This past weekend, I traveled out of town with one of my daughters for a soccer tournament. The tournament was in South Lake Tahoe (on the border between California and Nevada) and we were about 6300 feet above sea level (almost 2km elevation). My daughter's team is used to practicing and playing in Oregon, at about 50 feet above sea level (about 15 meters ) elevation.
When you aren't accustomed to it, physical activity at that altitude is very challenging. For example, I went for a hike up into the mountains after we arrived, and it was much more difficult than I expected due to the thinner atmosphere at that altitude.
Attitude at Altitude
The reason for the title of this post: The girls' coach never mentioned anything about the altitude to the girls on the team, and asked the parents not to say anything. The girls played their hearts out the whole weekend, and never complained. They played amazingly well, and came in second in the tournament (they lost on penalty kicks in the championship game).
I believe if we'd have told them something about how the altitude would affect their performance, they wouldn't have done as well. In other words, we didn't give them the data that would mess with their attitudes, so their attitudes weren't affected.
After reflecting on it, I think the coach did exactly the right thing. Having that information wouldn't have changed their circumstances one bit - they'd still have to play at a higher altitude, compete with the same teams, and deal with the same physical effects of their environment. Knowing about the difference in atmosphere wouldn't have made a bit of difference in their situation, but it could have affected their attitudes or confidence dramatically.
How Are We Affecting Our Teams With Our Data?
This weekend got me thinking about how the information I choose to communicate might be affecting the teams I "coach" or work with - am I giving them information that could cause them to perform poorly? Is the information I communicate to them something they can control or affect? Or am I giving them the data to sabotage their own performance.
I now want to be more conscious of how I communicate with my own teams at work, and try to be conscious of how my message may affect their performance in detrimental ways. If I mess up their attitude by causing them to worry about things beyond their control, I could cause us all to lose the game.