• Marc Sherry

Happy Gratefulness!

When I was younger I loved Thanksgiving because it sympbolized a day of rest with family, watching football and eating great food --- including Lefse! Then a few years ago I had a transformational life event on Thanksgiving day. The reaction to that life event would change the course of my life. It made me a much more reflective person. It made me learn that I get to choose how I feel. It helped me learn the difference between thankfulness and grattitude. These things have brought new meaning to Thanksgiving.

Thankfulness is defined as “conscious of benefits received”, it is an action. Grattitude is a feeling, it is a state of being. It is being grateful, being appreciative. This is hugely important to understand. Recent research and discoveries have shown that having grattitude is one of the most important determinants of a person’s happiness. Compounding this importance is, despite what many people believe, happiness predictably determines success much more than success determines happiness. Say that again "happiness determines success more than success determines happiness". Researcher Sean Anchor gives an awesome presentation on this relationship his famous TED talk.

Shawn’s five key daily steps to increase our experience of happiness are:

1) Bring gratitude to mind: Write down three NEW things that you are grateful for each day

2) Journal: About a positive experience you’ve had recently for two minutes once a day

3) Exercise: Engage in 15 minutes of mindful cardio activity

4) Meditate: Watch your breath go in and out for two minutes a day

5) Engage in a random, conscious act of kindness: Write a two-minute positive email thanking a friend or colleague, or compliment someone you admire on social media

While most often this information is used and translated to success in the business world, I think there is tremendous correlation to success in sports. There is a positive correlation between happiness and confidence. Without confidence athletes will function in a state of fear and anxiety, which consistently leads to poor performance. There are numerous examples of great athletes who have described using positive mental imagery and mental performance as a key to their success. In a recent Coaching Culture podcast Dr. Ellen Reed describes using “success journals” to train athletes to scan for the positive and develop their confidence. Giannis Antetokounmpo keeps a daily journal – reflecting on what he did well and how he can get better. The athlete/success journal idea is very similar to Sean Anchor’s ---- a positive state of mind is trainable, and it is very powerful. Bert Jacobs shares the power of positivity in this TED talk.

“Constructive criticism” is a known verb for coaches – but a dangerous one. Some try to get away with calling it “constructive correction”, but we must be able to improve peformance through teaching methods that do not detract from the athlete’s positive state of mind. Correction needs to be positive and not personal. As a coach, I strive for us to be a team that lives an “attitude of grattitude” and in the positive state. We read. We journal. We share. We believe in positive touches – fist bumps, high fives, pats on the back, etc. We play upbeat music at practice. We try to create a culture of selfless teamwork where everyone feel important and supported. We trust each other. As important as any of this is that we as coaches live it.

Coach Marc’s Thanksgiving Day “things that you are grateful for” – basketball version

  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to coach basketball at a level that I can have a large influence on player development and their transition from boys to young men.

  2. I feel thankful that basketball is something our family gets to do together – coaching, playing, booster club, school, Badger games, etc

  3. I am feeling appreciative of the opportunity for leadership with in Wisconsin Academy.

  4. I appreciate the relationships with parents, players, coaches and families that I have developed through basketball. I have met some great people and made some great friendships.

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