Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Conflict part II: Dutch Football

March 16, 2015

soccer-enemy1The excerpt below comes from British football journalist Simon Kuper’s “Soccer Against the Enemy,” in explaining the differences in culture between the British and Dutch with regards to how they treat conflict, and how it impacts the sporting football fortunes of the two nations. The references are dated and I think this was originally published in 1992.

 “We Dutchmen are pigheaded,” summed up Johann Cruyff, the greatest of them all (and the most pigheaded). “Even when we’re on the other side of the world, we’re always telling people how to do things. In that respect, we’re an unpleasant nation.”

Unpleasant perhaps, but successful. Dutch soccer works. It seems that if you let players think for themselves they win soccer matches. Over the last 20 years, no other small nation (and of the large nations, only Germany and Argentina) has won as much as Holland. No one else has played as gloriously. It is precisely because the Dutch talk so much that they can play the way they do. A player has to understand his role.

One Genoa manager tried to make his team play total soccer like Ajax, and failed.  (Player) Vant Schip commented: “To play the Ajax system you have to understand it, and especially talk about it a lot.”

The difference is down to Dutch working-class culture. The Dutch working classes value debate. They are Calvinists (Even Dutch Catholics have strong Calvinist traits) and Calvin told the faithful to ignore priests and to read the Bible themselves. The result is that a 20-year-old Dutch soccer player assumes that he is as likely to have the Truth as his manager.

When Conflict is good: The 5 dysfunctions of a team

March 15, 2015

FiveDysfunctionsWhen I visited the US a few years back, I was interested in Nicole Davis mentioning a number of books the USA Women’s program gave the players to read. They were:

Since these books and authors kept popping up in a lot of sports literature, I thought I’d read them They’re all worth reading). I’ve written about the first 3 books and finally got round to reading 5 Dysfunctions of a team.

Some interesting things about the book:

  • The assertion in the book is that conflict plays a crucial role in the health of a team. People need to have their opinions heard before they can buy in and commit to an idea they don’t necessarily agree with. And if people don’t buy in, then it’s a lot harder to hold them accountable to the goals of the team and the responsibilities they have been given.
  • For the right kind of conflict to occur, people need to have trust. The kind of trust that is needed is trust that their vulnerabilities will not be used against them when voicing an opinion or holding others accountable. A fear of appearing vulnerable is a big inhibitor to a healthy team
  • The book is written in the negative. It gets confusing in that it first presents these ideas in the negative before explaining how the concepts can be used in the positive.

5-Dysfunctions-of-Team3

Certainly it all makes sense, and since reading it, I have made an effort to get teams I am involved with to have more open discussion and let the whole group hear when someone disagrees with something. Before I tended to think of conflict as a bad thing and it was part of the coach’s job to make sure people always got along and diffuse arguments where possible. Now I think it’s about encouraging the right kind of arguments.

It’s the kind of conflict that Abraham Lincoln used in his Team of Rivals cabinet and the Dutch have been using to be a football powerhouse for decades.

Having an opinion, engaging is healthy debate and being open with conflict are all part of western liberal democratic thinking. I’m not sure it works so well in countries where the culture is hierarchical, to get along and not cause conflicts with your team and superiors. Are these cultures susceptible to groupthink and the lack of innovation, creativity and commitment that more conflict-comfortable enjoy? Or is there another way?

I remember a few years ago I joined a volleyball club in South Australia to learn how their men’s team had been consistently successful for so long with varying pools of talent. I expected to learn a system that could re-applied but was surprised to find there wasn’t a clear system they had used over the years. In fact the players and coaches argued over just about everything, but it was out of that conflict that created a culture with a high volleyball IQ and buy-in for whichever system they used at the time.

Giving feedback on failure

June 24, 2014

Carol Dweck’s work is just amazing and I keep finding pearls of wisdom and stuff useful to coaching all the time.

In particular is a scenario presented in Mindset about “Elizabeth”, a child who competes in a gymnastics meet and is disappointed  to not win a single prize at the event. The scenario gives the reader 5 possible things Elizabeth’s father can say to Elizabeth and asks them which they would pick:

  • Tell Elizabeth you thought she was the best
  • Tell her she was robbed of a ribbon that was rightfully hers
  • Reassure her that gymnastics is not that important
  • Tell her that she has the ability and will surely win the next time
  • Tell her she didn’t deserve to win

Interestingly (and disturbingly), the options are all common things parents, peers, teammates and coaches say.

The best and worst responses aren’t immediately obvious:

  • Tell Elizabeth you thought she was the best – Insincere. She was not the best—you know it, and she does, too. This offers her no recipe for how to recover or improve
  • Tell her she was robbed of a ribbon that was rightfully hers – Places blame on others, when in fact the problem was mostly with her performance, not the judges. Do you want her to grow up blaming others for her deficiencies?
  • Reassure her that gymnastics is not that important – Teaches her to devalue something if she doesn’t do well in it right away.
  • Tell her that she has the ability and will surely win the next time – May be most dangerous message of all. Does ability automatically take you where you want to go? If Elizabeth didn’t win this meet, why should she win the next one?
  • Tell her she didn’t deserve to win – Sounds hardhearted but correct. This is what he actually said: “Elizabeth, I know how you feel. It’s so disappointing to have your hopes up and to perform your best but not to win. But you know, you haven’t really earned it yet. There were many girls there who’ve been in gymnastics longer than you and who’ve worked a lot harder than you. If this is something you really want, then it’s something you’ll really have to work for.” He Also let Elizabeth know that if she wanted to do gymnastics purely for fun, that was fine. But if she wanted to excel in the competitions, more was required.

So don’t tell a losing team that you thought they were the better team, don’t bitch about the referees, don’t tell them “it’s just a game”, or that “we’ll get the next one”. While these sentiments may not be entirely inaccurate, they do little to help the team succeed.

Speed and perfection is the enemy of difficult learning

June 23, 2014

…is a phrase that really stuck with me from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset.

In it, she states that praising people (children in particular) on how effortlessly they accomplish easy tasks promotes the Fixed Mindset.

How does this relate to volleyball. Getting good at volleyball takes years of difficult learning in mastering “open” skills such as spiking, blocking and receiving serve. But in the beginning, winning requires being good at a relatively easy “closed” skill – serving.

We praise children for serving in, and/or scoring aces against low-skilled players on a low net. We celebrate how many points they win in a row, how quickly they won the set or how few errors they make. Sometimes I hear coaches excitedly telling me how their team went and hear things like “Jill served 13-in-a-row to close out the set and we won it in 15 minutes.” In essence praising them on speed and perfection. By doing this, we may be getting the “quick wins” we think we need to keep people engaged in the sport but risk creating the wrong expectations in players’ minds and the wrong mindset to succeed.  With the best intentions we are ruining our athletes. I was guilty of this for years.

To promote the Growth Mindset, Dweck suggests denying praise in these situations, and instead making the focus on harder challenges they could learn from.

With the last group of U15s I coached, I made very little emphasis on serving and winning lots of points on serving. Of course we won many of our points on serving but we never commented on it. We commented on how well they executed putting float on the ball and pushed them to jump serve. Instead all the praise went to the “difficult learning” skills – Receiving serve, lateral passing, spiking with a max jump and big swing.  In the end we made it to the gold medal match where we lost because of terrible serving to a team that served great. Losing a gold medal match sucks. But it definitely doesn’t feel as bad as knowing you have ruined a group of players.

The Most Important Coaching Research Ever II

February 24, 2014

The title for this post comes from a post Mark Lebedew wrote a few years ago about the Hawthorne Effect. Indeed, the studies of Elton Mayo & Co formed the cornerstone of modern motivation theory in the workplace replacing the medieval notions of financial reward and punishment. However, I recently read a book which would have to be up there in significance. I would go as far as to say if you only read one book about coaching, it should be Mindset by Carol Dweck.

For the last 30 odd years psychologist Dweck has dedicated her life researching how a simple idea in our minds can profoundly influence the way we approach challenges and adversity that appear along the road to success. In short, Dweck describes two types of mindsets: The “Fixed Mindset” where a person believes their talent, intelligence and character are innate and unchangeable; and the “Growth Mindset” where a person believes their talent, intelligence and character can be cultivated through effort.

For fixed mindset people there is an urgency to prove and validate themselves over and over again (and avoid situations that might disprove their talent or intelligence); for growth mindset people, there is a need to continue improving and getting better at things.

In one famous test (see video above), a group of children are given a math puzzle to solve. Afterwards, half are praised on their intelligence (promoting a fixed mindset) and half are paused on their effort (promoting a fixed mindset). The kids are then given a harder puzzle – the kids praised on their intelligence give up earlier, want to go back to the easier puzzles or lose interest completely; the kids praised on their effort try for longer and are keen for harder challenges. Afterwards the kids are asked to write about their experiences to students at the next school and give their results. The kids praised on their intelligence lie about their results and always in the same direction (upwards). Just by giving a kind of feedback was enough to change a group of students into liars.

Mindset gives plenty of insights and advice into how to promote the growth mindset in educational, parenting, sports and professional contexts. Some stuff I thought was useful:

Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset
In one world—the world of fixed traits—success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other—the world of changing qualities—it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself
Failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. Failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.
Effort is a bad thing. Like failure, it means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. Effort is what makes you smart or talented

On stories like “The hare and the Tortoise” and “The Little Engine that Could”

The problem was that these stories (The Hare and the Tortoise) made it into an either—or. Either you have ability or you expend effort. And this is part of the fixed mindset. Effort is for those who don’t have the ability. People with the fixed mindset tell us, ‘If you have to work at something, you must not be good at it.’ They add, ‘Things come easily to people who are true geniuses.’

Dweck suggests praising people on successfully completing things quickly and without error is a bad idea:

Speed and perfection are the enemy of difficult learning: “If you think I’m smart when I’m fast and perfect, I’d better not take on anything challenging”

Instead it is better to deny praise and apologise for wasting their time on something too easy.

Dweck’s research is important in that everything seems to point to it. It’s cited in “The Talent Code”, “The Goldmine Effect” and works by Gladwell (she’s just the kind of character who’s spent her life  researching a counter-intuitive niche concept that always pops up in his writing). After years of academic research, Mindset was written as the kind of New York Times bestseller list book that could be accessible to a broad base of readers. The book was on the required reading list for the USA women’s team under Hugh McCutcheon and the Arizona State University Sun Devils volleyball team.

Read it. You won’t regret it

 

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“The Gold Mine Effect” and Extrinsic Motivation

June 30, 2013

I recently read The Gold Mine Effect by Rasmus Ankersen, a Danish former footballer who sold his possessions to research 6 talent “Gold Mines” – Iten, Kenya (Long Distance Running); Bekoji, Ethiopia (Middle Distance Running); Jamaica (Sprinting); Kingston, Jamaica (Sprinting); Russia (Women’s Tennis); South Korea (Women’s Golf); Brazil (Football) – in order to uncover their secrets.

The book covers a lot of the same ground as the works of Gladwell, Coyle, Dweck etc. It does have some thought-provoking chapter and sub-chapter headings like “You can’t buy your way to hunger”, “You learn to love what you do”, “We’re all quitters”, “Start early or die soon”, “Not pushing your kids is irresponsible”, “Pure love of the game is not enough”.

What I found most interesting about the book was the discussion on the role of extrinsic factors in motivating people to become great. While much is said about the role of intrinsic motivation, the role extrinsic motivation still plays a huge part. Many of the success stories from these gold mines had no other options, through education or otherwise, to build themselves  a better life than their sport. For example, the book references a study of Footballers between the ages of 13 and 19 at the biggest clubs in Brazil and Sweden, where the young players were asked why they played football:

Almost without exception, the Brazilians replied that they played to earn money to help their families. In comparison, Swedish boys didn’t mention their families. They just wanted to be famous.

The book also discusses that to become proficient, there is a crucial window of development between the ages of 3 and 12 (oddly, before people typically start playing volleyball), an age range at which parents have a great degree of control over their children’s time. In this case the book argues that parents play a big role in providing the extrinsic forces that develop their children’s talent. In other words, there’s value in being a “pushy parent”, which in many cultures has become taboo.

The book doesn’t deny that intrinsic motivation is in important. But it argues that this passion does not just fall from the sky. It has to be worked for and takes perseverance. It takes some work for people to reach a level in their endeavour where the passion for it can fully emerge, which can fuel the intrinsic motivation to become proficient. Often getting to this level requires extrinsic factors, such as having pushy parents.

I think of my own father who loved volleyball so much that he pushed me to play even though I didn’t want to (he sulked for a week when I was 14 and told him I wasn’t interested in signing up for club volleyball). Nevertheless he pushed me to play, and even though I never got very good, i developed the passion over time to love the game long after Dad’s interest in the game disappeared.

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Mum and Dad helping out as statisticians and supporting my team at the U15 Nationals earlier this year. Dad pushed me to play, then lost interest, only to stumble into one of my training sessions earlier this year and spontaneously decided to take a week off work to come watch and help out.

Ignition v Quick Wins

April 21, 2013

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I’ve previously written about the choices coaches can make in how they teach players and the implications for short term and long term success.

In some of the programs I have been involved with, many of the decisions on how kids are coached, and at what level of competitions they will compete have been made by what chances they will have of winning. As a sport that is constantly the poorer cousin of more established sports, the coaches of these programs have been pre-occupied with ensuring the players win a medal in order to get an enjoyable experience. This often results in short-sighted coaching and teams being entered in competitions that are of a lower standard. The fear is, if kids don’t win a medal, they won’t keep playing. Kids need quick wins to stay motivated.

Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code offers an interesting insight into how people become experts in various fields. Becoming an expert requires an individual to invest 10,000 hours of uncomfortable practice. What makes them choose to do this is described as “ignition” – a moment where they receive a vision of what they wish to become, or an event that pushes them that way. The book describes how Anna Kournikova’s appearance in the semi finals of Wimbledom ignited several young girls at her Spartak Tennis School to follow the path and become world class tennis players. Interestingly, the book doesn’t mention anything about quick wins. There’s no part in the book where a successful person gained a love for something to invest 10000 hours of practice into because they won something easily young.

So the question is, can ignition be a stronger motivator than generating a quick win? This became the thematic question when I coached my most recent team of U15 girls at the national championship. At an age where winning comes from playing a low risk/moderate reward game that doesn’t translate to a higher level, our team’s philosophy was to play a higher risk game. The rules were simple: 1) Max Jump on every spike; 2) Take on the block; 3) Lead with the platform in reception and lateral pass when possible; 4) Pass the ball high and in front of the attack line; 5) The setter’s rules (if you watch the video, we’re still working on it!).

This team philosophy exposed the team to losing more points. Although we did win in our practice games and tournaments, we lost sets and games to beatable opponents and often only barely beat teams we were much “better” than. In many games we’d score most of our opponent’s points as we kept swinging high and hard at the ball while the other team served in with a fist and played most of their balls over the net with digs, sets or standing spikes.

To get players to buy into this, I used a lot of “ignition” – I showed a lot of video examples from the Olympics and deliberately chose clips with big crowds and the Olympic rings prominently in view. In my newsletters I would feature profiles on players the kids could identify with (players who went to the same schools, lived in the same neighbourhoods, played for the same clubs). It also helped that my assistant coach was a current member of the women’s national indoor team, who the team all idolised. We also didn’t talk about reducing errors. We just talked about improving.

The kids really did buy in and committed to the playing principles. They didn’t seem to mind the high expectations – if anything, they seemed to enjoy the pursuit of excellence and that we didn’t “dumb down” anything for them. By the time we reached the tournament, we were still making a lot of errors against conservative teams. Irrespective we managed to win enough games to make the Gold Medal match playing the most attractive and impressive style of volleyball. Ultimately we didn’t win the Gold Medal. We made too many serving errors and didn’t receive serve well enough to dominate with our superior spiking and rallying skills. The kids didn’t seem too shattered and keen to keep improving. Thankfully, their parents who came to watch bought into it too and were proud that their children were setting high expectations for themselves and finding some success.

I was also lucky that the club historically stood for teaching and playing a style of game that was a logical progression to a game at the highest level. The greatest compliment a coach could receive at my club was that they were someone who “didn’t put limits on players”.

Do quick wins motivate? I think they do in the short term. But it takes ignition for someone to invest 10,000 hours of uncomfortable practice into becoming an expert.

All in all it was a good week. The kids all got plenty of meaningful court time, won a medal, got better, had fun and will keep playing. It was also made all the more special because my parents on a whim decided to come watch (the unintended consequence of my aunt selling her spare car was that they had to drop me off at trainings when I flew to Adelaide to coach the team and they would wander in to take a look and took an interest in the team).  They helped with taking stats during games which allowed us to quickly put together videos like the one below that we would watch as a team each day.

Emotional Intelligence

April 29, 2012

I became very interested in a blog post I read from Bundesliga winning coach Mark Lebedew about the hidden motivation of volleyball players.

For example the middle blocker who always jumps with the first tempo even if the likelihood of it being set is minimal, because to allow a first tempo to be attacked without a block make him look foolish. Or the setter who never sets first tempo in important moments even if the success rate is high because to not be successful reflects directly on him, whereas every other possibility deflects the responsibility somewhere else.

Essentially, Mark was describing self-defeating behaviours from players when faced with difficulties. These behaviours or choices exist at every level of volleyball. At a beginner’s level, it’s the player that bends his elbows in to play the ball of his fists instead of the platform (where it hurts), or the player who digs the ball over the net on the first touch to minimise an error from her teammates. Somewhere in the mid-development it can be the setter who slows down to bump-set the ball instead of making better position early to take the ball with the hands. Or a player calling/going for a ball that someone else should play because they don’t trust them. For players, they often don’t see what the big deal is. For me it’s more the logic behind the behaviour than the behaviour itself that bothers me.

It’s rare that these players don’t know what they’re supposed to do (and rare that these players are coached by people who don’t actively remind them about what they’re supposed to do). But knowing what to do and doing what you know are two different things. Obviously, to put what you know into action, even when it’s uncomfortable is the road to success.

So why are some people able to “do what they know”, while others resort to self-defeating behaviours?

The answer may lie in a heap of literature on the subject of Emotional Intelligence (the breakthrough book on this topic is Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence).

Which leads me to the writings of Drs Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein, authorities on emotional intelligence in children’s development. Brooks and Goldstein make some illuminating points:

  • When faced with a difficult situation, people either see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, or an opportunity to be embarrassed and humiliated.
  • The “emotional intelligence” required to choose the right option when it’s challenging comes from one’s temperament. From possessing self-discipline, resilience and impulse control. Being able to delay gratification. It’s all related.
  • Tests have shown that kids who demonstrated a high degree of self-control at a preschool age were likelier to be more successful academically, in sports and have positive relationships in all aspects of their lives. self-control was twice as effective indicator of academic success than IQ.
  • Temperament is something that we’re born with, and like everything else we’re born with (ie height, athletic ability), Temperament has a ceiling. Our temperaments can change and improve, but there are limits.
  • Authoritarian styles of dealing with people doesn’t encourage self-discipline. It just encourages people to avoid punishment.
  • Permissive styles don’t work either.

How does this relate to volleyball? The difficulties, and the temptation to respond to them with self-defeating behaviours, exist at every level. In fact, much of volleyball’s “uniqueness” makes it self-defeating. In most other ball sports, the ball can at least bounce or hit the ground and the game goes on. Is there any other sport where you can give your opponenys more points by touching/not touching the ball? It’s not helped by many of the archetypal things we hear coaches say and do that are essentially self-defeating: “just get the ball in”; “don’t make any errors”; arguing with/appealing to referees.

Incidentally, if temperament is so crucial in realising one’s potential, isn’t choosing great athletes with poor attitudes equally as self-defeating as choosing weak athletes with great attitudes? (which of the 2 self-defeating choices is less embarrassing depends on the level you coach at).

As a coach of developing players, I’ve become painfully aware that I am in the business of asking kids to make significant changes to their technique in the interests of their long-term improvement and injury prevention, in an environment that punishes them every time they make an error. Some have the resilience to make the changes necessary, others do not.

I distinctly remember coaching one session at SASI where we were working on making the closing-step more explosive at the end of the spiking approach. This affected people’s timing and made it harder to make good contact on the ball. When we scrimmaged at the end, most players reverted back to the way they spiked before the session. One player stood out in his persistence in improving his closing step. It meant the ball sometimes hit the tape when he miss-timed it; he won less rallies and points and games; he opened himself up to more “fitness opportunities” for not winning. But still he had the resilience and self-discipline to put in practice what he knew he had to do. Not surprisingly, he made significant improvements during the scholarship period.

The challenge for coaches is how to create an environment where players choose growth and development over avoiding humiliation and embarrassment. I avoid using physical penalties in practices now. For starters it sends out a mixed message that conditioning is both something every athlete should want to do, but also a punishment that should be avoided. Even euphemisms like “Fitness Opportunities” and “Rewards” bely a sarcastic sentiment that isn’t particularly useful. Not every player in a team will possess excellent levels of emotional intelligence any more than they will all possess excellent athleticism. But there’s something to be gained in helping them reach their potential by creating the right environment that makes it likelier for them to bridge the gap between merely knowing what to do and doing what they know.

Equity Theory and the Pittsburgh Steelers

February 28, 2011

I must admit to being a big fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL. Sadly they didn’t win Superbowl XLV. Watching a bunch of documentaries on their history and championships, I stumbled on a bizarre quote from their 4-time superbowl winning quarterback, Terry Bradshaw.

Bradshaw could easily described as a “stud athlete”. He could be brilliant but erratic. During one practice scrimmage, defensive end Dwight White knocked off Bradshaw’s helmet. Angry, Bradshaw yelled at White:

“You may lose with me, but you’re never going to win without me”

I’m guessing it was this sort of reasoning that kept Brendan Fevola on football rosters despite his off-field indiscretions until recently, (however, David Parkin once stated publicly that Carlton would never win a premiership so long as Fevola was at the club). As a coach, you would prefer to think that every player is replaceable, but the reality is that’s simply not the case, and you do have to treat players differently.

In any sport, it’s not uncommon to see an ordinary player getting substituted if they make a number of mistakes, but a stud player being left on for making the same number of mistakes (or sometimes even more mistakes). If you’re losing and your best player is playing badly, sometimes the only thing you can do is wait for them to come back into form. In professional sport, this reasoning seems to apply to both performance and behaviour.

As a player, Steelers’ Superbowl XL winning coach, Bill Cowher was on the other end of the spectrum, describing himself as a “bubble player” – the players who work the hardest but still get cut (Cowher had a brief playing career playing on special teams). An experience i can definitely identify with when i played.

Where this is interesting to me is how it affects the motivation of the rest of the team. Equity theory, suggests that people who receive different outcomes from the same inputs as their peers can become distressed. It sucks sitting on the bench while the showpony player gets to start and stay on when their performance is as bad as yours.

The caveat being that equity theory only applies when the individual can find a suitable peer to compare themselves to. As unpleasant as it is, at some point you have to confront the fact that not all of your teammates are your peers. Not all players can do this and find peace in it. Ultimately, it’s the coaches job to manage the athletes and their expectations.

Hugh McCutcheon said it best a few months ago when interviewed on The Net Live:

“We’re not going to treat people the same. People are different, we want to respect everyone, we want everyone to reach their full potential, we hope that they will all be Olympic champions and be on the team but the reality is not everyone will be. Now what that means of course, in day-to-day behaviour, is that we tolerate some behaviour from athletes that we wouldn’t from others and that’s a function of who they are and what we’re trying to find out and where they’re at. That can be perceived as a double standard and I understand that perception but ultimately the idea that we’re all going to do the same, and be the same and get treated the same, is not the way to do it.”

It sounds enlightened when he puts it that way, but definitely easier said than done.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

August 29, 2010

Have you even coached someone who has no idea just how bad they are?

I was researching perceptive errors recently and came across this interesting study by 2 guys at Cornell University. The study found that unskilled people not only lack the skill to do things, but also the metacognitive ability to assess that they are unskilled and form an inflated assessment of their level of ability. In summary:

  • In not being able to assess their own ability, incompetent people will overestimate their own ability relative to objective criteria
  • Incompetent people cannot recognise competency in other people
  • Incompetent people are less able to compare their ability to that of their peers through social comparison.
  • Highly competent people underestimate their ability, because they assume that what they find to be easy, is easy for other people too.
  • Paradoxically, the ability to recognise incompetence can only be improved by teaching people to be more competent.

What does this all mean? Yes, it’s frustrating to coach and deal with incompetent people, but it won’t do any good to point this out to them – they’re too incompetent to agree with you. You just have to gently guide them into improvement. And then, they might be able to appreciate their previous shortcomings with the benefit of hindsight.

Certainly, i had no idea how badly i coached until i was taught to coach better. And I continue to realise how bad i coached recently whenever i learn how to do something better.

Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?