One Thing Every Coach Needs

Note: I’m taking a break from writing during the month of August. Look for new blog posts beginning in September. Enjoy the rest of your summer!


I never met my Papou (Greek for grandfather) Gelep. He died before I was born. But through biographical letters that his brother wrote back in the 1940’s, his life inspires me today.

He came to the U.S. through Ellis Island in 1906 with $25 in his pocket and no knowledge of the language or culture. He found work as a busboy in a New York City restaurant and began saving money to send back to his family so that his brothers could join him in America.

Within two years, his brothers made it to the U.S. They saved money and in 1911 they bought a farm. That didn’t work out so well, and they lost everything.

So they started over.

They heard about Hopewell, Virginia—a town booming with growth from a big plant with 35,000 employees—and started a restaurant there. Things went so well that they built a hotel.

A month later, a fire wiped out the entire city—including their hotel and restaurant. With not even enough money to get back to New York City, friends sent them money for the carfare.

Again, they started over.

Eventually, the brothers opened two restaurants in Massachusetts, both of which were successful. Papou experienced more ups and downs throughout his life, but these early years of his story fascinate me most.

First, his courage in coming to another country without knowing the language or culture. Millions of immigrants took this risk, and it truly amazes me. They weren’t looking things up on Google prior to arrival! They took the risk because their dreams were bigger than all the unknowns.

Second, his resiliency.

He started at zero when he came to America, and again after the farm, and again after the fire.

What did these experiences feel like for him? How did he manage the fears and discouragements that surely surfaced?

It struck me that he had one important advantage that must have helped him through the losses.

His brothers.

He wasn’t in it alone. His brothers were in it with him. Together, they got through those tough losses.

His story got me thinking about how much we need each other.

Becoming more resilient and overcoming adverse times isn’t a solo effort.

Trust me, I’ve tried!

I’ve bought into the lie that I’ve got to manage things all by myself. That I’m bothersome and weak when I lean into others.

The road through adversity is easier when traversed with comrades. [Tweet That!]

That connection—support, encouragement, even commiseration—helps us make it to the other side.

Coaching is a tumultuous profession with many ups, downs and hairpin turns.

As you approach next season, who walks with you? To whom do you turn to for perspective and encouragement when problems arise?

Summer is the perfect time to identify a mentor or coach to join you on the journey through next season.

Someone—preferably outside your zip code—who offers wisdom, a listening ear and sometimes just the cold, hard truth!

You’ll face losses in some form next season, but take a lesson from my Papou—they’ll be much easier to handle with your brothers (or sisters) along for the ride.


One Thing Every Coach Needs appeared first on Life Beyond Sport.