“Control the Controllables.” This is one of many quotes displayed on my door. It is placed next to “Success Breeds Success” and a quote Dustin Gordon has been saying to me since high school, “Get it Done.” As I was looking for a quote that would be relevant to coaches in 2020, I thought this quote would fit the bill perfectly.
After the cancellation of the State Tournament on March 13th and the following cancellation of in-person school I felt like I did not have control of anything in my life. We hoped our students would be able to return to class and our seniors would be able to have the graduation ceremony they so deserved. We hoped our spring sports seasons would be allowed to begin. When these hopes were dashed in late April/early May, I felt like I had no control over what was happening to my students and student-athletes.
My wife Megan, however, reminded me that I did have control over one thing. She reminded me I could control my attitude and effort each day to improve the lives of our students. I could either pout and be upset with the lockdown and remote learning; or I could control the methods in which I taught our students.
It was then I decided to greet every student individually when they logged into my online classes. I took time to check in on each student and talk to them personally about how they were doing not only academically, but emotionally and socially. I worked with each student to find ways to make today better than yesterday. This is something I have tried to do every day this school year.
I also began to make a “Success List” instead of a “To-Do List.” When I looked at my “Summer To-Do List,” I instantly felt overwhelmed because I was not able to plan for half of the topics on my list. I made the decision to accomplish as many topics on the list as I could each day. Instead of trying to work on something that could change, like spectator protocols, I completed the task of ordering volleyball equipment. By completing a couple of tasks each day, I felt like every day was a productive day.
For those of you who do not know me, one thing I can tell you is I do not delegate very well. I want things a certain way and I do almost everything when it comes to coaching and being an Athletic Director because I know at the end of the day it is a reflection on me. This summer, however, I began delegating more responsibilities around the school to my colleagues, coaches, and managers. I found they often had better ways of doing things and they were more than willing to help. The amount of time my colleagues, coaches, and managers saved me this summer and fall was amazing. A colleague of mine even volunteered to organize ticket takers this fall. Trust your colleagues, they want the school and athletic programs to be successful just like you do. I promise they will be an asset you will continue to use for a long time.
Finally, prioritize your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. Make sure you put your family first. I have not done a very good job of this in the past but throughout the pandemic I have been making a conscious effort to make sure my family is my number one priority. During football season I made it a rule to leave the school by 6:30 pm. I would take whatever work I had left to do for the day home and do it when my wife and kids went to bed. I wanted to make sure I could see my family for a couple of hours instead of coming home at 8:00 pm and barely seeing them. I also discovered I was more relaxed and fresher when I was watching film at 9:00 pm after taking a break from working in my office. Remember to take time to enjoy your family and friends during the holiday season.
I’m going to leave you with another quote, which is also on my door, that is also relevant to 2020. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.” React with a positive mindset and find a way to make things work. Don’t automatically postpone or, worse yet, cancel something because there isn’t an easy solution. Find a solution for our students and student-athletes. Don’t worry about the issues that are going to come up throughout the next few months. When problems arise, find solutions. “Control the Controllables” and don’t worry about what you can’t control.
My sister, Jamie Duprey, recently wrote about this same topic on a blog she wrote on her website. https://www.coachduprey.com/blog/zorro