Unapologetically BOLD: I'm not sorry for....
Promoting choice with the players with Andy Bass
January 15, 2021
Do you coach people? This could be in business, life, sports. But as a coach, do you find yourself telling people what to do or giving them choice in exercises or do you delegate the responsibility to others while taking on an advisory role. This is easier said than done, but join in on the conversation as Andy Bass, mental skills coach for the Pittsburg Pirates talks about why he is not sorry for being an advocate for player choice especially in the learning process.
Do you coach people? 

This could be in business, life, sports. 

But as a coach, do you find yourself telling people what to do or giving them exercises, or do you delegate the responsibility to others while taking on an advisory role. 

This is easier said than done, but join in on the conversation as Andy Bass, mental skills coach for the Pittsburg Pirates talks about why he is not sorry for promoting the player to the head coach. 

About the Guest:
Andy was a right-handed pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox minor league system until he was stopped in his tracks but his mental game. As he explored more of why he did the things he did, Andy fell in love with the learning process and obtained his MS and Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior. He is now the mental skills coach for the Pittsburg Pirates. 

[00:00:02] spk_0: this is This show is brought to you by Safety FM. Welcome to unapologetically bold. I'm not sorry for If you are a person that is tired of apologizing for being you, you know the human part of you that sometimes feels like it has to be different at home versus work versus play. The human side that just wants to be hot, humble, open and transparent about your wants, desires and uniqueness. If you answered yes, this is for you. Join me, Emily Elrod as I dive into conversations with Amazing Guest. About what? That you're not sorry for and creative and loving ways Let's get started. Welcome everybody to another unapologetically bold I'm not sorry for. And if you all I knew how excited I am to have my now good friend Andy on. Thank you so much for joining me today, Andy.

[00:01:05] spk_1: Absolutely. This is beyond a pleasure and a privilege to be able to speak with you and particularly considering the guests that you've had on this show. I'm very humbled.

[00:01:13] spk_0: Thank you so much. Any the more I get to know you, the more like we absolutely nerd out on things. And we may not go that nerdy today. But I love your heart. How much you care for learning about how people were designed. And that's what a lot of this unapologetically bold is about is that we're human. Home versus work versus play where human everywhere and how can we be at our top performance and be it our best Selves throughout this time? So for people that do not know who you are, can you just introduce yourself a little bit? Just tell them a little bit about you?

[00:01:50] spk_1: Yeah, I'll keep this short. Simple. Um, so I I am a mental conditioning coach from a mental performance coordinator with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Um, my quick background. I played college baseball, Davidson in North Carolina. I was fortunate enough to get drafted. I played professional baseball for just a hot moment with the Tampa Bay Rays in Chicago White Sox. And then I went on to get my Masters and sports psychology and motor learning at the University of Tennessee and was even more fortunate to then get my doctorate there as well. Eso very fortunate and a lot of realms to be able to integrate psychology with motor learning. So what is this psychology of learning and what is the psychology of performance excellence is really kind of where I try to blend both of those fields together. And I've been working with the Pittsburgh Pirates since 2018 and 2020 was a really weird year for baseball as it was for all sports. But do you to 2020? I've been able to make some wonderful connections with people like yourself, and it just helped me grow and challenge my own way of thinking.

[00:02:47] spk_0: Thank you so much for that. And the thing that I think is really unique about you is that it's the motor with the psychology aspect that is not seen a lot, and it's the part that it's bringing the full human together, and I think that's really flows into what you're not sorry for. So if you don't mind show is called unapologetically bold, what are you no longer apologizing

[00:03:12] spk_1: for? Um, I'm no longer apologizing for allowing in Parma baseball here in athletics, allowing coaches to hear the player out to provide choice and autonomy to the player and letting the coach No, that that's okay, that it's okay for the player to have a voice to have autonomy and for the coach to facilitate that autonomy. For the longest time in sport, it's been, This is the way we've always done things and I'm the coach and you're going to listen to me and you're not going to question the process. And that really takes away the human element in sport and in any other aspect of life. And for a long time I would always kind of tiptoe around that issue because it's very difficult to tell a coach that, Hey, we need you to listen to the player. The player needs to have input in what they dio. It does not need to be entirely dictated. And Emily, Well, I'm sure we can get into self determination theory at some point, but we know that one of the three pillars of motivation is autonomy and choice, and I think in sport, and I'm sure in other aspects of life we just tend not to allow for that were really bad as human beings about providing choice to others. And I think at this point I am. I'm unapologetic about asking the coach to provide choice to the athlete and letting the athlete know that it's okay to have a voice is Well,

[00:04:28] spk_0: yes. And I think that's so important because again, I think that's the word self determination. We both said Desi and Ryan like it was an instant heart connection between us, and we're like, Uh, thing is, is a lot of the work that I've done has been around adding choice and what I say, just especially in America when everything has a choice. But then in leadership roles were told what to do. We're micromanage were how much it does the reverse reaction of what we actually want. And so I think that's what I'd love to dive into by promoting and giving this choice and given the player the ability to be that self manager, that self coach one. It takes off the leader and it takes off that stress a lot of. But then to going into have that choice actually gives form or positive result from the person.

[00:05:27] spk_1: Yeah, and that's the thing with choice. And like you said in America, there's there's always been this top down hierarchy and whatever aspect is whether sport in the corporate world, in an educational system and so we talk about choice, but I don't really think we understand what that means. And because I think in our society it's been taken away from us for so long. That choice is like a muscle, and if we don't use it, it can atrophy. And so when we talk to coaches or leaders and we say it Z, it could be hypocritical to say, Hey, you're gonna give them choice. I'm gonna tell you what to do. Give them choice. But it's working with them and saying Yes, at first you should Anybody shouldn't just say, Hey, here it is. Tell me what you want, because that would be like somebody that is squatting for the first time in putting on £400 on the bar. So to start up giving small choices or just two or three good choices and I'm gonna stick with baseball, it's my default. If I wanna work with a hitter and I really want them to work on maybe something on their back side, I can say, Hey, here's a choice of three drills. Drill X, Y or Z. Which one would you like to do? So now, as the coach I understand that this is what they need to work on. But I'd allowed them to start to flex that muscle of choice so they start to feel what that's like to even make a choice. And then you just start building from there. But it certainly doesn't just start off with here it is. Go for it. We have to help the athlete or the individual become comfortable with choice because just like anything, if we haven't had it before, it could be very uncomfortable toe have. And we need to kind of this slow drip with, um

[00:06:58] spk_0: e. I think it's important because it brings into the humanity aspect of it. All is we both have cows or dealing with cows. And when I say a lot of times that we do things where we just, like put them through the chute, we brought and poke them, and then we send them through, and we expect that result. But they're humans. You can't put them through these different trainings and expect them a certain outcome you can with out some resentment if you do not give choice. So I got the flow on that aspect of it on individuals and seeing them as humans because we are so unique that we're the only creatures on this planet that could be creative, innovative and do and create amazing things

[00:07:44] spk_1: together. Yeah, you're absolutely right. And I think we do just tend to think sometimes we think of human beings in our system, in our tutelage as products. We need them to perform at a certain in certain way, but we think that's our way. But it could also be their way. And I think you brought up a really great point about building resentment. Um, there's a wonderful educational psychologist named Lorraine Davies in Australia, and she talks about when you control control control, you will get compliance. Three individual, comply, comply, comply, comply, comply. But eventually they will rebel, and that's when we see the issues come up. And so allowing for this choice, there's no compliance. There's acceptance, and there's choice within that. And I think with the human element, particularly in world of sport and corporate in in the corporate world where the outcome is ultimately the dollar, we think that learning and progress has to be this linear pathway that if they're not better today, than they were yesterday. If they're worse than they were yesterday, then something's not happening properly. We'll know that that's humanity. Humanity is messy. Growth is messy. Choice is messy. And so I think when we start to understand, we used to the linear Pedigo did you linear learning that works great for machines. It doesn't work well for humans. Nonlinear pedagogy is how we learn. We take one step forward, three steps to the right, four steps back. And when we grant choice that non linearity starts to become more accepting, we're okay with it versus when we try to control it. We want that linear progression, and we're just never going to see that, because as human beings, that's not how we learned. That's not how we function.

[00:09:23] spk_0: Bond. It's so important. Thio again, on the aspect of that learning and the nonlinear learning is what works for One person doesn't work for another, and it's this what I found and I think it's body fault. You can give them choices, but they still want to rule book. They still want to check box. They still want a list, and I tell them is, you have to learn what works for you when and where. Because for May, like I talk a lot with, we have a mutual friend, Rutger, and popping in on some of the stuff with him. Breathing breathing will work in some areas, but it may not work with some others. It's what to do when and where, but having the individual understand and learn about themselves. So to take that to another level, how important is this? If you want people to be promoted to like a head coach, or or just they're taking that self management model, how it is for them to have self awareness,

[00:10:25] spk_1: I think it's everything I know. A lot of the literature out there in the research is showing that it's not necessarily I Q. That's the predictor for success. It's like it's your emotional intelligence, So it's self awareness. Eso I believe that as we start to become more accustomed to this way of thinking of looking at people and when I talk about the constraints model of person task setting, I think we get really caught up in the task and the setting. What are they supposed to do and where they're doing it and we forget the person. The organism is part of that. And so when you talk about promoting somebody to a head coach, I think we're going to see a new generation of coaches and leaders that are very emotionally aware. And they're intelligent enough to understand that. You know what? It's okay if I'm vulnerable and those make the best kind of leaders. And if I'm vulnerable, it means I'm giving choice because I don't have to have all the answers. Um, I getting in your question all about If somebody were to be promoted to head coach, like as a player, it's if you want. If we anybody wants to be a leader, we need to be okay of accepting a vulnerability of being wrong. And being a leader does not mean you have all the answers. Very often. That's never the case. A good question is so much better than a smart answer.

[00:11:34] spk_0: I love that and I think it's so important to when it comes to just dynamics and I'm thinking of my team, my personal team, I don't want to be the head coach on everything. I'm not genius and everything it is, it is so exhausting. And the thing is, is the times whenever I have brought people together and was talking earlier with a group of people, how my goal is to break down the silos of people that deal with human. So like HR safety, wellness anybody that comes in those performance process improvement, all those things, because everybody has their severe of genius or their zone a genius. But it seems like we have to silo ourselves. In essence, that's what a lot of teams I've even seen even in the sports round up do is that hierarchy and just don't disrespect the hierarchy. But what if that one person has an amazing idea that you didn't think of that always happens for May, and it just makes it better. And is that cliche? It's better together. So I'd love to learn and to hear more of your aspect on team dynamics with self man.

[00:12:45] spk_1: Yeah, that that's such a great point to make, because I think that when we talk about the hierarchy and when you even mention that people are uncomfortable when the hierarchy crumbles and people are uncomfortable with choice, Well, I guess my question is, are you uncomfortable with it or you just so used to it that you don't like what's uncomfortable because of this new dynamical process is so new and uncomfortable to you because you've never had um So I think what you're describing is well, with this idea of this integration. And I've become fascinated with dynamical systems which came from physics now in motor learning. But just when you think about how processes involved, um, there isn't these one schema. There's not one schema here, one schema here. It's a constant involving an adaptive process. And I think, like, well, you just describe where you have somebody that brings in a new idea. You really help your company, your team, stay out of cognitive entrenchment. This idea of I'm gonna be really good. I'm gonna know one thing a mile deep. Well, that that's fine. That's great to have that expertise. But when you allow these new ideas to come in and we know about the perils of groupthink, obviously, but I think the bigger deal is when you bring in people from different philosophies and different backgrounds that cognitive diversity, experiential diversity, demographic diversity. Now we, as individuals, are working to stay out of that trench because we're hearing different things that may be conflict with our way of thinking either about the process or maybe in how we view life in general. And that's going to help us be more adaptable and flexible with this bottom up dynamical process that keeps us out of that cognitive trench versus this top down process. That just pushing us a mile deep.

[00:14:17] spk_0: Yes, and it's so important on the aspect. And you're the first one that really brought the worst cognitive entrenchment for E. Right? Uh, but all that is, it really made me think, especially with this political season that's been through or some of my faith based beliefs and stuff and diving down even deeper into some of my thoughts. Why do I think the way that I do and is it true? And the things that are true true that I know those were value based for me and and coming in. And what I found is surrounding myself. Not with exactly like minded but value like like hearted people,

[00:14:57] spk_1: all

[00:14:57] spk_0: of everyone, whenever you have a mission together. And I think that's what I love about sports, and I love because you all have a mission like nobody nobody on your team wants to lose, but I know of. So it's like you all have a mission. But it sometimes seems in leadership or in some of the other environments that I'm in, that sometimes you want this silo toe lose because it makes you look like you're winning on. So I'd love just thio here and go into that Just a minute about whenever you have the same the heart coming from part.

[00:15:35] spk_1: Now I love that and I've never heard that phrase you always hear like minded. But I love like hearted because I do think when we hear like minded, we tend to think people that think just like us. And I think that's where that cognitive entrenchment happens. And then, you know, dissent is invaluable to success. We need people to challenges. We need challenge in the room. Um, I know that there's this. It's called the 10th Man. I think it started the Israeli army, but this idea and it it has its issues, but the core that was really interesting. It's this idea. If the military wanted to go with Strategy X and nine people in the room thought Strategy X was a good idea. It was the job of the 10th person to go with strategy. Why to provide this tent to create not an argument, but a discussion so we can stay away from that. And I think when that happens, then it stops being this. What was my idea versus your idea? There's always descent. There's always challenge. So now there's a collaboration vs Confrontation. Andi, just that idea of being okay being wrong. Because if we're all pulling together, then there's no right or wrong. There's an efficiency, say, and just the beauty of being wrong is that the moment we say we're wrong, we become right E. I think that's something that we missed a lot, is, huh? Well, I've been wrong for 15 years. You're not wrong anymore. You just get it right. From this point on, you are no longer wrong.

[00:16:58] spk_0: And I think it's so important to that. The ego aspect that comes into it and I was late. Me and the kids. We were talking about something the other day, and my son loves the words or Latin. He loves Greek and stuff, and I looked up, my ego actually meant, and in Latin it means it's itself. It's a I and basically what the theory is behind. If you have a lot of eyes in your statements, you have a lot of ego, uh, to it. But it's going from that. It's about me toe we asked mhm And in an aspect that again is like hearted. And it avoids that cognitive entrenchment like you talked when whoever we're like minded and so to go from there to then go into a mission to go into a battle right, you can't is that cliche. There's no I in team, you know. But there is ourselves in our self care, so I would love to flow in that on that, Yes, we're saying self management and being promoted to the head coach. But what it is is that we all have our roles and responsibilities for the severe that we can care for correct. And what were our expectations are. So look your salt on that on how you could invite people to possibly look at maybe a self management model that, yes, it may seem I oriented ego oriented, but it's actually not. It's actually selfless instead of selfish

[00:18:26] spk_1: s. So that idea of self management of bringing awareness to me and I and how I interact in this sphere? Yes, yes, I and I think that's a short term versus long term. Is that Is it truly selfish? Is the ego oriented? If the goal is for you to be able to look out for somebody else, that idea, we can't give away what we don't possess. So if I don't possess empathy, if I haven't been empathic toward myself, if I haven't been patient and compassion towards myself, it's very difficult for me to then give that patients to somebody else. Be that a soldier underneath us. Ah, ballplayer that were coaching or a leader or somebody that's underneath us in a leadership role. I'm so self management is crucial for that because I know it's a cliche statement, but you have to take care of you before you can take care of somebody else. And so, yes, that idea of taking care of yourself is not a bad thing. I mean, we're the only body that we have, and so to be able to have that self management leads to greater self regulation, I think, then leads to greater vulnerability. Um, because I think we get caught up in this idea of obi vulnerable, be vulnerable. And I know you and I are both fans of Simon's to neck, and he says being vulnerable doesn't mean we're walking around crying all day. We could be vulnerable and aware of our emotions and self managing self regulate and still be an awesome human being and still compete at a high level. Eso I think it's that idea. They're not mutually exclusive ideas, self management, self care, self compassion. Self regulation is not mutually exclusive from being a great leader in being a absolutely dominant competitors.

[00:19:53] spk_0: It's so true, and I love that you brought self regulation. So for the audience that does not know what that is, could you explain it a little bit more and then we're going to nerd out about

[00:20:03] spk_1: Yes, So there, um, there are kind of a T least in my mind. There are two schools of thought With that, we can think of self regulation and self control from a motor learning standpoint, which I could briefly hit on here in just a moment to talk about 15 seconds. But the self regulation aspect of can we bring mindfulness to the present moment. What are the emotions that we're feeling right now? And the interesting thing that we found with self regulation is when we just admit the emotion that we're feeling even just internally to ourselves, heart rate slows down, their veins dilate. What is, you know, pumps better. Our mind is clear versus when we try to say, Yeah, I'm feeling really angry right now. No, I don't know. You're not feeling every like you're fine, You're good, everything is good. That just adds mawr sediment to the rocket to the rock bed. And so that idea of understanding where our emotional state is helps with that self regulation And then on top of that, which is the learning aspect, we know that when we allow people choice like we were talking about earlier, not only they get better and not only are them are motivated, their memory is better. Their recall is better. We've done some studies in our lab in Tennessee where we bring people back the next day that got to self regulate how they practice. They remembered mawr critical details about the task. We were having them learn than individuals that had everything externally imposed on them. So this idea of self regulation is not only something we could give ourselves, but it's something we could give others, too.

[00:21:22] spk_0: Bond. It's so important to It's something that I've been kind of a proponent on lately is find your home state before home play. And in the theory behind that is that you self regulate homeostasis. You're putting your body where it likes its best. It likes it. It's calm. And so whenever you go up to bat, even if it's in work, life or play that you are already in your aware because you're owning your environment so that you can be more aware of what's coming at you. Yes, yeah, definitely. And so with that, I just what if some tips that you have for people to self regulate and find ways that they can actually possibly add it into their life? Or if they're wanting to get promoted to being a head coach, like

[00:22:16] spk_1: right? Um, I think I would start off with you know, the ask why, um, why do you and the General you want to self regulate. And what is the ultimate outcome of this self regulation? E. I don't think there's anything wrong with self regulation for the sense of self regulation, but our focus follows our goals, not the other way around. Our goals don't follow our focus. So if I have a desire to self regulate because I wanna be a better partner, I wanna be a better. You know, Sister, Brother, teammate, I want to be a better coach. Then that provides that goal. We're now the focus of the self regulation and go there so asking, Why do we even want to self regulate in the first place? And I think the second thing is recognizing that it is difficult. It is very hard to self regulate. So calling out the elephant in the room saying that just like the nonlinear pedagogy, I'm making the choice to self regulate on Tuesday. So I'm just gonna happen on Wednesday where I'm going to get upset mad, and I'm not gonna realize that I'm even upset or mad until Saturday, and that's okay. And so I think the whole process of self regulation starts with empathy for ourself, and not only that, Why do we want to self regulate? Because to say I want to be a better person. Well, that's wonderful. But the more specific that goal can be. Why do I wanna be a better person? Well, for my Children, for my partner will for my teammates and continue to peel back the onion layer. And Emily, I love the phrase you use about have the what is the smallest onion possible to peel back layer? Yes, so continue to ask why an empathy for the non linear process of learning that we as humans, all have.

[00:23:47] spk_0: And it's so important to because life will throw things at us like you will not meet. And I've said this probably million times on these shows Is that you if you meet somebody that says that they don't have problems, they have a big problem, and its life throws at us so many unknowns and so many variables into the muscle. It is whenever we work on this self regulation, it actually starts, and you know some of the science behind it. But we get quicker and quicker and quicker at recall to know. Hey, I actually was owned on Monday instead uh, for a five day window. Now it's okay. A two day window to it's a day window, and you can get it quicker because you can start understanding in your body where things happen. Or you might be understanding in your mind where that all starts. That leads to thoughts that you're feeling actions, behavior in the process that goes with it. So it's very

[00:24:42] spk_1: yeah, it is. And that idea of, you know, the more that we self regulate. That's a form of choice. And when we take a choice with the brain behind it just real quick the reward processing center in our brain, the striatum when we make a choice, whether that's something somebody else gives us her choice. We make depending on how you perceive that choice. But dopamine gets released by the striatum, which feels awesome because it's a reward processing center. So, yeah, there's just so much good that comes with choice and self regulation, whether giving it to ourselves or giving it to others,

[00:25:10] spk_0: and also talked with somebody earlier today, and we were we were speaking about how reward and feeling affirmed in your work is actually what people want the most. That's the biggest benefit that they want. They want to feel appreciated, and that does come from those dopamine releases. And long I call it the cheerleader of the body. It's our right days, along with our oxytocin 11 grandmother, that is that connection, that bonding that comes with it. These things are important, and what I love, too, is that Ah, lot of people have made it in my opinion, marketing. Ah, lot of people made this stuff fluffy. I love that you give the science that goes behind it to that makes it more hardcore and a lot more riel, that people can understand that this is how we're designed. It's not people been saying these cliche things for years and not addressing how things can suck. E. That might be another part of it, but all that disagree is that there is signs behind it. We're seeing Maura about the importance of bringing humanity to the forefront, and so I am so grateful for you. Andy and I have a last question. It's a two part last question. First one is people are apologizing for promoting the athlete or the person that wants to be a leader to that head coach or promoting them up for that self management side. What would you tell them?

[00:26:39] spk_1: Apologies. If they were apologizing for promoting somebody to a leadership position. Um, I guess my first question would be Are you apologizing to yourself? Are you apologizing to the person you're promoting and at what is making you say, I'm sorry? Are you? I'm sorry. Are you apologetic because you feel like your choice, your promotion or your promotion of this person will not be met properly? Or do you feel like this is something that you're doubting within yourself? And I think if it's if it's the former, if it's something that you feel that it may not go over, well, then that may be something that we need to start to work through that vulnerability. If it's the latter, then that's something that maybe we need to internalize. Okay, what is giving us this doubt? But there is nothing wrong with ever promoting somebody else. When you feel it in your gut that it's right that you're Ristic and I know this is right. This is a This athlete needs to to be playing more needs to be promoted to a leadership position. This employee has the capability to do this. And you know what? We need to give them the chance, because they've earned that opportunity to have that choice.

[00:27:44] spk_0: Mhm. And that's so important. Because if you don't, you forego their learning experience, right? If

[00:27:51] spk_1: we're afraid that they're gonna crash when we believe that when we put them in there, well, they're gonna stumble. Of course they are. Of course they are. That goes back to the nonlinear learning. If they feel we feel they already because they don't have enough experience holding, when are they going to get the experience?

[00:28:04] spk_0: Amen to that one. I love it so much. And so I guess my last part is anybody wants toe find you or contact you. How can they? They reach out?

[00:28:13] spk_1: Yeah, for a lot of pros and cons to being a millennial with no social media. So sorry about that. But I'm always around my email and I love talking, coaching. And when I say coach, coaching is not just relegated to sport. Um, so I will finish with this, and then I'll provide me email address, but a coach, you know, stage coach was meant to take the person where they wanted to go. That's where the coaching word comes from. And so it's not just sport. It's where does this person want to go and not where do I think they need to go? How can I get them where they want to go? If I hopped in a stage coach in 18 25 and said, Take me two miles down the road and you took me in the opposite direction. We are really bad stage coach driver. It's about where they want to go. Eso, coaching and anything with leadership is what gets me up in the day, but Andy dot bass at pirates dot com. That's a and B y got to be a s s at pirates dot com. Like I said, always down to have conversations about this because I'm always happy to have challenging conversations. If maybe there was something that I brought up in this podcast that one of your listeners necessarily disagrees with, would love to have that conversation. That's how I get better

[00:29:18] spk_0: and he's not lying like this is really how India is. And I love it. Um, we nerd out about things. Like I said, if you if you need somebody that just gets your nerdy heart happy, Andy, it's amazing person. And I am so grateful for you. Thank you for coming on today and just being you being awesome. And for all the listeners that tune in, we appreciate you have an amazing and blessed today. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of unapologetically bold. I'm not sorry for If this touch shoot anyway, please like and subscribe and share with your friends as we continue the message of being unapologetically bold, Bobby and hot humans who are humble, open and transparent. See you next time.