Identifying Successful Characteristics – Step 4

We want to take a look the environment that a coach or player experiences daily. It may cause you to see things in a totally different way and actively seek a change. Go out and make a difference.

STEP 4: Empowering by Promoting Growth & Freedom

It’s no secret that we are all different. Every individual person is unique from every other on this planet. We grow at different rates, learn at different rates, develop at different rates, and mature at different rates. However, when we step back and take a look at the world around us we see a society that points us toward uniformity.

From the very first day we step into a classroom, which is supposed to be a learning environment, we are constantly bombarded with rules. As we get older we are bombarded by laws, regulations, restrictions and many other forms of limitation. Throughout our lives it’s crazy to think that more time may be spent telling us what we CAN NOT do than telling us what we CAN do.

One interesting thing that I have found in my coaching career is that player respond better to you telling what they can do rather than what they can’t do. If you think about it, it really makes sense.
All day long in a classroom players have to follow rules and many times different rules apply to each classroom they enter. That can be a lot of restrictions to keep track of throughout the day. It almost seems to me that if I were to give them a break from hearing what they can’t do and instead tell them what they can do, they might respond in a different way. This will often hold true!

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to say something to someone but didn’t know how to say it without hurting them? Have you ever said something to someone and they became upset but when you apologized they replied with, “It’s not WHAT you said, it’s HOW YOU SAID IT.”?

As coaches, this could be one simple change we make to promote a better mindset for our players in practice. Players are motivated by two things…


Fear of punishment is a very common motivator among most coaches. It’s the “old school” approach that many coaches claim they take. The problem is some of these coaches think it is the best or only way to motivate. The problem with motivation due to fear of punishment is that it is only as effective as the player’s love of virtue. In other words if you try to motivate a player with fear of punishment and they don’t have a love of virtue then they never really fear the punishment to begin with. The effort and encouragement with these types of players should be focused toward creating a love of virtue.

Love of Virtue is seen in players and teams that are highly motivated by other factors besides fear of punishment. They are more self driven. They are more goal oriented and process focused. RING A BELL? The love of virtue players are the ones that more often than not move on to bigger better things. This is because love of virtue players are PRO-ACTIVE. They have a GROWTH MINDSET.

The biggest difference between these two types of players is that the Fixed Mindset players are Re-Active while the Growth Mindset players are Pro-Active. Creating a love of virtue in those with a fixed mindset is what will set them on the path to becoming a Pro-Active, Growth Mindset individual.


Believe it or not when a coach focuses on their love of virtue and gets away from the “do it right or i’ll punish you tactics” that is when they begin to see a positive change in their players.

Empowering players by telling them what they can do. Not putting limits on players but instead helping them learn from their mistakes. Teaching them to become Pro-Active instead of Re-Active. All these things will help you team grow to new levels.
There is a private high school in the Mid West that did away with failing grades. They had grades of A, B, and C but instead of giving them a grade of D or F they simply got a NY… NY stands for NOT YET. It sends the message to the student that while you aren’t successfully mastering the material now, you WILL master it soon. It avoids sending a message to the student that they are a failure and instead of setting them apart from the successful group and labeling them as a failure, they simply just aren’t to where they need to be YET.

This is an example of empowering an individual by not limiting or labeling them as capable or incapable. Something that unfortunately is the exact opposite of what much of our society and school systems do today.

We hope this 4-part article on the mindset and how it relates to success was helpful. If you want more insight into this subject I would recommend looking up Carol Dweck who is one of the leading researchers on this and has several speeches on YouTube about this and other issues.