Survivor: Nicaragua and encouragement
Jimmy Johnson is a retired American football coach. He followed Tom Landry as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Jimmy knows how to encourage others.
My wife and I watched the TV show Survivor: Nicaragua last night and during the show we saw Jimmy Johnson masterfully encourage a discouraged, ready to quit, player. He was incredible.
How Jimmy encouraged a discouraged player?
#1. They went off for a private conversation. The more people involved the more likely they’ll be posturing and deception.
#2. He sat down beside Holly, the defeated player. He got on her level.
#3. Holly began explaining her discouragement. Coach said, “I see it.” He never minimized or under-valued Holly’s statements. He never said, “Oh. It’s not that bad.”
#4. Coach said, “You can make it one day, can’t you?” He’s helping Holly break down the challenge into achievable components. However, Holly surprisingly said, “I can’t.”
#5 Coach never said, “Of course you can make it through one day.” He never argued with Holly’s perceptions. He accepted them completely even when they were off base.
#6. Coach acknowledged people get weak. After their conversation, Jimmy looked into the camera and quoted Vince Lombardi, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
#7. Finally, Johnson said to Holly, “We need you. Your team needs you.” He made Holly feel important.
Holly remained in the game. She looked into the camera and said, “I’m going to help the team out.” Jimmy reached her.
One big lesson
How many times have you argued with a discouraged person attempting to change their perceptions? Not coach. He found a way to encourage Holly without confronting or challenging her misperceptions.
Don’t challenge a discouraged person, accept them. Covey said, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.”
Acceptance opens the door to influence.
How do you encourage others?
It is an encouraging post. I am encouraged by it. I appreciate your point that acceptance opens the doors to influence. When we accept either our strengths or other weaknesses, we actually encourage. This is the starting point where we make ground to work against obstacles. Encouraging discouraged is a challenging task. It needs empathy, resilience and strategy to change wrong perception into possible reality. Confronting with discouraged strengthens the others perception and eventually it turns into reality. The best way to change the discouraged person’s perception is to realize him about extreme pessimistic outcome and then ask him to try even harder. For example the person, who is not well prepared to take the competitive exam and plan not to write the exam, may be encouraged by saying that – why do not you take the exam ? By not taking exam you are 100% fail, but if you take the exam, there is a still a probability to pass. So, what is the best way? Quit or take the exam. So, the fundamental question to encourage is to persuade and motivate to make more effort, and realize that there are only two category of outcome. Either pass or fail. And in later stage, there will be lot of learning. But the person, who is afraid of failure and does not make any attempt comes under no category because he is already out of competition and he has already lost that.
The other and perhaps better way to encourage discourage person is to create, restore and reinforce person’s belief. Discouraged person loses his belief and that lost belief makes him to lose. This is a dangerous trap of losing belief. It is again a difficult and challenging task. Motivator should trust in the loser’s values. Motivator should say- You have strong values and your values are higher than any achievement. They have created your character, so believe in your values and wake up. You can make more effort than previous. These are some practical examples which might be helpful if taken in right perspective.
One practical thing I’m taking from your comment is to discuss the worst possible outcome. “What’s the worst thing that could happen if we keep moving forward?”
Thank you for giving back,
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. He’s from India and teaches at ITM. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
I did not watch the show, but completely understand the points you are making This is the reason I choose successful coaches as mentors, either in person or by reading them. Coach John Wooden for example has had a huge impact on my leadership development.
Keep up the great posts!
A word of encouragement from you is enjoyed by me!
How do you encourage others?
I tell you, Dan, reading this makes me want Jimmy Johnson on my side!
Although it was not a formal degree program, that absolute most effective “dealing with people who have problems” tool I ever learned was RIDE – from a 24 hour telephone counseling and referral line training. Jimmy Johnson applied these strategies with Holly – he established a RELATIONSHIP first (instead of launching into telling her what to do); he helped her IDENTIFY the problem; he DEALT with her feelings (not minimizing, hearing her out); and he helped her EXPLORE alternatives. Ultimately, SHE owned the decision she had made, which made her all the more invested in seeing it through.
I wrote about how RIDE could have created a more positive outcome in a nationally publicized issue here: http://waytenmom.blogspot.com/2010/08/my-advice-to-dr-laura-ride-it-out.html
I love acronyms. They are great memory aids.
Thanks for adding value to this important discussion. And thanks for the link to some of your own work. I hope the LF community enjoys it.
Best to you,
Paula is a featured blogger on Leadership Freak. She generously shares her insights. Read her bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/paula-kiger
Great post and a superb example of leadership! I often wonder how much difference a coach really makes with professional teams. This example shows that leadership does matter. Great coaches help teams reach their potential. Lesser coaches don’t quite get those teams to the mountain top.
Johnson’s quote reminds me of another Vince Lombardi quote: The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.
Here’s a post on leadership lessons from Vince Lombardi: http://wp.me/pZiRD-bk
Thanks for another great lesson on leadership. Your blog is always beneficial.
Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. I appreciate it.
Love the quote and I’m glad you left a link to your article on Lombardi. We can learn a lot from him.
I’m thankful you stopped in.
All the best to you,
I am struck by how much Mr. Johnson’s approach mirrors LEAP….Listen, Empathize, Agree, Partner from Xavier Amador Amador developed this acronym mindset while trying to engage himself and a family member in getting some much needed help. (From his book, “I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help.”)
When I am feeling that isolated, that near defeat, I need to know WE are still connected. I need to know others have felt that pain and acknowledge that is a dark place AND that there is still hope and something I/we can do to get better.
The simple act of just listening…not fixing, not advice giving, not minimizing, just listening. You listen and truly hear the past experience.
Rather than the tired line of, “I feel your pain’ we do genuinely identify with the feeling and appreciate how difficult the discomfort may be…from that past experience
Overlapping with empathy is a variation on been there, experienced that and alignment with the person’s situation. This is still identifying the problem/conflict and its negative impact and is not the time to minimize. In the time phase of this process, we may be moving from past to present.
If the previous three elements are in place, WE can look ahead, together and identify concrete steps with specific time frames we want to achieve. It is not what YOU are going to do, but you are going to do and what I am going to do and some of it may be we are going to do to get better.
I’m reaping benefits from your comment. While I read it I had a sense of your compassion. I respect that.
Love, “listening not fixing” And I find it interesting that listening is key to “fixing” in a real sense.
I’m enriched by you.
Doc is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. He lives on the West Coast. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/doc
What a wonderful post.. First try to understand and then to be understood.
Jimmy Johnson has a big hart, as you described him from movie that you saw with your wife. My best regards to her.
“How do you encourage others?”
– First I care about people, even that I am hurt sometimes (by fake people), I keep going step by step further. I encourage people, by listen carefully of what they say and try to put me in their shoes. Often people come to me to say a lot of things, I show them that I really care , listen and try to repeat with them the problem in a simple way. I smile and tell them that every problem pass, tomorrow the sun will rise again. Nothing lost forever in this world, so problems will be gone sooner that we think.
-I love to encourage people, teams and to transmit confidence. Often I feel people receiving my good thoughts and it makes me happy that I could help in a little way. People must reveal their inner potential, we humans are greater that we really know, and powerful that we really know. Coaching is a great mission, in my opinion.
My best regards to all,
I can tell you are an encourager. Reading your comment encourages me. It’s filled with little tidbits like, smile and restate the problem…etc.
Thank you so much for stopping in.
I aside from the important first step of listening, probably the most important part of the encouragement demonstrated in the example you use Dan is believing in the person you are trying to encourage. It wasn’t an empty handed gesture – he genuinely believed in her and showed his confidence in her. When her confidence was all used up, he was able to share.
Listen first, then find what you can truthfully and wholeheartedly believe in about that person or their situation and give that to them. Hold that space for them, even if they can’t.
I love your insight. Your comment reminds me that the #1 quality of all leaders is the belief they can make a difference (Kouzes & Posner). Connected to their idea is the belief that others can make a difference too.
All the best,
Julia is a featured blogger on Leadership Freak. She lives in Texas. YOu can read her bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/julia
A wonderful post. You have shown the way how a discouraged can be brought back to his right spirit. Successful people will always believe in people and provising continuous encouragement to all employees/team members is their regular habit. Showing empathy and boosting up the morale with one-to-one talking is the best way to win the confidence of people to trust you and your bit of advice.
Helping people in difficult times through counseling can go long way in making an affected person comfortable and enabling him to come out of negative syndrome. A leader does this as a part of his responsibility and affection towards his fellow colleagues to keep them motivated all the time.
This can apply even in family and social circles. Showing empathy is the greatest ability/habit of any people oriented person and that’s make them great in the long run.
I’m delighted you dropped in.
One word in your comment gripped my attention, “always.” Always believe in people and always encourage people. Challenging and true.
Thank you for all your support, private encouragement and persistently sharing LF with others.
Best to you,
Dr. Asher is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. He is from India. YOu can read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/dr-asher