When Mike Neighbors became an assistant coach at the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team he expected big things. This was his first college coaching job and he anticipated a role where he would be leading the defense. He envisioned his X’s and O’s would guide the team to an SEC championship.
Too say he overestimated his level of responsibility, is to say that ESPN likes sports.
His first job as an assistant was to get the head coach a Diet Coke. His role had little to do with offense or defense and more to do with making sure coach Gary Blair didn’t get thirsty at practice and at games.
Neighbors could have sulked. His friends were giving him a hard time. He could have thought that task was beneath him and quit.
He choose a different route. He decided to take his job head on.
“If that’s on me, I am going to be the head coach of that.” Neighbors said. “I found out if he wanted it in a can, in a cup, or if he wanted his ice cubed or crushed, or Sonic-style.”
He always wanted to be a head coach and he decided that the best way to work toward that is to be the head coach of whatever he was asked to do. He took whatever duty the coach gave him and he performed to the best of his ability. This led to the coach developing a trust in Neighbors which led to more responsibilities.
Many times we expect big things right away. We write a book and we want to be treated like John Grisham. He start a restaurant and we want lines like Chipotle. We want to be number 1 from day 1.
But that is not how it works. When we are hit with reality we can choose to sulk or we can chose to be the head coach of any task we are given.
When we become the head coach of whatever, and perform to the best of our abilities, our role will grow and grow.
However, that doesn’t mean it will come quickly. Just ask Neighbors. He spent 14 years as an assistant, and was passed up for head coaching jobs numerous times.
But it eventually paid off.
Neighbors is now the head coach of being a head coach for the University of Washington.
And it will eventually pay off for us.
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