Bright Spots

Building off the last episode Matt Dernlan and Cary Kolat continues the discussion of the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard By Chip and Dan Heath. Recapping the last episode Kolat describes the basis of the book. The analogy of a rider and elephant is used to describe the two systems in your brain. The rational side is the rider and the emotional side is the elephant. Switch discusses how to create a leadership plan that gets both sides in sync. This episode will focus on Chapter 2: Find The Bright Spots. Bright spots or successes worth emulating is a philosophy that can be described in a question, “What is working and how can we do more of it?”.

Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel

In the book, they use the example of a gentleman whom in 1990 was tasked with fighting malnutrition in Vietnam. The foreign minister told him he only had 6 months to make a difference. Instead of having too much pride, he found an impoverished woman with healthy children and spread her knowledge to the rest of the country. Dernlan can relate this short term situation to coaching. Coaches are assigned to making huge changes in a 4-year span for an athlete and a program. When Kolat first took over at Campbell the program was not doing well and did not have much funding. He had to put a short term plan together in order to build for the future. Similar to the gentleman in the story, he found bright spots. In Kolat’s case, it was looking at other programs and analyzing what they are doing that makes them successful. From that Kolat learned how to implement techniques into his own program. Kolat also used this in his athletic career. He had no problem copying a move another wrestler did or going to where they train

Lay the Right Foundation

When Dernlan went from Penn State to Clarion, he made the mistake of not scaling the goals to the program size. He figured out quickly he couldn’t just implement a blanket philosophy and culture into another program. You have to take one step at a time. You can’t make unrealistic promises. Success is defined differently by different programs. It’s important to highlight the smaller victories. It’s easy to get caught up in the big picture. As your program grows and changes your goals and standards should too.

Finding Bright Spots

Kolat coaches this technique to his wrestlers. He has had a few examples of freshman wrestlers with bad records that went on to be extremely successful later on. Those are the type of guys he makes captains. Kolat tells incoming freshman to replicate what they did and grow from it. Dernlan mentions pulling appropriate examples for young wrestlers. In order to apply to a wrestler’s rational mind, you should appropriately choose who you use as a model. This makes it tangible for them to believe that success is possible. Going along with this, Kolat chooses to focus on his wrestler’s successful matches over their failures. It’s harder to say this is what you’re not doing and how to fix it than to duplicate your success.


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