Full text of Brett Ledbetter, founder of Filmroom Project, on Building Your Inner Coach at TEDxGatewayArch conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Building your inner coach by Brett Ledbetter at TEDxGatewayArch
Fifteen coaches, 8700 plus wins, 200 plus conference championships and 21 national championships. The past few years I’ve gone across the country to interview and observe these coaches, to figure out what it is they all have in common. And if I had to boil it down to one sentence, it would be that they focus less on the result, more on the process but they recognize that character is what drives the process, which drives the result.
What does that mean? And how does that apply to you guys? And how can that improve your life and your performance? Those are the questions I’m going to try to tackle with this talk. So we’re going to start here.
Do you know the voice inside your head, your inner most thoughts that nobody else has access to except for you? My mentor, Dr. Jim Loehr, calls that your private voice. He’s going to take it a step further.
[Dr. Jim Loehr: How helpful is that private voice? Is it a voice you would be proud to have displayed on the wall particularly during tough times? How does it speak to you? Is it really a coach that is really giving you very strong positive messages that help you? Or is it actually working to break you down, to actually cause you more grief, more pain, more stress? And once you begin to realize that voice is almost always saying something and then to begin to take more responsibility for how that voice is actually speaking to you and to realize that this voice will be the only voice that’s with you until your death. We want that voice to be someone who is a contributor to your life.]
So if we had to sum up what Jim said, it’d be that your private voice can either help you out or break you down. But it’s the only voice that’s with you until your death. I want you to put yourself in this situation, you’re in a game, your whole student body is watching you, things are going bad for you, things are going bad for your team. What if in that moment the thoughts that you were thinking scrolled across the bottom of the scoreboard for everyone in the gym to see, how would that make you feel?
The interesting thing about this is when we think negatively, not only are we competing against our opponent, who else are we competing against? Ourselves, so we have to turn our private voice into our inner coach so that when we go through those tough times, our inner coach can guide us through them.
What I want to do is I want to show you a real life example of what that looks like. And it’s from one of my all time favourite college basketball games. We’re going to pick things up with four seconds left in the game. So Butler has the basketball on the baseline. They’re in white. They’re down one against Gonzaga, who’s in blue. Let’s see how this plays out.
That fires me up every time I see it. But here’s the deal, the reason I love that is because those last two plays were the exact opposite of one another. The first one was an example of failure; the second one was an example of success. So what I want to do is I want to watch those clips one more time but this time I want to call your attention to Butler’s head coach — Brad Stevens. So you’re going to see him, he’s right there. I want you to keep your eye on him the whole time. Watch his body language, as his player travels.
So how would you describe it? I think it was pretty calm, would you guys agree? Now 99 out of 100 games, when your player travels, when you guys are down one with four seconds left, you’re going to lose that game. But what did he do? He calmly walked over to the bench, subbed his player in and got ready mentally for what? The next play.
So now I’d like to call your attention to Brad Stevens one more time. I want you to watch his reaction as his player hits the game winning shot.
How awesome is that? The reason I love that is because what? He handles it exactly the same way as he handled the failure. So despite all the chaos that’s going on around him, he’s able to maintain discipline with his emotions. I’m going to show you guys how to do that, which is why you guys have those note cards.
So what I want you to do, I want you to take thirty seconds and I want you to think about this question, and I want you to write this down. I want to know the last time you felt stress, pressure or anxiety. I want you to write that situation down, chances are it probably happened today. I’ll give you guys thirty seconds.
So here’s what I want you to do now. Underneath what you wrote down, I want you to answer this question. I want you to write down what you were worried about. What about that situation caused you to feel stress, pressure or anxiety?
All right. So now what’s going to happen is I’m going to show you what you’re thinking about on your card. Anytime we feel stress, pressure or anxiety, we’re thinking of one of two things: either the future, something that could happen, or we’re thinking about the past, something that has happened.
So here’s what I want you guys to do, I want to see a show of hands, how many of you guys thought about something in the future or the past? Funny, how that works, doesn’t it?
So when we focus in on the present, we focus on the things that we can control, which is exactly what Brad Stevens did. Now this is moments after his player hit the game winning shot. I want you to hear what he says in the postgame interview.
[Journalist: What did you say to your players in the locker room to come out with such fire?
Brad Stevens: My deal has always been, I don’t care the result but as long as we have no regrets and we want to make sure we left it all out there – and they did. ]
I don’t care the result as long as what? My players leave it all out on the court. Now what’s interesting is Brad told me that he’s actually gone away from talking about goals with his team. Why would he do that? Well, here’s the definition of the word “goal”. It’s the result to which effort is aimed. When you focus on goals, you focus on results. And if you think about it, results are oftentimes outside of our control.