By Eliana Barriga
Publisher and Managing Editor for The Retail Observer
People ask Bill Aris, over and over, how his Fayetteville-Manlius High School (NY) girls’ cross country teams have managed to win the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) an amazing ten times. (NXN, where the nation’s forty best teams compete, is the de facto national high school cross country championship.)
Bill graciously shares his methods. He patiently explains how he trains his runners. And other coaches suspect he’s signifyin’, as they say in the Ozarks.
Coaches fall off their chairs when Bill explains that he spends relatively little time designing his runners’ workouts.
“I spend 80 percent of my time on psychological and emotional considerations of each kid,” Aris says. “I put 20 percent of my time into designing the training. I spend most of my time thinking about and trying to get to the heart and soul of each kid, to both inspire them and to understand them. I’m always trying to figure out what keys unlock what doors to get them to maximize their potential.”
Other coaches believe there’s no way Aris can produce national champions without huge numbers of kids trying out for the team, and without recruiting.
In fact, Fayetteville-Manlius High School has 1,500-2,000 students, yet just 25 runners turn out each fall for cross country. And Aris doesn’t need to recruit, because his methods turn talented kids into champions.
Aris’s boys’ teams consistently place in the top five at NXN. To put this in perspective, it’s a tremendous honor to be among the forty teams invited to compete at NXN. Scoring in the top five puts the F-M boys in the absolute stratosphere of high school cross country.
The lessons for retailers are clear: if you want to be a champion, it might be a good idea to start investing a significant portion of your time in getting to know your employees’ and customers’ dreams – then do all you can to help them realize them.
Here's to investing in your dreams!