Coach Eric Musselman does not ignore the advice or toss the notes in the trash. In fact, he shares them with his players.
The Arkansas men’s basketball team has been on a roll, winners of seven straight games, 10 of their last 11 as they prepare for the NCAA tournament. Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman has created a family environment within his program, one in which players take hard coaching and do not view criticism as a personal indictment of their character. So, how did Musselman do this?
Simple, he listened to his mother.
Musselman’s mom, Kris, a long-time coach's wife, understands the game. She was married to Eric’s father, Bill, a successful coach on every level, from college to the ABA to the NBA. Kris loves to watch the Razorbacks practice and even makes Eric send her film. Kris then crafts perfectly hand-written notes with her recommendations for improving the team. Musselman does not ignore the advice or toss the notes in the trash. Instead, he shares them with his players — demonstrating to the team that he, too, can accept some coaching.
What makes this story powerful is that Kris was willing to initially accept that her son didn’t want her opinions. She even acknowledged this. But she didn’t hold back or feel that she wasn’t entitled to them. She simply made her point and moved along. Their relationship had enough love that the truth always took precedent. Eventually, Eric was willing to embrace her suggestions — and even wanted to share them with his team.
Each day, we get advice from varying people in our lives. Some of it is practical, some isn’t. But when we listen intently and prioritize listening, we create an environment around us that does the same. Our actions inspire the behaviors of other people, and science has proven that they will mimic the tendencies of those they view as successful. But when we don’t care to listen or improve, we create a culture that models bad behavior. Mimicking goes both ways.
The next time our mom gives us some advice, let’s take a page out of the Musselman family playbook. Let’s actually listen.