Know Your People

The picture above shows some of my people.


I watched a documentary the other day on YouTube, Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, about Demi’s rise to fame, personal struggles, and her journey to find herself again. In the documentary, she speaks to her drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorder, diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and her pathway to sobriety all by the age of 25. Throughout the documentary, she includes family pictures, testimonials from friends, co-workers, and family members all providing details her story. One piece of her documentary that stuck out to me was her people.

One of Demi’s biggest fears is losing the people that love her. After she sought treatment, she had a hard time battling sobriety; the people around her grew concerned and frustrated that she wasn’t consistent in her rehabilitation. They felt that she lost care for herself, her career, and the people whom cared for her. Her manager and personal development coach worked together to see if they could help her or if they should give up on her. As a team, they decided they could no longer work with Demi, and at that point, she made a decision that her team, her support, her career, and her health and recovery were more important than the drugs and alcohol she was taking. She described it as “…the beginning of the process of surrendering; at the end of the day it was my decision.” She chose to pick her family.

“You really have to surrender cause that’s when change is going to happen”

-Demi Lovato

This story furthers the point of how strong the people around you can influence you, teach you, support you, and guide you in the right direction. Knowing your people is the key to building trust with individuals and developing the appropriate relationships that are key to helping their development. I tell all the coaches I work with to know their players. I understand it can be difficult with a 60+ member team, but the effort is in the coaching staff to understand the athletes deeper than a surface level. The always quoted saying, “they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is true. Your athletes, co-workers, and peers have to know that you care before you try to teach them.

Think about the people who have personally influenced you in your life. How well did you know them? I think back to my high school field hockey and track coaches, my mentors, family, friends, and co-workers. They have all known who I am as a person. They know how I learn, how I typically think, and how I feel in situations; they know me.

I got a chance to sit down with the CEO & President of USA Swimming during my internship. Before I met with him, I learned that since he had been appointed (less than six months prior), he sought to have coffee with everyone whom worked for USA Swimming. He wants to know his people. During our chat, he cared to know about me, my goals, and what’s next; he allowed me the same candid questions towards him. How often have you had the same opportunity? In the last minutes of our conversation, he asked me to check in with him before I left to discuss my internship and tell him personally what my favorite experience had been. Does that sound like the type of person for whom you’d want to work? It is for me.

Knowing your people isn’t easy. It takes work, effort, and time, but if you can’t make time for your people, are you being a good leader? Will your team follow you? I like to quote Legacy by James Kerr to all my athletes; “Champions do extra.” How much time does an extra sprint take? Less than a couple minutes, and how quickly does that add up? An extra coffee with someone, for example, can take a half hour, and can mean so much more.

What extra are you doing to know your people?

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