by Jack Warren
June is a month for the highest of highs and lowest of lows in the athletic coaching profession. It’s the month where the competent, not-so-competent, and just plain unfortunate lose their jobs and where some are provided the opportunity to show what they’ve got in a new position. Since I have so many friends in the coaching profession, it’s a time when I’m simultaneously happy and sad. I often compare it to a time in the not too distant past when our family had a birth and a death within 24 hours. Losing or gaining a job, of course, is not life and death, but the range of emotions is similar.
No matter which vocational route we have chosen, it seems that the reality of their way of doing things is quickly made apparent to us. Rarely are you in a situation where the highest and lowest of achievers are proportionally rewarded. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in a situation where recognition, compensation, and opportunities are weighted in favor of achievement, wisdom, knowledge, innovation, leadership, and work ethic – but that’s not always the case.
I often think of the story that Milsaps College’s Jim Page tells about a friend who told him, “You’re better than half the D1 coaches out there.” Coach Page said that puffed him up a little bit until his friend followed up with, “And there’s probably 500 high school coaches who are better than you.”
It’s the reality of our profession that the best coaches don’t always end up with what we might consider the “best opportunities.” It’s also a reality that what one coach considers a “top opportunity” is not always considered the same by another coach. Southern Maine’s Ed Flaherty thinks he was (and is) in just the right position. Do you think Tony Wolfe considers his position at Buford (GA) High School to be a “lesser” position?
As you start your career or are looking to make a move, consider first your personal priorities. If new opportunities do not line up with your priorities, then you’re probably on the wrong track. This is the foundation for everything else you’ll build upon moving forward. It’s only then that you should begin to consider all the other things that go into building a career.
In my one-page guide (and upcoming book), Cut Through the Clutter and Get Noticed, I point out that all of your preparation and my hints and tips can only put you in a position to succeed – it does not guarantee success. Understand that whether you work in a large corporation, a family-owned body shop, or a school-based athletic team, there’s always someone on the other side of the desk that will help determine your future. Don’t cry about the system. Is the system broken? Well, perhaps. But it does have a way of pushing individuals who are relentless to the top. And, frankly, nothing is going to change in this regard anyhow. Make the best of it and put yourself in a position to succeed when opportunity comes knocking.
Jack Warren is the host and editor of Top Coach Baseball, the owner of Cornbelt Sports, and a speaker and career coach for athletic coaches. More information can be found at JackWWarren.com.