May 20, 2021

Self-Leadership & Choreographing the Team Dance with John Yeager, Positive Psychology Consultant and Performance Coach

Self-Leadership & Choreographing the Team Dance with John Yeager, Positive Psychology Consultant and Performance Coach

In Episode 30, John Yeager, Author of The Coaching Zone: Next Level Leadership in Sports, Positive Psychology Consultant, and Performance Coach, talks with Phil about his incredible new book, the 3 lenses of concentration, self-awareness and blind...

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In Episode 30, John Yeager, Author of The Coaching Zone: Next Level Leadership in Sports, Positive Psychology Consultant, and Performance Coach, talks with Phil about his incredible new book, the 3 lenses of concentration, self-awareness and blind spots, harmonious vs. obsessive passion, PsyCap, polarity thinking, cultivating connections, providing effective feedback, overcoming confirmation bias and fundamental attribution error, and choreographing the “team dance.” Specifically, John discusses:

  • How he developed his passion for sports and leadership, and how he got to be where he is today (2:38)
  • His new book, what inspired him to write it, and all the interviews and research that went into the book (10:06)
  • The 3 lenses of concentration of a “Focused Leader” (i.e., self, others, team) and how they play out in sports and life (12:02)
  • Self-awareness, shadow strengths, and how we can uncover and mitigate against our blind spots (15:32)
  • Harmonious passion vs. obsessive passion, and how HALTS can help us (24:12)
  • Psychological Capital (PsyCap), as it relates to self, individual team members, and teams, the acronym H-E-R-O, and how it relates to our lives outside of sport (30:19)
  • Polarity thinking (e.g., humility/confidence, direction/empowerment, continuity/transformation) – what it is, understanding how we need to harness it in our coaching, on and off the field, and how different personalities may address it differently (37:55)
  • The importance of cultivating connections and how we can do it well in every area of our lives (47:50)
  • How we can effectively provide feedback to our teams (52:28)
  • How to protect against confirmation bias and fundamental attribution error in our leadership, and what System 1 and System 2 thinking has to do with it (56:33)
  • The leader as choreographer of a “team dance” between and among the “tops, middles, and bottoms” (1:00:02)
  • What he has learned directly from the game of soccer that he uses in his marriage, parenting, and other areas of life (1:03:03)
  • His book recommendation (1:05:11)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil:[00:00:00] Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again for joining the conversation. Thank you for your download. And today, once again, as usual, we have a great guest with us and I am always. Really excited to do these interviews because I get to learn right alongside you from some amazing people, with a lot of wisdom who have years of experience and expertise.

And today is absolutely no exception. Today I have with me, John Yeager, he is a Positive Psychology Consultant, Performance Coach. He works at several, I mean all pretty much every level with people. And he has been, he was a lacrosse goaltender, lacrosse coach. He has been a lot more than that, which we're going to learn today.

And he also, we're going to be talking about this great new book and I say, great new book. If I'm ever talking about a book with an author here, I've read that book. And this book is phenomenal. I was just. [00:01:00] Yeah. Like I was almost cheering along with the book as I was reading it. I'm not, not lying there just cause John's sitting with me here.

So, definitely grabbed The Coaching Zone: Next Level Leadership in Sports. If you're listening to this podcast, you will love that book and you'll hear just some snippets from it today. If you haven't done so already rate and review the show, wherever you're listening to this, you can do that and also join the Facebook group.

That's just really the best place to connect with us that and email If you have any thoughts on how we can make the show better, any guests that you think would be great fit for this, even if that guest is you go ahead and drop me an email. I just had a fantastic email the other day from a upcoming senior in high school.

And she actually did answer these Shakespeare to thine own self be true quote Polonius in Hamlet for those of you who are wondering. So thanks again. And John. Welcome to how soccer explains leadership. How are you doing?

John:[00:01:59] I'm [00:02:00] great, Phil. Thanks for having me on today.

Phil:[00:02:01] Yeah, definitely. Definitely. You know, we always start the interviews with one of my favorite parts of the interviews, which is just you being able to share your story, just how you develop your passion for sports and leadership and, you know, particularly the positive psychology, this idea of, I mean, a lot of, a lot of times we don't see it in sports.

So maybe that's where you got the passion. I don't know, but uh, why want you to share with us? And a lot of people probably don't know who you are, how you develop that passion and really where, how you got to be where you are today.

John:[00:02:28] Well, I'm a Massachusetts native currently living in Indiana, which is two hours Southeast of Chicago.

And, and basically my, what reminds me most of why I do what I do now and with all my sports experience happened when I was 11 years old. And there was a July 4th road race in my hometown. And I asked my mother and father, if I could enroll and sign up for it. And they said, gay, great John, go for it because I'd done some running.

Wasn't not necessarily if I was any good at [00:03:00] it or not, but anyways, we got to the starting line which was right before the parade was going to take off for July 4th. And I got on the line and I realized that everybody else was around eight to 10 years older than me. And I was just a little 11, skinny, 11 year old there.

And I could feel my body just responding with all the stress and anxiety. So I looked over at my dad and he smiled at me and that smile said everything in many ways. He was my first coach. His smile said to me, you want to do this? You don't want it, do it. Your call, you make the call, John and I'm here for you.

No matter what. So I bit the bullet got on the line. Gun went off. I finished dead last parade almost caught up to me, but I remembered out of that, the idea is that my father was able to support me with hope. With, with confidence there and resilience for that piece, you know, and then it helped me in my own [00:04:00] sport experiences.

And after awhile, I kind of gave up running for some other different types of ball related sports. The other piece that really framed sports for me and what I do today happened when I was a senior in college, at least senior eligibility wise. I'm not sure if I was senior academically at some social side-effects there at school anyways.

I was playing at Boston State College, which is now UMass Boston.  Picture me, instead of with this gray hair now with Brown hair down to my shoulders, parted in the middle, had been with the peace sign. Okay. We were a bunch of hippies back there in the mid-70’s, and we were playing our first game of the season against Bowdoin college.

And I got there and I was really excited about the season coming up, the coach of the other team was on the All-American selection committee for Division 3. I'm saying, well, maybe, maybe I got an opportunity here. And so I got out there and I was a lacrosse goalie. Some people will call us courageous in some people will call a stupid I got [00:05:00] out there and I played absolutely awful, terrible, so bad that I wished the coach could have taken me out of the game, but my backup goalies really weren't ready for prime time.

And so I stayed in there and sucked it up. And so for the next two days after that, I grieved couldn't go to class, you know, and just because I, I, that was my identity at that time. And I had failed. Was I an imposter? Well, two days after that game, we were playing Middlebury college at home and maybe there was a little bit of redemption.

So we got over to the field and Middlebury players, you know, we're a bunch of hippies with all this long hair. In fact, Ronnie Enjemi, one of our players on our team shaved half his beard off before the game to pump us up. So that tells a little bit about where our mentality might've been at that time.

So, the rest of the team, the other team Middlebury was really, really clean cut players. Their head coach was a big guy. Rob Pfeifer looked like he had a high and tight haircut and just was kind of barking out [00:06:00] instructions. And I said, okay, I'm going to be optimistic. This game's going to go well, jumped in the goal.

First two shots, go in on me. One over my shoulder, one through my legs. Good shots, but saying like, Hmm, I haven't stopped a thing yet. I am the imposter. Well, first, fortunately, when Middlebury got the ball again, they took a shot and I made a really good safe, and it was just, I just reacted to it, made it cleared the ball down there.

We scored on it. Then we scored the second shot of a goal, a game. And then I just made the next 30 saves and we win the game six to two. And the best game I ever played in my life bar, none, but that's not why I tell the story. That was more a performance, but the relational piece to this Happened in the second period when Pfeiffer asked for time out for the officials and the, you know, called, he said, timeout, Middlebury.

And so the officials gave the timeout. We ran to our bench and the Middlebury players ran to their bench. Remember Ronnie, [00:07:00] he ran to their bench and we're saying, Oh, there really is something wrong with Ronnie beyond the beard. Okay. We can, what are you doing there? Ronnie, with our Boston accents, he jumps goes through the huddle and the Middlebury players are saying, you know, this is forbidden, you don't do this.

He jumps on the back of the coach or the other team coach turns around shocked. Ronnie takes his arms off. The coach takes his helmet off half a beard. They look up at each other and they both begin to smile and they both begin to tear up and they embrace each other. And we're on the Bo State bench.

We're saying what's going on here? Well, the backstory, when Ronnie heard the voice the last time he had actually heard that voice with the intonation and inflection of Pfeiffer was six years before in the jungles of Vietnam because Pfeiffer was his platoon commander there. Wow. Everything just stood still.

Longest timeout, best time out of all time. And that [00:08:00] happened two a month, 45 years ago. Wow. And I still remember that moment as if it was yesterday. I'm actually became friends with a variety of players on the other team, Middlebury team, because of that, because the power of not this, the competition about the collaboration and the connection that you need, both of them to actually make that cause sports experience work.

And those two experiences really helped to form me in the work that I did as an athlete. But also as a coach of coaches down the road.

Phil:[00:08:33] Yeah. I mean, I think we could probably just stop right here and it would be well worth the the time. But fortunately we have a lot of other great things to talk about too.

That's an amazing that that is one of the most amazing stories I've ever heard. That's that's just incredible. Which is obviously why you tell it and you can tell it was such a vivid detail, cause it, those are the things that make impressions on us. Right? That, that just last from the goalie standpoint, same thing in soccer.

We, we, we often say when I'm coaching keepers, I say [00:09:00] you gotta have a little bit of crazy in ya to play this position because if you don't, then it won't work, but, but let's, let's go, let's move on to, to the stuff that I just I'm so excited. I didn't even know about that. And so I'm just excited to what else is going to be surfacing throughout this interview, but Really this, this book that you were going to spend a good chunk of our time today, talking about this book, there's so much in it that I would love to just spend hours and hours.

We don't have that much time, but we're going to talk about some nuggets, the good news for you out there. Folks who are listening, you can go grab this book again, The Coaching Zone: Next Level Leadership in Sports. You can find it on Amazon, really, wherever you get books. So, but I always like to hear from authors because I wrote a book I want to, and I, and I know I had a why behind it, what was the why behind writing this book?

And it might just be what you just talked about and really, how did you develop this content? I know you co-wrote it with someone else. So, so what did that look like? What was the impetus of the book? And just really, how did you develop the content? Because I know there was something special there too.

John:[00:09:56] Well, Phil, I think through many, many years of experience in [00:10:00] sports and playing under a variety of different coaches and then becoming a coach myself and being exposed to seeing how other coaches do things. And then as I became a coach of coaches later on began to see some similarities that equated and correlated with effect of coaches.

So, you know, eventually over time I started putting pen to paper with this and began to find out, you know, just that there was these, these, the similarities that were on, on and on there. And I felt so I, what I did is that I, went and interviewed 50, coaches and three or four or five different sports psychologists, sports scientists to actually put their thoughts into this and around a framework, which I saw for the book.

And that was kind of the, the impetus was seeing coaches in action. And, and, and, and then providing a vehicle or a gift to coaches, if you may, to allow for them to, to, to kind of see themselves and have [00:11:00] greater self-awareness of the important responsibility and the opportunities that they have in how they serve their athletes.

Phil:[00:11:08] Yeah, and it definitely did that definitely was a gift to me. So I want to thank you for putting that together and actually putting the blood, sweat and tears that I know goes into a book and, and getting it out there for us. Well, you know, you kind of frame the book around the three, The Focused Leaders, three lenses of concentration: self, others, and the wider world.

How does that, can you describe those the first of all, the three lenses of concentration and how that plays into the sports, and then how does it also relate to the world outside of sport? Because obviously this podcast, we like to take the lessons from the game to the wider world, to the world outside of sport as well.

And I know that's what you like doing too with with the coaching. It's not just about the game, but it's about, well beyond the game. So, can you just talk about that?

John:[00:11:52] Well, I took the model of from Daniel Goleman. Who's most people know him through emotional intelligence. And he wrote a [00:12:00] wonderful book called Focus and an article that was in the Harvard business review probably seven or eight years ago called "The Focused Leader."

And there, he talked about that leaders have three major emphasis or focuses, and one is focused on self. The second is focused on others. And the third is the focus on wider world on the wider world. And so what I looked at in my co-author John Cunha looked at was to take the three different components.

First of all talking about coaching self-management. So they had a level of self-awareness of understanding their own, why their stories, their passion, their purpose, What their strengths are and what their shortcomings are. And the second piece focusing on the others is really how do you lead and empower athletes and working with individual athletes and how can you cultivate connections there with them?

How do you give them appropriate feedback to grow. Growth mindset. How do you let go of [00:13:00] control, you know, with the athletes to let them, you know, fail forward, as you might say, in there. And then the third piece, the wider world is actually choreographing the team dance. What are the nuances there?

What's the rhythm and flow of the team that coaches need to know more about. So they can, they can hit the sweet spot between caring for the individual and caring for the team. They can look the power of the behavioral anchors that core values have for the team and looking at accountability and support, and also continuity and transformation of looking, not just at the institutional memory of a team, but also how it needs to change over time and how that all fits into A strong and vibrant culture.

So, so it took those three different areas and put those into three different units within the book.

Phil:[00:13:56] Yeah. And, and it was, it is so good. I know this is something we've [00:14:00] talked about on this show a lot, which is this idea of starting with self, right? You got to know yourself and that the quote before the, before we got into the interview "To thine own self be true," right.

This idea of, but you got to know who you are to be able to be true to yourself. You gotta be able to know that, but also how you impact others, That's something we talk a lot about in the DISC, you know, that I, that I'm able to train on as well is just got to know yourself before you can understand others before you can understand how to make the team better with what you have and to be able to see your blind spots and so on.

So I do want to talk about that. I want to get back. I want to get into that first, that first area, that self awareness, that self management, really, and you talk about strengths, shadow, strength, shortcomings, weaknesses. I call them the not strengths just because I, like, I think it's a bit more positive, which is just funny, cause it has a negative in it, but that idea of failing forward and uncovering our blind spots because.

As, as I, one of my favorite sayings that I've heard at a conference for the last 10 years is everything has its shadow. Right. We have the strengths, they have their shadow, which is kind of our blind spots, which we also don't. We [00:15:00] always, we usually don't see, we don't see our shadow usually and, you know, unless you're really looking for it.

And so you have to be intentional to look for your shadow unless it's coming in front, but that's a whole different story, but you know what I mean? But how do we do that? How do we uncover effectively uncover our blind spots? And then what do we do about them? What do we do with them?

John:[00:15:22] Well, I think first, Phil, is that trying to figure out what those blind spots are, those souls, those shadows, and many times when coaches have a good understanding of their own strengths, they can begin to see how the shadows actually might come into play.

and basically, could it be an overuse. of the strength or could it be an under use of the strength? You know, it's just that trying to, how do you, how do you hit the sweet spot of that, but to having that awareness there and beginning to see in some ways with self-awareness that's when I do act to the shadow, does that really work for me?

Do I [00:16:00] get that gut feeling? You know, it reminds me of a story that I had of an athlete that I had worked with many, many years ago. He was six foot, three, 228 pounds, 5% body fat, and just an 18 year old man-child. Okay. And basically he ended up getting thrown off off a team because as a captain, too, but it's thrown off the team because he, he really is going behind the coaches back and trying to sabotage things to take care of his own business.

So he he ended up you know, getting in touch with me that evening after the coach dismissed him from the team. He said, coach can we meet tomorrow? And I know he wanted to get out of jail card. he wanted me to talk to the coach to let him back in. It was just a, just a just a moment's lapse. But it wasn't a moments lapse for him. Of course there was a level of immaturity there and that his system one or automatic thinking could he couldn't control that. But basically I said, okay, I go, we'll meet. And so he actually came to my office the next day and after, at the end of the day [00:17:00] and you came in with the puppy dog eyes, you know, they got this huge kid who just was really looking like he's lost and trying to get my empathy and/or sympathy.

And I could have said to him, I go, Glen, what were you thinking? And then he would have melted. Okay. But instead I decided to make lemonade about it. And I asked him what his strengths were and he said two of his top strengths were leadership and humor and playfulness. And I asked him, tell me two stories about that.

So he told me a story about leadership and he told me a story about, human playfulness. And he goes, coach, I'm a funny guy, modesty, wasn't one of his strengths. And I go, I guess, you are. And those were two great strengths and it kind of broke the ice. He kind of loosened up a little bit and stuff like that.

Then I looked at him straight ahead. And I said, if you use those powers for good, with those strengths, what, what happened in these situations with the coach? You know, what was going on? Like what was [00:18:00] going on? And I just looked at him and I just stared at him kind of letting him to be there, to declare himself, actually getting him to feel a little uncomfortable.

Well, he just stared right back at me. Didn't say a word. So around 40 seconds later, I cut my head down and he said a little prayer to myself. I said, how am I going to make, you know, how am I going to make this thing work here? Then I looked out and when I looked up a tear was coming down his cheek and then he began to sob uncontrollably.

And I'm saying to myself, not to him, I'm going to, yeah. Yeah. Something happened to him. Okay. But something did happen. And then he realized at that moment that his leadership taking in that negative direction got himself in trouble and his human playfulness with his sarcasm and the way he was acting was only working for his own benefit among the other players.

And at that moment he got it. He realized that I had spent around 20 to 25 minutes in the room with him that day, [00:19:00] but it was giving him time to actually experience the idea of like, this is, this is my blind spot. I guess I have that. And I can go there in a moment's notice. He went in and talked to the coach later that evening.

And the coach led him back on the team because Glenn was authentic with him. And, and even though Glenn could not be the captain anymore, he was an informal leader on the team. Okay. Ended up, you know, graduated, went and played division three football for several years there at a, at a, at school.

And then is now a captain in the US Marine Corps, flying jets somewhere around the world and looking at his other soldiers and hopefully leading them in the ways that he learned how to lead himself. Yeah. so getting to that blind spot can be hard at times.

But if we, if we never help coaches get there, it doesn't change. And, and it's really trying to feel comfortable with being [00:20:00] uncomfortable, but I'd say one way to get there is to notice, do you ever take your strengths too far or not enough? And that usually leads them into that blind spot?

Phil:[00:20:08] Absolutely. And I think that the thing there that also comes very clear is you gotta be really, as we talked about earlier, you gotta be really intentional about knowing that strength to even think about it rather than just acting right. And I know, I mean, you, you could have been describing me at 18, right?

I would have probably described myself very similarly. And what we find, anybody who has that sense of humor knows there's that shadow side, that sarcasm, that hurts people. And most of the time, the people you're hurting are never going to tell you, they're just gonna withdraw.  There's going to tuck it away and then it'll probably come out later someday, but people just won't like you. And then that will gut you because typically the people that are leadership sense of humor, fun. Love people and want to please people. And so it's, it's man, it's hard, but if you don't understand, especially the younger, because we got, so we need to help [00:21:00] these kids become self-aware It's not just something that's going to happen. We have to coach them to be self-aware to understand that their strengths are awesome, but they also have that shadow side. They also have that blind spot that usually comes straight out of that strength. And it's usually something that is, like you said, excess or not enough.

And the thing that, the other thing about it, I was just curious to hear your thoughts on this. One of the things I also, I love, I can't remember who said it, but I say it all the time. I quote and I probably should figure it out. Who said it? Cause I do quote it all the time, but they talked about the fact that look, your people know that you're messed up.

Your people know your weaknesses. You know, your teammates know your weaknesses. So if you're not taking the time to understand them, you'll probably lose some of that respect. But when you understand them and own them and you actually say it to them, they're probably like, yeah, we already knew that, but you actually gain respect when you let them know that, you know, that.

Do you agree

John:[00:21:55] with that? I totally agree. And that's, you know, reminds me of leadership and [00:22:00] self-deception yeah, I

Phil:[00:22:01] think that's where I got it. I think that's where I got it, actually.

John:[00:22:04] Yeah. Yeah. And, and it is that other people are going to know this. And, and, and as soon as that person who's trying, you know, athlete or a coach trying to preserve their ego and saying, Nope, no, no, I'm, I'm all set.

You know, it's actually doing themselves a disservice there, you know, and not allowing for a level of vulnerability trust to come out where they can feel comfortable with communicating to other coaches, other athletes. To, to help them to work through some of these different areas. And these says, this has incredible implications outside of, out of sight of the sports experience, you know, you know, and as athletes grow older into adulthood that they can, they can catch themselves on this before it's going to save them a lot of agita.

Phil:[00:22:49] Yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean, you just said it, that, that a young man who's now a man is a captain in the, in the Marine Corps flying something. That may not have happened if he wasn't self-aware he [00:23:00] probably would have had some issues. Arrogance would have gotten in the way, but by becoming self-aware of that and seeing that it actually hurt people when he did certain things, to be able to take that step back became a much better leader and probably that had a lot to do with the man he became today.

Which again, folks, if you, as coaches are listening to this and you don't realize the privilege and the honor that you get to be able to impact these players in their formative years, take a step back and really realize that because it is a privilege, it is something that we get to do, and it's an amazing privilege.

So I hope that you take that seriously and you learn from this, grab this book, learn from it and take your leadership to that next level. The, the next, you know, in the, in the next thing I want to talk about is this idea of, and, and, you know, maybe a long conversation, I may not, it's just this idea of harmonious, passionate and obsessive passion.

We always talk about passion, find your, why, find, why you're doing, what are you passionate about, right. But this idea of. Harmonious passionate, obsessive passion. Can you discuss that and just say how they play out in sports and in [00:24:00] life and, and why it's important to understand.

John:[00:24:02] Yes. Robert Vallerand and Genevieve Mageau up in in the Montreal area at two different universities, there came up with this, this concept of doing a lot of research and that harmonious passion is literally about knowing that as a coach, that that coaching is one part of your existence.

It doesn't overtake you, and coaches who have harmonious passion tend to be more resilient. They tend to have higher quality relationships with their athletes then might have more positive emotions because they're not putting all their eggs in that one basket that time. It is just one part of their value system.

You know, that, that they operate as coaches. On the other hand, coaches who have obsessive. Passion the coaching tends to conflict with other areas of their life. They tend to get, you know, they tend to get so, so deep into focusing on the sport. Okay. That they lose other sight [00:25:00] of other things that are going on in their lives and their other relationships can, can be hurt.

They can be less adaptive. They can over coach. And micromanage instead of giving power off to the athletes. So they, give less athlete, autonomy, supportive types of relationships out there. And it's, it's the idea of getting coaches to see if they're, if they're going a little bit too far.

with that, that might happen. And one way to tell that is just, you know, how are things going out there? You know, and one thing gets in the area too, that that can talk about obsessive compassion is the acronym HALTS, H A L T S, which stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stress out.

Okay. This happens to all coaches at sometimes even very, very effective coaches. This is not to say that coaches can't be really strong and fair and make sure they cover all the bases that they need to do to be a good coach. That [00:26:00] doesn't mean they're obsessive, but when it takes it a little bit too far.

Okay. Then that's, that's it. And when somebody is in halts, you know, if you can think of the Snickers bar commercial with the actress, Betty White. Okay. And this guy is just like, he's just kind of like. Kind of out of it. And then he, he, somebody goes to tackle him where they go to football there and it turns into Betty White there.

And he realizes once he eats the snicker bar is he's all set to go. And he's back in, back in the right frame of mind. I think that's kind of a I think a helpful thing, you know, I, I think of a sports psychologist, Adam Nayla who thought, you know, I mentioned a story in the book about, you know, a coach that tended to be pretty obsessive about making sure that his players were taken care of.

And whenever the officials would make a call that he didn't tend to agree with he would just get over the boards and, and there's a typical thing, put his foot on the top of the boards and kind of yelling and screaming over the boards. And after a while the players kind of like [00:27:00] backed off from that, his athletic director said, you know, the kids think you're crazy.

You know, you bet you know, you better calm down, but he goes, well, I'm a, I'm an emotional guy. But I kind of get into it too much. Well, you know, and so it, Adam worked with him and, and, and talked with him about it says, you know, instead of when you start feeling that emotion come up, instead of going right to the boards and attack, take a step back.

So your back goes up against the glass behind you and then move forward there. And in that moment, it allows you not, it allows you to slow down your thinking process. Okay. And at the same time, how you end up communicating to the official or to your other, your players is going to be a little bit different, but what he, what this coach was so focused on the emotional aspects of the sport, it got him into trouble, an awful lot, but learning other ways to say, Oh, [00:28:00] this is something that I can practice that I can do.

And then it'll help me be more resilient. And it would allow for me to help more positive emotions to come out there. Yeah. So I think that's really important. Now I was talking to one coach who, was in his last year of coaching 45 years of doing this. And he had he had actually retired from his, his job as a special ed coordinator for the school district.

So basically he was just coaching. So, you know, he would pull up every day at the end of school with his pickup truck and wait outside the locker room as players were coming in and greeting them. And at the end of this saying, Hey, how was practice today? See you later have a great night, see you tomorrow.

Okay. and that was just an, a level of harmonious passion. And he is saying his wife before, but that for him was obsessive. That was him just wanting to be wanting to get the best out of everything there. [00:29:00] So this is that fine line that you have.

Phil:[00:29:04] Yep. Definitely guarding that. Yeah. No. And it's, it is, I mean, a lot of them, this is a fine line.

A lot of this is, is not something that is absolutely clear. Like we talked about strengths, shadow strings, blind spots, all these things, right. It takes, I've said it many times as interview so far intentionality, it takes intentionality. We need to be intentional in our leadership. And if we're not, it, you can't just wing this stuff, which is why we do this show, which is why you write your books, which is why you do what you do and your coach coaches.

Because the stuff isn't easy, it's, it's, you know, X's and O's are one part that's not easy either. We know that you go to. Certifications and trainings for those things too. And I think we come times just try to wing this side of it and it was just won't work. So this next, this next topic I want to talk about a little bit, is this idea of psychological capital or PsyCap as you refer to it in the book.

Really it applies at every level, the self-leadership, the, the empowering individuals and the team as a [00:30:00] whole. Can you just talk about PsyCap really in the individual and how it also relates to the coaching of the individual and the team as a whole?

John:[00:30:09] Sure. The basically psychological capital is an offshoot of two other types of capital.

And think of, think of in business, you have some human resource departments are human. They call it human capital and human capital are the knowledge and skills of the employees, the staff of the players. Okay. Or up the coach, you know, that's knowledge and skills they have then social capital or the relationships that are developed.

Psychological capital has been researched as looking at four different components. One is called hope, which is basically setting goals, having pathways to achieve those goals. And now, so having the agency to be able to achieve those goals. So, and then there's also efficacy, which is confidence and, and being able to have, and take mastery experiences where you've had [00:31:00] confidence before.

And to build on those till you can get confidence in new areas. The third piece is resilience and resilience is of course adjusting in adapting to adversity and actually bouncing forward because of that. And then with optimism. And being able to have kind of a positive what we call explanatory style, where you have a leniency for the past and appreciation of the present.

And you look forward to opportunities in the future. This can go by what Fred Luthans said at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where he came up with his term and his coauthors did called a hero, H E R O hope efficacy or confidence, resilience, and optimism. And these, when these all work together for an athlete or for the coach, they, that coach is probably.

right on target there, with everything. But one of the things that I do in the book is actually break each one of these areas down. So in with a variety of exercises, so coaches can help athletes actually to [00:32:00] lead and empower them specifically there. Now there's also something called collective PsyCap or, you know, collective psychological capital.

I think about a an ice hockey team I worked with up in Vermont, Norwich University, and we're basically, they had had they had won their in season league championship for the last 17 or 18 years. But this year it wasn't going to happen. And it wasn't through lack of effort. It's just that they had a couple injuries, a couple of other things were going on.

And there are two other teams that we're going to be in front of them in the league standings. They were still going to be in the conference, playoffs for the league, but they hadn't won it. And so, I the actual co-captain of the team who I knew from going to a school, like the Culver academies, where I was doing some work at the time and he had left there to go to Norwich.

And he said, coach, I don't know what to do, you know, where we're hurting, you know, and we, we, we don't know what's [00:33:00] really going on with us. And in many ways, a lack of hope and a lack of confidence. So basically I did this all online with them, cause I couldn't get from Indiana to Vermont in a, in a quick, you know, as much as they needed the help.

So there they are. They're sitting in the library and they've got me on a wide screen TV doing a zoom meeting and basically talking about getting him into small groups and talking to them about what do they hope for. As a team and getting them to actually be vulnerable with each other and communicated because nobody wanted to say anything to anybody else about it.

And individual players would taking the blame feeling that they were, they were blaming themselves, especially the veterans for what was going on. So we looked at this shared identity. We talked about that. We talked about confidence, resilience, and optimism, and did some appreciative inquiry exercises with them, such as you know, what attracted you to the Norwich program?

What were your initial impressions? What was what's been a higher moment for you this [00:34:00] past year on the team where you felt most vibrant and most alive. When have you been proud to be a member of this team?  what factors give life to this organization? So they got into these discussions, wrote everything down on newsprint, and then discussed it with each other.

Well, they ended up going out and when their last three games of the season. They had third seed in the conference play offs and they ended up losing in the second round. But next year they came back and they, they and Austin who was the junior co-captain was back as a senior. I actually physically went up there, worked with the team for three days, literally three nights after practice.

And basically, you know, they had a really strong talent that team, but they got their psychological capital together. Yeah. Because they had their human capital together and they won the division three national championship that year men's division three hockey championship. Now was that because of what I am then, no, everything is quantum theory, everything, [00:35:00] everything adds into everything else, but they had that belief system and they had that HERO piece to that that helped them develop as a group.

Phil:[00:35:08] Yeah. Well, I think you just said something there that is really important to understand, like this is part of the puzzle. Right. This isn't something that, you know, all these things that we're talking about, you have to have the athleticism, you have to have the talent, you have to have the, the team, or you have to have some luck in your season.

You have to have, I mean like winning and losing isn't as simple as just saying, we're the better team. We all know that anybody who's coached longer than three games knows that. So, you know, that's something that, especially in, in soccer, which is what our we're obviously talking about on this show. Like you could have 80% of possession in a game and still lose the game.

It's just the way it is. Right? So that's something that is the reality of it. But to have that in place, to have that healthy team, to have the psychological capital in a, in a healthy place, that's going to give you a much better chance of [00:36:00] winning, especially the games that you might not have won.

Otherwise. I mean, there are those games that you don't, you know, we always hear winning teams win. Because they know they're going to win and they find a way to win. Right. And a lot of this goes into that. And would you agree with that? I don't want to speak for you. Yeah,

John:[00:36:16] no, no. I totally agree with that.


Phil:[00:36:19] So the other thing that this, that, that chapter on psych PsyCap raises, and it's one of these instances of polarity thinking. And I, I absolutely love this because I talk about this a lot in different, in different settings. Right? But in this chapter specific chapter was this polarity of confidence and humility.

It reminded me of Jim Collins and the level five leader of professional will and humility in the end. It seems like it's a paradox and it seems like it doesn't go together, but it absolutely does. Right? And then you have this other one and chapter seven, it talks about this direction, empowerment that we, we have to empower, but at the same time, there's times where we need to direct and we need to tell people what to do, but we also need [00:37:00] to empower them to do these things.

And this idea in the context of culture of continuity, where we want to have a continuous culture, but we also have transformation and adaptation to new people because every year we have new people coming to a team and it's going to change the culture just a little bit and sometimes a lot. So can you speak to those polarities and not just not necessarily go through each of them, but because, and I do wanna encourage you, but like, A big part of this.

You talked about the idea of the, the exercises you have throughout the book as well. It's not just a bunch of theory. There's practical tips and practical tools that you can actually implement immediately. But can you just talk about this idea of polarity thinking and maybe take one of those and just walk through it so we can understand how it, how it actually plays out in both in the game and in life?

John:[00:37:45] Sure. The, the polarity thinking basically is polarities are actually, you know, two things that are different perspectives or strategic objectives or values that tend to be opposite one another, but they [00:38:00] also need to live together. As you were saying, Phil. I mean, one of the things I think of right now in our political system are conservatives and liberals.

You know, and just that the, in, it almost seems like they're being polarized, they're polarizing each other from each other, as opposed to finding out, you know, if we were to talk about somebody saying, well, well moderate or, or cross the aisle and bipartisan that's in many ways more of hitting the sweet spot of a polarity, but there's, and, but with the polarity is, is that, that there's good on both sides and we may prefer one pole to the other, but we need to find out what's also good on, on either side.

So for example, you may have a coach who's confident. Okay. And in, and then that also can balance their capacity to be humble at the same time. Similiar to level five thinking Jim Collins, you know, the, the, but if a coach is overconfident. And does that to the detriment [00:39:00] of being or to the neglect of being humble, then you get the downsides Of confidence. You know what? You're going to come out as being arrogant. Okay. And and in the book I have seven different polarity exercises where coaches can actually, you can go in there and actually, figure out where you fit and put together action steps so that you can be able to balance that.

Then if you're so humble, authentic, collective over confidence, you're going to come across meekly. And that may not be as good there too. So it's finding that sweet spot. What you need to do with the right time for the right reason is really, really important. And that's why I think effective coaches really get polarities.

They may not use the same terminology as we're talking about right here, Phil, but they're actually, they're actually doing that in the day to day. Now, for example, with direction and empowerment is huge. How well do I direct and provide direction to my athletes? How well do I empower them [00:40:00] in? If I over-focus on providing direction and too much direction, I micromanage.

Okay. And they feel beholden to every whim or direction or instruction that I give, which in some way, some athletes will say, well, then I don't have to take as much responsibility. Okay. But if the athletes empowered also, okay. And that there is some letting go of control by the coach. So the athletes can fail forward and make mistakes, but actually grow from that.

And actually come in, you know, Catherine de Lorenzo, who's the yeah. A woman's field hockey coach at Middlebury college in Vermont says she, she wants her players to be known to each other to feel relevant. So she welcomes them to talk about it at the halftime or at a time out of the game. And say, she'll say, what do you see that's going on out here?

That I don't see the player says, Oh, well, you know, we're not transitioning the ball to the other side of the field at this [00:41:00] time. And remember that happened in that other game we had against that other team. And so we need to do more of that. She goes, yeah, you're right.

You're absolutely right. Let's go out and do that. Okay. You're all set. Ready to go break the huddle. Okay. And so, so that's that capacity to do that. And with continuity and transformation, it's important to stay beholden to the institutional memory of an organization, but you, if you don't make the shift to be able to change with the times, or be able to, to, to change or, or, or or transform what you do out there, you're, you're going to be at a loss.

You know, and I think this has happened with some coaches too, over the years that they were so into continuity and this is the way it works. And now as they become more transformational in their own leadership, they know when to make certain changes. So the coaches can think on their feet a little bit more.

We're not going to lose our foundations and our core values of the team. Oh, that's who we are. [00:42:00] That's our foundation, but we need to try some different things out. So we're going to have to take some risks here to make sure it happens, but we're not going to be going on beyond what we value. So I find that that, that polarity thinking is, is just really, really powerful.

It takes awhile to do. And I love when I work with different sets of teams and athletic departments to do this. And at first the coaches and the ADs look at us saying, you know, what's this all about? And then once you see it, they buy into that. We have all these polarity maps that are put up on the wall and that you see the athletes going through this and they get it.

Yeah, really cool stuff to see. That

Phil:[00:42:39] is so cool. I mean, so much just went through my head just as far as the analogies to parenting the analogies, to leading a nonprofit, a for-profit a, any company, fortune 500 company. I mean, these things apply to all of those things. Just thinking of direction empowerment.

I was thinking about the game that I coached on Tuesday at halftime went to the goalkeeper. What'd you see? [00:43:00] Did you see anything else other than what we just talked about and exactly what you just said. And in that instance, she said, no, in the game before she said, yeah, I saw this, this and this. And it was actually right.

And, but from her perspective, it's a completely different perspective, which gives us that, you know, perspective angle, which we've talked about. A lot of times we talked about it in a Del Jones interview. He's a referee. We talked about angle and perspective and the different ones and how that applies.

And I just think about direction and empowerment to talk about the idea of, you know, doing the dishes with your kids, riding a bike with your kids. Do you, you got to tell them how to do it and coach them and direct them how to do it, but you got to let them fail. You got to let them blow it and figure out how to, how to be able to do it on their own or else you're going to be doing the dishes for them, their entire life.

And you're going to be having training wheels or holding the back of the seat their entire life. That's not going to work. Right. And so. How do we do that? What does that look like? It's just, it was, I love, absolutely love those parts and I, I love the exercises as well. I mean, again, like you said, you're able [00:44:00] to actually go in and interact with this book to be able to take action on it immediately, which is so helpful from the standpoint of, of actual transformation, as you talked about.

The other thing that I think polarity thinking brings to light in coaching. We have the opportunity in coaching to invite other coaches who are different personalities from us, who are wired differently from us into our coaching staff. You know, don't just get a bunch of yes. Men or yes, women that are like you, that are going to coach just like you to the contrary.

I think you should find someone with an opposite personality as you so that you can actually have an advantage in the polarity thinking where you are different from each other, to be able to work off each other and learn from each other. And it's becomes easier to actually have polarity thinking if you're of same mind and you have the same why, and yeah, there's going to be some tension, but at the end of the day, there's going to be a whole lot more good than, than bad.

If it's a healthy relationship between the two of you, have you, have you seen that [00:45:00] same thing?

John:[00:45:01] Can you reframe that

Phil:[00:45:02] again? Yeah. So basically in a coaching staff to be able to have kind of polarity personalities on the coaching staff helps in this polarity thinking being able to navigate some of these things that might not be otherwise, as you're talking about continuity transformation on a culture for some personality, that's easier to embrace than other personalities.

And so to be able to have that in the staff, to be able to talk with each other, in that, to be able to embrace it, maybe a little bit easier and to kind of coach each other as you have in, in European football with the manager and the trainer, right. You know, there are different and it takes different minds oftentimes to have that trainer and the manager.

And so, do you agree with that?

John:[00:45:44] Absolutely, absolutely. Phil and it's almost reminds me of Abraham Lincoln and The Team of Rivals. Yes. Okay. Is that you have people that are in different poles, you know, that some may be more competitive. Some may be more collaborative and that's a polarity in and of itself.

So we, so coach [00:46:00] other coaches begin to see the value of one pole that they may not have had been, may have been biased against in the past. And this allows to that. And when athletic directors allow for that dialogue to happen within an athletic department, Whoa. Then, you know, you've got something, something going on, you know, I see this with, at Middlebury college, with Erin Quinn, who's the athletic director.

They're division three school. I mean, just, just really, really powerful. And then, I literally a three-hour workshop on polarities with their athletic department with their coaches and basically going back and forth and seeing this and to understand that. Is really, really important.

So I think that's, that's key. That's key. And if you're not doing that, you're, you're missing out on some self-awareness and institutional awareness. Yeah.

Phil:[00:46:50] And personal growth. I mean, there's so much there that having other people who are close to you, who you trust to be able to actually feed into that and speak [00:47:00] into that speak truth into you as well, to help you to become more self-aware this isn't a one and done process by the way, folks, this is something that's continual and you'll be doing this the rest of your life.

Hopefully if you're a true leader, leaders are learners, right? So you're continually learning about yourself about how you can do all this stuff better. And that actually brings me to an interesting thing there is. Or the next thing I want to talk about is this idea of cultivating connections and how coaches can cultivate and build that trust, build the empathy.

You know, you know, you talked about. Five, five behaviors of a cohesive team. Patrick Lencioni. We talk a lot about Patrick Lencioni on this, on this show, but what can you just talk a little bit about that cultivating connections, what it is, why it's important and how we can do it? Well,

John:[00:47:40] well, I think the connection is critically important so that when there's communication between a coach and an athlete or a coach in the team that, that it's taken, and there's not these negative triggers that come off on either end of this.

and so, basically I look at three important areas. One is the development of trust and I mean, that's a no brainer. [00:48:00] Okay. But this idea of Lencioni talks about vulnerability trusts that your willingness as coaches and athletes to take risks, to be able to fail forward without being judged as a human being.

Okay. There, and then the second is, coaches showing empathy, whether it's cognitive empty, that perspective, the athlete or their feelings, the emotional empathy, or it's just as important as empathic concern feel, which is basically saying, I am here for you.

What do you need from me right now? You know? And that's, that's really speaks volumes, you know, to the athletes. And then the third piece out of that is, is mattering that each athlete is known to each other athlete and coach. Okay. And that each athlete has a scope of contribution that they have for the team.

And that is clear from the coach to the athletes. And that, and that within that, that, that the, the, every athlete matters. Okay. No matter what. And that they feel [00:49:00] part of that, whether the athlete goes down with an injury or it's less playing time, just because they don't have the skillset just yet, those are the things that are really, really important.

And was that something that coaches just get, well, some coaches, yeah. many great coaches, you know, effective coaches have that. And if coaches don't find that they have that relationship there and they don't work on that.

Then, then that's something that they need to see as a shadow side mate, and then to come back and to find some different strategies. And in the book, we talk about a variety of strategies. To get coaches to the point where they're making sure that every single athlete matters.

Phil:[00:49:40] Yeah. And you know, this is, this part here is exactly why I train on the DISC and I help coaches understand their team.

I mean, it's just a tool to be able to use. And there's other tools obviously, but to be able to understand and show that you care to be able to individualize, you got to know each of them and they're all [00:50:00] wired very differently. It'll also help you understand when they're unhealthy and you know, if they're not acting in their strengths all the time, then you can start going.

Is there is, are you okay? Is there something going on? And if you're able to do that before they even tell you that's powerful, As a coach and that makes impacts on players. I don't care what your personality is. If someone can kind of read you because they know you and they study you that that's, that's powerful and that's, that's real.

And that's something that as a coach, you can go to that next level. I mean, I keep saying that I, you know, even if it wasn't the subtitle of the book, I keep saying it, ‘cause it is it's really, is that next level it is. And that's, I assume why you called it that. So it it's something that most coaches aren't doing, it'll set you apart.

It'll make people want to play for you. And it will also make people want to give more than what they thought they had for you. Because like, I mean, I imagine if that, if the guy that at the beginning of this, this episode, if he played for that Middlebury [00:51:00] coach, he would have done whatever that coach told him to do or asked him to do or encouraged him to do.

And then some, because he trusted him, he believed in him and he knew that he cared about him.

John:[00:51:10] That's

Phil:[00:51:12] it's quite simple. Now it's not easy, but it's

John:[00:51:15] quite simple. No, you know, that that's the truth. Yeah. And it's, and it's just that getting, getting to that point. And when it shows that the matters, you know, that the athletes pick up on that really right away, they certainly pick up on it.

If they, if it doesn't. Matter. Yeah. You know, if the coach doesn't feel as if they met. Yeah,

Phil:[00:51:37] absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So one more you know, thing that, that I want to talk about on that individual is, is the effectively challenging the, the athletes. I think a lot of times, you know, people do maybe do the connection really well, and maybe they don't do the challenging really well or vice versa.

Maybe they challenge really well and they get it, they get on people, but, and some people like, well, I don't like to [00:52:00] criticize and well, constructive criticism is really helpful, but it's how you do it when you do it, who, you know, who does what sometimes different coaches may be the right person to do it with a certain person.

But how can you talk about that effective feedback, this idea of effective feedback that you talked about in the in the book.

John:[00:52:18] Well, I look at, and I, and I borrow this from the work that's that Doug Stone and Sheila Heen in a great book called, Thanks for the Feedback. They talk about three different types of feedback.

One is appreciative feedback, which we're all familiar with, you know, thanking, recognizing, giving an encouragement and, and then talk about coaching feedback or skill building improvement feedback.  and then evaluative feedback actually kind of saying, you know, this is where you are regarding this type of status ranking, you know, the, the athlete right there, and it's the coaches to ability to give the right feedback at the right time for the right reason to the right athlete, which is most important, you know?

And so that means coaches need to [00:53:00] know their athletes and know what type of feedback works for them. Of course, you don't want to give appreciative feedback too much cause it, it patronizes the athlete, you know, but seeing where the athlete is, if the athlete needs appreciative feedback or, or maybe they need some coach name, you, they be coached up here.

Okay. Or if you give them evaluative feedback and they go, Oh boy, yeah, you're right. Then you get that coaching feedback right away. And maybe sprinkling a little appreciative feedback that comes in there and knowing how it's different for each athlete there. And so we have exercises in the book about that, but it's also understanding how do athletes respond to your feedback.

You know, as I just said, Stone and Heen, talk about the notion of triggers that that athlete may have triggers. This, this feedback is totally false. I don't believe it. No. Show me the money. I don't believe that one. Then the coach has to look in a [00:54:00] different angle of vision of how to communicate this.

You know, maybe, maybe they need to do it on video. maybe they feedback, maybe there needs to be some consequences, be above and beyond the dialogue there to come in the second type of trigger as a relationship trigger. Is that feedback not being accepted because of the relationship between the coach and the athlete or the coach just dumps on me all the time.

Yeah. Why should I listen to them? I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna take this. And then the coach coach me, he needs to know maybe I need to improve my relationship with the athlete and get them a little bit more appreciative feedback until they can, we can get that trust level going. And, or the third part is the identity feedback that was the actual athlete takes the feedback.

And especially if it's negative feedback and takes it to heart and saying, yeah, that's me. I stink. I'm no good anyways. [00:55:00] And they internalize all that and they melt. So it's having coaches take a little bit more attentive aspect of just, you know, instead of just doing the typical sandwich, you know, you know, you know, the good feedback, then the tough feedback, then the good feedback there too.

There's a lot more to it there. And I think effective coaches can, can get to the sweet spot with that.

Phil:[00:55:25] Absolutely. And the other thing that you talk about in that chapter, I want to just touch on quickly is idea of coaches correcting their biases and avoiding fundamental attribution error and confirmation bias.

I talked to my kids about this all the time, typically in the recruiting process. Cause my kids are obviously playing in high school and they're looking at your coaches. And I say, here's the reality of coaches is if they want to, like you, they're going to find things to like, and if they don't want to like you, because it's too much work for them, for whatever reason, then they're going to see one error that you make and they're going to magnify it.

So, you know, that's something that is a reality. [00:56:00] So how can we work to not do that? How can we work to not have these biases that we confirm with the one little thing and that that affects our players, that affects how we coach that affects all those different things. So you could just real quickly describe those, those things and then how we can kind of avoid these potential things that could, that could really negatively impact our effectiveness as coaches.

John:[00:56:23] Absolutely biases are like optical, illusions, cognitive biases, all like optical illusions. We see a certain picture of frame and they say, well, that looks that way. Then somebody explains it to us and say, Oh, now I see it in a different way. And this means that that in many ways, coaches can really, when they feel that they are communicating or thinking about an athlete in a certain way, that they can press that pause button and saying, you know, wait a second.

That's how I'm thinking right now. But is that true? Is that true? And it goes into a [00:57:00] what's called system one and system two thinking system, one thinking is automatic thinking. It's just our biases come out right away. We spit them out and we act on them. Okay. And we just say, yeah, well you could, you know, compare and contrast or whatever like that.

Like with confirmation bias, we'd find reasons. To support our bias. Right. And we're not even aware of it, you know? And so the thing is just to back off, this is how our political campaigns are run on TV. Okay. Trying to get you to system one, thinking and just buy into that. I, into that, that, that, that party line.

And so system two thinking is a little bit slower and more deliberate. And it allows us to say, wait a second. this is what I saw here. What's really going on. So it gives you a next or set of eyes to really deliberately go back in. And once again, it's going from automatic to reflective and that's another sweet spot polarity to be able to take your [00:58:00] time, Phil, and to say, okay why do I respond this way to this athlete all the time?

Yeah, because his brother was lazy. Well, is he lazy? I'm not sure. Let me think about this a little bit more and come true. and biases are still going to happen, but the more that coaches can pay attention to that, the less they will be biased in how they come across to the athlete.

Phil:[00:58:21] Yeah, no, absolutely.

Like you said, I mean, we're not perfect. We're not perfect human beings. We are broken, we have issues. We have problems. The more we're aware of them, the more we can allow, you know, space for them. The more we can allow that margin to be able to take that time to reflect, because there is a place for muscle memory.

There is a place we know that we need our players to go out on the field and play with muscle memory. If they're thinking the whole game, it's going to be too late, they're going to be one step behind. But there's also a place for that reflective thinking to take a, take a breath, to not just rail into someone, you know, the whole praise in public and criticize in private.

There's a lot of truth to that. And you know, sometimes you got to get on it right away, but most of the [00:59:00] time, the vast majority of the time, you have the ability to take that step back and go, okay, let's just wait until I'm able to talk with this person when I'm in the right mind to, and. You know, and to have that judgment of when it's the right time and when it's not, I think is massively important.

And so that kind of leads into the next question. And, and we have a couple more things and, and like I said, I could talk for days about these things, but we don't have that time, but this, you know, the chapter standing, like I said, though, you have the ability to take days on this book. So don't, don't hesitate to do that.

But the, the, the chapter 10 is the choreographer and the credo. I just love the name of the tie, the title of that chapter, first of all, but you talk about there, the system's dance, this idea of managing tops, middles, and bottoms, and the importance of core values in that. And can you, can you just talk about that, that tops, middles bottoms, what that looks like, and that, that choreography of the team, and just the dance that you talk about there in the, in that section?


John:[00:59:52] every time there's a, there's a dance and the, the there's a dance going on. And when teams struggle there tends to be [01:00:00] a misstep in the dance between the coach, the team leaders, captain, seniors, et cetera, and the rest of the team. This could be put into equating them to what Barry Oshry talks about in his work on the mysteries of organizational life about tops, middles, and bottoms.

So if the coach at the top of the team and then the middles are the captain's team leaders and the bottoms. And I, and I don't mean bottom feeders. I mean, it's just, you know, is the rest of the team when things are not being empowered in the coaches, playing with biases too much and not connecting well with the rest of the team, it throws everybody off.

and basically players, the team gets disempowered. Because they don't feel as if the coach is listening to them. And one of the typical actions that happen is that the bottoms in the team bands together, because they need to feel that say how some sort of shared identity here. [01:01:00] And they blame up to the coach.

Who feels responsible to the team and an overwhelming burden of responsibility for the team? Well, where are the captains and team leaders in the middle? They're right in the middle. And they don't know where to go. They don't know whether to, you know, okay. I gotta give air time to the coach, but I also get to give air time to the players.

And they, coach and the players, they, they want me to take sides here. It feels like this. I don't like this feeling at all. And I'm not empowered at all. However, when coaches empower their athletes in their team leaders, captains, By sharing the responsibility, sharing the burden because the athletes have most of the burden they're out there doing it.

And if they have voice, as I mentioned before, about scope of contribution and relevance that you can have, that's [01:02:00] empowered. Okay. And so, so, so the dance becomes happening more and then the captains in the middle feel that they're empowered to bring out the best in their coaches and be able to echo what they're coaches to bringing out to the rest of the team.

So everybody seems to be doing it there, that's a very short description to a very complex thing, but I believe it's very important for coaches to begin to see that because coaches can get to a point if they're disempowering and feeling disempowered that they're just calling, Oh, woe is me. I give all my effort and time to the team and look, look what I get back.

Nothing. Yep. Okay. And that's where they got it. You've got to go back to your core values to your polarities, to your ability, to cultivate connections that are really important so that you can empower your athletes because when you're empowering the bottoms, when you're empowering with your team, Is there a capacity to take responsibility, divisional responsibility for themselves.

[01:03:00] And when they do that, it becomes collective responsibility for everybody.

Phil:[01:03:03] Yeah. Like you said, there's a whole lot more to that, but I just wanted you to just tease it because you can, like I said, fortunately for all of us, there is the book. There is the chapter 10. If you, when you get the book, don't just skip to it, read everything up to it.

And there's a whole lot more after it as well. So, unfortunately for all of us we don't have too much more time today. We do have our last couple of questions that we ask all of our guests. And so the first, one of that is what have you learned directly from sports? I'll say sports to you. Usually we say soccer, but I know it could be soccer, but it could be lacrosse.

It could be something else that you've learned, but then you use direct, you know, you've learned directly from the sport that you use in your marriage or parenting other areas outside of sport.

John:[01:03:43] I would say psychological capital HERO. I mean, I see that in, in a, I'm a very. Very healthy, loving marriage.

And, and then what I see outside of sport too, is this idea of looking at hope, especially during COVID Of having [01:04:00] pathways to go in different directions as a family and as a spouse and a parent. And then also as a consultant, you know, have had to work different ways of doing different ways of communicating each other and the same thing regarding confidence and keeping confidence built up when there's more stuff going on through zoom than they were in person, stuff like that.

And then being resilient through that whole process there within my own family. and having optimism for the future, you know, I think that's that, that, that is really, that's what I I've learned that directly from my own participation in sports and vicariously living through the work that I do with coaches and athletes since.

Phil:[01:04:41] Yeah, that's great. That's, that's a good word. That's a good word. Especially like you said, especially during this time, but it's not just during COVID, there's all those things. There's always issues. There's always issues. We've just been a lot more obvious the last couple of the last year or so. Last question.

What have you read listened to, or watched recently that has informed your thinking on how soccer and other sports explain [01:05:00] life and leadership?

John:[01:05:01] Well, two things. One is and you have the name of the person, I forget his name, but he was a coach that's gone in. I'm not sure if he was in one of the Premier League or not that he's been gone through all these different teams and they just doesn't seem to last on the teams.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And then bottom line that, that equates to life in, because that cult coach connections on cultivated, you know, that he, that, that, that need to look out for the best in, in the players, in the same thing in, in explaining life and leadership. Is how we need to do that with the people that we lead, that people that we serve, but also within our families and everything else that you do with the people that we work with is, is, is to take away, you know, understand our awareness so that we can be the best that we can be to bring it out to other people.

And then the other is a book that I just got turned onto recently by Brad Montague. It's a illustrated book called [01:06:00] Building Better Grownups. Hmm. Okay. And it's really cool. And one of the Chapter 4 is cocked and it's called all over the map and it talks about Montague talks about a teacher that he had in the past when he was younger.

And I don't know if it was in grade school or middle school. And the teacher said, okay, we're going to look at where we are, where we live and took down the map that would pull down from the screen. And then the, and then you remember one, one student asking the teacher. How are we going to use this in later life?

And the teacher said, and very cool, calmly just said, we want, you want you to know where you live and that's really important. And, and then Montague then is provide a bunch of maps that show the Elations and frustrations, you know, you know, the, the Lake of and I, and I, I don't have this correctly, but he says, you know, the, the, [01:07:00] the mountain of inspiration of the Lake of despair.

And, and when we have those things and we have the fears and the elations and the frustrations, what's your map. What's your internal mind map that you have there found it. Fascinating. And I want to use that more in the work that I'm doing now.

Phil:[01:07:17] Yeah. Especially, I got to definitely got to pick that one up.

Definitely want to pick that one up. Other than grabbing the book, how can people get ahold of you if they want to connect with you?

John:[01:07:25] I'm at john@yeagerleadership, Y E A G E R. All one word. Okay. Oh, and you can also go to the coaching zone book,, which is, which is my website and my other websites,

And then I'm up on

Phil:[01:07:43] LinkedIn and Facebook. Yep. Yeah. So definitely connect with John there. Reach out to him. That's how we connected. John reached out to me actually, but and then we, we become friends. I like to say, so I hope that you think so as well. I certainly do. Yeah. So I look forward to continuing [01:08:00] this conversation offline, and hopefully we'll get you on again to talk to talk about the impact the book's been having and other, other coaches and more stories, and we'll be able to continue that conversation, but thanks again for being a part of this conversation.

John:[01:08:12] Thank you Phil for having

Phil:[01:08:14] me on. Definitely. So folks, thanks again for, for your download. Thanks again for just again, engage in this conversation where we can all become better leaders. That's why I do this. We, I want, I want flourishing all over the world in sport, and I think that it starts with us coaches.

It starts with leaders also in our marriages, in our parenting in businesses that you're running, use these principles, they apply everywhere and that's why I do what I do. I want to help you to flourish. I want to help you to be the best you can be and to encourage as many people to be the best they can be.

So, with that if you want to connect with me again, be doing some, definitely have some spots this summer. If you want to get involved with some DISC training and some coaching in that regard, let me know. I'd love to talk with you about that. [01:09:00] Otherwise I just hope that you take what you're learning from this show and you use it to help you become a better leader.

You use it to help you understand more and more how soccer really does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.