Mistakes Can Ultimately Be Turned Into Gold

By GARY WARD
Special To Collegiate Baseball

STILLWATER, Okla. — As a general rule, people feel more responsible for their actions than they do for their inactions.

If they are going to err at something, we would rather err by failing to act. 

Since we didn’t do anything, we feel less responsible for the outcome that follows. We give our power to control our action to others who will be responsible.

Through decades of coaching, the thing that is the most striking is how seldom players change their minds about their skills. 

They constantly overestimate their skill of execution by rather large margins in the 20-30 percent range.

The coach learns not to give them the answers, but asks them to experiment with some trial and error and through personal ownership…self-direction…self-discovery…bring back their answer after some training. 

Aha! When they come back, they usually have a new awareness of their errors and can voice the changes that they have discovered in training. 

The majority of the players after making changes will want to believe that they had always thought that. 

Coach, merely smile and say, “I appreciate your desire to take ownership…I see your choices…I hear your voice…I see you working.”

The memory system of coaches and players all contain systematic distortions. Like the gambler, the stories told will tend to favor the speaker.

In fact as time passes, the story always grows. Memory becomes much more of a reconstruction of the facts than a reproduction of facts. Hindsight is not 20-20. It is not even close.

Research on memory and hindsight has shown that not only do people exaggerate what they knew at the time of the decision, they actually reconstruct what they knew to improve the narrative.

Double that if they were wrong in the first place. 

We all make many predictions about events in our daily lives as a coach and a player. When revisited in hindsight, we adapt and adjust the full transcript of those predictions to save our self-image as seer and sage.

Training with activity recording in a personal journal is important. It allows a player to have a private record of the specific things that the coach and player desire to accomplish.

It is strongly recommended that that journal be private because it contains our dream missions in life. 

These executive functions of each individual remain with that individual and establishes an honest baseline of factual information whereby the player or coach can have an adult relationship with the truth.

Celebrate your successes and examine your failures in silence and move on.

Rules Of Conversation
People talk at three levels.

The intelligent discuss ideas.

The bored talk about things like the weather or their health.

The insecure talk about others.

These are basic rules of conversation that make up a part of our team culture.

To read more of this article, purchase the Jan. 8, 2021 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Gary Ward, former Hall of Fame Head Coach at Oklahoma State, explains how to turn mistakes into gold on the baseball field.