10 Things I Learned from Coaching Young Men [by Dale M. Hart]:
- Never ask a young person what they think about a decision you have already made. They will probably tell you and you may very well not like the answer. What have you accomplished?
- Don’t yell all the time. When everything is said like it is the most important thing in the world, it all becomes just noise. The next time you have something really important to say, they will miss it because it sounds like the rest of the “chatter” they have been ignoring.
- Embarrassing a young person is the worst thing you can do to them. It may feel like you have established your dominance at that moment, but you have actually dealt your credibility with that young person a blow you may never overcome.
- If you give the impression you have all the answers, it becomes all the more obvious that you don’t. Young people are perceptive enough to know when it is more important for you to be right than it is to be respected.
- Sometimes it is better that young people think you are an idiot than for you to keep talking and prove they are right. At times they will question your intelligence just because you are an adult. There is nothing to gain by always trying to prove your superiority.
- Don’t just tell them you care, show them. Even bad attempts are better than none at all. They may not respond immediately, but they can never respond to attempts that are never made.
- Sometimes you have to know when not to “cast your pearls before teenagers.” This may be a poor Biblical reference, but often your wisdom is based on experience they do not have. Since they don’t know what they don’t know, they will just as often dismiss your wisdom until it becomes something they can identify with.
- Be content that you may not be around when a young person has there “Ah-Ha” moment. You may never hear “so that’s what he/she meant…” but that doesn’t mean it won’t be said. It may be years later, hopefully following success but more often following another mistake where the meaning of what you said became apparent.
- Sometimes you should just “let that dog hunt.” A young person will always experience greater success when working at something they are interested in rather than something they are being compelled to be a part of. To the extent possible, put them where they want to be doing what that want to do.
- You will probably never reach the young people you do not reach for. Sort of a take-off on the “never up, never in” adage in golf. Relationships are always the key. Know the kind of relation you intend to create, understand and respect appropriate boundaries, and make a good-faith effort to reach the young people you are instructed, compelled, or called to reach.
Dale M. Hart is a former public and private school coach who also served as Vice-President of Development for Dallas Christian School. He has over 20 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, including a number of Christian schools. Dale currently owns Anchor Consulting Group (www.dalehart.wix.com/nonprofit) and focuses on providing coaching to boards and management teams, as well as assisting new nonprofits with start-up documentation and filings.
Follow Dale on Twitter at @nonprof.