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I’ve always felt that there has been a lot expected of me.

character experimentI’m not sure where this expectation came from. Maybe it came from myself. I am a chronic over-thinker after all.

But the more I learn, the more I’m coming to recognize that I’m not just a product of my own gifts and personality traits. I’m also a product of the expectations of parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, friends, and many other people in my life.

I recently heard a podcast talk about a study where they gave teachers a list of students with high potential in their classes.

The list did have names of high-potential students on it, but it also had names of those who would–by normal standards–be considered of low potential.

And do you know what happened?

At the end of the study, those on the list–even those who considered “low performers”–all improved in performance at the end of the study term.

How did this happen?

Perception and expectation became reality.

I’ve seen it in my own life too when someone says they see a particular quality in me I start to emulate that quality because I so want it to be true–and eventually, it might or I at least get closer.

So it made me wonder this …

Could it be possible to use this information to intentionally shape the character of those within our influence?

The experiment

The evidence suggests that such a result is possible.

You have an extraordinary platform for influence right now. You’re a cheerleading coach.

That means you are with young men and women each day that are still figuring out who they are and seeking the approval of those around them … including you.

So what if we did our own little experiment?

Nothing shady or deceitful. Just a little more intentional focus on loving our team members into being the best person they can be.

What do you think?

The nitty gritty

Here’s how I want it to start. Are you ready?

First, take a good look at your team. What characteristics do they have that you love? What is it about them that blows you away? Now take a minute and write it down.

Second, let’s flip that around now and write down what we’re not crazy about that they say or do. What is it that drives us bananas during practice? What are the characteristics that they really need to develop to be better human beings?

Third, now we’re going micro-focused. Write down the name of each girl or boy on your team. I want you to go through and write down one quality that you want to see in that team member (or at least see them move closer to) by the end of the season.


You’ve just created your game plan for intentional character building. Now it’s time to take action.

Making it reality

Each day that you walk into practice, you have to expect those qualities from your team. Work them into your rules and disciplinary procedures if you need to.

You also have to treat them as though they have the potential to possess those qualities. You can’t just write them off saying, “Well, they’ll never be joyful people. It’s just not who they are.”

If your team needs a heapin’ handful of joy, then be intentional about treating them like they do and complimenting that behavior when you see it.

Finally, the same goes for each of the individual’s qualities too. Tell them that you see that aspirational quality in them. Do it with love and encouragement.

I think if we are intentional about building up our teams internally that they’ll wow crowds externally too.

What do you think? Can we make it happen?

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