The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated.  The biblical pretense to the Golden Rule comes from Mathew  “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”  But there is a better way to treat people.

In celebrating Valentine’s Day this week, I am reminded of a test a life-long friend and high school teammate once shared with me.  The love language test that I encourage everyone to take with their spouse or significant other (link to the quiz follows below). Reviewing your spouse or partner’s results allows you to better understand how they want to be treated.  You will learn despite your best intentions, he or she may want something very different from you. Whether acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, or gifts, once you understand their perspective you’re more likely to deliver on the intent behind the golden rule.  

Just such a lesson was reinforced early in my career when I was coaching (in a very loud and direct voice) a player we recruited out of a rough neighborhood.  After practice, he very courageously approached me and said that he had some bad life experiences with males yelling at him and that if I yelled, he would just tune me out.  I was coaching him the way I liked to be coached and not how he wanted to be coached. If I wanted his best, I needed to shift my perspective. 

One of the superpowers I think we as coaches (and many of us as adults) can cultivate is empathy. Empathy starts with believing in the dignity of others. If we believe in others’ dignity, we’re predisposed to giving the benefit of the doubt and investing in their wellbeing. Part of the investment is in getting to know the player, student, mentee, etc., and understanding where and how to engage, motivate, and guide them to achieve more than they ever believed possible.

In returning to the Golden Rule, I think it’s fair to say we’d like to be treated in ways that best help us realize our potential, and we should apply a similar lens to those in our care or influence.  Ultimately, we both end up better for the effort.

More on the Love Language Quiz here: Love Language

Coach Rich Alercio is available to discuss coaching philosophy, X’s & O’s, or teach his O-Line “techniques in the trenches.” Contact Coach at and share with your colleagues and friends. Thanks for supporting this blog and joining our conversations, and as always, thanks for your time! 

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