With March Madness upon us, I have been really think about how much I miss being a part of the sport of basketball. Probably from the age of nine until only a few years ago, I either played, coached, or refereed, and loved every aspect. I still watch games all of the time, but being a part of the game was something that I loved and I learned a great deal from each opportunity that I apply in my life to this day.
One of the things that I was reminded of recently was how, as a referee, we would prepare for games. We often talk about any concerns, but also the personalities of the coaches that we would be working with during the game. I remember specifically one game where my partner had said, “The coach doesn’t say much, but if they do, they probably have a very valid concern.” It kind of stopped me and I still think about that comment to this day in our every day dealings in education and leadership. Each time I refereed that same coach and he said something, I listened intently, and to be honest, he was most often right. He picked the times that it was appropriate to say something, and probably let the little things slide because he saw a bigger picture.
Yet on the opposite end of the spectrum were the coaches that would yell or try to talk to you the entire game. Eventually, their voice became like background noise, and it was hard to pick out when their concern was valid, or to think that they were just yelling again.
I think about the comparisons a lot between these two different types of coaches. The first one that would pick and choose those moments, was also someone you enjoyed talking to because you knew they weren’t looking for every advantage the entire game, and if they said something, you should have listened intently. I think about this in my work when I try to create an environment where we can challenge one another to be better for our students, yet if all we do is challenge, and show no appreciation for the work that is happening, when does my voice simply become noise? If we constantly talk about issues but never focus on the great things happen, I truly believe we either tune those people out, or become tuned out ourselves.
It is not only the “message” that we need to think about, but how we are as the messenger. Both elements are important.