"You can't make your goals their goals"

I was sitting in an in-service meeting for my job as an instruction coach, and this bold statement was made.  And I, like any other obsessed dance coach, immediately thought of my team, and had the stark realization that this is why my first few years of coaching were such a struggle.   I mean, I eventually have figured out WHY they were a struggle, and have implemented many changes in my program, but never had someone put it so succinctly.  

My first few years as a coach, I had high aspirations. After having won several titles as a dancer, I would settle for no less than a national championship as a coach.  I even went so far and said that my program would win a national title within my first five years.  That first year I found myself banging my head against the wall CONSTANTLY.  I knew what it took for me to win, why couldn’t my dancers see it?  I was willing to sacrifice, to push, to do the extra, why didn’t they?  It boils down to this… I wanted it more than they did.  I was trying to make MY goals THEIR goals.  

I am a goal oriented person.  I have always incorporated goal setting for my students in class, and the teams that I have coached. But when I moved up to the college level, there was a difference in how I approached it.  My team would say “Our goal is to make finals at nationals” and I would come back with, “that’s it?” My team would say, “we want to be successful at nationals”, and I would say, “but really… what place do you want to get?”  I wanted them to say MY goals out loud.  I wanted them to WANT to be national champions.   

What I have realized over the past 8 seasons is that I cannot make my goals their goals.  BUT, I can build a culture where pushing yourself, doing the extra, and making sacrifices comes natural. If you don’t intentionally create the culture, it will create itself (and probably won’t be one that you like). Take the time to create your culture.  Allow your team members to have ownership in the process. Use your resources (like the amazing mentors at the Dance Coach Academy). And slowly, but surely, you will see, as I have, that your goals and their goals become one in the same.

~Jenny Eustice, University of Iowa Dance Coach