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← Why winning doesn't always equal success

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Showing Revision 8 created 12/21/2019 by Brian Greene.

  1. OK, I have a question for all of us.
  2. You ready?
  3. Is all winning success?
  4. (Murmurs)

  5. Oh.

  6. (Laughter)

  7. Whoa. OK.

  8. I am the recently retired head coach

  9. of the UCLA Women's Gymnastics Team,
  10. a position that I held for 29 years.
  11. (Applause)

  12. Thank you.

  13. And during my tenure,

  14. I experienced a lot of winning.
  15. I led our team to seven
    National Championships,
  16. I was inducted into
    the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame
  17. and I was even voted
    the Coach of the Century
  18. by the Pac-12 Conference.
  19. (Applause)

  20. Winning is really, really,

  21. like, really, really fun.
  22. (Laughter)

  23. But I am here to share my insight:

  24. winning does not always equal success.
  25. All across America and around the world,
  26. we have a crisis
  27. in the win-at-all-cost cultures
  28. that we have created.
  29. In our schools,
  30. in our businesses, in politics,
  31. winning at all cost
    has become acceptable.
  32. As a society,
  33. we honor the people
    at the top of the pyramid.
  34. We effusively applaud those people who win
    championships and elections and awards.
  35. But sadly, quite often,
  36. those same people
    are leaving their institutions
  37. as damaged human beings.
  38. Sadly, with straight A's,
  39. kids are leaving school damaged.
  40. With awards and medals,
  41. athletes often leave their teams damaged,
  42. emotionally, mentally,
    not just physically.
  43. And with huge profits, employees
    often leave their companies damaged.
  44. We have become so hyperfocused
    on that end result,
  45. and when the end result is a win,
  46. the human component of how we got there
  47. often gets swept under the proverbial rug,
  48. and so does the damage.
  49. So I'm calling for a time-out.

  50. Time-out.
  51. We need to redefine success.
  52. Real success is developing
    champions in life for our world,
  53. win or lose.
  54. (Applause)

  55. Real success is developing
    champions in life,

  56. not for your team,
  57. not for your business
  58. and, I'm sad to tell you, not even
    for your Christmas card bragging rights.
  59. Sorry.
  60. So how do we do this?

  61. First of all, you may be able
    to dictate your way to a win,
  62. but you can't dictate your way to success.
  63. Let me take you back to 1990,
    when I was first appointed the head coach

  64. of the UCLA Women's Gymnastics Team.
  65. And I would like to share with you
    that I've never done gymnastics.
  66. I grew up in the world of ballet.
  67. I have never done a cartwheel,
  68. and I couldn't teach you
    how to do a proper cartwheel.
  69. (Laughter)

  70. It's sadly true.

  71. And I knew nothing about
    how to develop a team culture.
  72. The best I could do was mimic
    other coaches who had won.
  73. And so I became tough-talking,
  74. tough-minded, relentless,
  75. unsympathetic,
  76. bullish, unempathetic
  77. and oftentimes downright mean.
  78. I acted like a head coach
  79. whose only thought
    was to figure out how to win.
  80. My first few seasons as a head coach

  81. were abysmal,
  82. and after putting up with
    my brash coaching style for a few years,
  83. our team asked me for a team meeting.
  84. Well, I love team meetings,
  85. so I said, "Yay!
    Let's have a team meeting."
  86. And for two solid hours,
  87. they gave me examples of how my arrogance
    was hurtful and demeaning.
  88. Yeah, not yay.
  89. They explained to me
  90. that they wanted to be supported,
  91. not belittled.
  92. They wanted to be
    coached up, not torn down.
  93. They wanted to be motivated,
  94. not pressured or bullied.
  95. That was my time-out,
  96. and I chose to change.
  97. Being a dogmatic dictator

  98. may produce compliant,
    good little soldiers,
  99. but it doesn't develop champions in life.
  100. It is so much easier, in any walk of life,
  101. to dictate and give orders
  102. than to actually figure out
    how to motivate someone
  103. to want to be better.
  104. And the reason is -- we all know this --
  105. motivation takes a really long time
  106. to take root.
  107. But when it does,
  108. it is character-building
  109. and life-altering.
  110. I realized that I needed
    to fortify our student-athletes

  111. as whole human beings,
  112. not just athletes who won.
  113. So success for me shifted
  114. from only focusing on winning
  115. to developing my coaching philosophy,
  116. which is developing champions
    in life through sport.
  117. And I knew if I did this well enough,
  118. that champion mentality would translate
    to the competition floor.
  119. And it did.
  120. The key ingredient was to develop trust
  121. through patience,
  122. respectful honesty
  123. and accountability --
  124. all of the ingredients
    that go into tough love.
  125. Speaking of tough love,

  126. Katelyn Ohashi is
    a perfect example of this.
  127. You may have all seen her floor routine.
  128. It has had over 150 million views.
  129. And the consensus is,
    her performance is pure joy.
  130. However, when Katelyn came to UCLA,
    she was broken in body, mind and spirit.
  131. She had grown up in a stereotypical,
    very high-level athletic world,
  132. and she was damaged.
  133. So when Katelyn came
    to UCLA her freshman year,
  134. she found her inner rebel quite well,
  135. to the point where she was
    no longer able to do gymnastics
  136. at the level at which she was recruited.
  137. And I will never forget
  138. a team meeting we had
    halfway through her freshman season.
  139. We were in there with the team,
    the coaching staff, the support staff,
  140. sports psychologist,
  141. and Katelyn very clearly
    and unapologetically said,
  142. "I just don't want to be great again."
  143. I felt like I got sucker punched.

  144. My first thought was,
  145. "Then why the heck am I
    going to honor your scholarship?"
  146. It was a really snarky thought,
    and thankfully I didn't say it out loud,
  147. because then I had clarity.
  148. Katelyn didn't hate gymnastics.
  149. Katelyn hated everything
    associated with being great.
  150. Katelyn didn't want to be a winner,
  151. because winning at all cost
    had cost her her joy.
  152. My job was to figure out
    how to motivate her
  153. to want to be great again,
  154. by helping her redefine success.
  155. My enthusiasm for that challenge
    turned into determination

  156. when one day Katelyn
    looked me in the eye and said,
  157. "Ms. Val, I just want you to know,
  158. everything you tell me to do,
    I do the exact opposite."
  159. (Laughter)

  160. Yeah, it was like, yeah, Katelyn,
    challenge accepted. OK.

  161. (Laughter)

  162. And further proof that dictating
    was not going to win.

  163. So I embarked on
    the painfully slow process
  164. of building trust
  165. and proving to her that first and foremost
  166. I cared about her as a whole human being.
  167. Part of my strategy was to only talk
    to Katelyn about gymnastics in the gym.
  168. Outside of the gym,
    we talked about everything else:
  169. school, boys, families,
    friends, hobbies.
  170. I encouraged her to find things
    outside of her sport that brought her joy.
  171. And it was so cool
  172. to see the process of Katelyn Ohashi
    literally blossom before our eyes.
  173. And through that process,
  174. she rediscovered her self-love
  175. and self-worth.
  176. And slowly, she was able to bring that joy
  177. back to her gymnastics.
  178. She went on to earn
    the NCAA title on floor,
  179. and she helped our team win
    our seventh NCAA championship in 2018.
  180. So --

  181. Thank you.

  182. (Applause)

  183. So let's think about
    the Katelyn Ohashis in your life.

  184. Let's think about those people
    under your care and your guidance.
  185. What are you telling your kids
    on the car ride home?
  186. That car ride home
  187. has much more impact than you know.
  188. Are you focusing on the end result,
  189. or are you excited to use that time
  190. to help your child
    develop into a champion?
  191. It's very simple:
  192. you will know you're focusing
    on the end result
  193. if you ask questions about the end result.
  194. "Did you win?"
  195. "How many points did you score?"
  196. "Did you get an A?"
  197. If you truly are motivated about helping
    your child develop into a champion,
  198. you will ask questions
    about the experience
  199. and the process,
  200. like, "What did you learn today?"
  201. "Did you help a teammate?"
  202. And, my favorite question,
  203. "Did you figure out how to have fun
    at working really, really hard?"
  204. And then the key is to be very still

  205. and listen to their response.
  206. I believe that one of the greatest gifts
    we can give another human being
  207. is to silence our minds
  208. from the need to be right
  209. or the need to formulate
    the appropriate response
  210. and truly listen
  211. when someone else is talking.
  212. And in silencing our minds,
  213. we actually hear our own fears
    and inadequacies,
  214. which can help us formulate our response
  215. with more clarity and empathy.
  216. Kyla Ross, another one of our gymnasts,

  217. is one of the greatest gymnasts
    in the history of the sport.
  218. She's the only athlete
    to have earned the trifecta:
  219. she's a national champion,
  220. a world champion
  221. and an Olympic champion.
  222. She's also not one for small talk,
  223. so I was a bit surprised one day
    when she came to my office,
  224. sat on the couch
  225. and just started talking --
  226. first about her major,
  227. then about graduate school
  228. and then about everything else
    that seemed to pop into her mind.
  229. My inner voice whispered to me
  230. that something was on her mind,
  231. and if I was still
  232. and gave her enough time,
  233. it would come out.
  234. And it did.
  235. It was the first time that Kyla
    had shared with anyone
  236. that she had been
    sexually abused by Larry Nassar,
  237. the former USA Gymnastics team doctor,
  238. who was later convicted
    of being a serial child molester.
  239. Kyla came forward
  240. and joined the army
  241. of Nassar survivors
  242. who shared their stories
  243. and used their voices
  244. to invoke positive change for our world.
  245. I felt it was extremely
    important at that time

  246. to provide a safe space
    for Kyla and our team.
  247. And so I chose to talk about this
    in a few team meetings.
  248. Later that year, we won
    the national championship,
  249. and after we did, Kyla came up to me
    and shared with me the fact
  250. that she felt one reason that we'd won
  251. was because we had addressed
    the elephant in the room,
  252. the tragedy that had
    not only rocked the world
  253. but that had liberated the truths
    and the memories in herself
  254. and in so many of her friends
  255. and her peers.
  256. As Kyla said,
  257. "Ms. Val, I literally felt myself
    walk taller as the season went on,
  258. and when I walked onto that
    championship floor, I felt invincible."
  259. Simply --
  260. (Applause)

  261. Simply because she had been heard.

  262. As parents, as coaches,

  263. as leaders,
  264. we can no longer lead from a place
  265. where winning is
    our only metric of success,
  266. where our ego sits center stage,
  267. because it has been proven
  268. that that process produces
    broken human beings.
  269. And I emphatically know
  270. that it is absolutely possible
  271. to produce and train champions in life
  272. in every single walk of life
  273. without compromising the human spirit.
  274. (Applause)

  275. It starts with defining success

  276. for yourself and those under your care
  277. and then consistently
  278. self-examining whether your actions
    are in alignment with your goals.
  279. We are all coaches in some capacity.

  280. We all have a collective responsibility
  281. to develop champions
    in life for our world.
  282. That is what real success looks like,
  283. and in the world of athletics,
  284. that is what we call a win-win.
  285. Thank you.

  286. (Applause)