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Mental training instructor encourages Trussville coaches, teachers

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE — Joshua Medcalf gave the coaches and teachers two minutes to write their own obituaries, to scribble down bits of information they’d like to be remembered for.

There was a football coach who has 150 career wins, a longtime basketball coach with numerous accolades, a baseball coach who has led teams to four state championship appearances. There were teachers with master’s degrees, with track records of leading kids to As and Bs.

Medcalf bet that none of them wrote down personal accolades, championships won or test scores raised. He bet they wrote about relationships, about personal characteristics.

Medcalf, a consultant and mentor to coaches and athletes who spoke to Trussville City Schools coaches and teachers Thursday, said he’s never seen a coach ink the paper with title games or career wins, never witnessed a teacher boast about improving students’ grades.

Joshua Medcalf speaks to Hewitt-Trussville athletes Thursday.
photo courtesy of Hewitt-Trussville Athletics

Medcalf’s focus isn’t about the goal, the final destination, but the journey, the process.

“Make sure you know what your mission is,” Medcalf said. “Follow your mission. Stick to your mission.”

Medcalf, the director of mental training for UCLA women’s basketball and Oregon women’s golf, encouraged the coaches and teachers to love people, serve people and provide value. He said expending energy on the process — something leaders can control — as opposed to final goals — something uncontrollable — is the most beneficial performance method.

“Winning and results are going to take care of themselves,” he said.

Medcalf spoke about encouraging a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset, about kids’ leaders needing to live out the principles they are trying to teach. He said coaches and teachers should respond to players and students in a manner that they want the kids to respond.

“Authenticity is inspiring,” he said.

Medcalf, who lives in Los Angeles, said he is “optimistically delusional,” that encouraging people with specific and sincere compliments can change the entire trajectory of people’s lives. He suggested the coaches and teachers read five books: “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough, “Real Talk for Real Teachers” by Rafe Esquith, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson and “Wooden on Leadership” by John Wooden.

“Words hold our world together,” said Medcalf, who is working on a book titled “Burn Your Goals” with friend Jamie Gilbert. “I think goals just get in our way a lot.”

Contact Gary Lloyd at and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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