Tom Brady’s triumphant return to the Super Bowl has left many to reconsider whether it’s coaching or the player that makes victory possible? With Bill Belichick out of the picture, there is a sense of anticipation to see if the Brady we all love, or love to hate, will “show up” on Super Bowl Sunday and bring home the big “W.”
If the jury is out on which is more important, star player versus star coach, maybe we should look at what a good coach brings to the table? Certainly, my own days as a collegiate athlete bring to mind memories of what motivated me. But if I had to paint a picture of the perfect coach, it would be Coach Taylor from the teen angst TV show Friday Night Lights.
Maybe you already finished Netflix over quarantine, but if you haven’t seen this series, it’s never too late to go back and binge-watch the network drama based on a High School football team from Texas. Spoiler alert: Coach Taylor > Bill Belichick. His mantra, Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose, was the inspiration that carried the teenage boys he coached onto the football field each week. It’s also a phrase I have found deep meaning in, as well.
“This battle cry wasn’t just about winning games. Rather, it was a rallying cry of hope and optimism in a community where everyone had a fair shot — no matter their background, no matter their parents, no matter their gender. And no matter their politics.” USA Today
Given today’s emotional, political, and racial climate, I can’t imagine a more relevant phrase. But, is there an even more significant meaning to this phrase? I have found a hidden message of personal growth in Coach Taylor’s words. Maybe you will, too. Let’s break it down, shall we?
. . .
Coach Taylor’s Playbook #1: Clear Eyes
One of the biggest challenges we face when focusing on personal growth is overcoming a lack of self-awareness. Whether that’s identifying an unconscious bias or recognizing a blind spot — I like to think Clear Eyes means you’re willing to broaden your perspective.
One of my blind spots I identified over the last year was not coaching my own kids in the ways that they would best perform. I had to adapt my style when I pivoted from being their mom to being responsible for their education.
. . .
A few years ago, I read a book by Daniel Pink called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. In his book, Pink went into great detail about if/then motivators. According to Pink, when you focus on extrinsic motivators, you’ll only be able to sustain the results as long as you supply the reward or punishment. The problem is, not everyone is in tune with their motivation mindset. A good coach helps identify and align this motivation to maximize results.
When I became a work-from-home parent during this global pandemic, I had no ramp up time. I had to learn teaching skills, which included understanding the motivation style of my kids. You can read about how I rated myself a C on my homeschool report card, in case you’re interested.
I learned pretty quickly as a newly ordained homeschooling teacher that as much as I tried to bribe my kids to do their schoolwork in the allotted time slot, they couldn’t pull it together. They wanted constant attention and validation on their school work. I found between work, life, and everything else, and I couldn’t commit this kind of energy to help them.
About three weeks into distance learning, I flipped the script and sat the kids down to let each of them re-design their schedule. I also told them, if they finished their work early, they could have “free time” to play. From then on, you wouldn’t believe how quickly these kids finished not only their work for that day, but they also worked ahead. All it took was some empowerment and a little skin in the game.
Honestly, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this earlier? Helping people navigate their strengths is in my day-job, after all.
For Your Playbook: It turns out my kids are not that much different than the teenage Texans playing their heart out for Coach Taylor. They just needed someone to recognize how they wanted to be coached.
. . .
Coach Taylor’s Playbook #2: Full Heart
Two types of mentalities worth exploring before we get to Coach Taylor’s message: scarcity mentality versus abundance mentality. The first, as described in an article in Forbes on scarcity, is a view that there is a finite number of resources available. This means that success, or winning in Coach Taylor’s case, was a zero-sum game. A winner and a loser.
I prefer to believe what Coach Taylor describes as a Full Heart is to view the world with an abundance mentality. As described in this INC article, an abundance mindset is based on the premise that there is plenty of everything to go around.
. . .
There are also two types of people that have emerged from this pandemic:
- Those who got a quarantine puppy, and
- Those that started a side hustle.
I happened to have done both.
I’m not even sure if my side hustle can be considered a “hustle.” When I first started writing, it was an outlet to process my emotions in real-time. I never thought I would (or could) monetize it. I intended to share my stories as lessons learned on a journey to inner peace and happiness and hope that my voice resonated with those that needed it. I even began to visualize myself writing a book about my experiences.
Then I joined Medium, an open online platform for self-published authors. I quickly realized the market is saturated with individuals writing about the same topics as me — personal growth, life lessons and the pursuit of happiness. I had no idea how to stand out amongst the noise.
As a former marketing professional, I have found it quite awkward to focus on self-promotion. Positioning, a key aspect of marketing, relies on highlighting comparisons. But this is tricky if you’re promoting a business where YOU ARE THE BRAND. You’re asking people to invest in you — specifically your talents, skills, and version of being the expert at this thing you do.
What makes it so difficult to navigate this type of self-promotion is trusting your authenticity and not promoting yourself at others’ expense. You need to trust that you will attract what you’re attempting to manifest based on what you can give and what your target market needs. It’s the ego that needs to believe that you are the only one that deserves success, wealth, and prosperity based on your talents.
As Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, says, “awareness and ego cannot coexist.”
I needed to bring awareness (refer to Playbook #1: Clear Eyes) to any fear driving me to judge my talents as less than others. This is a limiting belief. After much thoughtful consideration (during meditations and stillness), I decided to keep writing and allow my stories to land where they may. I’ve decided to let go and let it unfold without overthinking it.
For Your Playbook: That thing you’re good at, the thing that makes you, well you…share it! Put it out there — don’t hoard it. Inspire others to share their gifts, too.
. . .
Coach Taylor’s Playbook #3: Can’t Lose
I have to say I wasn’t sure I could align with Coach Taylor on this piece of advice. After all, I have proposed that we should not only embrace losing, but we should do so with full acceptance of the feelings that come up, as detailed in this article: Let it Hurt: Find a Way to Lose ‘Just Right.’ So, what lesson is there to learn about the inability to lose?
. . .
For some reason, staying at home during the quarantine has been a huge motivator for me. I invested a lot of time in self-reflection and self-improvement, not to mention new workout plans, new mindfulness practices, and launching a blog.
The thing is, like many of you, once the “newness” of these habits wore off, I entered that dreaded plateau. I kept thinking to myself, “now, what?” I continued adding more things to my list of stuff. And before I even finished one thing, I was thinking, “what’s next?” I wanted to champion this pandemic and come out a winner.
That was exhausting. At some point during quarantine Groundhog Day, I permitted myself to be still.
In stillness, I realized most of my recurrent thoughts that I used busyness to distract myself from were fear-based: fear of the coronavirus, afraid I wasn’t a good enough homeschool teacher, fear of missing out (FOMO).
The awareness of this mindset allowed me to focus on letting go of what I thought I needed to be doing to optimize my time. I realized this hyper-productivity was exciting but also drained my energy and strained my relationships. I released control and stopped obsessing over what was next. In slowing down, I became more in-tune with my real needs.
I shifted my self-care habits and self-talk to start treating myself a little kinder. I paid more attention to my intuition and followed it instead of trying to override it. I stopped trying to fill my inner void with “more stuff.” Only when I surrendered did I truly have that Can’t Lose feeling.
For Your Playbook: What habits are you holding on to that make you feel like a winner? Are those habits exhausting you? Find a way to balance your need for productivity with your own self-nurturing. Once you start taking care of your Self, you truly can’t lose.
. . .
What better way to summarize Coach Taylor’s battle cry, Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose than to highlight that it’s a metaphor for the secret to happiness.
Once you see things clearly, you are on a path to awareness, and when you realize that fulfillment doesn’t come from external influences — that’s when you can’t lose.
This is the hidden message in Coach Taylor’s famous phrase. Like you, I’m a work in progress. Like Tom Brady, many of us are trying to “win” against all odds. And just like the high school football stars in the television series Friday Night Lights, we’re willing to dig a little deeper to get there.
For those of us showing up each day to work a little harder, grow a little more, and get a little happier…I think Coach Taylor would be proud of us. I am sending you all my peace, love, and victories.
This post was previously published on Medium.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.