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Know What to Put First

Imagine you are the placekicker on a college football team. Your team is getting into range to set up a game-winning field goal attempt.

Your heart is pounding. Your palms are sweating. Your mind is racing back to your last field goal you attempted just a few minutes ago…and missed.

Then your head coach puts his hands on your shoulders, looks you in the eyes, and says, “I love you whether you make this next kick and we win the game, or whether you miss it and we lose.”

This is exactly what happened when the University of Georgia played the University of Missouri in the fall of 2015. Reporters interviewed Georgia head coach Mark Richt after the game and asked him what he told his kicker on the sidelines before the kick.

“I told him that I loved him no matter what happened. And I was serious. It’s a lot of pressure for a young man and sometimes guys think that their worth is whether they perform well or not…but that’s really not the fact of the matter.”

The Challenge

So here’s the challenge I would like to place before you today:

Identify a situation in your life where you put results in front of relationships. Analyze what lessons you learned from the experience and how they can help you move forward.

This challenge comes from our fundamental of success of Knowing Your Integrity.

Knowing Our Integrity is knowing exactly who we are and what we stand for. Our challenge today asks us to determine what comes first when we look at what we stand for: results or relationships?

The first thing we want to look at is some different types of relationships.

Relationships or Results

We all have informal relationships where we have shared, or are currently sharing, an experience with someone. This could be one of our teaching colleagues or even an assistant coach we work with, or it could be one of our students or athletes. When we share some positive results along with these people as part of our association, it can help us feel good about the relationship.

However, this does not mean our relationship with the person is on a deep enough level we have confidence and trust in the person…or they have confidence and trust in us. It is more of a superficial relationship.

But relationships built on confidence and trust are the most valuable types of relationships. These are the types of relationships we seek with our students and athletes. Because these are the relationships that contain the most value and create the biggest impact on our lives.

Can we create relationships by focusing on achieving external results first? Sure. Sometimes relationships are formed in that manner. But what happens when we are no longer on a quest to achieve results together? Does the relationship die? And what happens if we aren’t able to achieve the results we set as our goal to achieve? If there is no relationship without the results, then this is a transactional relationship.

Deep in our core, these are not the relationships we need to fulfill our lives.

As my mentor, Frosty Westering said, “If key relationships can’t be built on confidence and trust, life becomes very superficial. It’s lonely and has no real meaning. Relationships are what life is really all about, and without any genuine ones, there is no joy and fulfillment.”

Relationships formed on a deeper level by confidence and trust CAN produce amazing results. It’s just that they don’t have to in order for the relationship to survive. Coach Richt’s words to his kicker were not a ploy to try to manipulate the results he wanted. They were words that came from the principles and values of Knowing His Integrity.

2 Questions We Need to Ask

So it’s a win-win situation for us.

When we put relationships first, we create an environment to produce awesome external results in the classroom or on the field. But even if we don’t see the results at the time, we have a relationship that can continue to send out ripples and have an impact many years into the future.

Here are 2 questions we can ask ourselves as teachers and coaches. These questions come from Pete Carroll, the current head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Question #1: What if my job isn’t so much to force or coerce performance as it is to create situations where people develop the confidence to set their talents free and pursue their potential to its full extent?

Question #2: What if my job is really to prove to these kids how good they already are, how good they could possibly become, and that they are truly capable of high-level performance?

These questions come from a coach of a professional football team where millions of dollars are centered on winning games and champions…and they put relationships in front of results. They support the idea our focus as teachers and coaches should be on pouring everything we have into relationships with our students and athletes.

Then, we should step aside to let them show off their greatness.

So how about you?

Can you identify a situation in your life where you put results in front of relationships? Can you analyze what lessons you learned from the experience and how they can help you move forward? Can you identify a situation in your life where you put relationships in front of results? Can you describe the results, whether external or internal, which came from the situation?

Knowing Our Integrity enough to know whether we put results or relationships first can help us gauge where we can make corrections in our behavior.

Putting relationships first doesn’t mean external results are bad or we shouldn’t celebrate them. It just means they shouldn’t be our #1 priority. They should come as the by-product of our work to add value to the lives of the young people we work with.

Remember this is an inside-out process. Doing the work to go inside ourselves and Know Our Integrity will help us grow stronger relationships with our students and athletes by giving them a reason to have confidence and trust in us.

And when we encounter the crucible moment of a game-winning field goal, we will know what to put first.

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Jon Barth

Jon Barth

Teacher - Coach - Mentor

I love to share stories, tools, and resources to help students become leaders who make a difference in the world by giving away their gifts and abilities.

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