When I was a graduate assistant, I shared a desk with a now well-known strength coach by the name of Kaz Kazadi. He turned me on to several books about the way of the samurai. In the book Hagakure, the author talks about the stories of the samurai, their history, important people, and a lot of other stories. It gives advice on how to deal with and lead people that still holds as true today as it did several centuries before.

One part of the book talks about how to address things with people. The author says something to the effect of, “It’s far better to tell someone a story about yourself and what you did or change you made as a result of a certain situation rather than to address them directly about it. It is the person’s natural response to push back if you push them. If you lead them to a conclusion and they get it, then the problem is solved. If they do not get to the conclusion, it is of no consequence, as they did not start to revolt against you because of your suggestion.” It also goes on to say that if you are in a situation where it has to be directly addressed, do so in private and one-on-one. Any time that you are more than one-on-one, the person will feel attacked regardless of what was said.

RELATED: The Power of the Parable — Victor Frankl

These two points are ones that I based a lot of my coaching career on. I would see issues that arose with the team and address them with different parables. We’d go over a lot of different stories to address a lot of different issues. They never took more than three to five minutes to tell from start to finish, plus people talking about them. We would take common parables, historical figures, and anything else that came to mind to illustrate our points. Even if it didn’t get the person on board at the time, it didn’t push them further away, so we could try from another position.

The parable is one of the oldest tools to teach that is around. Aesop’s fables were all little parables to teach people right from wrong, what to do in different circumstances, etc. If the parables work so great for the general population, and work great for the samurai, they should work great for sport, too. Never doubt the power of the parable; they have been teaching lessons to people for millennia. If they didn’t work, the ancient Greeks would have ceased with their usage, as they had some pretty smart cats themselves.

I have gone through a professional transition to where more of my time is spent in research and policy rather than coaching. As such, I don’t need my stash of parables any longer and will be releasing them one-by-one for anyone to take and use (or not — it’s of no matter to me).

Next in this series is Thomas Edison.

Glowing Hanging Light Bulb

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was a great inventor, who, as everyone knows, invented the incandescent light bulb. It took him a great amount of time and many trials to find the proper combination of materials for the filament before it would work. In fact, it is rumored to have taken him over 6,000 times to get it right. A reporter once asked him, “How does it feel to have failed over 6,000 times to make the incandescent light bulb?” Edison looked him squarely in the eye and said, “I never once failed. I simply found over 6,000 ways to not make a light bulb.”

Edison didn’t view his not making the light bulb as a failure. He viewed it as a victory because he learned something: how not to make a light bulb. Everything is always in the eye of the beholder. If Edison had given up because he “failed,” we may still be reading by candlelight. But he didn’t. He viewed it as an opportunity to learn; he learned what didn’t work.

Remember the lens? Everything is how you view it. Edison chose to look at the mistakes positively and it fueled his desire to go on. On the other hand, if he had chosen to look at it negatively and allow comments from other people to get to him, it wouldn’t have worked out.

It’s human nature to focus on what’s wrong. It’s easy to pick up on what’s wrong, what’s out of place, etc. It's championship nature to look at what was wrong and decide it’s a good thing since now you know what to work on.