Tag Archives: non-fiction
Five years ago, I was out for a walk and bumped into my friend Dave, who was the president of a local hockey association at the time. Easygoing and positive, with a quick smile and a certain joie de vivre, Dave is well known and well liked. He did an enormous amount of volunteer work—he was a real upstanding member of the community. I knew him as the father of one of my daughter’s classmates, as well as through hockey, as my other daughter had been playing on a team in the association of which he was president. The day I bumped into him, he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He could barely muster a smile.
When he looked at me, I saw a lightbulb go off for him. Looking back, I think he must have remembered in that moment that I was a social worker. He knew that I had recently started training on managing conflict through communication and mediation. When I asked how hockey was going, he said he had had a really tough season full of all kinds of problems with a few of the teams in the association. Issues with one team in particular had been taking up a lot of his time, and he was having trouble getting on top of the problems. “There are lots of dynamics,” he explained. Some parents believed some players were bullying the others, and many felt the parent coaches were not doing enough to address the problem. The coaches saw the problem differently. As president, he had tried his best to sort through what was happening by sending emails, holding team and parent meetings, meeting with the individuals involved and meeting with the board. He had collaborated with the vice president to strategize. He was finally at a loss.
I asked him when this conflict had begun, and he said it was about two months prior. I asked him how many hours he figured he had spent attempting to mitigate it.
After a long pause, he answered: “Including the other board members assisting in finding a resolution…one hundred.” One hundred hours. And he wanted to hire me to help out.
My friend and the other board members of the association whom I got to know through working together were not incapable people. Dave was the vice president of a large company and managed 75 employees. He likely dealt with conflict every day. The other board members held similar workplace roles, as did the coaches.
I was not surprised by Dave’s situation. I was glad I ran into him when I did because I knew I could help. As a social worker, I have seen that short-term interventions from qualified helpers who offer fresh perspectives can be incredibly effective. I have also seen what is at stake if conflict is not managed well in a sports team or organization. Sport can do so much for young people, for adults and for communities, but conflict in sport brings with it a high level of emotion. There are weekly local stories about games where escalating problematic behavior on the sidelines has had parents fighting and coaches behaving in crazy, abusive ways, leaving governing boards at a loss. Dave’s scenario represented a president, coaches and players on the brink of leaving their sport because of unmanaged conflict.
What does social work have to do with sports? Everything. Think of it this way: What do you do at the end of a season and the start of another? As a coach, you probably reflect on what the heck just happened and look ahead to consider improvements for next year. When you do this, you are unknowingly turning to your inner social worker…really, you are! Take a look at this definition:
Social work is concerned with helping individuals and groups enhance their individual and collective well-being. It helps people develop their skills and their abilities to use their own resources and those of their broader community to resolve problems.1
Does this sound like the work you do as a coach? It does to me. I have seen coaches like you use the social work skills described above, every day. As a coach, refining these skills will make your life easier and improve your team’s performance.
By thinking like a social worker, your concern will turn to team interpersonal development which, when strengthened, will improve performance. If this sounds like a bunch of fancy words that do not make sense yet, don’t worry. We are going to get into detail in the book. For now, all you need to know is that many make the mistake of focusing their coaching style primarily on skill development and strategy—both of which are important, but they are not enough on their own. For your team to do well, consistently, you need to know how to efficiently fix personal clashes when they come up.
Willie Desjardins, head coach of the L.A. Kings hockey team, Team Canada 2018 Olympic coach and former head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, holds a Master of Social Work degree. I remember watching the Canucks under his leadership and paying close attention to the interactions between the players. As a social worker myself, I was curious to see how he used the skills he had acquired through his academic and professional training to manage the relationships between the athletes on his team. I wanted to know how he developed a cohesive, successful team in a highly competitive sports environment. We know that sports are about much more than competition. Relationships and human interaction—the very values that social work concerns itself with—are fundamental to all sports.
- Why improving your writing skills isn’t enough.
- Why it’s critical you discover your strengths…and how to do so.
- What’s stopping you from finding the readers who love your work.
- What you really want from writing and why that matters.
- Easy methods to help you build a more successful author platform.
- What truly motivates you and how to use that to succeed.
- The author theme that unites your creative work and fits your style.
- How imposter syndrome can stall your progress, and how to overcome it.
- How to make better decisions about your writing career as a whole.
When you find the treasure that’s been inside you all along, don’t be surprised if it opens new doors you never thought possible.
Most writers, when they first start out, think of only one thing:
writing a bestselling book.
It’s what I thought about. When the writing bug first bit me, I dreamed of seeing my book in bookstores. I imagined what the cover might look like and how the weight of the paper would feel in my hands. I longed for validation from a publisher and positive feedback from readers. These thoughts sustained me through years of trial and error as I learned how to write a publishable story.
I didn’t realize back then that my dreams were far too limited. I
was a victim of small thinking.
Like most beginning writers, I was locked into a youthful mindset similar to the way students are at the end of their high school years. Looking out on their future, they may think, I’m going to be a doctor
… an architect … a teacher … an astronaut. But most aren’t really sure what they’re going to end up doing, especially at that young age. They can’t be. They don’t understand the world and the wide array of possibilities that exist within it. They don’t understand themselves, and all the many gifts they have to explore.
New writers are the same. We strike out with some vague idea of
what our future is going to look like: I’m going to be a writer. I’m going to publish a bestseller.
It sounds good, and for a while it may work if it keeps you writing. Heck, it may even be enough to get you that publishing contract you want, that self-publishing business you’ve dreamed of, or even that bestseller, and you’ll go on happy as a clam.
For many of you, however—I suspect, most of you reading this book—you’re going to experience a number of setbacks and disap- pointments along the way, and that dream is going to wear thin. Eventually, you may wind up in a place where you feel discouraged, fatigued, and confused. Was this the future you had in mind?
Maybe you’ve been writing for years and you still haven’t gotten that publishing contract you wanted. Maybe you did publish, but your book didn’t sell well, and you struggled to keep going. Maybe you self-published, but found the earnings weren’t what you’d hoped, and you started to wonder if this writing thing was for you after all. Maybe you blogged for years and your readership barely increased. Maybe you tried marketing tactic after marketing tactic with few results.
Whatever your story—and we all have one—if you’ve come to this point feeling less than fulfilled, this book is for you.
This is the book you should have had way back when you first thought about being a writer—when you thought you understood what that meant. Write a book. Publish it. Find readers. Make money. Be happy.
But that’s small thinking. That’s high school thinking. It’s time to move beyond that to a place where you can find true fulfillment in your writing career. That place is out there. You just haven’t found it
yet, and even more importantly, in your search for it, you’ve probably been going the wrong direction.
How do I know? I’ve traveled that journey. I’ve wasted precious years with small thinking that kept my creative wings tied behind my back. I worked hard, and I was stubborn enough to keep going. I experienced some success as a result, and maybe you have, too, but I also experienced plenty of despair, setbacks, discouragements, and self-doubt that kept me from finding the fulfilling career I enjoy today.
Most of us go about it all wrong. We think the first thing we must do is write a publishable book. But that sort of thinking can lead to years of struggle, failure, and waning enthusiasm, plus an overall nagging feeling that you just don’t know what you’re doing. That was the old way, and it doesn’t work anymore. That was the outdated way, the “take-three-times-as-long-as-you-need-to-get- where-you-want-to-be” way.
It’s time for a new paradigm.
It’s time to take a brand-new approach to your writing career, the type of approach that employs not only “big” thinking, but a strengths-based attitude about who you are and what you can bring to the world. It’s time to create an author platform uniquely right for you, that uses your gifts and talents and the skills you can easily develop to produce not only something you can be proud of, but something that touches others and expands your reach in a rewarding and fulfilling way.
In today’s publishing world, platform is the key not only to the success of your books, but to your personal and professional fulfill- ment as a creative entrepreneur. When you discover a platform that reflects who you really are, you’ll also find a writing career that gets
you up in the morning, eager for the day—a career you truly love.
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