Saturday, 23 February 2019

'Coach 'em up' The Power of Positive Influence

 By Skip Hall


One of my favorite books is “They Call Me Coach” by legendary basketball coach John Wooden. I wish everyone in leadership considered themselves a coach, realizing the huge impact they can make on the lives of their players and their teams. Clearly coach Wooden was equally known for his example as a man of character as he was for his coaching ability. The principles that made him a legend in the sports arena are timeless truths which transcend all areas in life, including the business arena. Core principles parallel sports, business and life.

As a coach for 30 years in sports and 15 years in business, I have always tried to instill in our people and our teams that we can never be truly successful or attain peace of mind unless we have the self-satisfaction of knowing that we have done our best — mastering the fundamentals, paying attention to detail, caring about others, maintaining respect without fear, and hard work. A proven formula for success whether on or off the playing field.

One of the principles that has influenced me greatly is the concept of “The Power of Positive Influence” and the fact that people need role models, not critics.

I often share this story when someone asks me what was the one thing that gave me the most satisfaction during my 30-year college coaching career. I could certainly name big games, Rose Bowl victories and a national championship, but the thing that stands out most vividly occurred when I was coaching at the University of Missouri.

 A young man in his early 30s came to my office one day and asked to speak with me. As he sat down, he began to relate a story that had happened 10 years earlier at the University of Washington where he was a walk-on player and I was an assistant football coach. He stated that one day at practice he was really messing up and the young coach that was working with him became enraged and started screaming and yelling at him, embarrassing him in front of his teammates. He shared that I came over and got between the two of them, faced the young coach and said five words that had a major impact and great influence on this young player. He said the five words were, “Coach ‘em up, not down!”

He had become a successful pastor in a small Missouri town and had driven over an hour to come and thank me for the positive influence which had had a great impact on him. In fact, he said the best sermon he had ever given and the one most well-received and requested was titled, “Coach ‘Em Up, Not Down!”

You see, one of the most fundamental needs every person has is to be encouraged (to give courage to) rather than discouraged (to take courage from).

Does the Bible have anything to say about encouragement? It certainly does.

First Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Encouragement makes it easier to live in a fallen world in a God-honoring way.

Encouragement makes it easier to love as Jesus loved (see John 13:34-35).

Encouragement gives us hope (see Romans 15:4).

Encouragement helps us through tough times and times of discipline and testing (see Hebrews 12:5).

Encouragement nurtures patience and kindness (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Encouragement makes it easier to sacrifice our own desires for the advancement of God's kingdom. In short, encouragement makes it easier to live the Christian life.

Throughout Scripture we see instructions to encourage one another and verses that are meant to encourage us. Why is encouragement emphasized in Scripture?

Primarily because encouragement is necessary to our walk of faith.

This doesn’t mean we overlook mistakes, but it’s how we handle the situation that matters most. I learned from Tom Landry, the legendary coach of the Dallas Cowboys, that how we handle a crisis or adversity is more important than the crisis or adversity itself. So true!

Everyone can offer quality leadership and coaching because it’s a personal decision and action — not a title.

As leaders, regardless of the sport, business, organization or family we’re coaching, it’s important to remember that we’re coaching way beyond the scoreboard or the bottom line. We're coaching for life.


Skill Hall is a former head football coach at Boise State. After a successful, 30-year coaching career with BSU and other college football teams, he transferred his coaching skills to the business arena, serving in multiple leadership roles for more than 15 years with other businesses before launching his own company, Hall & Associates, a financial services firm. He is now an executive coach, senior strategist and professional speaker. He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (208) 871-8448.


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