Over the summer break I read Mike Krzyzewski’s book Beyond Basketball. Krzyzewski is one of the world’s best basketball coaches and is the head coach of Duke University. The book is a great read for anyone into sport, team culture and motivation.

Each chapter covers a value that Krzyzewski promotes within his team. His chapter on belief is great and I would encourage people to read it. For those with limited time here is a quick summation changed for teachers.

Those three magic words “I love you” are words that are important and meaningful in any culture. But there are four words that are not said nearly enough by teachers interacting with kids or coaches interacting in a team environment.

In all forms of leadership, whether you are a coach, a CEO, or a parent, there are four words that, when said, can bring out the best in your team, your employees, and your family.

“I believe in you.”

Those four words can mean the difference between a fear of failure and the courage to try. When you look someone in the eyes and tell them, “I believe in you,” you are letting them know, “You are not going to take this journey alone. I’m not going to allow you to.”

Within a teaching context these 4 words should be our ‘go to; phrase to help support and encourage students to aim high, persist and to achieve their goals.

The best bit about the words ‘I believe in You’ is that as a teacher you can only say them if the both you and the student have the following;

  1. A shared goal – While the student may have the goal the teacher at the very least has to be aware of it.
  2. You have some relationship with the student – ‘I believe in You’ is not a statement you can just say to any student.
  3. You both have an active involvement in the process – I believe in You’ is a phrase that is said in the moment. You don’t say it a week after the event.