A different style of post today. I thought I would include one of my favourite inspirational video clips on Youtube. I use this video as a basis for discussion on team coaching, development, goal setting and personal leadership style.

I think I love this video so much because of a question the coach asks an individual player on his team – ‘Are you going to give me your best?’

 In the video, the coach blindfolds his player and undertakes a drill without the player seeing what he has achieved, asking him to ‘give his best’. He pushes his player, and encourages him to go beyond what he thought was possible, inspiring not only himself but the rest of the team that is watching.

It got me thinking about two things:

1.            When was the last time you forced the best out of yourself?

2.            When was the last time that you asked for the ‘very best’ out of your team members?

Have we forgotten to ask for the best and will accept ‘OK’, ‘near enough’ and ‘a pretty good effort’?

I had to have a good think about this and look at what I had achieved in the last couple of weeks to answer this question. When I was truthful with myself, I can say that I have accepted good and perhaps even above average, but I haven’t given my best (in my opinion) very often recently. In my facilitation and interactions with team members, ‘my best’ was delivered on some very specific occasions. While other people have rated performances as good and very good (which is pleasing!), the effort, preparation and execution have not been my best.

Consider your team at present. Are they giving you their best effort? If not, have you asked for it?

I was reminded on the weekend about good and best efforts from a 10-year old soccer team. I was fortunate to coach the team in the absence of their regular coach, and I asked them the question ‘Are you going to give me your best?’ Needless to say I didn’t get the reaction I hoped for until I elaborated. I told them very clearly what I thought their best effort would look like, how they would play and how they would treat each other on the pitch. I also told them, one by one, what their individual best effort would look like. I them asked for permission to tell them when they were playing their best, and advise them when they weren’t.

It was one of the most exciting games of soccer I have seen. The boys on that team gave me their best effort, beating a two-year undefeated side 3-1 (after losing 3 months ago 6-2).

I would love to say the win was based on superior coaching and tactical skill, but that would be very far from the truth! The boys played so well because they were asked to give their best, and their efforts were recognised and reinforced. All I had to do was ask for it and gain permission to tell them if they were / weren’t delivering it.

When was the last time you asked for the best from your team? Equally, when was the last time you did the best you could for your team? What is holding you back? Ask for the best – you might be surprised by the results.