Dan Naden

How to Get Ahead with a Little Encouragement

As the college-age swimmers pushed and glided effortlessly across the pool, the crowd watched in awe at the incredible athletic prowess. Parents anxiously observed their daughters fight for position against the waves. Fans huddled together, mesmerized at the sheer strength, grace and determination displayed by the athletes. Cheers, claps, whistles reverberated around the cavernous natatorium.

With the end of the 200 meter freestyle in view, one team rose in unison, voicing their encouragement as their teammates battled through the water. This was to be their day to take the medal.

Your success in any race depends on those who surround you.
Your success in any race depends on those who surround you.

On the other side of the pool, where their opponents had set up camp, the near silence was striking. Their winded teammates were vying for 1st position, yet the group sat sullen, unaware, disinterested. The lack of engagement said: “We don’t care. The results will happen how they happen.”

So what is coaching?

Is it guiding your players to greatness despite any past failures?

Is it finding the key inside each individual to unlock levels of performance they never thought possible?

Coaching is believing in your team, so they will believe in each other and most importantly – themselves.

At the halfway point of the meet, one team gathered at the far end of the pool, huddled together, listening closely to the coach’s instructions, motivations, and words of encouragement.

The other team disbanded. Some loitered; others checked their phones. The coach walked away with a look that said: “I want to be somewhere else.”

Just a few points separated the two fierce competitors, yet it’s as if each team knew its fate before the meet began. One team had a clear vision of execution, teamwork, and camaraderie. The other team showed a lack of belief in one another. Heads drooped and shoulders sagged to match their defeated mental state.

It wasn’t a surprise that the victorious team was the team displaying unity, togetherness, and passion.

Your success may not just be how you perform when the spotlight’s bright. It may hinge on how those who surround you lift you to the highest of heights.

When your next team gathers in the pool, boardroom, classroom, or at the dining room table, how will the actions you display today predict the results of tomorrow?

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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