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Growing Plants and Kids


By: Michael Aun


My friend and neighbor Chad Ansbaugh lives just up the street from me. He coaches alongside my son Cory at St. Cloud High School in Florida.

I got to know him a little more intimately while serving as his ball boy for the St. Cloud freshman football team. His coaching style is more in the role of a teacher or professor. 

I notice some coaches stalk the sidelines, screaming and yelling at players. Not Chad… he looks more like a college professor, studying his play sheet. Some coaches believe the louder you yell at a kid the more effective the results will be. 

Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with high school freshmen. Let’s face facts; freshmen do not know what they do not know. Every play becomes a learning experience.

When a play goes south, whether it was his a bad call or not, he owns the pain, always striving to build his players.

He recently had an interesting post on Facebook. “I saw this (referring to the quote below) and immediately thought that there is no surprise that I am a coach and a gardener. The tasks are very similar.”


Chad wrote, “I passionately protect my plants / kids. I have to choose varieties that can only grow in a specific climate / kids have to be able to handle my culture in the gym.”

He further writes, “I have to make the tough decision on when a plant isn’t going to make it / letting a kid know that they just aren’t growing. I have to realize that not all plants are going to produce the same thing / all kids are different.”

The old Sly and the Family Stone song lyric song says it best: “Different strokes for different folks.” Life is that way.

“I have to know that different plants take different fertilizer / each kid need something different in order to grow,” observes Chad. “I have to know that there are creatures who want to destroy my garden / there are those who love to see my team (s) fail.”

Part of a coaches many responsibilities is to protect his players. Chad says, “I have to be willing to pull weeds / some kids will steal energy from those who truly want to grow into something special.”

All athletes do not progress the same. Chad feels, “I have come to terms with the fact that not every season is the same. Some cycles yield more than others. Still, I am laboring… protecting the seedling / kid, keeping it / kids safe during tough times. This allows the seedling / kids to grow at its own pace. And at the end of the season I will start on my next crop.”

Everyone does not necessarily advance at the same speed. When you rush the process, you allow yourself many mistakes. While we grow from some, we might, in fact, simply be better in tolerating mistakes.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Tom Peters, speaker and author of In Search of Excellence, once commented on a program “We need to teach people to fail faster. If it is given that failure is the process by which we succeed, wouldn’t it then follow that in order to have more success, we need more failure? Fail faster, just don’t replicate mistakes.”

The fact is we cannot fix past mistakes by dwelling on them. Heal the past by living fully in the present moment. Growth is the key, not pace. When you grow at your own pace you will have equity in the situation. Speed doesn’t matter as long as you are making progress.

That begs the question… how long should your child spend in the first grade? Answer… one year is reasonable and acceptable. Make measurable progress in a reasonable time frame. It’s the same for plants or kids.

Michael Aun, CSP®, CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame® is the author of “Marketing Masters”