Staying positive in a negative world

by Jack Warren, Top Coach host and editor

Jack W 3A close friend once confided in me that he was concerned about something that an associate had said about him. I pointed out that the time to be concerned was when someone he respected and/or held in high regard offered a criticism or suggestion.

In your position as coach, someone will always have an opinion about what you do and say. If that bothers you to the point it inhibits your ability to function, then you’re in the wrong business. Depending on the size and scope of your program, there are 50-5,000 “coaches” who would be glad to tell you how to do your job. And now with social media, it’s even easier to do so.

It’s with a wink and a nod that I read a news story in which a coach or a player says about public criticism, “Oh, I don’t pay attention to that” or “I don’t [listen/watch/read] the news.” The comments, both positive and negative, are so pervasive that you can’t help but notice them. The key is how much you take in and what you choose to do with that information.

Feedback is good. An incessant drumbeat of negative information is not. You cannot, of course, insulate yourself from all sources of negativity. When your own fans pay five bucks to come to a game and yell at you and your team, there’s not a whole lot that you can do. If, while you’re driving, you listen to local sports talk radio, don’t be surprised if your name comes up. If you choose to participate in social media, don’t be surprised when @BestHawkFanEver28 trashes you under his veil of anonymity.

Unless you like a challenge and are seemingly impervious to criticism, don’t wade into the media and social media swamp. Just like they warn in the Everglades, there just might be a gator waiting for you. If, like Arizona State coach Tracy Smith, you find Twitter to be a tool and an occasional sport (and you don’t take it home with you), then by all means, go for it. If, however, you find yourself staring past your wife at dinner because of what @TigerBallisMyLife46 said, then you seriously need to reconsider how you’re using your free time.

And just as you’ve considered your media diet, make sure that you surround yourself with solid, positive people and limit access to those people who drain you of your positivity. No, no – I’m not talking about surrounding yourself with “Yes Men.” I’m talking about identifying those in your sphere of friends, family, and associates who are positive and provide solutions, not just complaints.

As sure as a persistent cold’s cumulative effect can drain us of all energy, submitting yourself to the constant barrage of negativity will have the unnecessary effect of draining you of all energy, motivation, desire, and hope. Remember what author/speaker Jim Rohn says: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Consider that when crafting your inner circle and selecting your media intake.

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