ADAM Simpson says he learnt one major lesson about senior coaching from his first season at West Coast, and that is that you have to be yourself.
The Eagles' coach is about to enter his second year in charge of a club that has high expectations.
But the 39-year-old has similar expectations of himself. Speaking to AFL.com.au, Simpson said he had taken time to reflect on his own coaching performance in his first year and one thing stood out.
"I think the biggest thing you learn is you've got to be yourself," Simpson said.
"You do sometimes fall into the trap in your early days of asking yourself, 'what would he do' and 'what would that coach do' and 'how would I go about that'.
"But what I've learnt mostly is you've got to back yourself in."
The difficult environment Simpson stepped into cannot be underestimated.
He took over from an Eagles institution in John Worsfold who had either captained or coached in all three Eagles premierships and has the club champion award named in his honour.
Simpson even had to endure two sit down television interviews with Worsfold asking the questions.
But Simpson has been respectful of his predecessor, just as he is of all his coaching mentors. He played 306 games at North Melbourne and won two premierships under Denis Pagan and was club captain under Dean Laidley.
Following his playing days, Simpson cut his coaching teeth as an assistant at Hawthorn under the AFL's most successful current coach in Alastair Clarkson.
He has learnt to remain measured and composed, no matter the situation.
"I don't get caught up in the highs and lows too much," Simpson said.
"I don't ride the wave as much as others. I'm hoping I can use that to my advantage down the track."
During his first year Simpson remain composed after Richmond's Ty Vickery knocked out Eagles champion Dean Cox in round 18, despite his obvious anger at what had taken place.
He did not get carried away after his side won every game in the 2014 pre-season and the opening three rounds of the premiership season. Nor did he panic when his side lost seven of the next eight matches.
The toughest task Simpson faced in his first season as a senior coach was how he interacted with his players.
"They take a lot of things literally when you talk as a senior coach, and so they should," Simpson said.
"So you've got to be careful about the off-the-cuff remarks and the banter you could probably get away with as an assistant coach.
"But you've also got to find the balance. You can't be captain serious all the time.
"We've got a real open door policy in my office and they’ve got the right just to burst in whenever they want, any player.
"But that still doesn't make it happen. We had all our young guys over for dinner and I asked the question, 'how many of you have walked into my office just to say g'day?' and none of them had yet.
"So I'm still sourcing that out. I'm still building relationships."