All of us in the coaching profession have had to confront what a player has done on a day off or on off time. In the player's mind, that is his time and it's his decision how to spend it. In the coach's mind, all time is either spent productively or unproductively. That isn't to say that all time is spent working, but that an athlete always has a vision of who he is and what he wants. Here is what Angela Duckworth wrote in Grit about pitcher Tom Seaver: "Pitching determines what I eat, when I go to bed, what I do when I'm awake. It determines how I spend my life when I'm not pitching. I pet dogs with my left hand....I eat cottage cheese instead of chocolate chip cookies." This is what we want on our teams, but the reality is, those athletes are rare.
So, back to the question of "how do I handle this athlete?" I'd ask him, what's your vision for yourself? Does it involve who you want to become as a man, a husband, a father? Does it involve your entire career as a player? Does it include your purpose and what you want to accomplish off the field? Can I help you find your vision? Can I help you begin to live in a way that supports that vision? Can you live your life with that vision in mind? Mark Spitz won 7 gold medals in the 1972 Olympics as a swimmer. Here is a quote from him about his feat.
This quote signals that his success is reliant upon his character, his work ethic, his choices and his limits. He also famously said that he was trying to live up to the responsibilities of his dream. That is the key! He understood that his vision of success was reliant upon his motivation and his self-discipline. Swimming was the sport, but his achievements were about his capabilities as a person. It's easy to say you want to be the best in the world, but doing what needs to be done to be that guy is a whole other story. The vision has to be constant. It has to be what you think of when you wake up in the morning to push you through the pain you'll face to achieve it. And yes, having a vision that requires you to give your best and most is painful.
Pain is what leads you to adjust. If you can accept defeat or failure with no pain, there would be no reason to make adjustments or work harder or smarter. Pain is what guides you to solve the problem that keeps you from achieving your vision. The pain of staying home on a Saturday night so you can give your all to a practice on Sunday morning might not seem like worthwhile pain when you're experiencing it, but it's just the type of pain that the greatest understand they need to suffer to work toward their vision. How you play in the game is usually reliant upon how you prepared in practice. How you practice is often reliant upon how you rested, fueled yourself and planned for it. What that means is, how you spend your day off or any time off is a reflection of what you visualize achieving. Odell has probably had goals in his life to get to where he is now. He is a very good receiver in the NFL. He has been paid. He gets to do things many of us envy. Perhaps that is what he wants. He could, however, find a deeper purpose and a vision of who he will be in 25 years. He could aspire to do what Jerry Rice did.
There's more to this than just the game or your legacy as an athlete. Your vision can go beyond that. I love how Dabo Swinney challenged his team AFTER they won the National Championship game this week. Here is Jon Gordon's tweet about it. Jon was in the locker room listening. Dabo is a leader who found a way to get his guys to share his vision that Clemson could be the best and then act in ways that supported that vision. However, Dabo clearly wants more. He simply wants his guys to be the best they can be in life, too!