By Kayla Sasser, Account Manager – School Division (Southeast Georgia)
Here it is – February – and we know how you’re feeling. We’re feeling it, too! Uniform account managers are starting their end-of-season practice wear push, production is kicking back in gear, judges are wearing down and tired of airports, kids are bored with repetition, parents are tired of paying, and coaches are taking the brunt of it all. Coaching is often endless, thankless and fruitless.
You are the heroes of this industry, and we applaud you for your hard work and dedication to making kids better. If no one has thanked you lately, we at Rebel are SO genuinely grateful for your servant’s heart!
Finding Your Why
You’ve probably heard of Simon Sinek but if you haven’t, let me be the first to introduce you. An innovative, forward thinker, Mr. Sinek has helped people from all industries discover an inside-out approach to leadership and success. He starts with what – simply, what do you do? Secondly, he discusses your processes and how you get things done. And lastly but certainly most importantly, he challenges professionals to discover their why. He explains that finding your why helps you excel in your craft, maintain mental health, and remain passionate when things get tough. Great leaders know their why, and although systems and processes change, your why remains the same.
Your why is intrinsic.
Your why is passionate.
Your why is victorious even when your what and how fail.
Why do you coach?
Coaching is hard. Anyone that’s ever given it an honest shot knows just how difficult coaching can be. Sit in a room filled with coaches and you’ll hear story after story about the growing difficulties with each changing generation. Kids change, parents change, rules change, and culture changes. I’m thankful I wasn’t raised in the Snapchat generation, and I’m often saddened by the pressures these kids feel. There’s really no room to be yourself any longer; we can endlessly scroll through filters that blur the lines between reality stars and reality. This great big world is filled with natural beauty, but a 5.5” screen has been given all the authority to dictate self-worth.
People are conditioned to find motivation and inspiration from the things around them, and they often forget just how impressively influential the internal self can be.
But, my friend, your intrinsic motivation holds more power than social media influencers – it’s your why, and your why is a treasure and your greatest asset. It’s unfiltered, raw, and genuine. It is the keeper of your passion, and although it is often silenced by a noisy world, it can resurface when you need it most.
This time of year…
This time of year makes a lot of people in our industry question their why, and maybe that’s rightfully so. What’s most heartbreaking, though, is when young people start to question theirs. Whether this is your full-time career or you coach on the side, you’ve made the choice to play a major influential role in the lives of children, teens and tweens; exploring your why may be the one thing that gets you through the rest of the season without ruining the experience for the kids you coach. Frustrations with judges, parents, other coaches, and opponents (among 10,000 other things), can often pour out onto undeserving kids looking for your approval.
Staying true to a current theme but hopefully not superfluous, Coach Monica Aldama from the Cheer docuseries is a wonderful example of why. An aspiring business leader, Monica chose to stay in Corsicana, TX to build ‘the best cheerleading program in the nation,’ and she did. Her goals changed when she began to impact the lives of college students from all different backgrounds. Her why is bigger than money. Her why is bigger than her original career plans.
And, her why earned her the right to accurately represent our industry in front of the world – finally, the audience we’ve been trying to educate our entire career is now captive.
Monica’s why showed us all what passion and perseverance can do, and I challenge you to find your why and never give up on it.
I had this conversation with a non-cheer person recently…civilians, I like to call them. She asked, “why have you chosen to forego a career using your master’s degree and work in cheerleading all these years?”
Here’s what I said:
Cheerleading and I have a love-hate relationship. It’s like my closest friend. I’ve seen it impact kids in a way you’d never understand. It teaches them teamwork and trust. They’re disciplined and competitive. They’re athletic and glamorous. They can be who they want to be; there’s no other sport as inclusive as cheer. I’ve watched cheer save lives, rescue brokenness, and uplift heavy hearts. Cheer has written many, many paychecks. It’s provided careers for people that feared the world would never accept them. It teaches hard lessons, but it embraces failure with a gentle spirit. You’re a great team? There’s a place for you. You’re a novice team coached by a willing but clueless sponsor? There’s a place for you. Cheerleading makes me laugh, and it makes me cry. It makes me happy, and it makes me beam with pride. It aggravates me, but it comforts me.
Cheerleading is a sport, and it’s my sport. It’s a big part of who I am, and I’m thankful for that.
So, remember your why.
As the 2019-2020 season starts to heat up then abruptly comes to an end, write out your why and stick it everywhere you look. Put it in your phone, on your bathroom mirror, in your car, and on the refrigerator door. Keep it near and dear to your heart because it is powerful. In Simon Sinek business terms, processes may be out of line (how), and your product/team may not be what you hoped it would be (what), but your why is unwavering.
Love your athletes and give them your very best. Instill a strong sense of why, and you’ll be investing in their future long after they’ve left your team.
Finish strong, Coach! You are a hero, and you’re a major part of why Rebel strives to give the very best we can to the industry we love so much!