Pay Yourself First

The world of coaching regardless of the sport is a very demanding career and requires sacrifices on all levels. There are the visible hours and non-visible hours. The visible hours are those when you are actually at practice training them for competition; the at competition hours. The invisible hours are those hours where you are planning; constructing workouts; various meetings and then travel time.

In Neil Pasricha’s book “The Happiness Equation,” he looks at a week as 168 hours and divides that into 3 pots: 56 hours sleep (really is that true for any of us); 56 hours of work time (really!!!) and 56 hours of your time.  So I am guessing that there is a bit of swing in the work, sleep ratio. So my question to all of you what do you do with your 56 hours of your time?

As I said above, it is a demanding job physically and psychologically. Are you using your 56 hours of your time to take care of you and your family?  Back in the 80’s -90”s a popular beginner investment book called “ The Wealthy Barber” by a David Chilton pointed out an amazing concept. PAY YOURSELF FIRST!. Put some money in the bank for that rainy day or retirement before you give your hard earned dough to others.

I am going to propose to you a modification on the PAY YOURSELF FIRST concept in terms of your 56 hours of your time. It takes both physical and mental energy to help your athletes reach their goals. If we are exhausted, sleep deprived and unhealthy, can we really preach to our athletes the need to act like a professional. The laws of attraction apply right here.  You give positive energy and passion to your athletes in your daily training environment, you are going to get it right back. Momentum will build and anything is possible.

So how are you going to PAY YOURSELF FIRST each day?  There are many ways:

·         A daily exercise regime, simple or complex, it will make you better.

·         Mindfulness, simple breathing, and meditation – can you give yourself 10 minutes a day.

·         Feed yourself by reading something outside your sport.

·         Spend time with your partner or kids doing something that makes you smile.

·         Smile more!

·         Anything you want that is not related to work.


So in closing, I challenge you for the next month to PAY YOURSELF FIRST out of your 56 hours of you time. I am guessing that the other parts of your world will respond with an equal amount of growth.

Just friggin’ coach McCord

“Just friggin’ coach McCord,” was the answer he gave me.

For 35 years I have played at the best job in the world and for many of those years I have been my own boss. I have only really worked as an assistant coach for one head coach for 2 years. For the other 33 years I worked for my own. In the days before the web appeared, you did coach education courses; read books; attended conferences and talked to your colleagues. Most of the time it was trial and error and we had pretty good success.

If you had a pretty good swimmer and they got fast, you had to figure it out fast and keep your swimmer moving forward. My first really fast swimmer was Richmond Rapids Head Coach Robert Pettifer. He had some success with two international tour teams at the Eight Nations Meet in Cadiz Spain.

My coaching world changed when a couple of brothers joined my squad and enriched the swimming pedigree of the program. Kevin and Brian Johns would become cornerstones of a training group that would send many swimmers off to university programs and produce an Olympian and a Paralympian in 2000. Vancouver Pacific Head Coach Brian Johns became that Olympian. In the early 90’s Johns was a scrappy 10 year old who started to swim fast and over the next 8 years got better and better. There was still no mentoring for me, just a lot of hard work to keep up with this tenacious group of swimmers and keep them moving forward.

Early in the fall of 1998, Swimming Canada hosted a series of camps across the country with experts from around the world. Brian was invited to the Victoria Camp and I was not. I contacted then National Coach Dave Johnson and begged to come to the camp. My club paid my way and I spent 5 days getting mentored by Gennadi Touretski and other coaches. It changed my coaching career in so many ways. I got the first power-up of many in my coaching career.

Later November 1998 Brian was selected to be part of the Canadian World Cup team and I was selected to be a member of the coaching staff, we would do a double Edmonton Alberta and College Station Texas.  Anytime you get a National Team appointment, it is a pretty big deal. I was so proud and scared to death at the same time. What was I going to have to do; I had never been inside a team staff before.

I arrived in Edmonton for the meet with Brian and we had our first team meeting and I was introduced to the swimmers we would be working with. I was intimidated as hell. I had this rising star young swimmer and was handed a couple of veterans as well, my expectations of myself were huge, but what was I supposed to do?

I met with Dave Johnson and asked him this question. “ What am I supposed to do Dave?” He just looked at me, smiled and said, “ Just friggin’ coach McCord!” “You know what to do with your swimmer, do the same with the others you are coaching, just coach, you will be fine.”  It was a simple concise statement and a huge mentoring moment that I have conveyed to many coaches since then.

Did I get it right at those two meets, to this day I am not sure, but we had success at the two meets.  Since that trip I have sought out mentoring moments from people I think that can help me move forward, not only in the water, but also in all aspects of my life.

35 years into this game, I will say this to all coaches.  You will never get it perfect; just keep coaching and coach hard. You will move closer and closer towards that pinnacle performance as long as:

  • You always do your best!
  • You are positive and pursue your work with passion.
  • You create a optimal, positive daily teaching and training environment.
  • You swallow your pride and ask for help when you are struggling, power-ups and mentors are everywhere.
  • You are a lifelong learner in all areas and be willing to make mistakes everyday.
  • You smile and your body language says that you enjoy your job.