I caught an hour where Dave Alred talked through his approach to fostering improvement.
He first came to public prominence back in 2003. As kicking coach to England rugby World Cup winning fly-half Jonny Wilkinson.
Here’s three of his current top-line pronouncements.
His over-riding framework is music to my ears:
if you focus on process, then the outcome looks after itself;
focus on the outcome and the process falls apart,
with the desired outcome missed.
This concept is so hard-wired into modern-day sporting pursuit that I still cannot believe how much I find salesteams struggle to take this central pillar on board.
A majority are utterly stifled by not knowing what their true selling process actually is. Hint: as I constantly blog, it is most definitely not the global training brand or crm-linked system they may or may not have all forgotten.
A mistake almost always made is to explicitly reinforce the concept of “fail”.
He made the fascinating point that as an adult to ‘fail’ has (devastating) negative connotations. Yet when we learn as small children, failure has no emotion. We simply crack on until we succeed. Then have jubilant positive emotion when we accomplish. To alter the language is powerful.
He banishes the word ‘failure’. When you fall short, he talks with his charges about how they will “match intention next time”.
Bridging these first two, I loved his example of if a youngster goes unpicked for the school team. Rather than keep on asking if they’re in the side (outcome orientated, and about a persistent ‘fail’), a parent should instead ask if they enjoyed training, did they learn anything, did the coach talk to them, did they ask them to work on something… Then go away and work on those. The team selection typically follows without mentioning it outright as an aim.
Find Something Good.
When you meet someone you aim to help, the very first thing you must do is to find something that they already do which is good.
Citing “page one” of One-Minute Manager (which is actually around twenty pages in, during the second chapter ‘The Second Secret – One Minute Praisings’;
Catch Them Doing Something Right
He gives the example of kickers. Say something like, ‘you’ve got a good rhythm running up to the ball’.
If you tell them from the off – showing how amazing your analysis powers are no doubt – all the things they’re doing wrong you create a mountain to climb in their minds.
Then also drop using words like ‘improve’ or ‘better’.
His way is to say, ‘let’s try something different‘.
Given his start as a Maths and English schoolteacher, he gives a wonderful example.
Teaching the youngest of children of immigrants with little English language skills, he realised they were demoralised by seeing so much red ink scrawled across their work telling them all the things they’d got wrong.
Their demeanour, posture and enthusiasm all slumped.
So he began to find something ‘good’. ‘You’ve lovely handwriting’, he might start off with. Before going on to suggesting to the little pupil, ‘let’s underline what you might like to do differently..’.
Overall mindset – as a final extra – Alred also touched on this prevailing attitude. To appreciate and exhibit.
You’re always getting better yourself. You do the best you can do at any one time. But look back from far off later, and if you’re doing it all correctly, you’ll no doubt almost cringe at how you did something in the past. No matter how successful it was at the time. That’s because you adopt the mental inclination to constantly improve. You continue to evolve. Accept you’re never the finished article. Perfection might not be reached, but can definitely be striven for.
Again, repeating that achievement is a Process, not a single event…