Why This Sign is Great for My Business (But Terrible for Yours!)

Why This Sign is Great for My Business (But Terrible for Yours!)

One of the most shared images on social media these days is a sign that reads:
“Uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. Let your kids get used to someone being tough on them. It’s life, get over it!”

At first glance, this sign might seem like tough love, a rallying cry for parents and coaches to prepare their children for the real world. However, while this approach has inadvertently fueled the success of my leadership development business, it’s a philosophy I strongly disagree with. Let me explain why this sign is great for my business but terrible for yours.

Misguided Toughness Creates More Clients for Me
The phrase "Let your kids get used to someone being tough on them" suggests that the only way to prepare children for future challenges is through harsh treatment. This couldn't be further from the truth. When parents and coaches buy into this mindset, they often produce adults who replicate these behaviors in the workplace. These adults become managers who believe that being tough and harsh is the only way to lead. As a result, they create toxic work environments, leading to high turnover and low employee morale.

Coachable vs. Yellable
There’s a dangerous implication in this sign that being "coachable" means being able to withstand harsh criticism and tough treatment. But let’s be clear: coachable does not mean sellable. The most effective leaders and coaches inspire and encourage, not intimidate and demean.
"A coachable person is someone who can listen, reflect, and take constructive feedback—not someone who simply tolerates being yelled at. The goal should be to develop skills, foster understanding, and encourage improvement, all within a framework of mutual respect."

The Impact on Future Leaders
By endorsing a culture where being tough equates to being harsh, we risk perpetuating a cycle of negativity and fear. Children who grow up believing that success is achieved through enduring harsh treatment may become adults who replicate these behaviors in the workplace. This can lead to toxic work environments where fear, rather than collaboration and innovation, reigns supreme.

A Personal Story
My personal experience with sports growing up has shaped my understanding of what it means to be coachable. To me, being coachable in sports meant being yelled at and screamed at by every coach I had. This approach made me associate coachability with enduring harsh treatment, and I believe this is the message that signs like this one send out. However, through my own journey and experience in leadership development, I've come to realize that true coachability is far more positive and supportive.

Rethinking Toughness
Preparing children for the real world doesn't mean subjecting them to unnecessary hardship. It means teaching them the value of perseverance, the importance of adaptability, and the strength that comes from collaboration. It means showing them that true toughness is about maintaining integrity, showing kindness, and having the courage to lead with empathy.

While the intention behind the sign might be to prepare kids for life's challenges, the approach it suggests is flawed. We need to shift our mindset from equating toughness with harshness to understanding that real strength lies in support, empathy, and effective communication. Only then can we truly develop coachable individuals who are ready to face the world with confidence and resilience.
So, thank you to everyone who follows the philosophy of this sign. Your approach has helped my business thrive as I work to fix the very issues it creates. But for the sake of your teams and the future of your organizations, I urge you to reconsider. Let’s build a world where leaders lift others up, not push them down.

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