Whether we like it or not (or even know it or not for that matter) we have preconceived notions about our players or teammates that we bring to practices and games. If these subconscious thoughts are positive, that is great, but if they are negative, we actually are creating a larger problem: we are drawing that negativity out even more. So what do we do about it? Can we consciously control them? Actually yes, but it takes recognition and daily effort. Here is a step by step process to change your thinking:
Identify your instinctive thoughts about your players or teammates. Simply write them down in the following format:
(Insert player name) IS (insert instinctive thought)
Here is an example:
Sean is lazy.
Bob is selfish.
Jerry is timid.
Larry is a leader.
John is hard-working.
These are your core beliefs about this player. Where you are a teammate or coach, you bring these thoughts with you into practice or games. Because our brains want to inherently prove us to be correct, subconsciously you will prove this to be true. It is just the way our mind works. Basically, if you think Sean is lazy, you will find things that prove to you that "Yep! See! I told you so! Sean is lazy!" If you have ever sat with other coaches or teammates and complained about a player, you were actually creating more of a problem: you were creating your vision of this person, and you were going to subconsciously prove it to be true. So then you probably noticed how lazy Sean was more and more. You see, what you focus on, you get more of. If you focus on how lazy Sean is, you will definitely find lazy actions. Plug in any of the players listed above: Bob being selfish, Jerry being timid, John working hard...it doesn't matter what the quality is. You will prove it to be true.
So how can you change this? Well, a lot of it deals with changing your mindset about these people. Here comes step 2.
Make a new list.
However, this list has to be what you want the players to be like.
Sean is HARD WORKING.
Bob is A TEAM-FIRST PLAYER.
Jerry is CONFIDENT.
I wish it was as easy as making the wish list and all would be great, but there is some work involved. You need to look at the list a couple times every day and not just read it, but visualize it happening and believe it. Remember, our brains don't know the difference between what is real and imagined (that is why visualization is so powerful). If you repeat to yourself that Sean works hard, and visualize it happening, you will probably notice Sean working harder, and you will change your mindset regarding him. You will probably not head into a practice only thinking about how lazy Sean is and how much that frustrates you. You will probably praise him more for his hard work which often grows more acts of hard work. In short, you will be looking for more positive traits rather than negative.
Hey, wait! What should you do with the positive traits?
Larry is a leader.
John is hard-working.
Actually, you have a choice. You can leave those traits or maybe try to pull something even better out. It's up to you.
The Final Step
3. Be consistent
If you really want to change your subconscious, you have to work at it. It doesn't take much time each day, but you will need to consistently work with the new list over time. It can be game-changing for your team. Keep in mind that coaching or being a good teammate is not just making a list and visualizing. A good coach will know how to communicate with players to bring out their best. A good teammate will do the same.
Try it Out
If this seems a bit crazy, just try it with something else before you use it with your team. For example, if you have a student or co-worker that drives you crazy, write down why and make a new list:
Change "Doug is self-centered" to "Doug is caring" or "Doug actually cares about others."
Instead of noticing instances when Doug is being self-centered, look for instances of Doug being caring. After a while, you will subconsciously notice Doug caring about others. How long will it take? I have no cookie-cutter answer for this. I DO know that I've used it, and after just making the list, I have become more conscious about my thoughts of others. After a few days, I notice many more positive traits.
Remember, this technique is not going to magically change other people into what you want, but it will help. With this new consciously driven subconscious, you will be surprised what you start to notice about others. Remember, what you focus on, you get more of. You may head into practice with a more positive mindset about certain players, which will affect your team in countless ways. A shift in focus can drastically improve your reality.