PT on the Net Research

Coaching Inspiration and Uplifting Teams to Peak Performance


Some people just have that “it” factor.

They get “it” they have “it” or they find “it.”

It is in schools, in business, in music and the arts and in sports. Is it definable? Yes, it is. Can it be learned? Yes, it can. Can it be taught? It can; however, it is elusive and not everyone discovers it. It is not obvious on where to look either.

The article will provide perspective on how to capture it within someone and become successful at uplifting individuals and teams to peak performance. As the famous poet and novelist, Rudyard Kipling, once declared and summarized best about that “it” factor: “[…] no written word, no spoken plea can teach our youth what they should be; nor all the books on the shelves, but is what the teachers are themselves.”

The ideal audiences for this journey of discovering “it” are senior “teaching” managers with leadership and motivational responsibility.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identifying “it.”
  2. How to coaching inspiration.
  3. Ways to foster an inspirational environment in order to bring your team to peak performance.

While it can be said that finding those employees, athletes or musicians with such an “it” factor involves some type of mystical powers, few anywhere in sports could duplicate the success of one wizard in particular. Known as the Wizard of Westwood, legendary hall of fame college basketball player and coach, John Wooden, often sighted Kipling in his coaching to his players. It must have worked, because during a 12 year stretch in the mid-1960s and 1970s, his teams were coached up to the tune of winning an unprecedented 10 NCAA championships during those dozen years.

He also created his own Pyramid of Success that is still a popular motivational tool today. Coaches and corporations use it and speakers and former players boast of its powerful messaging. It is a highly-recommended read, including how each section is defined. It is as good a place as any to start with finding “it” if one has a snow ball’s chance inspiring anyone. The Pyramid of Success can provide that necessary self-reflection, analysis and rhetorical questions that should at least be asked if not answered to discover one’s own “it” factor.

Defining “it” is somewhat nebulous yet easy at the same time. While difficult to describe in words, “it” is more intuitive and instinctual. In fact, you may not even know you found it until “it” appears obvious. Imagine for a minute, learning to play an instrument and d flat major and minor scales were taught, but were not grasped nor understood. Then, while playing one day, a light bulb goes off and eureka, d flat major and minor are being played like Mozart or sung like Adele. Remembering the movie, The Blind Side, a true story about a disadvantage football player from inner city Memphis, TN, coaches ogled over the raw abilities of a very large high school lineman named Michael. The “it” was his aggressiveness and anger from his childhood he converted into a skill to block opposing players.

Presuming that any reader has found “it” or the inspiration in them, first and foremost, is it even possible to coach “it” in someone?

Yes, it is; especially when understanding that inspiration by external forces such as a person, an observation or an event triggers an emotional response. Still, most importantly, internal forces are what fire up motivation in people, such as passion, core beliefs or even intestinal fortitude. To permit staff to be able to dream big related to performance, with their own passion or fortitude as the fuel, is what leaders must learn to ignite.

Constructing an Inspirational Environment to Bring “It” Out

  1. Hiring Right: As was identified in an earlier installment here on PTontheNet by Club Coach Services, Hiring Right is the starting point and a crucial phase in the ability to coach inspiration. After all, a horse can be led to water but cannot be made to drink. Ensure that hiring for personality is highest on the selection criteria.
  2. Service Philosophy: Determine a service philosophy by which to hire towards. A rallying call for a club’s overall service approach encourages vital alignment amongst the team. For example:
    1. Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA made their “Fish Philosophy” world famous.
    2. A grocer in Richmond, VA tout’s their mission to be simply to have, “Happy Customers.”
    3. Lifetime Fitness is a “Healthy Way of Life” company.
  3. On-Boarding: The ability to set crystal clear and consistent expectations amongst new hires who have been carefully selected and vetted and embrace the organization's service philosophy helps to sustain long-term inspired teams. Spend significant time on training new hires; it is the one initiative that can pay enormous dividends rather than hastily throwing new hires into the pool to sink or swim.
  4. Spirit: Whether it is on holidays or on football weekends with team logo wear, encourage a display of sports team loyalty and spirit by permitting jerseys or shirts on a Friday wearing the colors of Patriots, Penguins or Cubs. Dress up on Halloween. Write out valentines on February 14th, build a house on the weekend at Habitat for Humanity. Deliver Meals on Wheels. Have potluck Wednesdays. Enthusiasm, spirit, volunteerism and energy cure much in a stale environment.
  5. Cool Tools: What did we ever do without Youtube, Netflix or Hulu? “Mindshift” on Youtube could be the best 5 minutes, 15 seconds ever spent to be inspired. Johnny The Bagger will surely get you misty or The Simple Truths of Appreciation will move you to thank someone who is owed one, in writing through the mail, not just by email. Though you can catch season long episodes of The Bachelor, Season 1 or Grey’s Anatomy, use of streaming can be great sources of inspirational movie clips to highlight a point to the personal training team or create a theme for a meeting. 3M Sticky Notes with various colors can be an inexpensive way to have individuals in a meeting place a note in front of the person throughout the meeting declaring things they admire about their teammates. Movies themselves can be uplifting, especially if you rent out a theatre for team building by watching the movie together and sharing the business lessons with lunch brought in, maybe even celebrate manager birthdays. Paintball, go-carts, bowling and minor league baseball games in a luxury suite can do wonders for team inspiration. Finally, the ability to tell a good story to make a point can be learned. It can touch the hearts of your team to internally ignite their spirit for peak performance. Just share any of the heartwarming stories on ESPN’s 30 for 30 or E360 and you’ll unearth passion in people.
  6. Love and Gratitude: If love is not in the hearts of managers for their people and clients, genuinely with conviction, and not in the biblical sense, and regularly being grateful for the little gifts (the weather, parents, bosses, a car, health etc.) that all have been blessed with, then the inspirational environment will be a tough road to hoe.

I hope you have “it” or find “it” soon, because “it” is in you and your team!

Every manager has within them the ability, maybe even the obligation, to create a peak performance and an inspirational environment. Boundless encouragement, crystal clear expectations on accountability, freedom of expression and loyal support all stoke the flames within somebody. This coaching up, as it can be called, is based within the shared belief system of trust, consistency, passion, and fun between managers and staff.