Coach Like Ike

How did you spend your time this season?

You don’t need to be teaching history classes at your school to realize the impakt that military leaders have on our country.  Not since Colin Powell affirmed that he wasn’t going to run a decade ago, we haven’t had a top presidential candidate strictly from the military ranks. Yet, before him, think about the great Presidents who were from the military: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower. Now, you certainly don’t need to have been in the military to have leadership skills, but that background does provide great training. A lot of which is very transferable to coaching football. Leading young men through physical and mental challenges. Having a dynamic opponent. Balancing the needs of your troops with the demands of administration. High pressure to perform with very little resources.  Just this summer I had the privilege to meet with a Marine Corps Major and head coach who is focused on turning around the Des Moines North program in Iowa. He knew the importance of leadership on his team. He also knew the importance of time.

Dwight Eisenhower also knew the importance of time. Ike, just like you, was high on demand and short on time. You are likely constrained with all the demands of coaching, possibly your other job, your family and all those aspects of life that eat away at your free-time throughout your day.

Well, I’m here to share with you a secret I’ve learned good ole’ Ike. Something that can make your life a whole lot more productive if you act on it. I can’t take all the credit either. I first learned of this tactic through a great site, The Art of Manliness. 

The idea that Mr. Eisenhower (and since then, Steven Covey and many others) had was this. Don’t just make a to-do list. You’ll almost always be putting out fires or doing remedial work that doesn’t get you anywhere. If you find yourself getting swamped with email, or being consumed with game film, this would be you. What you need to get to get ahead was categorize what is important and what is urgent, then selectively act (or don’t act) on those tasks. Day to day, this makes a little difference. Week to week it is noticeable. Month to month and year to year, it will separate you from your competitors and leave you will a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

Here is how it works:


courtesy of

courtesy of

Most of us default on the Q1 quadrant. It is important and needs to be done now, then we move to Q3. Urgency tends to rule our days.

Q2 is where you need to spend your time in order to get ahead and live a better life. According to Eisenhower and many that have used this since, you need to fill your bucket with the big rocks first. Schedule these activities and give them the highest priority. This could be time with the family, staying healthy, attending coaching clinics or reading books / blogs to increase your coaching knowledge. Next you have to move to Q1, because, let’s face it, we do have jobs to do and some fires to put out (hopefully it’s not your house, that would be bad). Q3 will happen, but you will have to learn a few tactics to reduce them. First, learn to say ‘no’. This is harder some than others, but keep in mind, when you say ‘yes’ to one request, you are saying ‘no’ to something in your Q2 quadrant. Also, by letting others know where their request might fall on your timeline (setting up a time to meet next week instead of right now), might deter a lot of those drop-ins that suck up your free time. They’ll have probably figured out their own problem by then, and may be better off because they did.  Finally, avoid Q4 like the plague. This is email. Menial tasks that a 5 year-old could do. Here at Impakt we contend that video editing your game film falls into this category. Computers are smart enough to hit start, stop, recognize patterns and compute tendencies. Yes, you need that eventual information to make coaching decisions and set game or practice strategy. No, you don’t need to develop carpal tunnel clicking your mouse all weekend.

Try this matrix out. I’ve been setting up a new one each week, so I can focus on what really matters, and keep track of how many times I fall back into the wasteful habits of Q4.  You’ll be able to focus more time on the reasons why you actually got into coaching in the first place.  Feel free to comment if you use this or have other time prioritizing tactics.

Make it a great day – Coach Campbell


Posted on November 1, 2014 in Coaching

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Responses (2)

  1. […] the carrot or stick, is necessary. But as coaches we have many responsibilities, at home and work. We don’t have the time to always be babysitting a weight room just to ensure everyone is showing up. We need to focus […]

  2. Courtney Riggenbach
    February 4, 2016 at 6:26 am · Reply

    WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …

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