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A Professional Football Players View of his Best Coach


A friend of mine and I meet for lunch with a representative of Sportsworld, a company dedicated to helping young people make positive choices. Devon McDonald graduated from Notre Dame as an honorable mention All American and played 4 years of professional football with the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals.

Devon had a number of interesting stories including the surprise the recruiters from Notre Dame had when they discovered that even though he had an Irish name he was actually an African American from Jamaica.
When I mentioned that I was from Wisconsin he quickly offered who his favorite coach was. While he was inspired by Lou Holtz [his coach at Notre Dame] to become a speaker, he smiled and beamed that Barry Alvarez was his favorite.   Barry was an assistant coach at Notre Dame, coaching defense at the time. This was before he compiled an impressive record coaching the University of Wisconsin before becoming their Athletic Directory. 
“What made Barry Alvarez your favorite coach?” I asked. “He was a player’s coach” Devon said. “He was tough, he was direct and let you know when you made mistakes, yet he was always positive.”   “Barry always believed the best in you. Barry believed in you even more than you did.” He held his hands up mid height on his 6’ 5” frame. “If you believed you were here, Barry believed you should be here.” He moved his hands up over his head to suggest the greater belief that Barry had in him. Then he shook his head in respect and admiration and added, “Even if you didn’t believe it, he could make you get more out of yourself simply because he was always so positive and confident about what you could do and what was inside of you.”
At Positioning Systems one of our core values is to believe in our clients. As a first time sales manager in radio I quickly realized that by believing in your people, seeing their potential, reaffirming what it is they want and can attain by applying themselves, I could get exceptional performance from people with average ability, and extraordinary performance from people of great talent.   What I didn’t realize is how human behavior responds to positive reinforcement. After reading Aubrey Daniels book Oops and learning the rules of positive of positive reinforcement, I’m able to recognize how and why my second year as a sales manager had such a dramatic impact on my sales people and on me in getting results.
Take a moment to think about the people who have had the most influence in your life. Was it someone who harangued on you, spoke negatively to you and constantly badgered you, [learn why that works short term here] or was it someone who saw the good in you and helped you to live up to that higher ideal?
That’s one reason why performance appraisals with the wrong intention don’t work. We’ll look at promoting people and what one of the most important factors you need to look for in a manager or leader in my next blog. 

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Positioning Systems helps business owners and entrepreneurs transform their business.   We provide the tools and coaching to help you take control of your business -- rather then having your business control you.