“Part of what I will do is make this journey uncomfortable for you,
because the greatest teacher is adversity.”
– Jill Ellis, Head Coach of The United States Women’s National Soccer Team
The above words were what Jill Ellis said at her first meeting with the USA players after she had been hired as head coach.
Yesterday, five years after that meeting, the USA won the World Cup in women’s soccer for a record fourth time by beating The Netherlands, 2-0.
A team of very talented players have no doubt been shaped by a very capable coach and part of her strategy has been to seek out uncomfortable challenges to help make the players and the team better.
And since Ellis took over, they have won back to back World Cups. No mean feat for any team in any competition.
But she has balanced her focus on ‘creating adversity’ with the skillset of connecting with the people around her.
She was inspired at a young age by her Dad, who was a Royal Marine and also a coach with the UK Football Association, and she spent many days watching him coach players of all ages.
“He had the ability to connect with them all, to make the game interesting and fun, and engage them in what he was doing. It stuck with me – taught me early on that it is about connecting with players, no matter what their age.”
It’s an important point as a leader.
Adversity can be the greatest teacher. But when you want people to go with you during those times, you need to be able to connect with them.
Adversity without connection can lead to mutiny.
Adversity with connection can lead to victory.
Where around you can adversity be a teacher?
And who can you work at connecting with better? Because it’s very easy to forget about that connection when tough times hit.