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I recently attended the Texas High School Coaches Association annual convention and was explaining the Elite Coaches' Mastermind to a friend and he asked me, 'what is one thing you have learned from mastermind speakers?'

I gave him two answers; examples of how coaches enter team meetings (a future blog) and stories to use with our teams and parents.

Do you have any parents who struggle to allow their son or daughter to advocate for themselves?

It is the norm in 2021.

Steve Jones, head football coach at Kimberly, Wisconsin and author of the best-selling book 'Twin Thieves' (get this book!), says he uses this story to help his parents understand their child needs to 'fight their own battles' when he has his annual parent meeting.

Coach Jones starts the meeting off with this question, "What do you hope your son leaves our program with?" He pauses to allow for hands to go up. Responses are the typical, 'work ethic', 'become a better teammate', 'communication skills', etc.

"We want the same thing. So, when your son comes home and says, 'coach is too hard on me' or 'I'm not getting enough playing time,' tell him to come talk to us. Don't cut the cocoon for him."

Coach Jones' cocoon parable is brilliant in a few ways.

  • He allows parents to raise their hand and verbalize what they hope their son gains by being in the program other than getting a scholarship or personal accolades.

  • It uses the absolute most effective way to get his message across by using a story.

  • Like all of us, he knows there will be a few parents who want to 'snow plow' for their son and remove obstacles. After hearing this story, they will think twice before setting up a meeting before their son advocates for himself.

You can read the story below or go to

to see the short video of Coach Jones telling it to the mastermind.


A man spent hours watching a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. It managed to make a small hole, but its body was too large to get through it. After a long struggle, it appeared to be exhausted and remained absolutely still.

Out of his kind heart, the man decided to help the butterfly and, with a pair of scissors, he cut open the cocoon, thus releasing the butterfly. The butterfly’s body was very small and wrinkled and its wings were all crumpled.

The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away.

Unfortunately, the butterfly doesn't survive.

What the man, out of kindness and his eagerness to help, had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.

Sometimes our attempts to help another person can actually do more damage than good. When we “cut open the cocoon”, we interfere with a process that is essential for their self-growth.

Tell your parents - 'DON'T BE A COCOON-CUTTER'. 'Your child is going to grow because high school athletics requires struggle. Give them support and encouragement, but don't fight the battle for them. They need to learn to overcome on their own.'

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