Keeping Your Eye On The Prize ….. Success Is Disarming
Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, relief after victory gets you feeling better, often much better than your real circumstances suggest you have the right to feel….. You must continually look at your goal.
Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshal enlisted in the Army during World War I. Years later he became chief U.S. Army combat historian in World War II and the Korean War. Though he authored over 30 books about warfare, he is probably remembered most for his military writing Pork Chop Hill.
Marshall said this, “Success is disarming.” ” When the tension suddenly relaxes through the winning of a first objective, troops are apt to be pervaded by a sense of extreme well-being and there is apt to ensue laxness in all of its forms and all of its dangers.”
I was fortunate to be a part of a Championship program that seemingly was involved in big and then bigger games. To win and win again year after year, game after game, as Marshall also indicates in his writings, “Tension is the normal state of mind and body…”
What you must guard against in coaching is relief. For many years we opened our season with the University of Notre Dame. Your number one goal of going undefeated rested on the outcome. Tremendous pressure purveyed immediately. If you won there seemed to be relief.
Relief is a strange feeling and presents you with two problems. It first undoes the resolve to continue by taking away the since of urgency you had just entered the contest with. It doesn’t take resolve away, but it unassembles it. You have just experienced accomplishment and now have peace of mind. You must rekindle your spirit.
The second problem is that relief does not return you to some unknown neutral state, it brings you to a feeling that is much better than the circumstances warrant. You as a team and staff are overwhelmed with a sense of pride and accomplishment. But realistically, ‘my gosh’, it is only one game of an entire season.
The longer I coached the less relief I had after any victory. I learned to be a manager of relief in others. I learned to have a dogged consistent behavior and look at goals as they were meant to be. If your goal was to win them all, how can you be delighted with one victory.
“There is no season such delight can bring” ~ William Browne
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