July/August 2017
Defining a winner: Becoming a better coach and leader By Henry Barrera

There are few things in life that cross all boundaries, things that are so universal that they touch and appeal to every person on the planet. Although we all have different definitions, winning crosses all boundaries. It’s a common language that speaks to all of us.

In sports, we’re often measured by results — mostly wins and losses — but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Deep down, it’s not the winning that changes our lives but what it takes to get there. Here, I’ll share some of the things that I believe lead to “winning,” no matter how you define it.

Winning, whatever it means to you, is within your grasp if, and only if, you are willing to pour yourself out each and every day in pursuit of becoming the best that you can be. What will give us the opportunity to win and coach at a high level is how relentlessly we pursue our personal best. It’s not just about becoming a great coach, it’s not just about a practice, and it’s not just about a game. It’s about our lives. It’s about becoming the best version of ourselves.

This is not just about our culture; it’s about how we live our lives. We are a product of our behaviors, which are fueled by our habits.

“You don’t ‘succeed’ because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them,” Tim Ferriss wrote in his book, “Tools of the Titans.”

The following are three concepts that have been instrumental in my development as a person and professional:

  • Routine
  • Reading
  • Journaling

First, building and keeping a routine has been a game changer. The simple discipline of waking up and going to bed at the same time yields extraordinary freedom. Think of the beginnings and ends of your days as bookends that hold everything in place. The challenge is to plan your life around the things that are most important to you. Time is a form of currency, and you decide how you will use it. I’ve heard it said that first we make our habits, then our habits make us.

Second, someone long ago told me that my life would be most impacted by the people I’d meet and the books I’d read — they were right. There are few things that can challenge your mind as much as reading. If you are not much of a reader, find a way to get your hands on some audio books or other resources. My personal goal is to read at least 20 pages a day. You’d be surprised on how much material you can get through at this pace.

Finally, very few things have impacted my life like journaling. Sir Francis Bacon said, “Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.”

I’ve been keeping a journal for more than 20 years, and I really believe it has helped me work through and clarify some of the most important aspects of my life. This discipline continues to pay dividends in my life as I become more and more efficient with it. I highly recommend Evernote if you like to work on a computer. It’s a great way to keep track and organize your thoughts across multimedia platforms.

Success continues to leave us footprints. We can look at the lives of the most successful people in any walk of life and see the characteristics that are important to operating at a high level. However, you define winning, and winning comes from mastering the mundane. It happens in the space between, in the layers of life. As I continue to think about winning and what it takes to pursue our personal best, these are thoughts that continue to resonate with my heart and mind:

  • My system is my strategy, and my strategy is my system.
  • I believe in teaching and learning foundational principles.
  • I believe in the pursuit of mastery through practice.
  • I believe in progress over perfection.

Henry Barrera, CSCS, is the director of performance for men’s basketball at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He can be reached at hbarrera1@liberty.edu or on Twitter at @hoopdiaries.

Henry Barrera, CSCS, is the director of performance for men’s basketball at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He can be reached at hbarrera1@liberty.edu or on Twitter at @hoopdiaries.




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