Pursuing Your Purpose
By Mark Hull

Recently, a top level women’s basketball coach left the coaching profession out of sheer frustration. On her way out she told us why:

  Kids are not as coachable as they were years ago,” she told the Associated Press. “I see kids sometimes talking back to their coaches and it’s like a way of life. I’m just being honest. The rules and everything they get, they haven’t taken time to appreciate. I was happy to have a scholarship. Kids nowadays are more concerned about when their next cost-of-attendance check is. It’s just a different world.”……“Maybe I’m old school. It’s not necessarily what I signed up for and I’m not going to adjust my coaching to the way kids are these days. That’s how it is these days, coaches having to adjust to kids, rather than kids having to adjust to coaches.

We can’t pretend to know the specific situations that elicited this blanket judgement of her athletes. We do know this: she’s not happy and it’s her athletes’ fault!

Frustration comes from unmet expectations. She had certain expectations of her athletes, expectations that she believed they would willfully submit to because of her title of “coach” and their involvement in sport. Instead of understanding that trust is built by cultivating relationships, she expected it to come from her title. “In my day…” becomes the scapegoat statement. Coaches, times have changed. It’s NOT our day anymore and we need to deal with it!

This coach’s “my way or the highway” approach led her to take the highway. If our mentality is that we coach a sport, athletes just seem to get in the way! But when our focus is on coaching athletes, the sport becomes the primary means to reach into their lives.


There once was a day when coaches had almost all of the power. That day is long gone. Right or wrong, it is our present reality. Power can and will be abused, so it’s important to remember that positional power is not the same as the power that comes from relational trust. It seems that this coach loved the power of position, instead of positioning herself in the power of love.

The sun has already come up on a new day in coaching. Through our 3Dimensional Coaching training, we want to help coaches walk in the light of this new day. How do we motivate the 21st century athlete? How do we develop confidence as a “belief in skills” instead of the prevalent false self-esteem that seems to be a belief in belief itself? Can athletes and coaches be both great and good? Do we have a clearly defined transformational purpose that acts as a foundation for our coaching? This foundation of PURPOSE is crucial if we are to successfully carry the weight of the pressures that come with coaching today.

Barbara Bradley Hagerty did a recent interview on PBS’s Newshour on her new book Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife.  Here’s part of the interview:

The Happiness Research Center in Copenhagen looked at job satisfaction and what they found is that the key thing to job satisfaction, the most important thing, is having a purpose, feeling like your job has a purpose. It could be that you feel either personally that your job has a purpose or that you’re part of an organization with a greater mission. Purpose turns out to be the magic bullet for happiness across the board. Not just at work but having a purpose in life tends to make you healthier, it means that you stave off dementia better than other people, it means that you are much less likely to have a stroke or be sick, it is a wonderful quality to have. The idea that you have a purpose for life, a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  

The clearer we can state our purpose, the more accurately we can pursue it, and the more powerful its effect. Let us help you discover and build on the solid ground of a transformational purpose, not the sinking sand of a transactional coaching philosophy.

4 thoughts on “Pursuing Your Purpose

  1. I love it, It makes sense to me.
    I have a great job where we have an amazing purpose and we work harder than most because we have that common bond of something bigger than ourselves or our singular strength. I can see this working in the coaching realm.
    I love the journey, looking forward to infecting all I can with love and tenacity.

  2. There is a profound difference between one’s purpose and one’s goals. Purpose is ongoing and self-generating and motivating. Goals once achieved are done and then you must establish a new goal in order to move forward. Purpose is internal and eternal! Goals are external mile posts that measure the distance you have achieved on your journey. Discovering Purpose is transforming, completing goals is transactional.

    We need to complete our goals and reset them daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly! But our Purpose in life is much bigger, more profound, and life nourishing! Be on purpose, then do!

  3. This is my 4th year coaching and 11th teaching. The challenges of coaching are unreal. Middle school year around coaching is fun, but also challenging and a lot. I need the wind back in my sails and hopefully summer will provide that. As I reflect back on the year I feel good about holding kids accountable with grades and behavior. Having athletes sign a contract and knowing expectations was key. I feel good about ending every practice with kids encouraging each other. I loved the coaches and kids I worked with this year. Here is the truth if I am being selfless and doing my best and putting the kids first in my own way I will let the chips fall where they may. Fight the good fight and love the journey.

  4. It is not only important that we find and are able to articulate our purpose, but we must also help our athletes find theirs. We should also revisit on a regular basis for it can change for us and our athletes.

Leave a Comment