The Little Big Things

From the Academy for Sport Leadership–Dr. Cory Dobbs
A Note to the Student-Athlete

THE LITTLE BIG THINGS: Excellence Begins by Sweating the Small Stuff

“HEY STUDENT-ATHLETE!”
It’s All About the Locker Room

I recently visited a neighborhood Denny’s. Prior to ordering my meal I visited the restroom. Upon entering I noticed scraps of paper towel all over the floor. The sink basin revealed soap drippings that had probably been there since the day before. No, I’m not a neat freak. It’s just that in a world addicted to mediocrity little things are really big things. I left the restaurant. My experience with the filthy restroom sapped me of any confidence in the restaurant’s ability to deliver a quality meal.

The small stuff matters.

To me, a clean and attractive restaurant is the best indicator that the people running the show—at the restaurant, school, hotel, you fill in the blank, care about the people that use the facilities (and this includes the workers!). Make no mistake, the restroom screams commitment to excellence. It takes great leadership to ensure clean restrooms. If you want to be different—successful—a great place to start is your locker room (And here’s the kicker…each and every one of you will be running a show somewhere and sometime in the future.).

How do you and your teammates care for your locker room? Do you use it and wait for others (coaches, janitors, etc) to pick up the mess? To me, a clean and attractive locker room tells me the people running the program care. Come to think of it, the way you take care of your playing field, court etc. tells a lot about your commitment to excellence.

The small stuff matters. What little things might you do today to make a big difference in your team?

Humility matters. Every small action reflects not only on you personally, but also on your teammates. Act in a manner that honors yourself and your teammates. Act in a manner that will reflect well on you and the others in your life.
Today’s headlines and daily news stories are filled with accounts of self-centered and irresponsible professional athletes. The world of sports often breeds excess—it is noble and ignoble, beautiful and ugly. Sports reveals the best and the worst of human nature in a highly visible action-packed arena dominated by intense emotion.

Humility is the quality of being respectful. It is displayed in conduct that dignifies others. Humility is found in the small stuff. How you talk to your teammates reveals your care and concern. How you listen to others reveals your commitment to them and your team. Model humility: serve and honor your teammates.

Sometimes one minute (a very small thing) makes all the difference.

How long does it take for you to care for your locker room? Your playing field? Your teammate? My guess is you can do a lot in one minute…and when all those small one-minute actions accumulate…

The small stuff matters. What little things might you do today to make a big difference in your team? Select at least one thing. And do it.

You can make excuses for not doing that one thing. If so, then excuses are probably small stuff to you. But remember, the small stuff matters.

In the final analysis, it is the small stuff that determines what we draw out of the sports experience. The little things make all the difference.

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will care.” -Your Student-Athlete The world of coaching is changing. In Coaching for Leadership you’ll discover the foundations for designing, building, and sustaining a leadership focused culture for building a high-performance team. To find out more about and order Sport Leadership Books authored by Dr. Dobbs including Coaching for Leadership, click this link: The Academy for Sport Leadership Books

Dr. Dobbs recently joined Jamy Bechler on the “Success is a Choice” Podcast – hear his thoughts on team leadership and developing a leader in every locker here.


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