#Criticism March 6

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Early in my coaching career I received some blistering criticism that taught me a valuable life lesson. I was a second year assistant basketball coach at NCAA Division I school. I was put in charge of doing a scouting report on an upcoming opponent which happened to be a NAIA School that had not won a game.


The routine was that a complete written report was to be turned into the head coach immediately after we finished playing the opponent prior to that game. I remember having procrastinated the day the report was due and left off a lot of detail just so I could have something to submit.

I left it on the Head Coach’s desk after a home game and that night he came to my office. He tossed the report on my desk and said to me in stern tone:  “I have apparently made a mistake in judging your abilities. If that is your best work our program is doomed.  If that is your best just put it back on my desk after I leave. If not get me a new report by 7:30 a.m.”. Out the door he walked leaving me embarrassed. I had let him down.

Needless to say I stayed in the office until way past midnight doing a revised and comprehensive report. We won the game handily and after the game the head coach pulled me aside and said two things that I have never forgotten.

  •  I think you are special and I am not going to accept average from you. When you accept average as Head Coach from one member of the group it carries over to the entire team.
  • Don’t confuse my criticism for not believing in you. Your revised report exceeded my expectations.

When we receive criticism our default is often to kill the messenger. Without feedback we cannot improve. Listen to criticism. Reflect on it. Take it seriously and thoughtfully. See what you can really learn from it.

If you are delivering a correction to someone else address the behavior not the individual

Proverbs tells us about the value of encouragement and wise counsel.

Proverbs 19:20 “Listen to counsel and accept discipline in order to become wise in your future.”

Proverbs 18:9 One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.

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