Jumpstart Your Injury Reduction Efforts by Discovering Your Why

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Discovering Your Why

In the previous post, I discussed  the characteristics of successful teams utilizing systematic injury prevention. A team transformed their entire organization’s injury prevention system in one pre-season!  A key factor was that they started with why.

Why start with why? Because the success of your mission depends on it. If you don’t convey  the foundational why, the how and what become much more difficult to accomplish. When people are exposed to something new, resistance and defensiveness are common reactions.  If you can connect the emotional part of their brain with a compelling why, it becomes a bridge for collaboration.  

The number one question I get is, “How do I get buy in from  (coaches, players, clinic managers, parents, etc.)?”  People hit the barriers regarding  time, resources, and personality and can’t seem to overcome them. This can usually be traced back to not communicating  a compelling why statement.   A very clear why statement is essential to lead your team through the dark days of no one buying in.  A crystal clear ‘why’ can lead your team to a certain victory by communicating in a way that prompts behavior change.

Shared beliefs and an understanding of the greater purpose, enables an organization to get behind the steps required to accomplish the mission. Why do you or your organization care about injury prevention?  Do you believe that your competitive advantage comes from keeping  players on the field in the first place? Is this where your  physical performance efforts are rooted?  The goal is for stakeholders at all levels of an organization to be able to able to answer this question consistently: “Why are we doing this?”

Here is an example of great “why” answer:

“We believe that we can affect the durability of our players by systematic screening, testing, and intervention. Our competitive advantage as a team comes from creating durable players. Last year, we had too many injuries that kept key players from performing their best. We are doing this so players can stay on the field with a foundation that is ripe for enhancing performance.”

If you haven’t read Start with Why, block out 18 minutes on your calendar this week to view Simon Sinek’s TED Talk . I find it beneficial to watch this video regularly to ensure that my communication starts with why and then addresses the how and the what. The heart of the matter, and golden key to unlocking doors through communication, is in the why.

While developing a why statement might seem to be a cheesey, pointless exercise that a consultant on team building makes you do, it is crucial to communicating effectively!

How to formulate your Why 

Define your beliefs. Dream big and make it meaningful. “To prevent injuries” will inspire no one. Yet, I hear it all the time!  “To prevent injuries” is a what statement.  What are your beliefs about human movement and the science of injury prevention?  Ultimately, why do you want to prevent injuries? To win the championship? To reduce costs?  To keep the factory worker gainfully employed so she can take care of her family?  To help children embrace a lifestyle that includes physical activity? Here are some steps to developing your why:

1) Admit that injury prevention is just a means to an end. Injury prevention is a step along the way to a bigger destination.

2) Identify your why – What do you believe?

Begin your why statement with I believe….

I wrote this when I started this blog a few years ago:

I believe we need a musculoskeletal disease prevention revolution.

I believe that we can identify those at risk for preventable injury before it happens.

I believe that we can keep people from being re-injured after their initial injury.

I believe we can KNOW when someone is ready to go back to their activity.

I believe that the musculoskeletal health of every person should be tested as part of an annual exam and prior to initiating exercise. Everyone should know their musculoskeletal “number” — just like they know their blood pressure.

I believe we can, no NEED, to work together across professions to do this. It is going to take a village!

Notice, the purpose of this blog was not “to reduce injury rates.” Again, what do you believe? Mull over your beliefs as you develop your why statement.

3) Consider and define why it matters to you and your team

What will happen if you achieve it? (both long and short term)

What will happen if you don’t? (both long and short term)

Injury prevention efforts should lead to the “team’s” desired outcome . What common outcome would every team member want to achieve? We can get  pigeon holed in our view and our own goals. With a thoughtfully crafted why statement, you will be ready to tackle the barriers that you will encounter along the way. In future posts, we will address those common barriers.

Please write in the comments below “why statements” you have developed to help our community of readers.

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Phil Plisky

I want to change peoples lives through dialogue about injury prevention research and return to activity testing.

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