My tips usually come out on Friday at the end of the week. But this past weekend I was taking Zig Ziglar’s comment to heart: “Don’t count the things you do, do the things that count.” Believe me, these tips and my audience mean a lot to me, but I took my boys camping and my time with them is top priority.

For the past 6 months I’ve shared tips from successful athletes and coaches. This week, I want to share one of my own.

I believe coaches can have a huge impact on the lives of their players. They can help instill dedication to a common goal, the love of hard work, and respect for authority. But the opposite is also true. If a coach is lax in discipling his players, and doesn’t hold them accountable he’s actually teaching his players NOT to respect authority. A coach who lets his players get away with whatever they want and does not demand they adhere to his rules and instruction is teaching his players how NOT to be disciplined. He’s not only missing out on a golden opportunity, he doing great damage.

To illustrate my point, contrast two movies: Coach Carter and A River Runs Through It.

coach carter  a river runs through it

In Coach Carter, Samuel L. Jackson plays a tough, disciplined high school basketball coach. Some of his players have no respect for authority and it shows – their lives are a train wreck. But Coach Carter is uncompromising in his stand – he never wavers. And he’s tough on his players. He demands they listen and he holds them accountable. Some hated him at first but he never caved in. He held his ground and eventually the players listened. And because he kept them accountable, the team won and the players were shown what it means to respect authority and be disciplined… many for the first time in their lives.

It’s a different story in A River Runs Through It, which is one of my favorite movies. It’s a beautiful movie set in Montana. On the surface it’s about fly fishing, but at it’s heart it’s about fathers and sons. The father is a preacher who loves his sons and wants what is best for them. But he fails to discipline them. When the younger of the boys, Paul, digs his heels in and refuses to eat his oatmeal he is directly challenging his fathers authority. At first the father tries to hold firm and require Paul to obey. But he caves in and relents. Little Paul’s ego wins out and he’s never disciplined. In essence his father taught him how to NOT respond to discipline. As a result, Paul is never disciplined, never respects authority, and, eventually, it kills him.

When I say this I’m speaking to myself too: let’s be like Coach Carter! Let’s be firm and hold your players (and children) accountable. Teach them to respect authority and love discipline, not the other way around.