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We’ve all heard or seen companies selling you their catchy and inspirational mission statements. Our athletic department has one, our strength department has one, our university has one, but do you have one? I’m not talking about the canned “our mission is to maximize performance and minimize the risk of injury” response that we’ve all recited on recruiting weekends. I’m talking about you personally. What do you stand for as a human?
Being a strength and conditioning coach is a phenomenal career, and I will never debate the impact it has made on my personal life both positively and, in a few cases, negatively. I will, however, remain firm in my belief that my personal life and my career are not one in the same. My character is the constant that ties them together and can be seen in anything and everything that I do. I urge you to make that same distinction. It is great to be a coach. It is not great to only be a coach. Within this profession there are those that recognize this and have seen longevity in the field. There are also those whose identity depends only on their coaching title and eventually they burn out or are forced out.
Our profession is not all that we are.
We have to be aware that strength and conditioning is a tremendous platform for us to follow our deeper mission.
Matt Nein did a great webinar on the impact of mission, vision, and values on team and program culture. He discussed how each bleed into the others, and how the values you internalize should be reflected in both your mission and vision statement. In a career like strength and conditioning where our identity can be blurred between personal and professional, I think it is important to take a step back and do this same check for ourselves.
Follow the steps below, and define what you’re really about and who you really are. I suggest typing this into the notes section of your phone, saying it out loud, and writing it on reminders in places you see regularly. Internalize this message and see how much clearer the decisions in your day to day life become.
Vision: Your vision is what you ultimately want for yourself. This is the big picture, but it should be somewhat tangible. For example, I want to leave a legacy for my family to be proud of. This is the ultimate goal for me as a man and stems from my own personal beliefs. This vision is in the back of my mind at all times and influences all the decisions I make. Every situation is met with the question; will this decision add or subtract from my ability to leave a lasting positive legacy for my family?
Mission: The mission you choose is the how-to manual of executing your vision. How will you accomplish what you envision? For me, I will inspire greatness in those around me. The easiest way to begin this is by utilizing your vision statement from above. Again, using my own example, I will leave a legacy for my family to be proud of by inspiring greatness in those around me. Greatness is an abstract term, but I know that by giving a full effort to bring out the best in the people around me in whatever capacity I can, I will no doubt fulfill my goal.
Values: These are the foundation of your identity. When everything else is stripped away, what do you stand for? Better yet, what do you fight for? For the sake of simplicity, I’d suggest writing a list of no more than 20 words and phrases that mean a lot to you. Once you’ve compiled your list, find the common threads and use 3-5 of those phrases or words as your values. Again, it’s easiest to put it into sentence form. For example, I am driven, honest, caring, and committed to growth.
When you combine your vision, mission, and values you will be left with three powerful sentences that should sum up your character. It may sound morbid, but put it in the past tense and think about it as the opening paragraph of your eulogy if you wrote it yourself.
Example: I left a legacy for my family to be proud of. I inspired greatness in those around me. I was driven, honest, caring, and committed to growth.
When you have a clear understanding of your vision, your mission, and your values, decisions begin to make themselves. Does it bring me closer to my vision? Does this allow me the opportunity to fulfill my mission? Do I get to exercise the values I believe in? If you haven’t taken the time to clearly define who you are, what you fight for, and what grounds you then it can be easy to be swayed by external circumstances. When you are grounded in your values and beliefs, you can sift through the external noise and make decisions you will be able to live with forever.
With our industry, jobs can come and go in an instant and sometimes we are put in a position to take a job for financial reasons. I completely understand that, but I also caution you to consider your VMV statement before taking a new position. A coach that I highly respect told me this when I was considering a new opportunity, “peace of mind is better than a piece of the action, remember that.” I have come to the realization (as many strength coaches do) that being in line with my values is much more important to me than a check or a logo. Are your life and career decisions aligned with who you really are? What do you stand for?
“When the roots run deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” – African Proverb
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