Three letters can say quite a lot.
Depending on how they are arranged, they say something different.
Shared one after the other they are incredibly significant.
How we say something is as important as what we say.
When we know who we are, we will know what to do.
Let's think about this in the context of team.
Should we win at all costs, or for a cause? At all costs might help us achieve the win, but we'd be sacrificing something too valuable along the way. Honor. When we tackle a task as a team, for a cause, we are doing it for something bigger than ourselves. We can start to get a glimpse of what it means to be there for one another.
I recently read a book this summer that talked about the greatest qualities in a captain. One of the characteristics they lauded was winning at all costs. To push the boundaries. The examples they gave, and began to explain away as acceptable because it was within the boundary of sport, shocked me.
And I'm afraid that is the world we are living in. It's the world we are raising our kids in. It's the world that says it's ok to taunt, trash-talk, and berate an opponent. After all, we are only "getting in their head". What we miss is that we are also getting in their heart. We are showing them that HOW we say something, and what we say matters not, as long as we win.
We are living in a time when WHO we are in sport is separated from WHO we are in "real life". I'm afraid for a generation who thinks this is normal, healthy, and ok. My heart breaks as they will grow into adulthood thinking that winning at all costs makes them a champion because they "gave all they had".
In the process they will have given away something more important.
I haven't held a medal, trophy, patch, or plaque that is worth that.
And if we continue to make excuses for behavior like this in sport, what's to stop it from being repeated in academics, vocation, and relationships?
If excuses for behavior like this becomes our currency, we'll have raised a generation that experiences emotional bankruptcy.
Part of this journey is teaching the next generation that we value accountability. We value honor. We value service. We value stepping in and sacrificing our preference for the good of the team. We value standing up for ideals, and for those who can't. We value hard work, no excuses, and pushing through tough times.
I've coached for nearly 20 years.
There has never been a greater need for our generation...the parents...to stand shoulder to shoulder and raise the bar. It's one that must be lifted higher. And in order to do that across the board, it will be heavier. It's one that can, should, and will be done...if it's done together.
To be clear, I'm not being cryptic about any one situation I've experienced as a coach. I'm not writing today based on my current coaching position. I'm writing this because it's been on my heart for a long time. I'm writing this because something deep in my heart senses that this whole thing might be getting away from us more than we care to admit.
We look the other way far too often. We pretend like our kid(s) couldn't possibly be involved, or part of a problem. We have forgotten that we too were once kids. We too needed direction, guidance, and yes...discipline.
I can sum up the greatest need our children have in one word:
I can sum up how we as parents should see our next steps in one word:
To hold our ground. To teach from our failures. To instill honor. To model service. To live humbly. To demand respect for their elders. To teach them to make eye contact when speaking. To teach them to say please and thank you. To listen. To hold doors. To go last, letting everyone else receive before we take. To arrive early. To put in an honest days work. To sweat for something we believe in. To stand tall in the face of criticism that's unwarranted. To believe the best in people. To be consistent in our effort. To admit when we are wrong. To take ownership of our shortcomings.
The list could go on. It should go on. And at the end of the day, it should spur us on. To live a life that honors others above ourselves. To admit that how we say things is as important as what we say.
And when it's all said and done, if we look around and see a generation of disrespect growing, we need to own that it's coming from seeds we've planted.
Put another way...
We put the entitlement papers on their desk to sign with our approach.
I think it's time we rescinded that offer.
I think it's time we do better.
If you already are, I applaud you, and look forward to learning from you.
In the meantime, I'll be using what platform I have as a coach to teach as many things off the list above to every group I have the honor to coach. Once in a while I'll run into a person here or there that thinks I'm too optimistic and idealistic. Forgive me if that not only doesn't bother me, but rather inspires me.
I'm staying the course.
I'm taking the opportunity to hold my ground and teach accountability.
If I can help one more student-athlete to discover WHO they are, and help them to unleash their God-given potential?
That's the win I'm after.
This is why I coach.
If you feel frustration where you are, cast a vision for where you are going. Not everyone will buy in. Not everyone was meant to. That's ok.
I was going to tweet that thought just now...then I paused.
I felt like it needed to be unpacked a little bit.
Here is the heart behind it:
There are times when there is a resistance to something we feel passionate about. Instead of seeing that as the reason to stop, it just might be the time to see it as a confirmation that we need to press on.
Here's the thing...think about any time in history when something happened that was full of significance. Most every one of them came with a healthy dose of resistance.
Breakthroughs require pushback.
New ideas will be met with naysayers and doubters.
Change that excites you makes others uncomfortable.
Pushback, naysayers, doubters, and the general feeling of being uncomfortable can be filed in one drawer in your journey to accomplishing your goals...
I say file, because I like to keep all of it around to refer to from time to time. I like to see what people said I couldn't accomplish once I did. Not to bring it back up and throw it in anyone's face...that's arrogance. I save it there so that the next time I am tackling something I have a reminder. I let my past encourage my future.
Where are you today?
Can you relate?
Do you feel frustration where you are at? Perhaps there is a distraction(s) that is creating the weight of that frustration. That weight is lifted when we start moving forward and casting our vision onward.
And, yes, it's true. Not everyone is going to feel the way you do. Not everyone is as passionate about what moves you. Bill Hybels calls it your "firestorm of frustration". Taking the one thing you can't stand to see stay the way it is, and creating change. Create better. Create a future that reflects the joy in your heart of what it would look like to see the task accomplished.
Steven Furtick once said, and I paraphrase, "Don't rush to the door to beg someone to stay, get there first to hold it open so they will leave faster." If someone doesn't want to be there, stop begging them to stay.
There is a phrase I use that I share with any team I work with.
At first it can seem direct, maybe even harsh. But it's just the truth.
For you. For me. For all of us.
We are invited, not needed.
Today...take a deep breath. Look around. Are you reacting to your current circumstances, or responding to your opportunity?
Amidst your current frustration, cast your vision.
Be ok when someone walks away.
Once that dust settles, now you can really get down to the business of going and growing. You've got the team around you that believes in you.
The first invitation you must accept is the one to yourself.
That your idea matters.
That your heart is full for a reason.
That your vision has meaning and a purpose.
Once you accept that invite, let the pursuit begin.
We can't wait to see where it takes you.
And so that you don't feel like you are in this alone?
I'm heading out on a new journey of my own right now, too.
We'll talk more about that another day.
Today is about shifting our perspective from seeing our current challenge as paralyzing frustration, to the moment in time when everything changes.
A watershed moment.
A moment when we embrace our calling, and start casting its vision.
Look at the picture I shared in this post today.
It looks a lot like our future.
While everyone else is getting run over by them, jump the wave. You'll be a little closer to your goal every time you do.
The wave is symbolic of your next challenge. It's excuses. It's pushback. It's doubters. It's naysayers. It's the change others don't want any part of. It's your chance to put them all behind you.
Bend your knees.
Take a deep breath.
I can't wait to see where the journey takes you!
And when it gets hard along the way?
Turn your frustration into your fuel.
The "mountain" in front of you.
No matter what you try, you can't seem to move it.
Maybe that's not the problem, though.
What if the problem is how you see the mountain?
What if the mountain was never meant to be moved?
What if the mountain wasn't an obstacle in your way, but something that needs to make you stronger as you navigate it along the way?
What if the mountain was meant to be climbed instead of moved?
What if a change in perspective is all you need to make progress?
A little bit of "what if?" might just be the ticket.
It's better than walking away from the challenge you were always meant to climb, missing the opportunity you were always meant to have.
Shift your perspective.
Up and over, not game over.
Have you ever found yourself stuck as a leader?
You see your people staring at challenges, and they are struggling to solve them. You know it's your job to lead them through this, but truth be told, it can all feel overwhelming.
You start to think "Wouldn't it just be easier to do it myself?" "Why don't I just tell them the answer." "When I tell them what to do, I AM helping them." Sound familiar? That approach might work for the short-term. But at some point, your people need to be able to solve problems on their own.
If the whole thing depends on us, then it will always be about us. That kind of leadership is not only NOT inspiring, it's limiting. If the ceiling of our team's potential is determined by how far our arms can reach personally, we are holding our people back from reaching their full potential.
But there's good news. It's short, sweet, and to the point. When applied consistently, over time, it holds the power to be an absolute game-changer for your team.
It's simply this...
Solving starts with serving.
Not the going to soup kitchen's and pet shelters kind of serving. That's great, and has it's place. This is the pouring-into the team of people you are leading kind of serving. It's getting out of our team's way as a limiting factor, so they can step up and solve.
The challenge we are facing is to teach, not preach. To equip, not do for.
This happens when we value the perspective that comes from getting the attention off of ourselves as leaders. It equips our team to make better decisions.
Let's talk practical application:
Circumstances can feel stressful, and situations overwhelming. We've established that.
How do we equip our people to solve the problems that comes with those feelings?
We need a process for our progress.
It's one that starts conversationally, and built relationally...consistently...over time.
4 Questions That Will Change How You Lead.
These questions apply to us as individuals, teams, organizations, and families.
The more we talk about them, the more value will be placed on them.
Great, but how does that help our people learn how to solve problems?
Use the 4 questions as a compass. When your people run whatever they are facing through this process, they have something consistent to base their responses on. They won't be making choices based on random opinions and preferences. They will be gaining momentum as they make them based on your vision.
Why is this so important?
You may be facing similar challenges as other individuals, teams, organizations, and families. BUT...you can't solve those problems based on who someone else is. The group of people at the company down the street has a completely different reason why they exist. The person who parents differently than you likely has core values that are different as well. Not necessarily right or wrong, just different. But to be the leader of your people, you need to be you...not someone else.
Starting conversations with these 4 questions, consistently over time, will help you make better decisions. And more than that, it will equip your team to do the same, not needing you to do all the heavy lifting. That makes you a leader of influence, impact, and intent.
That's a leader your people will love to follow.
As a boss.
As a coach.
As a manager.
As a parent.
And as a bonus?
That's the kind of leadership that leaves a legacy you'll be proud of.
Get out in front of your fear.
It doesn't have the legs to keep up with you. That's because your energy comes from your calling. It's a resource fear can't drop it's bucket into, because it wasn't given the keys to that well. Fear's only hope is that you won't move. All it can do is stand there, stare at you, and convince you that it's tougher than you. Fear hopes your knees will buckle under the weight of it's presence, even though it's existence is filled with empty promises. It can't stop you. Only your giving in to it can.
Show fear the truth.
Get out in front of it, and leave it on it's knees behind you. Leave it defeated by the resilience of your preparation. Leave it dismayed by the persistence found in your passion. Leave it disillusioned by the fact that you stepped forward into your calling.
Your first step forward might feel more like a crawl, and that's fine. Eventually you will walk, then start to jog, and finally...burst into a full-fledged run, in the direction you were always meant to go. The same direction that fear thought it could keep you from.
And if at the end of this blog post, and your day, you are still wrestling with the first step?
When we start to see our #calling for the positive difference it can make in someone else's life, we'll find energy that we didn't know we had.
Get out in front of your fear.
There is someone out there that needs you, and the talent only you have, to meet the need that helps them overcome their fear.
Your calling isn't a burden to walk with, it's a gift to lead from.
When we don't move, we refuse to let other people connect with the gifts we bring through our talents, so they can receive the blessing that comes from them.
No...that isn't arrogance. Fear would say it was. I'm here to remind you that your talents are a blessing to others. Don't ever apologize for leveraging them to make someone else's life better. But don't ever sit on them, refuse to share them, and tell me it's because you are afraid you might fail. I've done that in my own life, and it doesn't end well.
Perspective says that the only potential failure on the table is our refusing to step into our calling, and not be someone else's blessing.
Run with perseverance the race marked out for you (Hebrews 12:1), and remember..."that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:3-4)
That is how you look fear in the face...
The behavior problems we are seeing come from the inability to communicate the words they are feeling.
This is true in every facet of our player's lives.
As a coach I talk about the 3 most common areas that I see it.
On the field.
In the classroom.
In the community.
If we can teach them how to see it and say it, they will be able to overcome it.
Their ability to act differently comes from their awareness and articulation of the situation.
How about an example?
Let's say you are struggling to gain buy-in from your team as you lay the foundation of your vision. It starts with an understanding of what your individual players are seeing.
Hand them an index card, and a pen. Ask them to write down the top 3 issues facing your team. The obstacles they feel are in the way of progress. A few things are happening when you do this. Immediately they feel heard. They feel safe to think independently. They are opening up. They are pausing, so they can start to process what they are feeling. Once those words come to life on the card, they've taken the first step towards the actions you want to see.
The next step is having them share what they've written with the team. Whether it's you reading them, or each player, get the responses out in the open. Momentum builds as many of them will share the same responses. They will start to see how similar they are. The isolation some of them were feeling becomes a common ground that you, as their coach, can start building on.
At this point they have started to see it and say it.
Now you have a captive audience to help them overcome it.
This is when you share your vision. This is where you talk about your core values. This is where you tell them that every one of those obstacles can and will be overcome. All of this happens when individual opinion is sacrificed to the overall vision.
Take one obstacle at a time, and apply your vision and values to it. Show them how your foundation is strong enough to lift the temporary weight of the frustration they are carrying. When they start to see how you consistently return to your vision and values as your compass, they will see the value in following you.
Does it mean the process will always be neat, easy, and clear? No. There will be good days, and bad days. But every day lived in consistency, is a day closer to the buy-in you've been wanting.
Help them see it.
Let them say it.
Watch them overcome it.
As they buy-in to your vision because of it.
That's how a culture of success grows.
One obstacle cleared at a time.
In one word?
If we truly want to see change, we have to #EmbraceTheStretch.
Winning comes from a place far deeper than simply making the choice to play a game.
A head-level decision must be met with a heart-level commitment.
That consistency, over time, is what separates those who are true competitors from mere players. It's what it means to have the heart of a champion.
I have a friend who has won multiple state championships as a coach. I could spend an entire blog writing about all of his accolades, and those of his staff and student-athletes. It's incredibly impressive.
I ran into him as he was beginning this past season, right after his team lost a game. Something he said in his post-game press meeting really stuck with me. I'll paraphrase his sentiments. It went something like this: "We came to play today, just not compete."
Think about that for a moment.
Anyone can suit up for the game. They can take the field, court, or whatever surface the game is to be played on, and well...play the game. But that only requires a head-level decision. My friend was saying that if his team was to be successful, it would take far more than that. They would need to compete. That...that is a heart-level commitment.
Competing means you give your all no matter what. You find a way to get the job done. Not just game to game. Sometimes it's down to second to second. Reaching deep inside to bring the very best you have to a contest you aren't sure you can win, but will go down fighting with every ounce of what you bring as your try.
I know A LOT of student-athletes who LOVE the idea of winning. But it's doing the hard work of competing that separates the ideation athletes from the implementation champions.
Do you want to improve? Compete.
Do you want your team to be successful? Compete.
Do you want your community to be proud of you? Compete.
And don't stop once you leave the game. Bring that same vigor to your classwork, and to your community service.
Be the student-athlete that makes a heart-level commitment to their athletics, academics, and community involvement.
That is the heart of a champion!
Don't just enter the field, classroom, or world today.
Doors that are opened with crowbars don't generally have endings that are productive. Doors that are opened with keys are better received.
It works the same with new ideas.
I've been speaking, writing, and teaching on character education for several years now. I've had the opportunity to bring it into schools and universities. The impact has been tremendous. But like anything worth putting time, energy, and resources into, it's a slow grind.
Sadly...what I run into many times is a sense from leadership that they don't need anything else to address character education. There isn't time, money, or support to see it through, so they won't bring it in.
Let that settle on your heart for a minute.
Time. Money. Support.
We don't get time back once it's gone, and the longer we wait the more the next generation misses out. Money can be raised. Every time I hear "We can't afford to", my heart says "You can't afford not to!" And support comes in droves once we all agree character education is an absolute necessity. But we have to set our pride aside, and stop acting like bringing in character education to our schools is some judgement on our leadership and parenting. It's not. It's actually proof we care at the deepest level.
Until we can say that the next generation is behaving appropriately & leading effectively, character education will always be a necessity.
That is where you come in, and why I am writing this post today.
You very well may have, or be the key, to bringing my character education material to your school or university.
If you missed my blog last week, this is how to get the ball rolling.
Once you read through that blog, and the testimonials, you'll see why I am so passionate about this.
My hope is that a handful of you will reach out.
Take the influence you've been gifted with, and be the key.
The next generation grows up once.
When we blame time, money, and support, we steal from their future.
When we accept responsibility to provide them with this opportunity?
A door opens that couldn't have without your help.
I'm looking forward to the fall of 2017, as some schools are already excited about this, expressing their desire to bring character education into their schools on a whole new level. I'm excited about working with their faculty and staff to make this happen.
When the next generation is Mentally aware of their surroundings in every facet of their lives, and able to Verbally articulate WHO they are and WHY they exist...THEN...and only then...will they be able to Physically perform at their absolute best.
Mental: What they THINK about themselves, and others.
Verbal: What they SAY about themselves, and others.
Physical: What they DO for themselves, and others.
The #MVP Model is a ground-breaking, game-changing perspective that allows the next generation to tap into their potential. It creates confidence, humility, responsibility, and so much more.
In academics, athletics, art, music, community, globally...
All of it, and more.
That's the heart behind #MVP.
When you see this teaching come alive through my workshops with students in high schools and universities you can't help but get excited. The emotion in the room is palpable. The life-change is transformational. The entire experience...forever memorable.
Be the key.
Make the call.
Respond vs. React.
Is there really a difference?
A reaction is based only on current circumstances, a response is based on knowing who we are and what we will do if this moment ever comes up. When we react we let our current emotions become the driving force to our next decision. When we respond we actually pause first. We think it through. We reflect on who we are and why we exist. We call to the front of our mind what we believe and begin to process how we do what we do. And then...we act.
Reactions are knee-jerk and not thought through. Sometimes we can get those right, but most times they are packed with regret. Words spoken that we can't take back. Actions taken that multiply that negative effect.
A response is the opportunity to walk out our convictions. To remain in control of our emotions, and make a choice that won't derail us from arriving at our desired destination.
I've seen it on the field as a coach, in the classroom as an educator, and in the community as a parent. Kids make choices in the heat of a moment they weren't prepared for, and hadn't thought through ahead of time. When the winds of peer pressure whip around them, they react. Only to realize later, through unwanted consequences, that the choice they just made isn't at the core of who they really are. Sometimes, and thankfully, they are small mis-steps that we can help them work through. And yet, more often now than ever (with the permanent nature of a digital world), it becomes a choice that has a far deeper impact.
So how do we help the next generation to stop reacting, and start responding?
If we want to see the needle move on our kids making great choices in every area of their life it starts with us having intentional conversations with them.
Relational roots create missional movements.
If we are willing to put in the time now, it will help them respond later.
And let me be clear...this isn't about cornering our kids and lecturing their faces off.
It's asking them questions. It's helping them discover WHO they are, so they will know WHAT to do. See...here's the thing. Whether we want to admit it or not, the moments they will face their greatest challenges we won't be able to stand next to them. We won't be able to whisper prompts, catch their eye across the table, or gently squeeze their hand to help them choose well.
The foundation we lay in their lives happens over time. It's never too late, and it's always the most important. Talk about core values. Ask your kids, players, and team what matters most to them today. Then teach them that those core values need to be their compass when the winds whip. Teach them to respond to their internal compass, not react to their external distractions. Teach them to value WHO they are more than who someone else says they need to be.
Our kids will never have a shortage of doubters, haters, and general societal de-railers. It's our job to pour into them now so when that time comes they respond, instead of react.
Remind them that their life is their story to write.
Every time our kids make a poor choice, they hand the pen to anyone and everyone who would love nothing more than to change their story...forever.
It's not dramatic, it's truth.
When we teach our kids to know WHO they are, they will know WHAT to do.
They will stop reacting, and start responding.
They will hold tight to their pen.
They will write their story.
And at the end of time, they will be so very proud of their legacy.
That's the difference between reacting and responding.
When push comes to shove, and life gets hard, have them say this to themselves:
That will help them to respond, instead of react.