This phrase is attributed to William H. Johnsen and is composed entirely of two-letter words. It says take responsibility, take charge and stop waiting for someone else to do the job. What we did this fall was take this statement of intention and put it on the back of our travel meet shirt. Upon reflection it has formed the basis of our approach to this fall’s training and racing season.
We have had an enormous amount of success in getting our swimmers to accept responsibility for their training and racing. We have spent what seems at times an inordinate amount of time teaching this “It is up to me” concept.
The fall out has been swimmers who do not become “victims” when things don’t go the way they want them to go. Sure, there are looks of disappointment and a few long faces but no one is doing the “pity party” scene. And what a difference that makes!
The culture, attitudes and actions of the team are definitely different than years gone by. When everyone “buys in” to the concept that “it is up to me” then focus shifts from results to process.
Observation…this weekend at a big Las Vegas Invitational the scoreboard went down for a fair number of heats. Once the swimmers could see that their times wouldn’t be posted they gave up the time honored tradition of touching the wall and looking at the scoreboard. There were no grimaces or grins; rather a sense of calm and reflection was noticeable. They could ask timers for what the watches read but had to wait a little bit for meet mobile to record their factual time…and a whole bunch of angst vanished.
So as coaches we continue to strive for ways to get the message out; we coach, you swim; you act, we support; you work, you reap; we teach, we reap.
Keep it simple and you can see if it works; make it complicated and if it doesn’t work you have no idea why not.