Professional golfers, like most athletes have a team of coaches for every aspect of their game: swing coach, short game coach, strength and conditioning coach. However, one of the most important coaches on the roster might just be the one you’d least expect: the mental coach.
Yet, when PGA pro-golfer Jason day needed to replace his regular caddie in an important tournament, that’s exactly where he looked for help, reports Forbes Contributor Carmine Gallo in his article, “5 Mental Tune-Ups To Deliver the Presentation Of Your Life”.
“When asked how he hits a good shot, Jack Nicklaus once attributed 50 percent of it to having a solid mental picture. Only 10 percent was the swing itself,” continues Gallo.
So who is the mental coach in the practice of law?
Attorneys are rarely alone on the courtroom floor. There’s first chair and second chair to back them up. Which is why it is especially important to recognize the value of mentorship and mental coachmenship in the legal profession.
Here are some qualities from some of world’s greatest coaches of all time that law firm professionals should look for in a workplace mentor:
Be animated when you argue
Whether it’s a presentation pitch to a new client or an opening statement by counsel, you should not be afraid to be animated in your arguments. When you look for a mental coach, look for a person with a great sense of passion for his or her practice.
Slow and steady, Bobby Cox, four-time winner of Manager of the Year, led the Braves to a division title every playable season from 1991 to 2005, and a World Series win in 1995. He also holds the record for most ejections of all time with 158.
“And then you’ll probably have to write a $500 check. Or you can do what I do, write a $10,000 one and tell them when it runs out, let me know,” Cox infamously said.
Have faith in your team and your strategies for moving cases toward a win. Surround yourself with people of similar attitudes.
Take wins graciously
In sports, like law, it’s all about the win. But, for every win there’s sure to be a loss—or at least a setback. Which is why it is important to take all news, good or bad in stride.
A mental coach will respect tenacity, the ability to keep going, rain or shine, win or lose.
“I celebrate a victory when I start walking off the field. By the time I get to the locker room, I’m done,” said the leader of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Tom Osborne.
Osborne never won fewer than nine games in a season and won national championships in 1994 and 1995, as well as a share of a third in 1997.
He led a powerful ground game and tenacious defense, leaving a legacy and a record of 60–3 over his final five seasons, as the fastest coach in Division I-A history to win 250 games.
Osborne didn’t stop there. He was eventually elected as a member of Congress. Clearly people respected the personality of leader, desired the stick-with-it attitude of a man who wants to get things done, and were looking for a mental coach in their political representation.
Don’t sweat the small things
A mental coach knows that disputes between colleagues or gossiping, for example, can bring down the productivity of a case.
Walter Alston knew that about his team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. He won seven National League pennants in 23 years as the Dodgers Manager. He also knew how to keep his team focused.
“Individual grievances and pet peeves have got to go by the wayside. Generally, you don’t have to worry about the guys who are playing every day, it’s the guys who are sitting on the bench that are the ones that get needles in their pants,” said Alston.
Law firm professionals need mental coaches who have no patience for pettiness.
Don’t hurry, hustle!
Chuck Noll earned respect for his winning and caring nature. Under Noll’s leadership, Joe Gilliam became the league’s first African-American starting quarterback and Franco Harris became the first African American to win the Super Bowl MVP award.
Noll knew how to cultivate talent. He also realized that winning isn’t about rushing through plays, but about the moment when mental preparedness meets action:
“Good things happen to those who hustle.”
Law firm professionals, like professional athletes, have a lot to gain by a well-nurtured mental game.
Take The Center for Competitive Management’s audio course, “Integrating Legal Mentoring With Law Practice Management,” to find out more about how successful firms create a culture in which mentoring and coaching becomes an inclusive process that is fully integrated with how it does business.
Need other inspiration? Read “The 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time.”