I don’t know if you have ever had the opportunity to teach something to a colleague, a friend or a bunch of kids but there is some magic happening when you do. When you try to pull together all your knowledge and give it to someone else, you learn something new. While the student often surpassed the teacher, I can tell you that the teacher learns as much as the student during a lesson.
This is what happened this summer when I was coaching my 6 year old son, William and a bunch of his friends at soccer.
The funniest part is that I don’t know much about the sport. In fact, I don’t know squat! When I was young, I was a baseball player… soccer wasn’t developed at all. But I know a few things about team sports and about managing a group of people. While I was teaching my son how to play soccer, he taught me or reinforced beliefs I have about running a company. Here are a few lessons that we both learned this summer :
The most amazing feeling when you play sports is obviously winning… especially when you have earned it! When I « score » a deal with an advertiser or when I’m able to rank better for a keyword in Google (thx Market Samurai ;-)), it’s like winning a soccer game. You are proud of yourself and feel that you have completed something great on that day!
My son’s soccer team won almost every single Saturday. On the 5th week, they were 4-0 and were dominating their opponents. This when they started to slack and not always run for the ball. That 5th week, they lost 5-2 and they learned their lesson: no matter how good you are, if you don’t put in some effort, you’ll eventually slack off and someone else will beat you.
I sometimes slack off at work or while doing my online work. I’ve actually highlighted a few of these mistakes in a recent post.
I sometimes get very excited about my son as he was the best player on his team. I see great potential in him and want to develop his abilities. I know that he won’t be a soccer star and play for Manchester United, but I still want him to go as far as he can since he is pretty good. But sometimes I forget that he is only 6 and my wife is there to bring be down to earth. It’s important to be serious when you do something but it’s also important to avoid too much pressure.
I’ve learned that after the Panda update where I lost a lot of my traffic and more recently when I had a bad month. I have a tendency of taking my work very seriously and sometimes freak out when things don’t go the way they are supposed to. This is exactly the moment when work stops being fun and starts becoming work! The same thing apply to sports: it’s fun as long as you have fun and put on some pressure!
At the beginning of the season, I was teaching my son some tricks I saw on Youtube. During our practices, I was asking my team to do some exercises and they couldn’t understand where I was going with all of this. I was asking them to follow me and trust me. I was asking them for an act of faith. During the games, passing the ball around was easier and taking away the ball from the other teams was simple. That was all because of the tricks I showed them.
When I started my company, my silent partner asked me for a similar act of faith. He continuously asked me to trust him and keep working. More recently, he asked me to pull out a newsletter for TFB. He asked me to provide exclusive content on top of what I write on this blog. After several months of wondering where I should go with that, I have finally learned how to use my newsletter to engage my readers and it has become a wonderful tool for both my readers and I to communicate. If you wonder what I discuss in there; you simply have to sign up, it’s free!
At the beginning of the year, my son got on the soccer field with too much confidence. He had played over the winter and was by far too strong for the other kids (they made a huge mistake of mixing 5 years old with 6 years old!). So the first 3-4 games, he had difficulties scoring the same amount of goals he used to a few months ago. He was discouraged and didn’t want to put more effort into it as he wasn’t getting immediate results. Then, it was already scheduled that he would go to a 1 week soccer camp the first week of July. When he came back from this camp, he had learned that he needed to put more effort into his game and always push his limits if he wanted to score goals. At the end of the year, there was a tournament. We had 3 games to play on a beautiful Saturday. He not only scored 8 of 13 goals by the team but also made several defensive plays and was passing the ball around to his teammates. During the camp, he learned effort. During the tournament, he learned that efforts pay off!
When I founded my company in 2008, I didn’t know that I would be making a 6 figure income out of it only 2 years later. But I thought that if I was putting in non-stop efforts (and this is THE keyword: NON-STOP), it would pay off. Today, I look at my company and I’m damn proud of what I have achieved. The best thing is that it’s only the beginning ;-D.
As I told you, I don’t know much about soccer. But there is one thing I know; soccer is a team sport. And if you don’t play as a team, you won’t be able to win. This was the only message I wanted to share with my son and his teammates this summer: be a team player and WE will win. So I asked my “scorers” to pass the ball more often, I asked my “shy” players to jump into the offensive play and asked all my team to help each other when they were falling down or losing the ball to the opponent.
The success of my partnership is that we don’t want to be star players: we want to win. Therefore, it doesn’t matter who brings in the money, who works more yesterday who accomplishs the best blog post. All that matters is at the end of the day, the company is better today than it was yesterday.
Unfortunately, we didn’t win the tournament this year. We were pretty close but lost one game. The difference in this game was the coaches. Yup, I got “outcoached” but at a price I wasn’t ready to pay: selling my team spirit for a few more goals. When the other coach realized that we had a strong team, he had decided to keep his best players on the field during the whole game (we have to change our players every 3 minutes since they are too young to play at a “competitive” level). So he benched some 6 year old kids to keep his best players on the field all the time. I could have easily done it with my 2 best players and we would have probably won the game.
But on that day, our team won a lot more than this game. We played as a team, we won and lost as a team. And this was the most important: over the short period of 3 months, we have been able to build a team and care for each other. Both parents and kids were friends at the end and our group was always the last ones to leave the field on the weekend. This is what I will remember from that experience!
I’ve certainly learned a lot coaching these “timbits” over the summer and I’ll certainly come back next summer as I want to learn more from them!
Have you ever had the chance to learn something from your children, friends, family while teaching them something?
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