While on my honeymoon I got stuck into book called ‘leading an inspired life’ by Jim Rohn. I will read almost anything that can educate me about business, boxing or physical training. I find that when I’m reading, my mind opens wide and I come up with so many different ideas and possibilities.
‘Nurturing your crops’ is a chapter within the book that really resonated with me. It reminds me of so many sequences of events that seem to occur throughout a boxing coaches career.
Before I set up my own gym I was warned that not everyone stays, people will leave and in the sport of boxing there isn’t much loyalty.
There was a lot of negativity around the advice I was given by experienced coaches. I just couldn’t help but think, ‘why are these coaches still doing it?’. Despite the negativity, I went ahead and opened my own gym to train boxers and yes I have seen some leave but over time I have seen a little community of fighters form within the gym that has been here since almost day one.
After I read this part of the book I thought it would be a good idea to share it with other coaches as it may help to keep them in the game…
Our next subject in the study of leadership skills involves a simple story from the Bible. Being an amateur on the Bible, I’m going to tell this story in my own way. Though my parents made sure that by the time I was nineteen I was a pretty good scholar, I’m still not an expert on all subjects. So here is my interpretation of the parable of the sower.
The sower in ancient days was the person who planted the crops. Very simply, he got the ground ready, and with a bag of seed he would walk across the ground and sow the seed. This is how he got the crops going. And it’s a very fascinating story that has a lot to say about the qualities of a true leader.
Here’s the first leadership quality demonstrated by the sower: he was a wise man. That’s a great advantage, isn’t it? You don’t want to send a stupid man out to plant. If you do, we’d all starve.
Second, he was very ambitious. Ambition is an admirable quality, but it is one that has to be tempered. One writer said, “I’ve learned to be both ambitious and content.” That’s a unique combination of characteristics, being both ambitious and content.
Third, the sower was a hard worker. It takes productivity to bring forth new life. An idea without action is stillborn. It never becomes tangible. It never becomes real. You’ve got to motivate yourself to take action.
Fourth, the sower had the best of seed. Boy, it’s exciting when you feel that you’re involved with the best, whether it’s the best product, the best service, the best idea, or the best enterprise. We all need something to feel proud of. With all of these qualities, the sower begins to learn about the Law of Averages. Here’s what happens.
The first part of the seed that he sows falls by the wayside, and the birds get it. This is a very common scenario. And it’s very important for leaders to begin to understand and teach this concept. Leaders must understand birds. Why? Because birds are going to get part of the seed. It’s inevitable, and if you don’t understand this, your team will get very upset. They won’t know what to expect. We must all be prepared for the inevitable, including the fact that the birds are going to get some of the seed.
Let’s say you’re building an organization. You’re out recruiting. You’re talking to Joe, and you say, “Joe, I’ve got an important story for you to listen to. It could represent a big change in your life. You could earn a lot more money. Come and take a look.” And he says, “I think I’m ready for something like that. I’ll see you Thursday night.”
Thursday night arrives, and Joe isn’t there. The birds have gotten to him. Who knows what form they come in? Maybe his brother-in-law said, “Sales! You’re not going to get mixed up in sales, are you? What makes you think you can be a salesman?”
There are many influences that pull people away from a good idea. That’s always going to be the case—the birds will always get some of the seed. When that happens, you may feel the need to chase the birds. But here’s the problem with this course of action: if you go chasing birds to straighten things out, you have now left the field. The Law of Averages isn’t going to work for you until you get back into the field.
It is so important to know what is a good use of your time and what is a waste of time. Focusing on the negative is a waste of time. In fact, it is often a massive error in judgment. The best thing to do is to spend your energy and time on the things that count and understand the law of averages. Don’t chase the birds; it’s much more important to stay in the field.
Here’s what the wise sower does. He ignores the birds, and he keeps on sowing. Why? Being so bright, he understands the Law of Averages.
As he keeps on sowing the seed, the seed falls on the rocky ground where the soil is shallow. Again, this is inevitable. As a leader, you can help people grow by understanding this law of nature. Even if the seed takes root and a plant starts to grow, the soil is so shallow that on the first hot day, the little plant will wither and die. It’s disappointing, but it’s a fact of life.
Inevitably, some of your team members will quit on the first hot day. You’re going to be disappointed, especially if it’s somebody you were really counting on, but here’s what you must learn to do as a leader: limit your disappointment. This is part of the challenge of life. It’s part of the Law of Averages.
Here’s what the wise sower does next: he keeps on sowing. How brilliant! He is so well-schooled in the Law of Averages that he keeps on sowing. This time, the seed falls on thorny ground. The little plant starts to grow, but the thorns choke it to death. Once again, this is inevitable. What shape do these thorns take in our lives? They are the excuses some people use for not pushing on and getting the job done. Some people are going to try so little. They’re going to let other things limit their opportunities, and I don’t know why. They key is to take the inevitable and study the obvious. If you don’t let it unduly disturb you, you can learn to manage the obvious and get on with the more important things of life.
So the sower keeps on sowing. He is so bright; evidently, he’s been well-schooled in these numbers regarding how many seeds the birds are going get, how many the hot weather will destroy, and how many are going to get caught in the thorns. He must have gone through the school of hard knocks because he understands the process. He just keeps on sowing.
Finally, the seed falls on good ground. And let me give you a promise as a leader: it always will. Always remember that if you share a good idea often enough, it will fall on good people. Why? Because of the Law of Averages.
Of course, even the good ground has a range of productivity. Part of the good ground will yield thirty percent of what is sown, another part will yield sixty percent, and the last part will yield a hundred percent. It’s the Law of Averages. That’s the way it is.
As a leader, can you find some “hundred percenters?” Of course! But first you’ve got to go through the birds, the hot weather, and the thorns. You’ve got to find some way to use the “thirty percenters” and the “sixty percenters.” That is how you become a skillful leader. When you learn how to deal with all this, you’ll have some hundred percenters to work with. It’s the Law of Averages.
I know that most of us coaches have taken a lot of punches over the years but I hope you all understand that we are the sowers, our boxers are the seeds, the birds are the things that distract our boxers and the thorns are the many excuses they come up with.
The Training Cave has been open almost two years now and I have noticed myself ‘harden’ during that time.
I have realised that when it comes to physical training and nutrition the phrase ‘you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ comes straight into my head. I have learnt to not be disappointed when some people don’t listen to my advice as I know that by persisting with my ideas someone will eventually listen.
I have also seen many examples of ‘the Joe’, when I have provided so many opportunities for someone and offered to help them the best I can. Only for them to be distracted by something else and stop showing up.
‘The Joes’ have taught me to spend my energy and time elsewhere and concentrate on those that want to do it.
I have trained myself to ‘ignore the birds’ as the way I see it, this gym is going one way and while on its journey people are going to come and go… its the law of averages.
People will quit when it gets hard, many have done and to be honest I now understand it’s best to limit my disappointment as those people were never going to ‘do it’ anyway. They didn’t have the minerals.
For the new coaches reading this thinking ‘why is he still doing it?’ I’m still doing it because it’s worth going through all those thirty and sixty percenters to keep discovering the hundred percenters, and trust me they are worth it.
‘When you sow, the birds are always going to get some of the seed. It’s inevitable. You may feel the urge to chase them away, but don’t give into it. Concentrate on your task. Stay in the field.’