Yes, that was “Do You!” with an exclamation point not “Do you?” with a question mark. If you were to come to one of my young son Tyler’s baseball games, at any point during the game either at the plate or on the pitchers mound, you might hear his Mom implore from the stands, “Do You!”
Multi-media entrepreneur, Russell Simmons wrote a book a few years back with this same title, “Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success”. That can be an awfully empowering statement when it is really taken to heart. How liberating it can be to have the freedoms to Just. Be. You. And the to trust that it is good enough.
In reading Phil Jackson’s, book “Eleven Rings” he mentions studying psychologist Carl Rogers and his work “On Becoming a Person”. Rogers’ thoughts on personal empowerment and giving permission to someone to be their “real self” vs some self they think they’re supposed to become enables people to really begin to approach their true potential.
In any given situation, whether it’s Little League baseball or the Chicago Bulls player who knows “all they can do is all they can do” and they are expected to do no more than that might just free their mind and actually allow them to do that…ALL they can do.
All too often the pressures of the game, induced by the scoreboard and usually imposed by the coach, family, fans, or the dreaded inner voice of judgement, causes players to get nervous that they are expected to do more than they are capable by having some super breakout performance and ultimately they underperform.
I talk about this phenomenon often and have written in this space about it before. Concern with Results & Comparisons with others are futile because they are mostly out of a persons control. There are too many factors involved in arriving at results and there is absolutely no control one has over others performance. “All they can do is all they can do”
So as we say, “Control the Controllables” and simply sit back and “Do You!” Give your best effort and concentrate on doing what you’ve learned with a tremendous attitude and things will work out about as they should.
It is much more immediate to only concern ourselves with the Process and worry about the Outcome later. I’ve used the phrase “Possession by Possession” here before, and it’s the same as “One play at a time” or “One pitch at a time” – but any way you slice it it’s the only way to play.
Nick Saban, arguably the most successful active football coach is a big believer in “The Process”. For a coach who ultimately contends for National Championships nearly every single year it is quite a testament that he does his very best never to even utter that potential Outcome.
I once heard Mile Ditka recite an oft used poem that I steal from time to time:
“Yesterday is History, Tomorrow’s a mystery, but today is a gift…that’s why they call it “The Present”
I love when Alan Sein, founder of Sronger Team Nation, says to “Play Present”. That really allows players to stay in the moment. I know sometimes when I’m distracted in a meeting or in church I repeat to myself, “Be here – now!” because that’s all that’s important.
Positive Coaching Alliance does a great job outlining to coaches, athletes, and their parents the importance of focusing on Personal Excellence or Mastery of a skill as opposed to worrying about the Results and the Scoreboard.
The worry that creeps into our minds when the Results comes to the forefront creates an anxiety that is very hard to overcome at times. That anxiousness erodes a players confidence and effects performance greatly. I addressed that in the series here about “Creating Confident Coachable Players”
I remember coaching Little League baseball with a great friend named Hank Jannace who taught me a ton about the sport. He used to always simplify hitting for young players that were struggling by telling them to, “see the ball – hit the ball”. This seemed to free their mind to do just that, rather than worrying about their stance, weight distribution, how they held their hands or path of their swing. See the ball. Hit the ball. Simple.
My oldest son, Shawn, was playing in a game for the league championship his senior year in high school and came to the plate in a crucial situation with a runner on second base. As i was watching him stride to the plate I heard his coach in the third base coaching box holler to the umpire, “Time!”
He proceeded to give him a series of complicated instructions by reciting what sounded like an excerpt from Ted Williams “Science of Hitting” and the look on Shawn’s face appeared to grow a bit less confident.
When the meeting was over I remembered Hank and yelled through the chain link fence, maybe somewhat sarcastically, ” hit the ball!” He smiled…and did. Right off the right center filed fence for a double that drove in the winning run. Even Einstein said to “state the complex simply, but not any simpler”. Nothing simpler than, “hit the ball”
My two oldest kids were not blessed with tremendous quickness or explosiveness (and they always remind me of my contribution to those genetic deficiencies) but because of their conditioned discipline to concentrate on the task at hand they were able to be in the proper position, and thus became very good defensive basketball players, often shutting down players much more athletic than they.
This freedom to “Do You” is something coaches should consider when developing roles on a team. Too often a coach will try to pigeon-hole a player into a position or role based on some predetermined assumption, often based on size or body type.
Coaches need to allow for these different player personalities, which often determine the type of player they might be. For example that little quick guy that looks like a prototypical point guard may have a shooters mentality, rather than a distributor while a bigger slower player may actually be able to direct an offense better.
That big tall basketball player may not have the personality to bang inside and actually be more suited away from the basket, however many coaches are dismayed that these players are not effective underneath the basket. There may also be a shorter, but more physical player that can get it done inside with the big boys. Think out of the box and let players use their talents, instead of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
This might be true in any organization, and as John Gardner said, it is first important to get the right people on the bus, then get them into right seats. Leaders of businesses and organizations fall into this trap as well. They have a predetermined concept of how a job is to be done, or a role should be filled, and sometimes it’s best to allow employees to thrive in their own way to achieve maximum success.
When anyone tries to fill some idealized version of what someone else thinks they should be, they rarely are as productive as they could be
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be.” –Johann von Goethe
So the pursuit of what we can be, or should be, starts with “Do You!” Be the best we can be…now. Everything else will follow later.
My youngest daughter played high school volleyball, basketball, and softball then when college was approaching, she wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue any of those. Then when working out at college one day, the track coach saw her and suggested she’d be a good 800 meter runner for the track team. To prepare for track, he thought running cross country would be a good idea. So she did both in college.
Her first year running cross country her team went to the Western Regional Finals. After the race she called and I asked, “Honey, how’d you do?” She answered, ” I came in 143rd” I paused, not sure how to respond to that, and she saved me by saying, ” …but I ran 50 seconds faster than my previous personal best, got to run against a girl who was a 4 time National Champion, So I did pretty good for me.”
Pretty good for me. Isn’t that what we want. No comparisons with others. Just competing against yourself. Against your personal best.
Or as Shakespeare said more poetically about the personal respect really necessary to have the confidence to just “Do You”,
“This above all to thine own self be true”