At War with the ME Culture

TAGS: no i in team, culture, Teammates, selflessness, teamwork, selfishness, team, social media, Coach G, strength and conditioning, football, athlete, strength training, strength coach, training

column-gray-032715

Social media is killing me.

Everything before its time seemed so much simpler. Before hashtags and filters, the biggest struggle in the strength world was trying to find the perfect program for the perfect workout for the perfect day. Just getting them stronger and faster and everything else will all work out.

On all the great teams I have been a part of, the players struggled, fought, and clawed together for a common purpose (WE), and after every victory or defeat, we could all look each other in the eye knowing that we did all we could. With everyone focused on the same goal (the process of winning) and all of them going through the same struggle, if someone wasn’t keeping up, they would do all they could do to lift them up and help them finish because they were all in it together.


RECENT: Grad Assistants: Read This Before Applying Anywhere


If you were on the fence, they would invite you in, but if you refused the invitation (hard work, team first, WE), you were gone. It is a terrible thing when your own teammates don’t want you around. No anchors on the ship.

Leadership on great teams is barely talked about because all the players are so focused on getting themselves better for the betterment of the team, it all takes care of itself. The leaders of the team were the guys who would step up and be the “war-daddy” on any given Saturday with someone crazy stepping up and pushing the team and getting the team through a tough spot. It did not matter who; they were all a band of brothers. Everyone had invested equally, so everyone had an equal share to speak up when they felt they had to.

WE in gym

On losing or mediocre teams, this all changes. Players keep to themselves, trying to “do me,” and are not too worried about anyone or anything else. Our job becomes harder because all of a sudden, not only do we have to find the perfect program for the perfect workout for the perfect day, but we have to become cheerleaders as well. Motivators. Instead of leading by instituting a plan and a shared vision for the team, now we have to yell at athletes just to yell at them. I understand during a game, a coach may have to step in at one point and try to get momentum back on your side, but yelling day in and day out? That’s not the answer.

There are two things I hate most about being a strength coach. One is daily flex for practice. Don’t know why. I just hate it. The second is an athlete telling me, “I like it when you get on me and push me.” That drives me nuts. The great teams inspired me! I could not wait for workouts and try to challenge teams like that. Workouts with them were always fun and some of the most rewarding times I have had as a strength coach. But if you don’t have the right kind of players, the struggle of trying to find leadership within a team never stops.

You would think that after all the years and tons of athletes and teams that I have had the pleasure of working with, I would have a magic formula. I could just say if you do this and that, your team will be full of motivated leaders ready to take on any task together, holding each other accountable, and just taking care of business. I wish it were that easy – but it isn’t.

I look back at some of the most successful individuals and what made them tick and what made them so special. For the great players that I have been blessed enough to coach, it was easy. After really dissecting what made them so successful and put them above the others (besides their God-given abilities), it was their ability to stay focused and always take care of business. It was the only common denominator between them all.

It did not matter if they were black, white, or green; if they had no parents or two parents; or if they lived in the suburbs or inner city. They were never on a list and never late. There was no drama — just a business-like approach to any and all tasks. God-given ability is one thing; doing something with it is something else entirely. Just ask all the first-round talent guys that are working at McDonald's.


RELATED: Are You Tough?


As far as my own personal research went, a quick recap found that the teams and great individual players knew if they took care of themselves for the betterment of the team (WE), and the focus on the process of winning, all was good.

WE squat

This is why I hate social media and why I think it is the bane of our existence as coaches. It is not because I am old school and don’t want to be any part of it. I learn something every day from some of the coaches and lifters that post any number of things on their profiles, and it can be an unbelievable teaching and learning tool. You can all say what you want and embrace it and use it, and as a coach, I will and do from time to time.

The problem is the lack of reality it presents to these young kids. If you think the expectations that we put on our athletes is a lot, get inside their heads and see how much pressure they have from trying to keep up with the Joneses on social media! The fake culture that is portrayed on these social media profiles that these kids follow and try to emulate is not healthy for them or anyone associated with them. The problem is that it makes them think the world revolves around them.

With the touch of a button, any post, comment, like, retweet, or share, they can actually control the universe. Don’t have a nice car? No problem, just pose next to a nice one in the parking lot and take a pic, you will get all the likes you want. You’re an athlete? No problem, just post a five-second video of yourself doing the speed ladder, throw in a catchy hashtag #SlowFeetDontEat, and BOOM — you’re the man! No matter if you miss 70 percent of your team workouts; it’s on social media, so it’s got to be true.

This is the reason that it is called an I-Phone or I-Pad. It is not called a WE-Phone, or WE-Pad. It is all about “I.” Not us. Not we. But ME! Therein lies the problem. Almost every sport we coach is a team sport. Team sports are all about WE. WE win. WE are in this together. Together WE stand; divided WE fall.

As stated in my research above, if you are focusing on yourself for the right reasons for the betterment of the team and push yourself to the limit, you are doing it right. But our constant battle is against those trying to make themselves look good for people they don’t even know. This is the “ME culture” we are constantly battling.

Those great teams were not just from 20 years ago, either; I coached a great team just two years ago! Now we are back at war with ME again. I honestly do not have the answer, but I know it’s still possible and what we all have to try and do.

Get them to flip it. Flip the “M” in ME upside down. What do you get? WE. Easier said than done, I know, but this will be our rallying cry this summer. Hopefully, it will get them in the right mindset. Fingers crossed.

prowler-home5

Loading Comments... Loading Comments...