Chasing Influence Discussion Questions
Questions to use with your teams or book clubs
Page 3. In the introduction, there is a quote where John Wooden says, “Sports don’t build character, they reveal it.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
Relationships: A Team of Redwoods
Page 7. Family and baseball grew to be synonymous for Coach. How can we successfully balance family and our love of coaching?
Page 16. Coach stayed in touch with most of his athletes one way or another. How do you (or can you) maintain relationships with past athletes?
Pages 16 and 17. Chapter one discusses the importance and significance of developing relationships through our teams. What’s your favorite memory(ies) of time spent with teammates?
Purpose: Finding Your “Why”
Page 25. Coach’s purpose is to help others become the best version of themselves, on and off the field. What is your transformational purpose as a leader, educator, or coach?
Page 26. How would you define a transformational coach?
Page 27. The book discusses those with an “It” or “X” factor. What is the magic mix of a leader or coach with an “It” factor?
Page 32. At the end of chapter two, it says Coach hadn’t ever been building a field or a team, he’d always been building people. What are the most significant ways you believe sports facilitate the development of youth?
Leadership: Be the Bell Cow
Page 39. The book highlights a number of impressive leaders, including Ernest Shackleton who has had a resurgence of attention in examinations of leadership over the past decade. What leader is an inspiration for you - and why?
Page 40. Some coaches are out front leading their team into competition. You will see this in college football frequently with a coach leading the team onto the field. If you were a college football coach - would you be out front, in the middle of the pack, running from behind, or on your own different schedule? Why would you choose this?
Page 40. Coach Wooden believed your greatest leadership tool is your own personal example. Do you believe this is true?
Page 41. The book discusses important leadership traits. If you had to pick one leadership trait as the most important, what would it be - and why did you choose this trait or skill?
Page 42. Stick learned in his coaching to “not assume anything.” How could this approach influence your teaching or coaching in positive or negative ways?
Page 43. Coach Olson held regular sessions with anyone interested in being a better leader. How do you prepare your (team) leaders?
Mastery: Your Best is Yet to Come
Pages 48 and 49. Chapter four discusses “students of the game.” What does it mean to be a student of the game in your sport or activity?
Page 49. Analyze where you fall on Coach Olson’s coaching hierarchy. Explain where you are most comfortable and where you have room for the most improvement.
Page 51. The book tells the story of a white-belt mentality and the significance of kaizen. How can coaches model and create this culture of continual growth on their teams?
Pages 53 and 60. Chapter two discusses finding your purpose. Chapter five explores how you put purpose into action to achieve mastery. What are actionable ways you will put your purpose into action? How can you use goal-setting to support your purpose and strive for mastery?
Page 55. How do you find the “sweet spot” for development and growth coaching your sport?
Page 57. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Do you wish you’d done something differently 20 years ago that may have changed your future path? Is there anything you can do today to avoid future regrets?
Wellness: Sharpen your Life
Page 64 and 72. The average person only gets 29,000 days on Earth. How do you capture the most of each day without being preoccupied by the last day’s arrival? What would you change if this number were only 10,000, 5,000, or 1,000?
Page 66. Stick’s quiet place to get away and think was in moments of solitude taking care of the ballfield. Where is your go-to quiet place to reflect and think?
Page 66. On page 66 Chasing Influence says “Transformational figures are wired as servant-leaders to care for others, and they develop experiential toolboxes filled with others-centered power tools.” What others-centered toolbox items have you used or have you been the recipient of that made a real difference?
Page 66. On page 66 the book tells the apocryphal story of the soldier struggling with mental health and stuck in a hole. It lists a number of others who attempted to help the soldier but were ultimately unsuccessful. How would the story read and play out, do you believe, if a coach walked by the soldier stuck in the hole?
Page 69. There’s a list of catchphrases Coach Olson uses with his teams. What mantras or reminders do you use with your athletes to positively motivate and encourage them?
Page 72. On page 72 the book says, “It’s not that we don’t have enough time; it is the choice of what to do with it and what priorities we make.” What strategies, techniques, or habits do you use for prioritizing your time - in your own life and during training sessions?
Resilience: A Little Past Splat
Page 88. Stick told his teams HITS (Hard work, Integrity, Teamwork, and Sisu) would always get them ahead. If you had a magic wand and could give your athletes one or two core values they would have for the rest of their lives because of your influence - what would they be?
Page 89. Coach’s reminder of avoiding the easy “no” to find a way to say “yes” was a SISU sign he kept on his wall. What reminder do you use to keep going or to find the sometimes more difficult “yes”?
Page 91. Coral reef shows its beauty only when it is challenged. What challenges have led to shining moments in your life? How does this relate to your teams?
Page 92. Do you have a story or example of a Splat moment you’ve been a part of or witnessed? How do we help teams or athletes get past Splat when it happens?
Patience: Feed the Seed
Page 95. Have you ever cut a corner only for it to backfire on you? What happened? What was the alternative to this shortcut, and how do you think the situaton would have turned out if it weren’t for cutting a corner?
Page 97. “There is a push-pull each person must navigate between appropriate urgency and patience.” How do you appropriately balance hustle and restraint?
Page 103-104. Chapter seven tells the story of timber bamboo and the patience needed to witness its incredible growth. What are you doing now that you might not see the results of for years?
Page 107. Stick says the best part of coaching is spending quality time with the team. What do you believe is the best part of coaching?
Allyship: Breaking Barriers
Page 105. What does it mean to coach the person first and athlete second. How do you do this as a coach?
Page 117. Chapter eight discusses unfortunate incidents involving bigotry. Sports have a long and regrettable history of discrimination. How do you promote diversity and tolerance on your team?
Page 110-111, 121-122. Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson are admired for their difference-making qualities. Who is a game changer, from any walk of life, that you admire - and why?
Encouragement: Shaking Off the Dirt
Page 130. This chapter discusses the difference between being a thermometer and thermostat. What are ways you stay in touch with your team’s temperature?
Pages 130-131. The butterfly effect is explored extensively in chapter nine. What’s an example of a butterfly effect moment from your life?
Pages 132-133. Geese honk to motivate each other to keep moving forward. What have you found to be the most authentic and effective ways to motivate and encourage team members so they know you believe in them? Who honks for you?
Care: Splashing Kindness
Page 137. Teddy Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Have you witnessed this as truth in your own life? How does this understanding impact one’s approach to coaching?
Page 141. The book says “A person’s presence really begins when that person is absent.” What do you think this means? Is this something you have ever experienced?
Page 145. What do you believe carries more weight, a coach's verbal or non-verbal communication? How so? What do your non-verbals look like - and how do you know?
Page 147. Gordy “Rev” Hess tells a touching story about a time Coach made all the difference for him at just the right time. Can you think of an example of someone making all the difference for you at just the right time - or a time you were able to do this for someone and how that moment felt for you and that person?
Teamwork: A Pack Mentality
Page 154. If you got to pick just one person, who would you want in your foxhole with you? Why?
Page 157. Stick intentionally uses time together to grow team bonds. How do you build positive team culture?
Page 159. Author Jim Rohn has said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Do you believe we become the average of who we spend time with? What practical applications does this have for teams?
Hard Work: Pound the Rock
Page 165. Rooster works hard to become a great ballplayer, throwing thousands of balls off the church wall. But, he has fun doing it. How do we make hard work “fun” and not drudgery in our sports? Would Rooster have bounced that ball off the wall if he didn’t enjoy it?
Pages 169-170. Chapter twelve tells the “pound the rock” story from the movie Pale Rider. What rock are you pounding on today - and what do you hope to accomplish with your efforts?
Page 172. What are different ways you have seen athletes react to a difficult situation and the prospect of completing difficult tasks? Do you agree with the idea presented in the book that how we react when things get difficult is the true test of character?
Commitment: Life’s Marathon
Page 176. The chicken or the egg question of what comes first—commitment or high performance—is asked in this chapter. Which do you think comes first? Do you have any examples?
Page 177. Chapter thirteen discusses complacent, compliant, and committed team members. From your experiences, how accurate does this categorization of team members seem to be? How do we move the needle to more committed and and less complacent team members?
Pages 177-178. The story of the commitment exhibited by the Marathon Monks is in many ways unbelievable. What is an extreme level of commitment you have witnessed - or even produced? What made this commitment so remarkable?
Pages 180-181. This chapter is not only about being committed to a cause, but also about commitment to others. Who is a person who has been committed to you and the wellness of your life?
Failure: Growing Through Hardship
Page 185. “How a coach or leader responds to failure can influence followers for a lifetime. What is your response and demeanor when challenges arrive?” When you let someone else determine your response, you are giving them your power. How can you model a positive response to setbacks and lead your teams to do the same?
Page 191. There’s a list of famous people who became very successful despite early setbacks. What is an experience of disappointment or a mistake you made that you learned from?
Page 193. Every setback provides a growth opportunity. Does winning or losing provide more learning opportunities? Support your answer with any examples you’re able to share.
Responsibility: The Choice Is Yours
Page 199-201 (also page 145). Coach held his athletes to high standards, but it came with care. Consider the table below. What does a coach look like that operates from each of the quadrants?
Page 204. Eisenhower was prepared to accept defeat if the invasion of Normandy was unsuccessful. When have you taken responsibility for a failure? How did this moment impact you? Would you do it again? How did your team react to this example of accountability?
Page 205. Chapter fifteen highlights the window/mirror exercise. What benefit does this tool yield for leaders?
Integrity: Show your Mettle
Page 212. Tom Bodet said the difference between school and life is that in school you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson. How would sports fit in this comparison?
Page 214. Chapter sixteen discusses women in sports. In recent years great strides have been made to elevate women in high-level sports with women’s pro leagues, female officials at the highest levels, women coaches and executives, and even all women’s sports bars. What can we do as coaches and leaders to better promote women in sports?
Page 216. Coach used his mother’s advice, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” following poor performances or upsetting losses. What does your post-game talk look and feel like? Do you buy into the idea of keeping post-competition discussions “short and sweet” or is this a teachable moment to be captured?
Page 220. What are some examples of choosing the “harder right” rather than the “easier wrong” in life and in coaching? What do you think of the idea of telling the umpire your player cheated and cut the corner? Would you do that? Would the game situation matter?
Attitude: The Optimist’s Gift
Page 226. Chapter seventeen discusses negativity bias. How does the negativity bias affect our work as coaches working with youth?
Page 228. In a few places, Chasing Influence discusses sports psychology and the mental side of sport. How do you incorporate a high-performance mindset in your training?
Page 231. “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.” This more easily applies to physical items. Can this also relate to sports - how so?
Page 232. The Navy Seals have an expression they call, “full benefit.” What is an experience of “full benefit” in your sport?
Page 237. We control our own attitude, effort, and mood. What is your best tip or strategy for maintaining a positive mental attitude?
Gratitude: A Habitude of Thanks
Page 241-244. How does it feel to be the recipient of an unexpected or heartfelt “thank you"? Is there an example of this from your life you can share?
Page 243 (and page 269). “The only people who truly know your story are the ones who helped you write it.” What kind of stories will your athletes tell about you years from now?
Page 244. This chapter talks about the power of a sincere “thank you.” When done with this book club session, handwrite and mail a thank you note to someone who has made a difference in your life. Talk about that person now and why you will write them this thank you note today.
Transformational Coaching: Chasing Influence
Page 253. There’s the story of the pine caterpillars and how sometimes we mistake activity for accomplishment. How do we sometimes make this mistake as coaches?
Page 254. This page talks about Stick’s coaching tree and how he is so proud of those he coached who have gone on to do great things. Share a story about someone you mentored, taught, or coached that you are proud of or who has gone on to do great things in life.
Page 257. Chapter nineteen asks what today’s athletes look for in coaches. In your opinion, if you had to pick one word essential to great coaching, what word would you choose and why?
Page 258. The chapter on transformational coaching discusses the many roles of a coach. What do you believe is the most important role of a high school coach?
Page 260. In this day and age is it enough for athletes to respect their coaches, or do you need your athletes to like you? Why do you believe this?
Page 261. The words coaches choose and use matter. What are words from a coach you remember or carry with you today?
Service: A Mop Bucket Attitude
Page 269. What advice would you give your younger self?
Pages 269-270. What would you want your last banquet to look like?
Pages 272-273, 277. What does success look like for you? How do you a. define and b. measure success?
Pages 274-275. The book talks about how various leaders and teams “give back.” How does your program give back to others? What’s your program’s version of “sweeping the sheds”?
Pages 275-276. Erik Erickson said, “Tradition is to human beings what instinct is to animals.” What are your team’s traditions?
Legacy: What Matters Most in Life
Page 281 (also page 269). What are some words that you would use to describe your legacy as it stands today?
Page 282. What matters most in your life?
Pages 283-284. If you could script it, what would be your lasting legacy? How can you get there?
What was your favorite quote in the book - and why did you select this as your favorite?
If you were to name the book - what would you have named it?
There are many leadership and coaching tips provided throughout the book. If you had one coaching tip to share to help the coaching world, what would it be, and why?
What are three things you will implement into your coaching or leadership after reading this book?