What it Takes to Be My Goalie
Hint: emotional maturity.
Part of my path to executive coaching was the realization that I’ve always coached—from youth sports to vocational mentoring. When my kids were younger, I coached U-10 and U-12 soccer. There always came the point in the first few practices where we had to choose a goalie.
I had a few requirements for any player that played goalie for me. The last one was always the most important. They were:
He has good ball skills with both his feet and hands
He has a high soccer IQ.
He exercises patience in high pressure sitautions.
And . . . he display on-field emotional maturity.
Why does a goalie need emotional maturity? Simply put: he’ll be scored on (sometimes often). Shutouts are great when you can get them, but they don’t occur all that often, especially in youth soccer, where final scores are often something like 13-10.
I’d have a conversation with my potential goalie that would go like this:
If you’re going to be my goalie, you will be scored on. In that moment you can’t pout, cry, beat the ground, stomp, fuss at teammates, or doing anything else that might approximate an emotional breakdown. You are not the defense, you are the last line of the defense. You will be scored on, sometimes often. There will be times you couldn’t have done anything about it and there will be times that it will be your fault. And in that moment, regardless of the circumstances, all eyes will be on you. You will experience a momentary setback. You will have to be cool, calm, and collected. You will have to accept it for what it is and move on without jeopardizing your very real skills with excessive emotion. If you can’t behave this way when you are scored on, you can’t be my goalie. There are a ton of other positions on the field that may be good fits for you. But if you can meet my expectations, you’ll excel on the field and be a tremendous asset to the rest of the team.
We’re All Goalies at Work
The truth of the matter is that we are all goalies at work. And all of your employees are goalies. We will experience setbacks. In those moments, we can’t have a meltdown or necessarily assume it was our fault and we can’t take all the blame on our shoulders.
What we do need to do is stay calm, recognize a setback for what it is, and move forward with the very real skills we have to serve your organization.
If you can do that, you’ll do well in your vocation, and you can be my goalie any time.