I do not coach my teams with a focus on winning (outcomes) or statistics. Of course, we practice and prepare to win the game, and we’ll use our stats to help guide us in that preparation, but we do so with the belief that winning is just a byproduct of how well we are living, preparing, and sharing our purpose.
Instead of focusing on winning and stats, I want our team passionately focused on our purpose-driven goals: providing opportunities for players to learn, improve and grow in the game and in life; to become the best teammates; and to respect the game by playing hard and fair. The result: the wins will come.
While at Catholic HS, I had each player write their goals on a piece of paper. After a few minutes, I had them rip up the paper they had just written on.
You could hear the complaints and feel their anger and frustration while they ripped up the paper they had just spent time and energy writing on. I then asked, “How many of you wrote down: win a championship, win x number of games, achieve x number of points, have x number of ground balls, etc.?”
All the hands went up. I told them that every person in every locker room has the same goals. So it’s not the goals that will make you successful. Otherwise, everyone and every team would be successful after writing down their goals. Instead, it’s your commitment to the process, your growth, and your purpose that drives you to reach these goals that will determine what you accomplish.
I then had them write down their commitments and purpose for playing and had them share with the rest of the team. It was powerful.
The truth is numbers and goals don’t drive people. People with a purpose drive the numbers and achieve goals. Research clearly shows that true motivation is driven by meaning and purpose rather than extrinsic rewards, numbers, and goals.
A study of West Point alums showed that those who had intrinsic goals, “I want to serve my country and make a difference” outperformed those with extrinsic goals “I want to rise in the ranks and become an officer because it’s prestigious.”
Goals may motivate you in the short term but they will not sustain you over time. Without a good reason to keep moving forward during challenges you either quit or go through the motions like one of the walking dead.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t measure numbers or have goals. It’s okay to have a goal you want to achieve but once you identify a goal or outcome you will be more powerful and energized if you focus on your purpose. Your greater purpose will lead to greater performance!
Purpose-driven goals win more lacrosse games, enhance performance and lead to outcomes that far surpass your numbered goals.