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Parenting & Coaching: Two Peas in a Pod

Financial Advisor Isaac Hartman with his two children in skiing outfits hugging and smiling in front of a view of the snow covered mountainsLike teachers, great coaches are amongst the most underappreciated professionals out there. Sure, pro-level coaches are respected and paid handsomely, but what about ones on a local level? For example, my favorite teacher at Mulberry High School coached and counseled her students as much as she taught them. As a parent of five children, I want to be a coach to my kids, just as my teacher was to me.

To accomplish this goal, my wife and I started working with an organization called Connected Families. Connected Families has taught us to let go of the perfect image of family and embrace our challenges and hard times instead. The remainder of this piece will talk about other events/groups that have helped me improve my parenting and coaching abilities.

Maximum Effort, Zero Expectations

Two children in winter clothing are holding skis and posing for a picture in the snow.For the past 7 years, I have been able to go on a “Dad’s Ski Trip” to Colorado. We usually have 10-12 dads and over 20 kids. My 3 oldest are all better (and braver) skiers than me now. One year, a ski instruction named Ivan taught me the phrase, “Maximum Effort, Zero Expectations!” This mindset made Ivan an incredibly skilled coach. What I found unique about Ivan is that even though he was incredibly intense, he only gave positive reinforcement and encouragement to kids and adults alike. Now, I use these ideas in parenting my kids and coaching them in their respective sports.

Ivan’s idea of “Maximum Effort, Zero Expectations” can be applied to much more than sports and parenting. You can also use this sentiment in your marriage and relationships. Surprisingly, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right-hand man, recently acknowledged this perspective with some dry humor. He said that “the secret to happiness is to lower your expectations—then you won’t be so disappointed.” I have really tried to incorporate this mindset into my lifestyle. Maybe if we all lower our expectations, we won’t be disappointed when people can’t reach unrealistic standards.

The Challenges of Coaching

White board says, "No expectations. No disappointments" written in black. A hand is seen underlining the phrase with a red line.Now that we’ve discussed how to become a great coach by adopting the “Maximum Effort, Zero Expectations” rule, let’s talk about some challenges that may lie ahead. It’s hard to be a great coach, primarily because so few of us want to be coached. Many people would rather post perfect pictures on their Instagram, rather than admit coaching could help them.

Again, we see that coaching is needed in sports, but why not add coaching to other areas of life? For example, more people should think about coaching in fitness and finance if they struggle in those areas. Another point is that marriage counseling is often met with shame and embarrassment—it shouldn’t be. I would never send my 4-year-old to ski down the Double Black Diamond slope without any coaching. It’s the same thing for married couples. You can’t expect to have the perfect marriage without a little assistance.

Life is hard and we all need help. Instead of hiding from coaches, seek them out. “Maximum Effort, Zero Expectations.” You’ll be amazed at the results if you can just stop worrying about them. As Paul (one of my favorite coaches) puts it in in his letter to the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything.”

April 2021

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