Sunday, 30 October 2016

James Clear Article on the Power of Getting 1% Better

This is an article written by James Clear about the power of getting 1% better.  I love James Clear's material because it speaks to how leaders in their field work on improving and pushing themselves to their highest capacity. I hope you all have a great week!  
Coach Marla 

Pat Riley on the Remarkable Power of Getting 1% Better

By James Clear   

The 1986 Los Angeles Lakers were one of the most talented basketball teams ever assembled, but they are rarely remembered that way.
The team started the 1985-86 NBA season with a 29-5 record. “The pundits were saying that we might be the best team in the history of basketball,” head coach Pat Riley mockingly said after the season. 
Despite their talent, the Lakers stumbled in the 1986 playoffs and suffered a surprising season-ending defeat in the Western Conference Finals. The “best team in the history of basketball” didn’t even play for the NBA Championship that year.
As the head coach, Pat Riley was tired of hearing about how much talent his players had and about how much promise his team held. He didn’t want to see flashes of brilliance followed by a gradual fade back to mediocrity. He wanted the Lakers to play up to their potential, night after night.
In the summer of 1986, Riley created a plan to do exactly that. 

Step 1: Taking Their Number

Following the 1986 season, Riley revealed a new program that he called the Career Best Effort program or CBE. 
“When players first join the Lakers,” Riley explained, “we track their basketball statistics all the way back to high school. I call this Taking Their Number. We look for an accurate gauge of what a player can do, then build him into our plan for the team, based on the notion that he will maintain and then improve upon his averages.”
You’ll notice that Riley was interested in the average speed of his players. His first calculation was to see what a player’s normal day looked like, not his best day.
In her book, When the Game Was Ours (Audiobook), author Jackie MacMullan explains Riley’s CBE calculations by saying,
“The Lakers coach recorded data from basic categories on the stat sheet, applied a plus or a minus to each column, and then divided the total by minutes played. He calculated a rating for each player and asked them to improve their output by at least 1 percent over the course of the season. If they succeeded, it would be a CBE, or Career Best Effort.” 
Riley was careful to point out that CBE was not merely about points or statistics, but giving your “best effort spiritually and mentally and physically.” Players got credit for “allowing an opponent to run into you when you know that a foul will be called against him, diving for loose balls, going after rebounds whether you are likely to get them or not, helping a teammate when the player he’s guarding has surged past him, and other ‘unsung hero’ deeds.” 

Step 2: Calculating Your CBE

I don’t know Riley’s exact formula, but here’s what the CBE calculation might look like in practice:
Let’s say that Magic Johnson had 11 points, 8 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals, and 5 turnovers in a particular game. Magic also got credit for an “unsung hero” deed by diving after a loose ball (+1). Finally, he played a total of 33 minutes in this imaginary game.
If we add up all the positive numbers (11+8+12+2+1), we get 34. Then, we subtract the 5 turnovers (34-5) to get 29. Finally, we divide 29 by 33 minutes played.
29/33 = 0.879
In this example, Magic’s CBE number would have been 879.  This number was calculated for all of a player’s games and he was then asked to improve his average CBE by one percent during the course of the season. Riley knew that if the Lakers could aggregate many small individual improvements they would achieve a big jump in team performance.

Step 3: Historical Comparisons

Throughout the 1987 season, Riley was constantly comparing each player’s current CBE to not only their past performances, but also other players around the league. As Riley put it, “We rank team members alongside league opponents who play the same position and have similar role definitions.” 
“Riley trumpeted the top performers in the league in bold lettering on the blackboard each week and measured them against the corresponding players on his own roster.
Solid, reliable players generally rated a score in the 600s, while elite players scored at least 800. Magic Johnson, who submitted 138 triple-doubles in his career, often scored over 1,000.”
The Lakers also emphasized year-over-year progress by making historical comparisons of CBE data. Riley said, “We stacked the month of November, 1986, next to November, 1985, and showed the players whether they were doing better or worse than at the same point last season. Then we showed them how their performance figures for December, 1986, stacked up against November’s.”
Imagine you’re one of the players. Every week you walk into the locker room and see your name ranked alongside Michael Jordan or Larry Bird or some other competitor across the league. You’re constantly aware of how you are performing relative to the competition and relative to your average performance. It is impossible to lie to yourself about whether you are playing well or poorly. You are are constantly aware of your choices, your actions, and your performance.
Compare that situation to how most of us live our lives. We don’t track or measure the things that we say are important to us. We make excuses, create rationalizations, and lie to ourselves about our daily performance. We have no evidence of whether we are performing better or worse compared to previous months or years. It’s not hard to see why the CBE program delivered results.

The Results of CBE

The Los Angeles Lakers began executing the CBE program in October of 1986. Eight months later, they were NBA Champions. The following year, during the 1987-88 season, Pat Riley led his team to another title as the Lakers became the first team in 20 years to win back-to-back NBA championships.
“Sustaining an effort is the most important thing for any enterprise. The way to be successful is to learn how to do things right, then do them the same way every time. Players can’t excel in every area, but they can strive to better themselves in the areas that we value most for each individual. Then we can show them what they need to do to have their Career Best Effort. Over the length of a season, a correlation always appears between great effort and great overall numbers. It may not show from one game to the next, but in the long run superior effort is reflected in the win column.”
—Pat Riley

What Makes Great Performers Great?

There is a surprisingly narrow gap that separates the good performance from the great performance. And that narrow gap is separated by small habits and daily rituals.
It is so easy to dismiss the value of making slightly better decisions on a daily basis. Sticking with the fundamentals is not impressive. Falling in love with boredom is not sexy. Getting one percent better isn’t going to make headlines.
There is one thing about it though: it works.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Getting Cut - Ways to Learn from It

It can be very disheartening and challenging when a player gets cut from a team they were hoping to be a part of.  It doesn’t really matter if the team was a school team, provincial team, club team, national team or some other team they might have been trying out for.  It never feels good to be rejected or deselected from something you wanted to be a part of.  There are many ways to deal with the situation.  Some athletes choose to use the experience as a way to get more bitter and frustrated which may eventually lead them to giving up or quitting.  While other athletes choose to help the feedback make them a better player.  

As coaches we sometimes say “it is better to get cut early” meaning that when you get cut at a younger age you have a chance to learn the most from the experience before it is too late and the time to improve runs out.   You can re-evaluate and then use the feedback to continue to improve. When you get cut early you have a chance to rethink your motivation, change your habits and really dig in to find ways to get better. Sometimes getting cut helps you to choose a different path that is better suited for the next phase of your life.    

Whenever I hear of somebody getting cut I often think of my experience of how I got cut in grade 7 from the junior girls team at my school and I was devastated.  I was really angry at the coach but that's when I decided to engage my work ethic instead.  I could tell getting mad was a waste of energy and I shifted to wanting to prove the coach wrong.  My sister helped me to get better.  She taught me how to do layups, how to shoot and also how to do so many of the fundamental things that would help me to get better.  Once I had the foundation I shot up the ranks quickly playing on the grade 11 and 12 team when I was in grade 9.  Besides my own experience of dealing with being cut early I also think about the story that is often told about Michael Jordan who was cut from the senior team when he was about 15 years old.  He used that experience to fuel him because he never wanted to feel that pain again.  I often think about how getting cut ignited his spirit, taught him how to dig deep and unleashed a powerful force on the basketball world. He never wanted to experience that feeling again so he made it so he became the greatest player ever.  I sometimes wonder what kind of basketball player he would have been had that experience never happened to him?  If he made the team instead of being cut would he have had the same career later in his life?  

Cuts happen, coaches have choices to make as there are only a certain number of players that can round out a roster and sometimes it comes down to the number of players in those positions as well as the fit of the athlete.  During a Canada Basketball training camp a couple of the coaches who were former National Team members divulged that every single player that eventually made the team had been cut in the years prior to finally being selected. So, no one is immune to rejection and it becomes common and standard practice the higher the level you try to reach.  

  1. Get Feedback - This can be painful but helpful if you can ever get feedback from the coach(es) that cut you it is important to ask. It is the very best way to figure out ways to continue to improve especially if it hurts.  Try to also figure it out yourself by watching other people and learning from players that are better than you.  You have to learn to be your own best coach.  Most often it is about the details and executing those movements the best you can as close as possible to what was shown. The next time the drill or skill try to remember the little things and learn to repeat them.  
  2. Take the Lesson - learning to deal with rejection is a crucial lesson in life.  There are a lot of ways that life isn’t going to go the way you are expecting it to go.  When bad things happen you have to find a way to dig deep and find away through them. Many people who get rejected learn to come back stronger and better than they were before.  Adversity is the best teacher.  
  3. Come up with an Action Plan - Once you have a good idea of what needs to be improved really work on getting better.  If you identify your shot needs to get better find someone that can help you improve your technique.  Work on your plan every single day.  
  4. Channel the pain - Use the pain as fuel and every time you don’t feel like working on your game or your workout isn’t going well that is when you tap into that feeling to really get your fired up to keep going. This should be able to help turn things around.  

In closing, there are a lot of times in life when things aren’t going to go your way.  Opportunities will come and go but being able to respond to them is what matters most.  Sometimes getting rejected helps you to take time to get over it and build confidence to not put yourself in a position to let that happen again.  You may not have control over what happens to you but you always have control over how you respond to those circumstances every single time.  

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Locker Room Talk

This week’s blog is coming straight from the heart. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the statements Donald Trump made into a hot mic that came to light recently.  Although those statements were made 11 years ago they were incredibly hurtful and demeaning to women. Knowing this wasn't just a one time incident.  Trump has had so many sexist statements come out that it is impossible to ignore this last one. The thing that I have noticed is how many men have stepped up on social media and personally to speak up against his statements about women.  Just indicating his comments were “locker room talk” seems to not only excuse it away but to also indicate that all men speak like this in locker rooms which is incredibly untrue.   

Not to mention that men aren't the only people who use locker rooms. Women do too! Now I know that this may be different than the Miss Universe pageant change rooms Trump has bragged about frequenting so that would explain why he may be unclear. I am by no means inviting him in to take a look around but I can say one thing is for sure women aren’t talking this way either.  It is safe to say he was speaking for himself and his comments go far beyond being considered “locker room talk”. 

Everybody knows that when women aren’t around men communicate very differently to one another.  I figured that out early when my family would get together during the holidays.  The men would be in one area to relax after a meal and the women would be in another. I realized from that experience at a young age men change a bit.  They joke around differently, they tease and criticize each other and sometimes they say things that are off side.  They say things that maybe they shouldn’t because they are exaggerating for impact or speaking more freely than they normally do.  Regardless, I know personally and profoundly that there is a huge percentage of men that love, respect and adore women. Trumps comments went too far. 

In the locker rooms I have been in, for the better part of 2 decades, men don’t treat women like that. When I was playing on the team most of my coaches were men and they have always been incredibly respectful to us as players.  Now that I am often the only woman with my teams and the organizations I am apart of I realized something very very important in that once the coaches and players know as well as trust me they no longer see my gender as a huge barrier. So it isn’t that they are softening up due to me being there it’s because they truly don’t talk like that. 

Women are amazing!  I have been told on more than one occasion by men that we are the reason and motivation for why they do so many things they do.  If women weren’t around it would be an incredibly different world. Women make men better and it is true the other way around as well.  We enhance their lives in so many ways and that is something to embrace as well as own.  Our femininity transforms men and that is nothing to be upset about it is a gift.  We play many diverse roles in their lives from mother, nurturer, lover, and sometimes we even have to hold them accountable by being the voice of reason when they might do something truly idiotic.

As I mentioned before I thought about this hot mic incident a lot this week and my thoughts weren’t all negative.  I realize life isn’t perfect but we have come a long way in our journey.  I saw how many of my coaching colleagues and friends spoke up and dismissed this behaviour as being unacceptable.  They were truly offended to be painted with this type of brush. This signals to me that things are getting better.  Many men do have our backs and they sincerely care.  They look out for us in many ways and it has been men at nearly every turn that have helped guide, encourage, support and help in my coaching career consistently since I started out. I am not naive, I am sure there are dark and creepy corners where this Trump style of locker room talk still exists.  However, maybe this incident has helped these men see they don’t want to sound like that anymore and that this kind of dialog is out of style now.  

In closing, instead of seeing it as a fight for equality I look at it as a challenge to restore partnership.  Men and women have amazing values that enhance each other.  Yes these factors are equal in that they balance out but they are by no means the same.  When I am coaching I don’t try to be a man. I can’t do the things that men can do but, they also can’t do what I can do either.  I surround myself with great assistant coaches that help to ensure that balance exists on our coaching team.  When I am the assistant I hope the other coaches feel like I bring something different and balance that table out as well. The point is that it sometimes isn’t about gender it is about owning who you are.  Strong people lift others up.  Strong people have each others' backs.  Strong people unite one another.  Gender has little to do with that and everything to do with supporting people and being the best version of yourself. Due to all of this I like the talk that goes on in all of the locker rooms I have been a part of and if I didn't I would certainly take steps to change it.  I hope all of my players understand the value of all women and choose not to take this type of dinosaur view about life.  

Sunday, 9 October 2016

13 Ways to Build Culture

This is a blog that was created by Alan Stein when he was with Stonger Team.  Now that he is at Pure Sweat I want to give him the credit here for this week’s blog entry.   

Culture is something that I really strive to utilize when building any teams I am responsible for helping.  It is powerful and really makes a big difference in terms of the bonds the team together.  The stronger the team bonds together the more successful they tend to be.  I once heard Mano Watsa from PGC, which is a basketball camp organization, say your culture is what happens when the leaders of the team aren’t around.  How does your team act when no one is telling them what to do.  Here is what Alan had to say when it came to 13 Ways to Build Culture.  

  1. Program > Team > Player
  2. Players and coaches talk to each other, not at each other. Big difference. 
  3. No one is perfect. Mistakes will happen on and off the court.  Learn from them. 
  4. Every player and every coach is important to the team and plays a role.  Respect that. 
  5. Focus on effort and attitude. Those are the only 2 things we have complete control over.  
  6. You either accept it or you correct it. There is nothing in between. 
  7. Repetition is not viewed as punishment.  Repetition is necessary to development.  
  8. Confront issues, not people. 
  9. Goals match behaviours and habits. 
  10. Be on time.  It is a sign of respect. 
  11. Discipline = Love 
  12. If you aren’t prepared to put the team first… don’t play.  
  13. Believe or leave 

Even though these have been written with sports in mind I believe they can be used for the corporate world as well.  These ways to build culture can help any team to really develop the necessary habits to being successful and continue to thrive.  

Sunday, 2 October 2016

The WHY Movement

A few of months ago my office started doing something really interesting.  They got us involved in some sessions that helped us as individuals to discover the purpose of our lives.  It was about discovering our reason WHY.  It is a test and a series of workshops we took company wide that helped us to uncover and see our personal gifts so we could understand what makes us who we are to unlock our passion.  

When we are involved in our WHY we are able to connect with each other and realize the motivation and viewpoint the other person is coming from.  It helps to recognize the unique gifts each person brings to the organization.  This test really helped to clarify the standpoint that different coworkers are coming from a different place.  It was interesting to see the different teams were made in terms of the characteristics they possessed as well as how they were able to help our customers and the business as a whole.  

We have a display up at work that has each person’s picture along with their WHY so if you wonder what group your colleagues belong to you can reference that area.  It has really helped to see every team member in a different light.  You can quickly identify each others strengths and what they stand for.  Due to this each team member has a better understanding of how they fit and contribute to the cause of the organization.  When aligned with your WHY you come from a place of passion, respect and appreciation which contributes to the success of the company in a different way than before.  

Initially I heard some of the upper management talking about their WHY classification as they attended a separate workshop before us.  One of the managers got up to share about how the group he belonged to was called Contribution.  It took me only a few seconds to hear him talk when I fully realized I was part of that group before I even took the test.  The Contribution group is interested in being part of a greater cause.  They don’t want to just participate their interest is in relishing in the success of the greater good by working behind the scenes making the world a better place.  Contribution people are go to people that you can get help from in just about anything.  They are reliable and committed teammates and are often found in athletics which clearly rang true for me.  After answering the test truthfully and unbiased I found I actually ended up belonging to that group after all.  There was a clear reason it resonated with me.

So, what are some of the other groups that people can be a part of?  Well without going into too much detail I will give you a few of them.  

Simplify - Their reason for living is to break things down in the simplest form and remove unnecessary elements. 

Make Sense - This group takes complicated problems and organizes them into sensible resolutions.

Right Way - Individuals who belong to this group believe the is a correct way to do things and they have to go about achieving them in that particular way. 

Better Way - People in this group find better ways to do things by being innovative and continuously improving.  They want to discover and share better ways.    

Trust  - This group believes the most important thing in life is trust.  They work very hard to gain it and really value letting their actions speak instead of just their words.  

Knowing your WHY helps you to figure out your behaviour.  You gain insight and understand the reasons you make some of the choices you make.  You know your value and what the group counts on you to do. If you want to know more about this process please see.