April 11, 2024

Author of “The Mindful Coach,” Founder and Director of Way of Champions, Former Naval Officer, Sports Psychologist, Philosopher

Dana Bernardino

1Huddle Podcast Episode #127

On this episode of the Bring It In podcast, 1Huddle’s CEO and Founder, Sam Caucci, sat down with Dr. Jerry Lynch, author of The Mindful Coach, and founder and director of Way of Champions. Dr. Jerry Lynch educates us on coaching and leadership, while discussing the importance of redefining leadership in changing communities and times. 

Dr. Lynch highlights the essential qualities of mindful coaching, including accountability, responsibility, and vulnerability, using head coach for the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr as an example. He emphasizes the shift from transactional to transformative coaching, which many coaches are struggling with today. They also touch on the impact of technology on coaching and the unexpected, but crucial role of love in coaching, emphasizing the need for care and creating a safe environment for teams.

Audio available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


Below are some of the insights Dr. Lynch shared during our chat, edited for length and clarity. You can find more Bring It In podcast episodes here.

  • “In order to grow as a leader, in order to be more effective, we have to get more in tune with those people who we’re trying to lead.”
  • “The most important game to win is the relationship game.”
  • “You’re going to have failures. You’re going to learn from them. And that’s the beauty.”

Sam Caucci: I guess why The Mindful Coach?  

Dr. Jerry Lynch: Well, my Brooklyn mind says, why not?  You know, why The Mindful Coach? You know,  mindfulness is now becoming an everyday home kind of word that people are using. But they’re not familiar. With it as much as they need to be. So what I did was– I needed to write a book.

 A good friend of mine, George Mumford, wrote a book called The Mindful Athlete.  And I read that book and I thought to myself, you know,  coaches might not read that. And so I said, I’m going to come up with a book. Since I use mindfulness in my work, I’m going to come up with a book that really addresses how a coach can become more mindful.

And the reason being is that without mindfulness, there’s no growth.  And without growth, you get stagnant. And coaches are constantly asking, what can I do? I need to make some changes. And they think it’s always going to be the X’s and O’s. You know, if I know more strategy, if I have more tools that I could pass on to my athletes, so that they can perform better.

When indeed it all starts within. And it starts going from the mind to the heart, you know, the mind is one, one thing where coaches know intellectually how to run a certain offense or a defense,  but in their heart, they don’t feel what they need to feel to be effective. And so 98 percent of the coaches in the world are struggling. 

And so that’s a statistic that I throw out there. I have no data to prove that I’m right. But, I have a lot of anecdotal data and I meet a lot of coaches over a 45 year career and they’re coming to me and they’re saying, you know, what can I do? And I’m saying, well, you could become more mindful of the process and develop some strategies along those lines.

So rather than be a traditional, transactional leader, you become a less traditional, unconventional transformative leader.  And, therein lies the difference. And so this– the time has come and, and the subtitle leading with intention, instinct, influence, inspiration and insight. Who wouldn’t want to be that way  as a leader?

You want to be, but there’s no connection between what you want and how to get there. So this book provides  a wonderful opportunity for coaches to get to a place where they will be the best version of themselves as leaders. 

Sam: Yeah. I love what you said that coaches  don’t feel what they need to feel to be effective.

I think, you know, what goes on  in the head of most coaches, whether it’s  coaching athletes in a sport as you’ve spent so much of your time impacting coaches that affect athletes on the field, but also coaches in the workforce today. You know, where, I mean, Jerry, I can’t imagine how many players you’ve affected through coaches that again are now in the workforce and are now in environments with new managers, leaders, some are coach–, you know, some are through coaches.

And no, I just think that really hit me when you said that point on needing to feel they don’t need to feel what they need to feel to be effective. Why do you think that is?   

Jerry: It’s our training and our values and what we feel is important. And it’s ironic, but before I talk about that, you’re raising a very important point.

And that is, it’s a mistake to think that this mindful coach book is just about coaching and sports. It’s about coaching in life. And I know you brought that up because that’s where you’re at. And I know you love sport, but I love business too. And I love life. And so too many of us are going about our day every day in the same old way.  

And so we need an injection, you know. In order to grow as a leader, in order to be more effective, we have to get more in tune with those people who we’re trying to lead. So I could have very well called this book, the mindful leader, you know. And by leader, I mean, it could be a church group, you know, it could be on a battlefield in Vietnam, you know–– in the past.

Sam: Yeah.

Jerry: It could be just about anything. It could be a teacher, a doctor, especially doctors need to be more mindful. So, I hang out in the sports arena and I use sports as a vehicle to transport people. The sport is a wonderful game, but it’s really not about the sport. It’s about learning the lessons, the deeper lessons for life.

And that works really well in the business world as well. I could walk into your company and sit down and have this same conversation and we’re all on the same page.  And correct me if I’m wrong, but I mean, this is the way I see it.  

Sam: I think that, yeah, no, I think you’re on, you’re on the money. I think that this is just maybe top of mind given the last few months where now there’s so much talk about technologies’ effect on,  on life, not just the workforce and young people, but there’s conversations around– I read your book and I thought about the moment we’re in where automation and AI and technology are  affecting the way that we interact with each other. 

And I thought, wow–I mean, there is no more important,  you know, moment for a book like the, you know, The Mindful Coach than right now, given the way that technology and other digital tools are  disrupting the things we do every day, the way we coach, the way we interact.  

It’s the more– the skills you need to be really great at are the ones you outline in your book, which I love the format. It’s, you know, you can flip to any page, you can flip to any chapter in this book and dive into a topic, whether it’s on integrity or competitiveness or, you know, humor.

And so that, I don’t know, I wanted to hear, I’m just wrapping with you here. But I thought that was one thing. We’ve talked a lot. We haven’t really talked about, you know, technology, you know, I’m thinking about all of the news around technology and how the skills you’re talking about in The Mindful Coach are going to become more important than ever.

I mean, I don’t know if that’s cliche to say, but– 

Jerry: No, it’s not cliche. And in fact, thank you for bringing that up because a lot of people out there are afraid it’s scary. It’s a scary world. I had a number of conversations just this past week.  One with my sons and the other with a few business partners.

And we were talking about the AI influence and it’s scary because they’re telling me– this one person that I was talking with, you know, he’s a pilot and he works for an airline that I won’t mention because he said to me, he said, Jerry, in five years, I might be obsolete. And then I have a coach telling me, yeah, with AI, I might be obsolete.

And we’re looking– I might not, you know, there might not be an author like me, you know. The book can be written. I mean, I can come up with a title for a book and have artificial intelligence create the book, throw some ideas in and it’s done. And however, the scary part is not that we won’t stay up to date, the scary part is we’re going to lose something. 

And what we’re going to lose is what you and I have at this moment.  And that is, we have a relationship. And I value that relationship. It’s important to me.  And, you know, you’re a good man and you’re doing good things in life and you’re really making a difference in the lives of people.

I’m not so sure that technology can handle that. You know, no matter what– Okay. So here’s the deal. So since COVID, I’ve really learned how to manipulate my business through Zoom.  Here we are on Zoom now, right? Okay, so I’ve had conferences on Zoom.  So this August, I’m going to Denver. It’s my seventh annual Coaching Leadership Summit that we’re putting on in person. 

I can tell you all that technology, as good as it was, we’ve reached people in six continents. People from six continents will not come to that conference, you know. But  if you come to that conference, you’re going to get a very different experience than you did technologically.  And so no matter what happens with technology,  the frightening thing is, will we, or will we not lose the relationship piece  because let me just go on for another minute here. 

When I talk with a Steve Kerr,  coach of the Warriors, or I talk with a Phil Jackson, Phil is a great man. We talk together, and I ask them, so what’s the most important game that you win on the road to a championship?  So most coaches out there think, you know, let’s see, what game would it be? Oh, it’d have to be the semifinal game of the final four, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And they’re saying to me, Jerry, the most important game to win is the relationship game,  like, OMG. Right. I mean, what are they really saying? They’re saying that without relationships, you can’t get athletes to go the distance. No matter how sophisticated your technology is, or no matter how sophisticated your,  your ability to run the right defense or the right offense at the right time in the right place with the right people.

If you don’t have relationships, nothing happens. You know, Steve spent months upon months, his first year of coaching, traveling to Australia, traveling to Atlanta to hook up with Igor Dala, to hook up with his athletes, letting them know how important they were to him and that he wants them and he cares about them.

And when you feel you have to answer this question, when I make you feel important and relevant and empowered, and respected, and I ask you to do something, what’s going to happen? 

Sam: You’re more likely to do it.  

Jerry: You’re going to not only do it, you’re going to go the distance, you’ll go beyond that. 

And so that’s the human element. And that is the idea of human relationships  and winning the relationship game. I don’t know in my scope of understanding artificial intelligence, I don’t know how they’re going to bridge that gap and how they’re going to make that happen. Because without that,  people don’t care.

They don’t care, you know, without, gotta feel love. Bill Jackson, without love, I would have never won a championship.  With not only him, John Wooden. I had a lot of love in my coaching, that’s why we won. Where’s the love gonna come from?  

Sam: Yeah, it’s not, you know, it’s a word that people maybe are afraid to say. Right. You know, it’s like,  well, I mean, why is it that to say that it is so shocking or it is surprising, or it is, has such a powerful effect–

Jerry: Because 98 percent of the population don’t understand what it means and they haven’t been taught it. And I teach that. I teach what love is. And if you, if you looked at the NBA playoffs, the coaches, the players, they were all talking about what? Love. 

You  know, Phil Jackson says there are many ingredients to– that it takes to win an NBA championship.  There are also many ingredients  that are important to win a contract or to run a business, but without one ingredient, none of the other stuff works. And that is love. And these are, these are some of the greatest leaders in the game.

And so we don’t talk about it because we don’t understand it. There’s romantic love,  which I have between my partner, Jan and my children.  And  that’s one kind of love.  And then there’s the love I have for you, Sam, as a human being. As you being a human being, whose intention is to make this a better world through your podcast, through the work that you’re doing.

And that’s why I’m back on with you because of that factor. And I love that about you.  And we have a relationship that has evolved over a period of time. It hasn’t been that long because of our communication with each other and making it known what that love is. And it’s palpable. You could feel it, right?

I mean, you could feel the love. And I call it Jerry love and people laugh and chuckle about it, you know, but sometimes a team just needs a little Jerry love.  Well, you know what I mean? I go in and hug everybody and kiss them and stuff. No, it just means I care about you,  and I’m going to let you know that, and you’re important to me. 

Sam: And one of the things you talk about in this book is you talk about this concept of a  safe environment. And I think as you talk about Jerry Love. You know, one of the things you do is you create a safe environment. You create in your communication, in the way that you interact, in your actions, in your words, you create a safe environment,  where  it encourages, you know, me to give more.

Which I mean, talk about the ultimate like coaching motion, right? As you’re trying to encourage more from a relationship for people to put more into it. 

I want to ask you about how you would coach a team, an organization, because you mentioned  Coach Kerr and Coach Jackson.  What has to happen in order for them to be able to create that safe environment? Like what are the blockers that you’re seeing? What are the things that the artificial barriers that people have to break through in order to create a safe environment where love can thrive, where many of the principles you talk about– many of the virtualists you mentioned can actually happen consistently.

Jerry: Well, what I do in this book is I introduce people to those variables, those that will break down the obstacles.

But let’s start. That’s a great question. And  it’s bigger than you imagine, or maybe you do imagine how big it is and now we understand. But there’s two forces in life.  And again, this goes right across all  dimensions. It cuts through all dimensions, religions, nationalities, genders, it doesn’t matter. 

There’s two things that are going on with every person in the world at all the time. It doesn’t matter where you are. And that is, there’s love, and then there’s fear. That’s it. That’s an umbrella. Think of it as an umbrella. You either have a fear umbrella over you, or you have a love  umbrella. So what I do is, the love, so that I feel connected with you so that you’ll go the distance. If I’m running a business and you’re my workers, you’re my workforce, I want to come in with an umbrella of love. And then under that define what it is  to create that safe environment that Jerry love, which creates a safe environment. Which allows you to be the best version of yourself. 

Now in order to do that, I have to do something like this. I have to be  genuine. I have to be authentic, like right now. Like if, if I’m not being genuine or authentic, we’re not going to connect,  you know. And I’ve got to be vulnerable. So I’m teaching people these things, by the way. These are not just far out concepts that you put on the wall, you know, be genuine or no. There are ways to be this way and I’ll teach that and the book will help you develop that. 

You need to be a good listener. You know, when you’re a good listener, people– what happens is,  you feel important when you’re listened to. You feel like people care about you.  And so, that’s a really important component of all of this. This idea of love is demonstrated through what I call, and you’ve heard me say this before, I know, but I’m gonna repeat it, what I call the RIVER Effect. 

Alright,  that’s a nice acronym, R-I-V- E-R.  So, that’s in back of, that’s in the front of my mind, and it’s in the–  my heart.  And so when I walk into a room of 300 leaders, one of the first things I’m aware of, mindful of, is the River effect.  Sam, I know, without a shadow of a doubt,  RIVER stands for Relevant, I is Important, Valued, Empowered, and Respected.

R-I-V-E-R.  I walk in the room, I want you all to feel those feelings.  Because when you feel relevant, and you feel important, and you feel empowered, those feelings  equal how you’re going to function.  Feelings equal function. You’d have to agree with me, when you wake up in the morning, if you’re feeling  less than, if you’re feeling pessimistic, if you’re feeling like you’re not prepared, or you’re feeling negative, you’re not going to have a good day. 

You’re not going to function at a high level. But if you get out of bed, have your coffee or whatever you do, go to work and you’re feeling optimistic and you’re feeling connected and you’re feeling valued and important and empowered and you’re feeling like you’ve prepared really well, you’re going to have one hell of a day. 

So all of this comes together when you think about okay, how do I lead people?  I don’t care what room I walk into. You could be 300 coaches, 300 CEOs, 300 pastors of different parishes throughout the country. It doesn’t matter. There could be 300 captains in the army.  Everyone wants to feel relevant.

Everyone wants to feel important.  The Mindful Coach gives you the steps to help you help others to feel that way. And guess what? When you feel that way, you’ll go the distance. You’ll do whatever I ask you to do. And I better not ask you to jump off a bridge because you probably will.  It’s that powerful.

So I’ve got to watch what I’m going to ask. And this is all under the guise of what I call in the book, the ‘servant leader’. And that’s a whole big chapter, the servant leader. And Steve Kerr is a perfect example of servant leadership.  The word servant in Japanese is the samurai warrior, the servant warrior.

And our whole purpose in life, if your listeners haven’t thought about this, I’m going to just reflect my opinion on it, but it’s the opinion of many is our whole purpose is to serve well.  And when we’re serving others. We get served in return.  And so these are the kinds– these are the ways, these are the ways that I help people to elevate their emotion and elevate their leadership style so that others will listen. 

They’ll go along with the program. And not only that, it will be cooperative. Oh my God. Imagine getting people to cooperate. It will be collaborative. You know, we’ll work together to make this a better show. 

Anyone out there that’s listening to this.  Raise your hand if you agree with this. Everyone’s hand is up. I can see it. Not really, but who would not agree that these are the things that are important to them? Personally, I’m just here to tell you, well, let’s recognize and let’s do something about it.

So when I walk in the room, the first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to find a way to make you feel valued. I’m going to make you feel important. And when you do, man, we’re going to have one hell of a ride. It’s going to be great.  

Sam: You know, there’s so many coaches that you’ve worked with. When I read Mindful Coach,  the three virtues I circled that stood out to me, it was interesting, the ones I circled, because, you know, I read books twice, so I kind of fly through and then I really dig deep. And when I was digging deep, the words I selected, I didn’t expect myself to. 

Only because the words seemed so simple. And sometimes we have that, you know, bug to find something that’s different. You know, something that’s different to latch onto, the acronym that we can sort of own as coaches. But the word was simple, but the definition you described was so thoughtful, profound, and deep.

You know, the first one that I wrote down was “fearlessness.”  And since fearlessness, that sounds like it’s a word, makes sense, but you wrote “embracing failure is liberating.”  And, you know, I think about the pressures that coaches put on themselves and the opportunity for being, you know, in being fearless, creating  this opportunity to free yourself.

I thought that that was one, and I’ll give you the second one that stuck out to me. It was  “openness.”  “Profound, empty space of not knowing.” As coaches, you always try to fill the space, you’re the one that’s supposed to do the huddle, it’s your call, it’s your meeting, it’s your time to talk, but you know, “profound empty space of not knowing” and being–

Jerry: Boy, did I write that? Did I? That sounds–

Sam: You wrote that. 

Jerry: That’s amazing.

Sam: But I thought I’d share those cause I think that those were–, I wanted to share with you cause those really, hit home for me at a time for me as a coach where, you know, I’m trying to grow a team. Like others that may be listening in the same position, you’re trying to grow a team.

You’re also at the same time maybe learning as you’re going, but that action of being able to be open, and not always feel the–, you know, trying to resist the pressure to feel like you have all the answers, was one that would really hit.

Jerry: Well, okay, let’s start with the first one.  And by the way,  this is really uncanny. These are two of the most important ones on the list for me.  Of the ones that I have there,  these are two of my top ten.  Alright? Let’s start with fearlessness.  You were talking before, Sam, about a safe environment. 

In a safe environment you can be fearless. Then I was talking about love versus fear.  What’s an environment that doesn’t feel safe?  It’s one with fear.  And why do you have fear?  Now you ask any business person, you ask any CEO, any head coach, you ask anybody in the world, what are you afraid of? They’re afraid of making mistakes and failing. 

I’ll come back to that. They’re afraid of letting the workforce down. They’re afraid of getting fired. They’re afraid of– in sports, they’re afraid of not getting enough playing time, not getting enough minutes or getting cut. Same thing, same model. You know, you get cut or you get fired.

It’s the same thing. What else are you afraid of? You’re afraid of looking silly or not good enough. And so all these fears and what does fear do?  Fear creates tension, stress, and tightness. How can anyone perform when you’re tight, tense, and tentative and stressed? How can you perform?

Well, the answer to that is you cannot.  So fearlessness is a virtue that’s practiced by creating an environment  where you have nothing to fear, but fear itself. Fear will–, fear itself  creates that tension, anxiety and what have you. So here’s a sports example. You’re going into a basketball game and you’re going to play for the championship.

If you’re focusing in on winning, it’s going to be very difficult. It’s going to create fear. It’s going to create tension, anxiety. And the reason is because you can’t control it. So what we do is we create environments that are safe. We give people opportunities to succeed.  By sharing with them the little things that they can control  and feel confident about.

And when they feel confident and they can control them, there’s no fear.  So now you’re fearless.  You just can’t say to a group of people, nothing to be afraid of. No, that’s not true. I have a lot to be afraid of.  You know, I come on your podcast. I could be afraid of looking like I don’t know what I’m talking about. 

And maybe I do. I doubt it, but I’m not worried about it. I’m just, you know, sharing whatever I happen to know with you in the audience,  but I want to come from a place of love. In my environment love is– pay attention to the little things, Jerry, your tone, your intonation, your eye contact, your delivery, your preparation, all these things I control. 

You can’t stop me. You can shut it off, but you can’t stop me. And so fearlessness becomes a team value, it becomes an individual value, where you refuse to let failure, setbacks, mistakes, and errors to stand in your way of going forward because you’re so damn afraid that your body is like a, like you’re dead, you know, rigor mortis, stiff as can be. 

No, there’s no need for that. Why?  Because failure is our gift.  Failure is we embrace– the mindful coach, the mindful leader embraces failure as a wonderful opportunity to learn and then go forward.  Everything you’ve learned about running a podcast came from setbacks and failure. True or false? 

Sam: True. 

Jerry: Yeah. Good answer. Right answer. Anyone out there, anything that you’re really good at, it came because you learn from your mistakes and failure, you went back to the drawing board and you created it. The light bulb was created after 1000 setbacks.  And then finally it went on and you know, life is like that.

So fearlessness is– okay.  Here’s an acronym for fear. F-E-A-R.  False, evidence, appearing, real. Again, 98 percent of the population in the world are not familiar with this. They’re functioning at the level of fear. They’re so fearful. They’re afraid of creating relationships. They’re afraid of love. They’re afraid of losing.

They’re afraid of not looking good. They’re afraid they don’t look good. They’re afraid of having setbacks, getting fired. And when you’re functioning from fear, you’re too tight and tense to have a good performance. So fear is one umbrella. Love is the other. I rather come from love,  elevated emotions.

Why?  Because when I’m feeling positive, I’m feeling better. optimistic. I’m feeling prepared. I’m feeling valued. I’m feeling important. When I feel that way, I perform at a higher level. Feelings equal function.  So love is the key.  

Sam: Yeah. I mean, it’s not a, maybe a single phrase I think too, but as you step away from reading, Mindful Coach. Honestly, all of your books there’s a through line, obviously, and one of my favorites is the Competitive Buddha. You know, Let Him Play, which has helped me to, you know, have a lot of fun with my daughter, you know, as she’s learning sports. But there’s this through line that I think really came through to me in Mindful Coach, which, you know, it is this act of  being in the moment. 

The coach is able to stay focused on what’s in front of them and listen. And that’s hard. That’s meditative. I mean, there’s a reason that, and you know, this is your background for many, many, many, many years on how to build the psychological disposition to be able to put yourself in the moment that way.

But that was one of my biggest takeaways. I think for those listening and those who are managers and leaders and aspiring to be coaches and maybe not coaching consistently, but having these spits and bursts of like great coaching moments and wanting it to be more consistent.  You know, I think that the one thing this book does is it provides a vocabulary for you, like an alphabet and words matter. And then it provides you the space if you’re willing to put the work in. Two, flip to a page, open it up and you know make that the word of the day, the word of the week, the word of the month for yourself. And, you know, I think that makes this one, of all your books, Jerry, not just very relevant, but it’s a playbook of sorts.

I feel like in the Rolex of, you know.

Jerry: Yeah. I like the word of the week. When I write that out, it says, wow, right? It’s an acronym again. Wow. The word of the week. Hey, but let’s not, let’s not forget the other thing that you brought up. People out there are waiting to hear about this openness thing, right? 

Sam: Yep. 

Jerry: You know, by the way, since, you know,  free associating in many ways here. Turn around and I want you to look at a picture on the wall, right in back of you.  

Sam: Where? That one? 

Jerry: Is that the Beatles right there? 

Sam: It is. Yes, it is. I’m in London.  I’m in London.

Jerry: Yeah. You’re in London. So we got the Beatles there. 

Wasn’t  it the Beatles that sang the song,  “All You Need Is Love,”  right? 

Sam: You’re right. 

Jerry: And now you’re in–, and I’m saying that’s the umbrella where people function at higher levels, and I don’t mean romantic love, and they didn’t either. What they meant was connection, caring,  empowering. That’s what love is.

So don’t be afraid of the word. And in this book, when you finish reading it, if anyone chooses to read it, they’re going to come away with knowing how to implement love. So Jerry love is an implementation of a feeling, which will help you function at a higher level. I just had to bring that in from where I’m looking in the back.

I’m looking at these Beetles here and I’m like, at one time, they probably were like 25 feet away from where you’re staying. Right? But anyway, back to, you never know where the conversation will go, and I’m always open to all possibilities. 

Sam: Perfect segue to open this.  

Jerry: Yeah, right.  Maybe we should do that again tomorrow if you’re there with John. But because there’s a lot of love in that book too. Being a good teammate, you have to have a lot of love for the people you work with  in business or on the sports field. 

Sam: Oh yeah, that’s  a lot of stuff. Yeah. I mean, that’s very relevant. 

Jerry: Yeah. Okay. So, but anyway, being open. We’re afraid. Talk about fear. One other thing people are afraid of is not knowing.  You go to a doctor’s office. Oh, this is a great story. I mean, it’s short, but it’s  and I don’t know if it’s great. But  it’s it’s a story of me walking into a doctor’s office and the doctor not knowing  what’s going on I mean literally he did not know he had no answers to my questions. And he felt so embarrassed and he felt so inadequate. And he was making up these stories he shouldn’t have been making up,  you know, to sort of, he was trying to show me that he didn’t not know and he felt pressure to have to have answers.

And he came up with some wild stuff that just didn’t make any sense. And I looked at him, he never would expect, he doesn’t know much about me.  I looked at him and I said, Hey, doc,  I said, it’s okay to not know.  And I said, I find a lot of wisdom in the unknown.  In fact, guess what?  Your whole trip through medical school was about the unknown  and you learned a lot.

And one thing that they didn’t teach you is it’s okay not to know,  to be open to not knowing.  Being open to not knowing is wonderful because if–I didn’t say this to him, I’ll say it to you, but he was filled up.  He felt he had to have answers and he had to be filled up to the brim, like pouring water in a cup, right?

As long as that cup is filled, there’s no room for learning.  Absolutely. You cannot learn if you’re filled up. You have all the answers. You’ve met people like this. I’ve met athletes and coaches like this. They know everything. And they’re afraid. There’s the fear word. They’re afraid of not knowing. And so, one of the things I teach in this book, with that concept, that virtue of openness, is how not to be afraid of not knowing.

And in fact, there’s wisdom in the unknown. And how can we attack that?  And the beauty  For me, the beauty, I’ll tell you what I think is beautiful.  When you read these chapters, they’re very short.  So you read a chapter on openness, it’s about a page and a half. And then what I do is I include five quotes that speak to that virtue.

And those quotes help to elucidate  And make clear what that concept is all about. After I have defined what that virtue is. So, yeah, there’s no need to feel that pressure.  There’s no need to be afraid because you’re going to lose. You’re going to, you’re going to have setbacks. You’re going to have failures.

You’re going to learn from them. And that’s the beauty.  There’s no fear of not knowing because that’s how you learn. You step into that– I mean, everyone’s in a box, you know, like people are in a box because it’s safe, so they feel, and they know everything,  to go outside that box is scary, because it’s the unknown. 

But it’s there where growth takes place. Where human development expands. Where we all become a better version of ourselves by stepping outside the box.  And it’s scary.  It’s scary.  But you know what?  I talk about courage. Courage is the willingness to step outside the box, knowing that you don’t know anything and learning to be a better version of yourself. So that’s,  that’s the process. 

Sam: Yeah,  and if you tied it back to what we opened up our discussion with when you talk about technology,  it’s pretty tough to be in a coaching position today and have even the expectation that you put on yourself that you’re supposed to have all the answers to things as technology is affecting the work you do every day, as technology is affecting the players that you coach as our world environment is shifting.

It just feels to me that, you know, as it would speak to me about the concept of openness is this. You know, it is liberating to know that if you free yourself of the burden of having to feel like you have the answer to everything,  you also empower the people around you to participate in the team and the environment.

Jerry: Wow, what a great point you just made.  

Sam: So you call upon you know, your players and the people around you who look to you to step up as well. It’s a teaching moment, a teaching opportunity. 

Jerry: Right. Right. And just by the mere fact that you look at a group of people say, you know what, I don’t know that,  but I’m going to find out.

And I know I can learn it. And like,  taking responsibility, you know, like, if you’re not prepared, why feel pressure? Why worry and be fearful?  You know, I was talking about vulnerability early on.  And we interviewed Steve Kerr last week for our conference, he’s going to come in virtually. 

And we were talking about this idea of how vulnerable he is. And he brings out a good point because I know a lot of listeners out there, let me just  talk about this for a minute. And this is in the book as well.  Being vulnerable is scary. A lot of people are afraid to be vulnerable because they think it’s a weakness. 

And Steve Kerr thinks it’s a strength.  And he’s demonstrated that. He said, but he makes a distinction. He said, if you don’t know your stuff,  and he used another word for that,  but if you don’t know your stuff  and you’re vulnerable, you’re going to be in a precarious situation.  So if you’re choosing to be vulnerable and open to not knowing,  you got to know your stuff too.

So, as a coach, as a leader, he knows his stuff, but there are times when he just screws up royally  and it’s all on him. And he goes into the locker room. He says, you know what? That loss is on me guys. I didn’t prepare you well enough. I didn’t see it coming. That’s my fault. I’ll make sure I have you prepared later. 

What happens based on your point, which is brilliant, is these people start to look up to you. Oh my god, he’s being accountable. He’s taking responsibility. He’s being vulnerable.  So, vulnerability really becomes a strength. Vulnerability.  When I’m being vulnerable with you,  you admire that,  you know,  and when you admire it,  then you’re more willing to be vulnerable too.

And we’re more willing to step into that, that vulnerable space of not knowing.  Imagine. These poor medical doctors.  There’s none of that in their training  and coaches unfortunately don’t get it either. But we have these examples of amazing coaches. Pete Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks. You know, Anson, Dorrance, Carolina soccer, Quinn Snyder,  Landa Hawks, we have Cindy Timshaw, Tara Vanderbilt.

I can go on and on and on with these people I’ve worked with. The beauty of them and the reason why they’re so iconic is they’re, they’re willing to be vulnerable. They’re willing to step into that open space of not knowing and learning and realizing that they’re gaining all that wisdom. And guess what? 

All the workers, all the athletes are watching them and observing them.  And they admire their vulnerability, their willingness to not know. 

I was hoping you’d ask me a question I couldn’t respond to. ‘Cause I’m ready to tell you. I just don’t know.   

Sam: I haven’t done that yet. I haven’t won that one yet, but– 

Jerry: Well, go ahead. I’m sure you can.

Sam: I got  the final question for you here and you’ve answered it a few times because we’ve been together on this podcast a few times now.

You know, I want to set it up a little bit differently. You know, the things you’re talking about around Mindful Coach.  You know,  Gallup just came out with a pretty big study talking about what does an engaged workforce look like and talking about the percent of people at work who show up and are not excited, inspired, quote, engaged.

Not bringing their best selves to work and the outcome of hundreds of studies and thousands of surveys, it’s Gallup, right? So God knows how many people they talk to or say they talked to. But at the end of this study, they said that the number one driver in their opinion of a–, the number one aspect of improving employee morale, performance, engagement, excitement, wasn’t money.

It wasn’t benefits. It wasn’t, you know,  work from home. It was the presence of a manager who behaves like a coach.  Now they didn’t go on to describe necessarily, um, but I’m sure they will, what those fundamentals, the makeup of it is. But the action of identifying that the manager is a coach is necessary.

You know, a lot of the folks listening are running businesses and leading teams and coming to work every day, trying to coach folks up.  So, I’m going to ask you what your hope is for the future of work, and you’ve answered it  two different ways already. So, I’m going to throw it at you again, but I wanted to throw it at you from this mindset, from the perspective of, you know, what is your hope for the future of work?

You know, as you think about the effect of coaches and the Mindset of a coach, what is your hope for the future of work?  

Jerry: For work or for leadership? 

Sam: You said there hasn’t been a question you haven’t been able to answer yet, so I’ll let you answer  the one you want.

Jerry: I’ll answer that question.  But I can’t, I’m stuck.  You know, Sam, I appreciate your observation. And, you know, you obviously, you know, read that article, and came up with that information. 

My hope, my dream is that we have a world– I’m trying to change the world.  Now everyone listening to this podcast is lapping. This guy is crazy, right? No, I’m not  because  you change the world. Like you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  And so I changed my world by starting in my home  with my partner, my wife, my kids,  and then all the people I come in contact with that have been so honored,  truly honored and privileged to be with people like yourself. 

And  that quality of being grateful  to me is key for an attitude  that we all need to be carrying around every day of our life. Because in our business world, in our sports world, there are too many people  who are self absorbed,  entitled, worried about what am I getting?  So you come to a workplace,  1Huddle, and I want to work there. 

And my whole approach is, so Sam, what can you give to me?  You know, what is this place going to get? What’s my salary? What am I going to, you know, how do I make more money, blah, blah, blah in the sports world? You know, how can I get, am I going to, am I going to have a starting role on this team? Or am I going to be number 14 on the bench?

You know, so, so many people are concerned about what they’re getting to your question.  And it’s  universal. It’s a huge question because, I mean, I should say the answer is huge, but it’s simple. One word, gratitude.  When I wake up in the morning, true story,  what I do is I go through a– several things I do. 

First thing I do is feed the cats or they’ll be screaming for the next hour. That’s not very pleasant. Then I go back to my office, which is right outside my home,  and what I do is I try to list seven things that I am grateful for that day. Now tomorrow might be different. Like you were on my list today. 

That was one of the things. Now tomorrow you’re on my list again because I’m grateful for you and I’m going to see you tomorrow. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given.  I’m grateful for my mind and it’s still, I have clarity of thought and I’m able, I have publishers who want my work.

I have really good work. I have a wonderful family. I have my health at my age and so many people don’t. I’ve had the loss of several friends in the last month, for instance, that are my age, my vitality, my home that I live in, I’m a block from the ocean and I really I’m very fortunate to have this home and  my environment and– okay, so what do I do with that? 

Gratitude is a feeling. From feelings equal function. So what I do is, I just take a few minutes and breathe the feeling of gratitude.  When I mention those things, I feel so grateful. What do you mean, Jerry, you feel grateful? It feels elevated. I feel so privileged. And I breathe that in,  kind of hold it around my heart for a while, that breath, and  then I say to myself, okay, you’re ready.

Now go out  today, go out into the world, and make  all that you do a reflection of all that you’ve been given.  So I’m here with you,  and I’m giving  back for all that I’ve been given. I’m so grateful  that there’s no question I’m not looking to get anything out of you, or this, or whatever. And I, yeah.  The only reason I, if someone wants to buy this book is what reason why it’s meaningful to me is I know it’s going to change your life and if it changes your life for the better, which I believe it will, then I’m a happy camper.

As far as making money, I don’t care about making money. I just want to make a difference.  My gratefulness  changes my world.  That’s why I want to change the world. I want the world, every person I come in contact with, the more grateful my workforce feels–  if my team of 13 people feel gratefulness, I don’t have to worry about them feeling cheated.

I don’t have to worry about them doing something behind my back. I don’t have to worry about whether they’re going to be happy or not. They’re going to be happy. They’re going to love what they’re doing. They’re not going to desert me. They’re not going to leave the workforce.

Same thing with the team, with a basketball team. So gratefulness, all of that, just to say gratefulness is the answer that I’ve come up with on that.

Sam: Jerry, thanks for taking time. 

Jerry: Thanks for giving me the time and  you allow me to continue my journey and my mission in life, which is to make a difference. 

Sam: I appreciate you.

Jerry: Thank you. 

Topics Discussed: Future of Work, Coaching, Leadership, Failure, Mindset, Love

Dana Bernardino, Manager of Digital Marketing at 1Huddle

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