This is the dead time in the NFL, where all coaches and players are getting away from the camp and relaxing with their summer reading on the beach before they head back to the "twenty four seven " demands of working in the NFL. This time of the year is the best time for coaches to enhance their knowledge of leadership and to find alternative ways to deliver their message to their own players. Henry Kissinger said in the beginning of his memories about life in Washington, "Is you borrow on the intellectual capitol you bring, and you can't renew it once your here". The NFL and Washington are very similar. I have been with some coaches who have their summer reading all planned and use their vacation time as a time to get re-energized, re-invigorated and re-educated.
One book that I would recommend for all coaches, executives, leaders and anyone who is trying to improve their own craft is: How Tiger Does It, by Brad Kearns.
It's a great book for coaches to use the tales of Tiger to help their own players improve and work hard. Today's athletes don't remember players from ten years ago, but they all watch Sportscenter and all love the talents of Tiger Woods. In this book Tigers talks about his love of golf, how he actually pushed his father to work hard. He would call his father at work, and say, "Pop let's go practice". Tiger believes that "It's the child's desire to play that matters, not the parents desire to have the child play".
Tiger Woods is the most unique athlete I have ever seen. He combines passion with greatness and if that was not enough, he has the intelligence to always find ways to improve. His appetite for work is amazing and he views every opportunity for doing -- as an opportunity to do more. His intelligence plays a major role in his constant quest for greatness. . He never gives up, he never stops trying to find a way to win and he can concentrate through pain. One of the hardest things to do in sports is being able to play hurt and Tiger showed -- even though his knee was in constant pain -- he was able to find a way to be successful. In the NFL, every offensive lineman plays the game with some kind of injury -- they are never healthy even though many of them are never on the weekly NFL injury report. They have pain in every joint and in their fingers from all the pounding and punching. So, one of the many requirements for lineman is intelligence. Yes intelligence. Intelligence helps them with learning the play book, but it REALLY helps them fight through the pain-and concentrate on the task at hand -- which is critical in sports. So as a scout, don't ask the old saying can he play with pain"? But rather can he "CONCENTRATE WITH PAIN"?
This book is an excellent portrait into the mind of Tiger and how he is able to dominate his opponent week in and out, yet never seem content with his achievements. His will to succeed is what we all hope to strive for in our daily life, personally and professionally.
Before your own season starts, try and read several books that are practical lessons to help the coach/leader with your daily work day. These books will not make the problems go away, but will give you an opportunity to learn new ways to deal with many of the same problems. Remember what Winston Churchill once said: "To improve is to change, to be perfect, is to change often." Tiger has clearly taken Mr. Churchill's sage advice.
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