We all know officiating is a tough business. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
There are many pitfalls that mentally weigh on us: lack of quality assignments, unprofessional partners, time away from home and family, association politics, coaches scratch lists… the list goes on and on. Each one is a reason to quit officiating. In fact, many that do quit cite those things and others as major factors.
The hard truth is, those things equate to ready-made excuses for failure. The officiating business is no different than life itself: there are good days and bad days. Those that quit officiating without really getting into it have probably moved on to something else in their lives. Odds are, they’ll quit that too.
We’ve got so many people beating us up mentally in officiating that it can be difficult to see the job through. Have you ever asked yourself in anger after an especially tough game, “Who needs officiating?” When you stop and think about all that officiating gives to you, the answer is, “You do.”
Officiating gives you a chance to shape the lives of young people. It gives you a chance to remain active in a sport you love. It gives you a chance to ensure ethics, sportsmanship and fair play remain important factors in your life and the lives of others. It gives you a chance to be a positive role model. It teaches you responsibility, work ethic and professionalism. If you’re really into officiating, officiating gets into you. Fight through the critics and cynics that eat at us daily in our officiating worlds. You are performing and admirable service for others by giving of yourself.
It’s OK to have bad days and poor thoughts about officiating. That’s human nature. Just turn those negatives into positives. When you’re down, read this list; you’ll stay on the right track as a quality person and, in turn, a model official.
Be receptive. Sometimes our biggest problems come from other people. We don’t like our ego bruised. Even people with extremely strong personalities hurt once in a while. The key to being receptive is considering the source. “You’re terrible!” coming from an overbearing, loud-mouthed Little League mother shouldn’t get much attention in your mind because the source is not credible. Conversely, you become a better official, and a better person, if you are receptive to thoughts and ideas coming from people whom you respect.
Open your mind every so often to listen to new concepts and consider other people’s opinions. The survivors are those who adapt to change.
Be honest. Unreal expectations places extra burden in an already intense job. You must be honest with yourself about your abilities. Thinking that you’re going to be an NFL official one day is not a bad thought… unless you realistically don’t have the ability or you’ve set an unrealistic time frame. The sooner you’re honest with yourself about what exactly it is you want out of officiating, the more relaxed you’ll become. You’ll reach an inner peace that means mental comfort each time you take the field.
Become a leader. Too often, officiating becomes an “every man for himself” endeavor, with officials backstabbing and undercutting each other for assignments and promotions. Don’t fall into the trap.
If you adopt the philosophy that you’re going to help others reach their goals you will reach yours. By becoming a leader, you can encourage people to work hard and do the right things to make themselves successful. In turn, you’re raising expectations for them and for yourself. Learn to love helping people. Those you help are better, you’re better and the game is better for it.
Be passionate. You’ve got to love what you’re doing, or you really shouldn’t be doing it. Look forward to your next assignment to see if you can meet its challenges and exceed your expectations. Let officiating get inside you to the point that it becomes a lifestyle. If you’re passionate about integrity, honesty and professionalism, you’ve improved your quality of life. Is that worth getting passionate about? Absolutely!
Be courageous. It takes tons of courage to rise above it all and do the right thing. Doing what is right — versus what’s popular or safe — takes strong will and conviction. You’ve got to believe in your heart that what you’re doing is the right thing. When you do make a mistake (and you WILL make mistakes!), it takes great strength and courage to bounce back and learn from it. Give it your best at all times, never stop learning and stand tall through adversity — all life lessons shared in officiating.
Be persistent. Set attainable goals and work to reach them. A goal is simply a dream with a deadline. Adopt the Nike slogan, “Just Do It,” into your everyday life. If you treat officiating like a business that you enjoy, you will be persistent in seeing the job through. Wake up everyday thinking, “How am I going to improve officiating today?” Maybe it’s study the rule book, watch a young official, work on a new mechanic, recruit a person to try officiating, thank someone who has helped you. With the mindset that you are going to improve officiating everyday, you’re
going to do the little things necessary to improve our entire avocation and help yourself in the process.
Be self-disciplined. Along with being persistent, you’ve got to be self-disciplined. No one can or should hold your hand everyday in officiating. You can’t rely on others to do the work for you. The only real way to help others and help yourself is to establish goals, set deadlines and be productive. Again think of officiating as a business and yourself as a business owner. By developing a business owner mentality, you will be self-disciplined because you have the will to succeed. Don’t put things off until tomorrow; do it today and move onto other positive things
Have unshakable faith. The world is full of energy drag. The nightly news… the daily paper… the constant griping at work… pressure builds constantly and negative energy saps your strength. Add to that all of the officiating woes and it’s no wonder you don’t want to do anything!
If you have unshakable faith that what you’re doing improves others and yourself, there really are no “officiating woes.” Yes there are challenges, but challenges met are akin to success. Believe that officiating is a positive force in your life because it is. Most importantly, believe in yourself. You deserve it.