Supply A Canvas

Devising a gameplay but allowing the head coach to implement it. Formulating a defensive scheme but having someone else coach it. Drawing up the perfect inbounds play so the coach can call it during the next timeout. All these are small examples of a simple strategy that could prove ever so useful in your career aspirations.

The canvas strategy is a tool that can provide great benefits to those utilizing it. I first learned of the idea from Ryan Holiday's book Ego Is The Enemy (I highly recommend this book by they way). The strategy is simple, as Ryan explains "Find and make canvases for other people to paint on". I think this can really be applied in any setting where you are working "under" someone else, however I believe that it would be an extremely useful mindset for assistant coaches to take on in their daily work. The current climate of coaching is one in which so many people are looking to climb up the ranks, get that next job and fast forward to their ultimate goal. Every person is entitled to reaching their goal in whichever way they see fit, fair enough. To each is own as they progress on their journey but the canvas strategy could play a role in achieving these goals while also aiding in the success of the team they are coaching.

Let others take their credit on credit, while you defer and earn interest on the principal
— Ryan Holiday (Ego Is The Enemy)

I am sure many of you have asked yourselves a version of this question at least a few times, "what do I need to do in order to reach my goal?". It's a question I know I'm constantly asking myself and often times turning up answers that may or may not end up playing a pivotal role in my development. That's why I think this idea of imparting the canvas strategy as an assistant coach could pay huge dividends in the future. This is not a new idea and in fact has been utilized for many years by people such as Benjamin Franklin and Bill Belichick (both mentioned in the book). Looking at the Belichick example, and anyone who has read The Education of a Coach probably knows this, but Bill Belichick took a long road to become one of the most storied coaches in NFL history. He had many jobs before his reign began with the New England Patriots, many of which would not be deemed the most "desirable" to many people. His first job in professional football with the then Baltimore Colts consisted of immersing himself in film where he could in turn provide insights to the rest of the staff. Again in the words of Holiday, "he learned how to be a rising star without threatening or alienating anyone. He didn't mind doing any of this or any of the work that others saw as beneath them. He saw it as an investment in his future and I'd say that it has paid off."

I understand that not every coach will become Bill Belichick, nor does every coach want to become him. I do believe though that imparting the canvas strategy in your working life can provide you great benefits down the road. As President Harry Truman said, "it is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit".