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Think back to your childhood for a moment. Odds are good that you took part in some type of team sport or activity- some of your choosing and probably a few that your parents forced you to sign up for (Chess Club, Mom??). With most of these, the details are probably a little fuzzy, and your recollection of that time in your life & the individuals involved isn’t crystal clear.

Now… spend a few moments thinking about your very favorite team experience as a child. How does your recollection of this experience look? I’m guessing it’s quite a bit more vivid. Why does some of these memories hand around in our brains with such precision, while others don’t? If your childhood bears any similarity to mine, the difference in the impact of those experiences has almost everything to do with the individual leading the charge… your Coach.

It took me a fair amount of time and reflection to realize this fact. The teams I was involved with as a child that generate the sharpest memories were led by incredibly impactful people- coaches who expected a lot out of me but were also able to connect and be empathetic when required.

Throughout my upbringing. I probably worked with 20 or 30 different coaches spanning all the sports & activities I was involved in. Why do I truly remember only one or two and what was imprinted them on my memory? And what in the world does any of this have to do with investing and preparing for my future??

As I’ve spent more time pondering this, it seems to come down to one word – Mindset

Let me explain.

What makes these individuals so memorable? The great ones are all unique in certain respects, and those singular attributes are what we remember most about them.

However, what makes these coaches great is the fact that they stay focused only on what works and what generates optimal and sustainable results. Several consistent (but difficult!!) mindset traits were ever-present across those coaches I looked up to most.


“My responsibility is leadership, and the minute I get negative, that is going to have an influence on my team” – Don Shula

We’re coming up on halftime of our junior high basketball game against the rival school from the town just north of us, and our squad is being taken to the proverbial “woodshed”. Down 15 points, and we cant hit the broad side of the barn with a handful of peas (my coaches favorite phrase). As players, we fear what might be coming to us in the locker room at halftime. Alas, the message is not one of fury, but rather one of optimism. The coach explains: threat is… “we now know who their offensive threat is… we know exactly what we need to do differently to change the result… We know how to get back in the game.” Excitement and optimism in the face of adversity. Did we win that game? I have no idea- probably not. Their post player was a giant. 😊 However, what I do remember is the optimism we felt leaving the locker room, despite the dire circumstances… because of my Coach.

Think about all the negativity that gets thrown at us from the mainstream media on a daily basis. Inflation!! Supply Chain Bottlenecks!! Us Debt!! International Growth Concerns!! Are these topics important? Yep. They sure are. And there are a’lot of highly intelligent people across the globe working on them and coming up with new, innovative solutions (think about what you are good at and the problems you are able to solve because of your unique specialty).

Our mindset as investors cannot be to dwell on every negative topic that comes across our social media feed. Our mindset needs to be one of optimism – the future will be better than the past or present. This is what gets us to the next mile marker, and what allows us to focus on those things that are truly important in our lives.


” It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden

Two-ball worst ball. Perhaps the single most torturous game in the history of golf. Here’s how it works. Tee off on hole #1 (an absolute laser 290 yards right down the middle of the fairway). Then tee off again with a 2nd ball (snap hook into the trees on the left). Guess which ball you get to play? Yeah… the one in the forest. Then, you do it all over again with the next shot…. and the next one … and the next one… for 18 holes. You get the picture.

Two-ball worst ball was my varsity high school coach’s favorite game… we played weekly. And I hated it. More importantly, though, I even remember those practices in brilliant detail… even more so than some of the big tournaments that we played in. Two-ball worst ball forced you to correct bad habits and focus on consistency. Focusing on the right things and developing good habits around them around them through repetitive behavior is incredibly important. My coach knew this, and he found a way to make sure we learned it, leading to some very successful seasons for our team.

Think about the areas in your life where habits have made a positive impact- exercising , journaling/ writing, focused time with kids/ parents, sleep schedule, etc. Developing new and health habits is possible at any age and breaking unhealthy ones (Checking your investment balances every day, pumpkin pie at 11pm, scrolling through social media every time you pick up the your phone) is just as important.Through the coaching of others, I’ve learned to focus on creating and strengthening those habits that bring joy and positivity to my life and eliminate habits that add stress and worry. This habitual mindset, put in practice by the best coaches in the world, can work wonders.


“The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way”- Gregg Popovich

My son discovered the sport of lacrosse when he was six and quickly fell in love with it. His team at the time didn’t have a coach, and the club was looking for parent volunteers ( I know many of you have fallen into this “trap”… ha!) Fast forward 6 years, and i’m still coaching lacrosse, alongside another parent who signed up at the same time as me. Lacrosse was not a sport that I grew up with in Ohio. I don’t think any high schools in my area even had lacrosse teams. Thank God for YouTube instructional. videos! But this section isn’t about me. It’s about my fellow coach, Matt.

Over time, the boys on our team became comfortable in the positions they gravitated toward based on their natural talents & desires. My son loves attack (kind of like a forward in soccer or hockey), and Matt’s son loves defense, so that is where they both honed their skills over the years. Last season, though, Coach Matt noticed something that I didn’t. These boys were getting too comfortable with their positions, and it was beginning to create some tension. (” How could our defense get beat like that?’…) Coach Matt had a solution. Attack was going to be spending some time playing defense next game. Our defensemen we’re going to get a crack at trying to score on goal. Everyone on the team will be playing an entire half as goalie at some point during the season.

Talk about putting these boys into uncomfortable situations. My fellow coach knew what he was doing. Putting your body in front of 80mph shots as a goalie is a heck of a lot harder than it looks. Trying to score a goal while the opposing defender is planting you on your rear with a cross-check isn’t so easy. Playing midfield and sprinting from one end of the field to the other multiple times without a break is flat-out exhausting. Being put into these uncomfortable situations gave the boys a whole lot of appreciation for what their teammates do every day, and it brought the squad much closer. Nice work, Coach.

As investors, we must get better at being ok with the unknown. There are things we can control (how much we save, what we choose to spend our money on, how we take care of our physical & mental health), and there are things we simply cannot control (what the market does on a day-to-day basis, tax policy, geographical crises, inflation ,etc.). Unexpected events will always occur. We can become more at ease with this truth, knowing that our financial strategy was built for times such as these. Implementing the mindset to feel more comfortable with being uncomfortable is not easy… however it is crucial to our eventual success.

One of my goals through this process is to reconnect with those select few coaches from my childhood and tell them what they have meant to me as I’ve grown older. I’ll continue to try to emulate their traits as a coach myself, and also as a father, a friend, and as an advisor to our amazing clients. Perhaps we should all spend a bit more time reflecting on the coaches and leaders who have had positive impacts on how we live our own lives. We can’t control the events that happen to us on our journey- only our reaction to these events. Embrace the coach’s mindset!

Thanks for reading!

Tim Watson currently maintains the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) and Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA®) designations. Tim and his team at Steadfast Wealth Co. recognize that running this race for the long term is one of the greatest challenges you’ll face in your lifetime. Thus, they combine critical planning and investment strategies with real-life perspectives. Their consultation is provided at no additional cost to Alliance 403(b) Retirement Plan participants.