Jul 17, 2022

Happy Fire Friday, 🔥

Something I always promise my players at the beginning of sessions is this:

“My commitment to you is that I will always communicate truth with love. I will give you hard truths because you deserve to be believed in, but I will never make you feel small.”

The commitment to giving hard truths is the blessing and curse that comes with the leadership journey.

And the hard truth is… most of us are not comfortable with truth.

But I don’t think it’s because we don’t want to hear the truth.

I think it’s because we are really bad at having difficult conversations

And that is precisely where hard truths are founded.

Difficult conversations are important. I’ve never met a successful person who hasn’t learned how to have them.

We must be able to handle them when they’re brought to us.

We must be able to present them when the time calls for it.

The question is not “Do they want to hear the truth?”
We owe people the truth.

If we can all agree on that, the question then becomes:

How do we get better at difficult conversations?


Just like your jumpshot, it really just takes two core concepts:

  1. Evidence-Based Technique

  2. Uncomfortable Practice

Also like your jumpshot, no one can practice for you. That part, you’ve just got to commit to.

But what you can do is utilize existing evidence-based techniques that you’ve learned from others.

And the one I’m about to share with you has skyrocketed my growth in my last three years of practice.

It’s helped me maintain important relationships, gain respect from my peers and superiors, and find confidence in the face of confrontation—a place that has never been comfortable for me.

This technique something I’ve learned as a by-product from my training with PGC Basketball.

It’s called a “Breakthrough Conversation”.

And I’m SO serious… it’s the ultimate formula to make those difficult conversations significantly less daunting.

I’m going to first outline the technique, and then I’m going to give you a real-life example of how it has been a key piece in keeping an important friendship of mine.

Five Steps to Owning a Difficult Conversation

  1. Make sure you’ve reflected first.

    1. It’s totally possible that you could be the one that caused the misunderstanding. Which is 1000% fine, and the conversation still needs to be had.

    2. But if you can’t yet acknowledge what you could have done differently, or how it could have been you who caused the gap… then you’re likely not in a place to have this conversation yet, and you should give yourself more time.

  2. Find a time that works for everyone.

    1. No one likes to be blindsided. This gives the other party the option to decline at the moment if they aren’t in a good space. And it allows you to set the table for what they should expect.

      1. “Hey, there’s something important I need to talk to you about, is now a good time? If not, when’s a good time for you?”

  3. (Where the conversation starts): State (and agree on) the facts.

    1. Before you both get into interpretations, it’s important to agree on the facts of the situation. This leads to less confusion and more direction.

      1. Example: “The other day, I shared some big news with you, and you said one sentence to me about it and then walked away. Would you agree that’s what happened?”

  4. Offer interpretations.

    1. We all see the world differently. Where something could be a big deal to one person, it may not seem like such a big deal to the other—which could lead to resentment, misinterpretation, and more gaps in understanding.

    2. Best practice to this part is to try to completely remove the word “you” from these statements, and reframe them as “I” statements (although not always possible). After the person who spurred the conversation shares openly, and without interruption, give the other party the same gesture.

      1. Bad example: “You made me feel like you didn’t care about the exciting thing I had to share.”

      2. Good example: “When I didn’t hear much excitement from you, it made me feel like I wasn’t important.”

  5. Find a solution & Recommit

    1. Alright, now that all the cards are on the table, we can make the call together on how we can recommit to each other and avoid this sort of thing in the future.

      1.  “Okay, this was a bummer. How can we prevent this from happening in the future?”

How a Difficult Conversation Saved a Friendship

At the beginning of our journey to become PGC Directors, my dear friend Jasmine and I were working as trainers at the late PGC Phoenix.

Jas and I spent a lot of our days together—developing our teaching skills, working with athletes, and doing what we could to help build the business there.

Camp sessions were coming up quick, so we were doing our due-diligence to prepare.When I got to the gym one morning, I walked through the lobby and found Jasmine jotting things down in her notebook.

Me: “What’s up, J? What are you working on?”

She looked up at me… and with a sort of exasperated, but very confident smile, she said

J: “Yeah, they told me they’re going to put me in as a Director for the Fall Break session, so I was just going over and studying the notes a little bit!”

In a split second, it felt like I went from being happy to see my friend… to feeling like I got punched in the throat.

My heart sunk.

We were about two weeks away from a Fall Break session, and I assumed we were both going to get a chance to Direct.

But no one had asked me or talked to me about it.

And I was so freaking sad.

I gathered myself and said,

Me: “That’s amazing, J—you’re going to absolutely kill it. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!” 

And I walked away.

And being 1000% honest with you… I went to the equipment closet and I cried.

I felt absolutely no resentment towards Jasmine, but I felt this overwhelming, crushing disappointment.

I knew that I could do the job.

And I didn’t understand why I wasn’t being given the same chance.

So I grabbed a few basketballs out of the cage I was sitting on and loaded them into the Gun. It was easier to think about my shot than it was to think about all of that.

After about 200 shots, my boss came over to talk to me.

He explained that he felt Jasmine was further along in her journey than me (to be fair, looking back, I think he was right), and that as the head coach he had to make a decision on who to start.

He told me he believed I was on my way, but that I wasn’t ready yet, so he chose her as the starter this time around.

I would be a basket coach at the session.

Me: “I think Jasmine is going to kill it. She’s going to be great at this” I said. “But I think you’re wrong in thinking I’m not ready for it too.”

He thanked me for being candid, and apologized for not talking to me about the decision before it was made.

I turned the Gun back on, and must’ve put up 1,000 shots before I went home and reflected.

Those of you who have been following my journey know this—I’ve been doubted my whole life when it comes to things like this.

And it never gets easier to swallow.

I was put on the C-team in middle school.

My 9th grade coach told me I’d never play at the next level.

I was told I was in the “bottom eight” of 16 girls on my first college team.

I was the 6th man coming off the bench at my Juco.

I’ve been underestimated in just about any venture I’ve shot for.

And… that means I’ve been here before.

Each time, I’ve put my head down for the grind.

Challenges are what make life interesting, overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

At this point, the best thing I could possibly do for myself, my athletes, and for my friend was be the absolute best basket coach I could. If I starred in that role, then she could star in hers.

The night before the first day of camp, Jasmine and I were hanging out at the gym by ourselves, talking through the days to come when she brought something to my attention.

J: “So Bri, do you have a second to talk about something important?”

B: “Of course, what’s up?

J: “Well, the other day when I told you I was going to Direct this session, you gave me one sentence… and then you walked away. Do you remember that?”

B: **me, understanding what we’re talking about now** “Yes, I remember that.”

J: “Well, when that happened, it sort of seemed like the whole energy in the room changed. Like I heard what you said about being happy for me, but I read your body language differently. And it felt a little shady when you walked away so fast.”

I was a little caught off-guard, but this body language thing is a hard truth I know about myself. Even when I’m sure I stay stoic, the subtleties in my body language have read different. Still trying to grow in this.

The only thing she could see and interpret was my body language, and she was right to be put-off by it.

This rest of the conversation went like this [edited for clarity]:

B: “Jasmine, you’re right, I did walk away fast. And I am so sorry. I had no idea that I came across like that. I really, truly believe that you’re going to be incredible. I’m definitely disappointed that I didn’t get the chance, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be there for you and support you in this. You’re going to knock this shit out of the park, and even though I’m sad it’s not me, I’m so happy for you.”

J: “I totally get that. And I didn’t even consider that part for you. I’m so glad you feel that way because I was really feeling like ‘Damn, Bri doesn’t believe in me.’”

B: “Let me reassure you—I’ve got your back no matter what. How can I make sure you know that and never feel like this again?”

J: “Can I just call you out when your body language sucks?”


B: “YES PLEASE call me out! I’m so serious!!”

J: “I’m so serious I will!!”

J&B: **sitting in the pleasant silence for a moment***

B: “Jas… did we just have our first breakthrough??”


J&B: **More big, bellowing laughs, hugged it out and kept it moving**

Breakthrough badge achieved.

The session was amazing.

As no surprise to anyone, Jasmine changed lives that week.

She was vulnerable in the way that she taught in the classroom, and concise in the way she delivered on the court.

I felt so grateful to back her up in her first go-round, and made it abundantly clear that I had her back through the session.

(Mostly I just laughed really loudly at all of her jokes and that seemed to do the trick. 😉)

When she and I debriefed after the session, she said that she felt like the support I gave her strengthened our friendship.

I agreed. :)

And it all started with the both of us being willing to have a difficult conversation.

As she’s gone on and done incredible things with her coaching career, we’ve remained close from a distance.

A younger version of me—before I’d learned how to have a difficult conversation—would have heard Jasmine’s question as accusatory, or worse. 

My ego would have gotten into it. I may have shied away from her altogether, because that would've been the easier thing to do. I would have gotten defensive, or said it didn’t matter.

But it did matter.

And when things matter, you talk about them.

Even (and especially) when the conversation is difficult.

It’s really that simple.

I share that story with you because I know for damn sure that everyone reading this has a difficult conversation that deep down, you know you need to have.

I know it’s scary. And you can do it. Re-read that outline. You’re equipped now!

Maybe you have a teammate or a coach who isn’t communicating with you in a way that you respond to.

Maybe your significant other did or said something that upset you, but you just don’t know how to approach it without them feeling attacked.

Maybe it’s a teammate that isn’t pulling their weight.

Maybe you deserve a raise.

(Plan for it) and say something!!

It’s hard.


And here’s a bonus trick to it that we’ll talk more about next week:

It’s remembering that everything—that misunderstandings or disagreements of all sorts—are rooted in a place of love.

And in many cases, they’re rooted in not feeling love.

Our paths—humans in general—are complicated. We’re all the stars in our own movie, and we’re all different.

But the one thing that we all have in common is the very human need to feel love.

I didn’t feel love when Jas told me she was Directing, because I felt I deserved better.

Jas didn’t feel love when I walked away from her big news, because she felt she deserved better.

If we can figure out how to tell each other the truth in a way that speaks to love first, maybe we can navigate this place a little bit better together.

Lean into the courage it takes to say the hard things.

There are opportunities for growth all around us—most of which are disguised as discomfort.

Get uncomfortable.

Be opportunistic.

If you were ready for it, it wouldn’t be called growth.

This week I’ve spent my time in LA wrapping up my last break until about mid-November.

On Sunday, I’ll head to Phoenix to lead my first solo session with PGC this year, and I’ll have my first meeting with a potential Boosta partner.

Big things coming. :)

I’ll see you next week,