During the Winter I started sending out an email once a week called Food for Thought. The goal of the email was to send out tips, advice, and thoughts to help you as a coach. These emails are centered around character and mindset. You may use it with your teams as you see fit. Again, just food for thought…

This week as you get started I want to focus on the power of identity. One of my favorite authors, Neal Anderson, has a quote that has been a hallmark of my belief system. He said, “We cannot consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with the way we perceive ourselves.” Sounds similar to Proverbs 23:7 doesn’t it? “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Or as another translation of the same verse says, “As a man thinks in his heart so he becomes.”

Simply put, we try too much to tell students what they should do as opposed to reminding them who they are. For example, instead of telling a student, “be respectful”, we reinforce ANY behavior we see them do by saying “You are very respectful. Thank you. (or) I’m proud of you.”

Identity and behavior are different things. Sometimes students (and adults) do dumb behavioral things. The way to get them out of bad behavior is to reinforce identity. If they make a mistake instead of saying “you are so irresponsible” try saying “that behavior was irresponsible. That is unlike you because you are a responsible person.” See the difference?

Here are some words or statements I suggest you insert into your vocabulary with our students as you coach them this season…

YOU ARE…Respectful, Responsible, Thoughtful, Strategic, Resilient, Courageous, Strong, Wise, Gritty, Tough, Very good at (insert skill), a great teammate, great (insert role on team), Encourager, mentally strong, fit, or any other word that fits the situation.

I find that people that are consistently having their identity shaped embrace the words spoken and are motivated to do that behavior even more! For example I found that if I told my own children they are such a morning person and get so much done, they embrace it and started planning mornings with more intentionality and motivation. Please share stories with me if you see this in action. I would like to create a vehicle in the school to reinforce these ideals.

I hope you see value in this and the other emails that will follow. Let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas to pursue for an email. Feel free to forward this to any of your volunteer helpers (or let me know their email and I will add to this distribution list).


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