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Issue 265 - Does Profanity Improve Communication?

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 6 Issue 265
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



One of John Wooden's three rules for practice was no profanity. Coach felt that the use of profanity demonstrated a lack of self-control and that if a coach or a player could not control their words, how could they control their actions.
Scientifically, it is has been found that profanity triggers a part of the brain (amygdala) that creates emotion. Using profanity selectively certainly grabs the attention of an audience.
Coach Wooden felt that the ability to stay focused consistently was important. The ability to focus is preceded by being in a relaxed state of mind. Along the same lines, Coach felt that love was long-lasting while passion was only temporary.
The astronaut Jim Wetherbee talks about the importance of being focused while in outer space. He didn't feel that it was humanly possible to stay hyper focused 24 hours a day. He talked about the importance of using triggers to focus. For example: when an astronaut has to properly turn the hatch on the space shuttle door, that is a trigger for extreme focus. Relaxation, not emotion, must precede the proper activation of a trigger.
Mr. Wetherbee makes the analogy to the trigger of making sure you have your room key just before you leave a hotel room by not being in a hurry, rather than thinking about it just after you close the door.
In basketball, there is a trigger event when you shoot a free throw. The place kicker in football has a trigger event when he kicks the ball. If you are emotionally off-balance just prior to the trigger event, you will not be able to focus properly on the event itself.
Using profanity as a coach can grab the focus, memory and emotion of a player in the short run, but probably not positively contribute to consistent long-term performance which is the result of combining a relaxed state with trigger focus.
I would argue the upside of using profanity as an attention grabber is outweighed by the downside of the fragmented and inconsistent emotional state it can create.
Coach Wooden wanted simply to be remembered as a person who was considerate of others. Not using profanity was one of the ways he demonstrated consideration.
How would you like to be remembered?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman
Twitter: @woodenswisdom




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Application Exercise



Results and Roses

The man who wants a garden fair,
Or small or very big,
With flowers growing here and there,
Must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
That wishes can attain.
Whate'er we want of any worth
We've got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek
Its secret here reposes:
You've got to dig from week to week
To get Results or Roses.

Edgar Guest






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