Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What about Team Culture?

Daniel Coyle’s newest book, “The Culture Code” subtitled “The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups” is worth your time if you are involved in putting together any group of people with the stated intention of being successful.
He discusses the 3 skills needed: building safety, sharing vulnerability and establishing purpose. We won’t review it here today but offer this observation instead.
In our North Bay Aquatics Senior Training group we have about 45 athletes. Due to pool constraints we have 8th graders through seniors in high school. Normally we have maybe one or two 8th graders and the number in the group is more like 35. We have had several issues since the beginning of 2018 where it is apparent that as a group we currently do not have our culture working the way we would like it to be. Each of the 3 incidents were different but they all pointed to the fact that we weren’t taking very good care of each other.
As Coyle points out the word CULTURE comes from the Latin “cultus” which means “care”.
On Saturday at workout we had a group conversation and after some chatting and a really good real world training situation from Ken’s days on the University of Arizona collegiate swim team, we felt like the message had been sent. In this particular situation it was that each swimmer has different capacities for training and it will always be this way in any group. Therefore when someone is not “laying it all out there all the time” some care needs to be administered so that everyone in the group feels like they belong and have value.
Then we were flabbergasted. We asked them – teenagers all – do they have discussions at school, either formally or informally about team culture, working together, overcoming personal obstacles in a group setting…things like that. We have kids in 5 different middle schools, 4 different public high schools and 5 different private high schools. Only 2 hands went up. One from a junior who said as a freshman there were some issues in his school about inappropriate behavior centering around drug/drinking activities; one from a sophomore who said last week her school had a lecture (you can imagine how helpful that was) for 20 minutes on the general subject of group dynamics.
So, it is still reading, writing and ‘rythmatic. If you ever wondered how valuable your swim team is in the development of young people into fully functioning adults…we say wonder no more.
10x100 on the 1:10 is different from 10x100 on 3 minutes…but in both sets the team culture is critical to the outcome of each person…make no mistake about that.

Monday, April 16, 2018

More about Parenting and College

“Over drinks one night with friends, a Palo Alto mother announced that her son just came home with a B and she said to him, “What are you thinking? You think you’re going to get into Stanford with a grade like that? You’re going to get into Arizona State and if you think I’m going to pay for Arizona State, I’m not!” This mother obviously doesn’t think highly of Arizona State. Apparently she didn’t know that it’s in the top ten U.S. producers of Fulbright Scholars, that one alumna is Susan Cartsonis, producer of the second-highest-grossing romantic comedy movie of all time, What women Want, or that the designer of her very own handbag – Kate Spade – went there.
The truth is that most of us have no idea how to judge a college’s suitability for our kids. We salivate over the U.S. News college rankings, even though the list mostly reflects how hard a school is to get into and what a group of other educators think about it, which is a function of how hard it is to get into.”
The entire Chapter 19 in Julie Lythcott-Haims book Howto Raise an Adult”, talks about having a wider mind-set about colleges. There are several different lists and actual discussions about how certain schools view test scores vs. grades vs. recommendations. There are even a few top notch schools that don’t even look at test scores.
If your swimmer is thinking about college this chapter is highly informative and up to date. If you are curious about the process we encourage you to check it out.

Friday, April 6, 2018

How To Raise An Adult

In her ground breaking book subtitled “Break free of the over parenting trap and prepare your kid for successJulie Lythcott-Haims writes clearly from an informed perspective. She is a recent Dean of Freshman at Stanford University and a parent of two growing teenagers.
She traces the change in the way parenting has evolved from the days before the baby boomers to present day. What began as a desire to keep your child safe in the early 80’s to play dates to supervised sports to present day practices in all areas where parents do everything possible for their kids to insure success it is easy to see how we have gotten to this place at this point in time.
She remarks that in the last couple of decades there are many more parents on campus at universities – including Stanford – than ever before. Instead of raising kids to be self-sufficient parents are increasingly making sure the kids are ok by being with them every step of the way.
And the instantaneously available information – thanks to the smart phone – makes it possible.
What to do then?
We haven’t finished reading the book yet but we can tell you one of the parts that resonated with us was this quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.”
We need to give them basic life skills and then let them figure it out. Pretty simple yet challenging to do when most around you are doing everything for theirs. And we are led to believe that the college (yup, even the high school, middle school and kindergarten) our kids get into will make or break their future success. This of course is promoted in all sorts of ways, some subtle and some not so subtle, by those very schools. It is a business model folks.
Oh, there is plenty of over coaching as well from well- meaning coaches in all sports. We see it on pool decks wherever we go racing. Roots and wings; gotta remember that.