sophomores)
  • What led them to success this year – they had more of a plan for what they were trying to accomplish – they wanted to be smart, disciplined and quick (d-men who could skate instead of just straight size)
  • They clearly define their roles – each player is given a foundation for who you are and what you do, they then create 4 or 5 markers for each player that they have to do to be successful (scorers get shots, 2 way forwards get hits, etc) and then they sit down and have the players hold each other accountable to their measures – everyone has a value to the team and is respected for what they bring
  • Regarding player development – Tuesdays are a day where they do small groups and just skill work – 6 or 7 guys for 20 minutes at a time
  • Monday and Thursday practices were always the same week to week – emphasis on pushing the pace and playing fast
  • Playing fast is built through drill design and the terminology that you use – you have to emphasize the way you want to play
  • They relied on their sophomore class to get on the freshmen and get them to know what they’re doing
  • The roles they established were flexible throughout the season – you have to redefine and recalculate from time to time. For the depth guys (5th line) the markers they had were more  practice than game oriented, but they still established goals and measurements for their players

My takeaway was that the emphasis on player development and player roles allowed each player to find their niche and contribute what they could to help the team be successful. Heading in to 2014-15, Colgate has a team with 17 sophomores and juniors that should be primed to make a run in the ECAC.

AHCA – Ron Rolston Hot Stove

A favorite part of the convention for me is the “Hot Stove” talks given by a handful of coaches. Designated coaches will talk about their year/career/topic of their choice and then answer questions. Here’s what Ron Rolston (former HC of the Buffalo Sabres) had to say:

  • Ron was in the college game for 13 years as an assistant coach prior to moving to the NTDP to be a head coach
  • Working as a HC at the NTDP allowed him to do his own thing, the job changes dramatically from AC to HC
  • He was hired in Rochester (AHL) when Buffalo (NHL) wanted to change their minor league format to a more developmental system similar to the NTDP
  • After he was let go in Buffalo, he spent the year travelling and looking at different programs and how they operate – NHL, AHL, NCAA – he’s learned that the better teams have a few components: an organizational philosophy that is well mapped out and everyone sticks to it – attention to detail in everything they do
  • Leadership philosophy is that leaders drive the height of the organization but you have to bring in guys who have good leadership abilities and a commitment to accountability – these guys drive the bus from the inside
  • When moving around in coaching, you have to go somewhere where you are comfortable with the mindset and the approach – there’s risk in everything you do in coaching and you have to know that you’ll get knocked down at some point – only you know when you’re ready to take the next step
  • College coaching vs Pro coaching – in college, the coaches are the GMs/Player Personnel guys, in the Pros, you have to take the players you’re given and coach them – guys have to want to learn and you have to show them you care about them
  • Player Distractions: In College & at the NTDP you have to know what guys are doing and you have to stay in their business – at the Pro level guys are driven to be there and you trust them until they hang themselves…distractions are limited because it impacts their careers in a much different (more public) way

The Ant Philosophy

A great way to look at how we approach life – Jim Rohn hits this one out of the park:

“Over the years I’ve been teaching children about a simple but powerful concept – the ant philosophy. I think everybody should study ants. They have an amazing four- part philosophy, and here is the first part: ants never quit. That’s a good philosophy. If they’re headed somewhere and you try to stop them; they’ll look for another way. They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under, they’ll climb around. They keep looking for another way. What a neat philosophy, to never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.

Second, ants think winter all summer. That’s an important perspective. You can’t be so naive as to think summer will last forever. So ants are gathering in their winter food in the middle of summer.

An ancient story says, “Don’t build your house on the sand in the summer.” Why do we need that advice? Because it is important to be realistic. In the summer, you’ve got to think storm. You’ve got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun. Think ahead.

The third part of the ant philosophy is that ants think summer all winter. That is so important. During the winter, ants remind themselves, “This won’t last long; we’ll soon be out of here.” And the first warm day, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down, but then they come out the first warm day. They can’t wait to get out.

And here’s the last part of the ant philosophy. How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter? All that he possibly can. What an incredible philosophy, the “all-that-you-possibly-can” philosophy.

Wow, what a great seminar to attend – the ant seminar. Never give up, look ahead, stay positive and do all you can. “

What Is The Win?

More great stuff from Leadership Freak – I love this part about “What is the Win?”.

The question is, “What is the win?” Define success in behavioral and emotional terms.

  1. What does winning look and feel like?
  2. What improved results are we seeking?
  3. How will we act differently?
  4. How will success be measured?
  5. What does implementation look like?
  6. Who are the champions?
  7. How will we celebrate wins and correct failures?

As coaches, we must define wins on a regular basis. What does winning a workout look like? What does winning a practice look like? What does winning a recruiting class look like? Winning a game (that you might have lost on the scoreboard)? Winning a year? Coaching is all about developing people through technique and motivation. You must define winning and how we will change behavior before you can go out and do it.

Behavior Over Words

Leadership Freak has a great post this morning about how organizations and people reflect their leaders and how leaders can influence those around them with just their behavior. It is not how you see yourself, it is how others see you. If you believe that you care about your people and those around you, show it. A great segment that is fitting for coaches talks about focusing on the present.

“Pressing into the future makes leaders seem ungrateful about the present.

You see yourself as grateful but you don’t recognize achievement without reminding everyone they aren’t there yet.

The team reached goals this week but missed them last. What do you say when they celebrate? “That doesn’t fix last week!” You don’t want people letting down next week so you keep pushing. You’re an ungrateful jerk, even if you don’t feel that way.”

Leadership in the Heat of Battle

Gregg Popovich is a great coach and a fantastic leader. He is consistently churning out title contenders in San Antonio – a true testament to his coaching and leadership abilities. TNT caught this clip of him during the game last night. “I Want Some Nasty” – Great Stuff.