Sunday, October 30, 2016

How's Your Engine Running

I heard this song recently on my Pandora Station:

The line that stands out is, "how's your engine running", and it sparked some thought in me that I'd like to share. Whenever my brother and I used to come home from college, or even after we were married and returned home after being away for awhile, my dad would often meet us in the driveway and ask, "how's your car running". We felt like maybe that was dad's way of starting up a conversation, and having something reliable to go to as we eased back into the comfort of regular conversation and interaction.

When I heard that line, "how's your engine running", because of that image of my dad asking that question so frequently, and because of my current journey, it really stood out to me. It made me wonder: as friends, Christians, husbands, fathers, if we should be asking that question of each other more.

"How's Your Engine Running?"

One of the things I think I've known for a while, but that I'm really coming into now, is that we can't go on this journey alone. There is too much for us to question, too much room for self doubt, and we are too imperfect to get it all right. Because of that, I think we need people in our lives who are willing to ask us, "How's your engine running?"

In other words, what is going on inside, what is challenging you right now, what are your pursuing, how are you growing?

For those people that we say we love and care about, we need to be invested enough to ask them the same.

Here's why I think this is really important:
The reality is, that we have all gotten very good at putting our heads down and moving through life. When work stinks, or the kids are driving us crazy, or we know that we have questions about life but aren't even really sure what they are, when we want more from life but we are embarrassed to admit it or unsure what that means, when all those things are happening, we are usually able to put on a happy face and keep on trucking. All the while, we have these things stirring inside of us that we are trying to figure out. We have doubts that we need to overcome, we have things we are curious about, we need some encouragement, we need to be around friends.

Despite the waxed exterior, and the spotless interior, "How's the engine really running?"

I used to think it was complaining to talk about "petty" issues that I was dealing with. But now I know that it is okay to be honest about what we are going through. It doesn't make us complainers to point out things we are questioning, or frustrations we are facing. It just makes us honest. How we DEAL with those issues may determine or display our character, but the acknowledgement of challenge doesn't make us weak.

I hope you have someone in your life who cares enough about you to ask you how your engine is running. And I would encourage you, either way, to love someone enough to do the same for them.

How Is Your Engine Running?

Much Love,

Nick Saban vs. Joel Embiid

There was an article that recently came out on on Philadelphia 76'ers player Joel Embiid, focusing on The Process. In case you don't follow the NBA, Embid was a first round draft pick in 2014, and is just now playing his first meaningful NBA game.

 The 76'ers, over the last three years have adopted the mantra of "The Process". During this time, they have been losing on a regular basis, as they work to rebuild their team and load up with young talent, hoping that temporary pain will lead to some lasting success. Over the last three years, the team has 47 wins compared to 199 losses. During this time, they have had numerous first round draft picks get injured, fired a coach, and alienated fans, some of whom have complained about "The Process" as all the misfortune has piled up.

Joel Embiid has become the face of The Process for the 76'ers. He left his family in Cameroon as a teenager to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. When he got to the U.S., he played at a prep school with teammates that constantly made fun of him, both for where he was from and at his lack of basketball skill. Despite his lack of experience and raw talent, he was drafted in the first round by Philadelphia, and then injured his foot early in the pre-season. Embiid has since been through an arduous and unsuccessful rehab stint, battled loneliness as he was separated from teammates and family, suffered a second significant injury, considered quitting, and persevered through a second rehab stint as he tried to find his way back onto the floor.

Embiid has second-guessed himself, considered going back to playing volleyball, or simply returning home to be with his family, giving up on the sport altogether. He has been up and down and down and out and frustrated and optimistic during this process he's in the midst of. He is finally playing meaningful NBA games, but there is a lingering concern about his health, and an uncertainty about what the next day, or even the next play may bring. Will all of his work have been worth it? Will The Process pay off?

The Process sounds great when Nick Saban talks about it. "We take it one play at a time, stick to the process, and live with the results" (common coach speak). When the coach who is touting the process is doing so through confetti showers on national television and has two handfuls of championship rings, it is easy for the viewer to get fired up about following such a mantra in their own lives. Those results are easy to live with. But what happens when the results don't come as swiftly or as significantly as we had hoped they would?

In reality, The Process usually looks much more like Joel Embiid than it does Nick Saban. Not with the losses necessarily, but with the challenges, with the public failures, with the starts and stops, with the questioning of the point of it all. We get knocked down, and we get up, and we get knocked down again. We have to sit and watch others succeed, while we go through growing pains. We doubt what we are doing and why we are doing it, and we think long and hard about giving up, doing something else, or settling into something less than what we are really capable of.

The point is not to look at Joel Embiid and all of his "failures" and setbacks. The point is to look at Joel Embiid and think about what type of man he is becoming in all of this. At the end of the article, it talks about how free he is playing now, like he has nothing to lose. The coaches and front office staff point to a number of examples where he is the last player to leave during public events, signing autographs and interacting with fans. The process has changed him, for the better.

This is what The Process really is, in my eyes. And if we want to get to where we want to get, if we want to fan our gifts into flame, if we want to move towards who we have been designed to be, rather than settling into average, then WE MUST ENDURE. It's something that we have to go through, sometimes, in order to become who we hope to become. The Bible doesn't say, "a gently flowing stream sharpens iron" or "a fluffy soft cloud sharpens iron". No, "Iron sharpens Iron". It's not meant to be a discouragement, but an acknowledgment that sometimes we have to do tough things in order to reach big dreams.

It's not easy, but it will be worth it.

Much Love,

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Compliance vs. Creativity

If you haven't read the previous post, I would encourage you to read it first, as there is a little background there that relates to this post. If you don't want to read the previous post, that's okay, this one will still make sense.

There is a term in coaching used often. Players are encouraged to "be coachable". Without going into great detail (read the previous post), many coaches, I believe, hide behind this noble sounding phrase, as they demand compliance from their players. The goal then, becomes, not to develop players and people who know how to interact well with coaches/bosses/authority and work well within the constructs of a team, all good skills to develop, but rather, to have players do what they say without challenge. Not all coaches do this, mind you, but many have taken a useful skill and manipulated it so that it is self-serving. Essentially, rather than cultivating or allowing creativity, they have instead chosen to focus on compliance.

The problem is, compliance doesn't breed confidence, it crushes creativity. I'm not an anarchist or anything, though I did recently take an online personality test and I was described as a provocateur. I thought that was interesting. And the truth is, sometimes I want to be more of a provocateur, but I think I've well learned how to be compliant and fit into a system, so there are times that I don't want to just not be in the box, I want to rip the box into tiny little pieces and throw it at everyone.

There is certainly a time and a place for living within the box. We have rules to follow, and bosses to appease, and jobs to do, that don't allow us to follow our every whim. But that's not the point, I don't think. Being creative doesn't mean ripping the box into tiny little pieces and throwing it at everyone. Being creative means having the ability and willingness to think for yourself. Being creative means that we don't accept everything everyone says, just because "they" said it. Being creative means caring less about what everyone else might think of you, and more about pursuing what you believe in and care about. Being creative means expressing the person that God has designed you to be, that so many of us suppress for much of our lives, in order to fit in, or get a job, or look the part, or please whoever it is that needs pleasing during that phase of our lives.

And I don't mean that as negative as it sounds. There is a need to do that at times, but I think as adults, teachers, coaches, that we have to work to straddle the line between having order and allowing young people to figure out who that person is inside. The real challenge, in my opinion, is dealing with the mistakes, emotion, and push back that comes as you allow people to make mistakes while they figure this out.

My daughter has a lot of creativity inside of her that she wants and needs to express. Many times, especially early on, I wanted her to be orderly, and compliant, and to do what I said, when I said it, and for her to thank me for my excellent parenting skills in the process. (Actually, there is a large part of me that still really wants that). But she usually had and continues to have other plans. I don't mean to compare creativity with disobedience. She is a good kid who understands right from wrong and knows how to interact with adults respectfully. The last thing that I want to develop, as a parent, the last thing that I want to deliver to the world, is someone who will always do exactly what she is told, simply because that is what she has been told.

I want to develop someone who is willing to question things, to be unreasonable at times as they pursue their passion. As she grows into a young adult I want her to express herself and to fully develop into the woman that God has designed her to be. And I don't think she gets to those places by complying with everything, all the time. She doesn't get there by following the sit down, shut up, do what I say method. So the challenge is to cultivate respect, healthy relationships, and an understanding of when to fall in line and when it's okay to live outside the line. It's much easier the other way, I think. It's much easier for me to use my size, and voice, and authority to develop obedience and compliance. It's really hard to talk her through situations that she doesn't fully understand right now. It's really hard to have her leave the house in knee high Christmas socks, in March. It's really hard to let a 7 year old figure some things out, because you have to put up with some things, while still providing guidance and boundaries, and then hope that what you are doing is right.

Jesus certainly didn't live within the box. Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Maya Angelou, Helen Keller. All outside the box thinkers and doers. I don't think greatness occurs quite as often inside the box.

Much Love,

Overemphasis on Being Coachable

One of the common themes in coaching today is the idea that players need to be coachable. Head coaches, assistant coaches, trainers, everyone is constantly talking to players and about players being coachable. It’s something that I agree with, and a valuable tool for players to acquire. It seems that a generally accepted idea of being coachable would be: someone who is respectful of the coach, someone who has a thirst for learning, someone who will accept and apply constructive criticism and instruction, and someone who plays and practices with a good attitude.
I understand that this isn’t an official Webster’s definition, but I think it probably encompasses much of the behaviors and actions that we think of when we think of players that are coachable.
As I’ve continued to hear about the need for players to be coachable over the last few years, at clinics, on Twitter, and as I’ve used this term with players myself, there are two issues that have stirred up inside of me about this oft used phrase.
I am concerned that we are treating this idea of coachability the same way that we treat leadership. We like to pound the leadership drum, and tell young people the following things: “be a leader”, “don’t be a follower”, “we need leaders on this team” “we are counting on you to be a leader”. While some of these things may be true (it’s okay to be a follower at times), the problem is that we tell young people how important leadership is, and then we do very little to define what that really means, and we a poor job equipping and then supporting them as they grow into a confident leader. It seems to me that we are now doing the same thing with “be coachable”. I don’t mean everyone, just as a collective of coaches. Generally speaking, our message isn’t well crafted, and our development of players in this area is lacking.
If you are someone who believes players need to learn to be coachable, I don’t disagree. I would challenge you to determine what that means for you and your program, and define that well, first for yourself, and then for your players. It’s unreasonable for us to hold our players to standards regarding behavior and performance when we haven’t defined what it really means. Additionally, if we are going to hold them accountable, we must first teach them WHAT this means, HOW to apply it, and in many cases, WHY it is relevant for them, on and off the playing field. It’s no different than your offensive or defensive principles. If you are going to expect certain behaviors, actions, or results, then you have to commit the time, energy, and resources necessary to put your players in a position to be successful.
In other words, if you are going to demand that your players be coachable, you have to teach them what that means.
Another concern I have with the emphasis of players being coachable, is that primarily, the idea is spoken by coaches, and if we are not careful, I think we can hide behind this theme. What I mean is, when players respond negatively to us, when players show bad body language, when our teams don’t practice hard, when we lose games, or when we are speaking to parents about their children, it can all be explained away as, “our players just aren’t coachable”, or “he just needs to be more coachable”. This may be true at times, but I think we have to be careful not to make it a catchall. Remember, this is a process, and according to Twitter, everyone believes in the importance of “the process”. If that is true, then we have to allow our players to go through the process of BECOMING more coachable (not BEING. You can’t BE without first BECOMING). We have to describe what that means, display it ourselves, and THEN, we can demand (hold accountable) that they meet this standard.
One final question I would pose. We want our players to be coachable, but:
How playerable are you?
I know that isn’t a word, but… Are you a coach that YOU would want to play for? Are you a coach you would want your son or daughter to play for? Are you coaching in a way that ENCOURAGES coachability from your players? Do your actions generate and cultivate respect, rather than simply demanding it? Why should your players play for you?
That may look like something different for every coach. Maybe you are a tough love coach, maybe you put a heavy emphasis on developing character and that is how you are being playerable. Maybe you make things fun and memorable for your players so they will be enthusiastic about their experience in your program. There are many different ways to be playerable, and we all have to do what works for us. Most likely it’s a combination of many different methods, if we are doing it right.
The challenge, I think, is for us not to hide behind just demanding or expecting players to be coachable, without taking any accountability for this ourselves.
Expectations for our players are okay, but it’s unhealthy for leaders to always hide behind heaping the responsibility on those under them. We have to take responsibility for being good coaches too.
If we aren’t careful, this can go from an attribute that we feel is important for our players development, to an issue that just makes our lives easier as coaches. So it goes from player focused to being self serving.
As you talk about being coachable, I encourage you to make sure you and your players know what that means and teach your players HOW. At the same time, ask yourself; How you can be more playerable?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Don't Put Them In A Box

Don't Put Them In A Box...

they are already there, you need to help them out.

I am responsible for one of the all-time dumbest "coaching" moves. Yes, "coaching" is in quotes because it wasn't real coaching, it was a young, over-eager coach thinking he was coaching, pretending like he knew what he was doing, and following some script based on what he thought a real coach would do in that moment. If Pinocchio wanted to be a real boy, I was the Pinocchio of coaching at the time, and I hoped that my actions would make me a real coach.

We had a freshman point guard who had only recently arrived to start not only her college basketball career, but her next step in her education, and an entirely new phase in her life. Just like many college freshmen, she was nervous and unsure of herself, trying to figure out where she fit in on our team, and wrestling with the questions that start to stir up inside of us when we attempt to take on new challenges.

I had worked with her some during pre-season workouts, so I knew that she was a good player, and I was excited about the maturity she had displayed during our conversations in the recruiting process. She was going to be our backup point guard, and we had already started working with her to define her unique role in our system. She had a chance to be a good player and really grow with us during her college career.

On picture day, our kids got all dressed up in their new uniforms, and because we were coaching a women's team, they did their makeup and fixed their hair so that it was perfect for the picture. There was a lot of energy and excitement in the gym. We hadn't really practiced as a team very much up to that point, so this was one of the first times we had all been together in an official, "the season is really here" capacity.

Katie, our freshman point guard, was one of the last to take her picture. She hung around behind everyone else, because, come to find out, she was embarrassed to have her picture made in front of people, so she tried to wait until everyone else was gone. That particular year, we were doing video shots of our players, so we had asked them to do something fancy, like spin the ball on their finger, or dribble between their legs. Katie spent the whole time looking and feeling awkward, as I stood to the side stewing about her actions.

You see, this is not how a point guard was supposed to behave. She was SUPPOSED to be a leader, and SUPPOSED to be outgoing and confident, and if she was going to be a point guard and meet our expectations she should have been in the front of the line, setting the tone, being the example for everyone else. Nevermind the fact that she came in with a huge freshman class to a well established team and that she was easily embarrassed while taking pictures, while dealing with many other things. And I, being a great coach and motivator, brought her into my office after the pictures were over and told her as much. Not exactly like that, but pretty close. Because that's what coaches do, right? Now, she didn't understand, and she tried to explain herself to me (nervous, uncomfortable, embarrassed, new...excuses!) but that's just because she is the player and I'm the coach. So to help her understand, I just stated my point again, more forcefully, and told her to think about trying to do what I'd said.

The kid quit at the end of the year and didin't play basketball again.

Really and truly, I don't believe that I was the sole reason, or maybe any reason that she quit, she had other ambitions for her life. BUT, I didn't help her have a great experience for her time with us, and I certainly didn't help with her overall development. Because I put her in a box. I viewed her as a point guard, that should exhibit certain behaviors, say certain things, portray herself a certain way. I boxed her in. I decided, based on very limited interaction, that she WAS a certain way, and that she NEEDED to be a certain different way. Despite the things that I had known about her after recruiting her and working her out, I boxed her in based on a 20 minute situation. I decided who she wasn't, in other words. She wasn't a point guard, or a leader, because of A, B, and C.

The truth is, Katie was already in a box. And that wasn't a bad thing, necessarily, just her reality. Katie was dealing with her own things, and working out her own stuff, and more relevant, she had a view of herself that contributed to her embarrassment, lack of self-confidence, and desire to portray a certain image to others. Rather than continuing to find boxes that she fit into, and ways that she needed to be different, as a true coach, I should have been helping her figure out ways to get out of the box that she was already in.

Our conversations, and my focus, should have centered on speaking truth to her, about who she was and who she was capable of being. I should have focused on her strengths, helping her see them, and highlighting them so that she could see what was great about her. I should have, once a relationship was established and she invited me in, THEN challenged her (but lovingly, not from a place of me wanting to help the team) to push herself beyond those self imposed limits that were holding her back.

I should have been helping her out of her box, not putting her in mine.

Many people are already in a box of their own design. I encourage you not to add to it by judging them and putting them in yours too. Help them find a way out of theirs.

Much Love,

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Get In The Splash Zone

We took our kids to Sea World this summer, partially because we wanted our kids to love us more. In our minds, we were going to go to Sea World, and see the animals splashing around joyfully, and our kids were going to smile and hug us, and tell us how thankful they were that we were their parents. We were all going to hold hands as we walked around the park, and at the end of the day we would share an ice cream shaped like a dolphin and talk about all of our favorite things from the day.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. My daughter didn't want to share her $9 drink with my son, so they argued about that for most of the day. My daughter also wanted to by a $30 stuffed dolphin that you can buy at Walmart for $5, so she could take it home and lose it in her closet. My son didn't want to ride in the stroller, he either wanted to run around the park uninhibited or he wanted someone to hold him. Whenever he was being held, my 6 year old wanted to be held too. If you haven't ever walked around a crowded park in 100 degree weather holding two children I highly recommend it. It's an amazing experience. You will sweat in places that you didn't know produced sweat, and eventually, the combination of three people in a confined space sweating, will lead to your bodies sticking together, which will lead to all of you being hotter, which will lead to more mysteriously located sweat.

The most frustrating thing for me about the trip, was when we went to the dolphin show. If you've never been to Sea World, there is a seating area right up front near the gigantic tank where the show takes place, called the Splash Zone. The seats have little signs on them letting you know that if you sit in this area, you will get wet. This was going to solve all of our issues. We got there early because there is limited seating in the Splash Zone. We would be able to cool off, the kids would be immersed in the Sea World experience, and we would post pictures on Facebook with all of us soaking wet, smiling, and hugging each other, and everyone would know that we were great parents and that our children loved us.

Me and my son sat down in the splash zone, and I waited for all of my parenting dreams to come true. Then, with about 5 minutes left before the show began, my son started complaining and we had to move. We sat in the middle of the bleachers, in the beating sun, with no chance of getting wet. I watched in disappointment as all of the people in the Splash Zone got wet when the dolphins did their tricks. From where we were we couldn't see under the water like we could have if we'd sat up front in the Splash Zone, so we didn't get to see "behind the scenes" as the dolphins swam and played and prepared for their jumps. My kids were too worried about getting wet, so we watched the show from a distance, like most everyone else, but in my mind, we didn't really experience it.

I encourage you to find ways to get into the Splash Zone in your life. It's much better to experience things than it is to watch them like everyone else around you. You might have to walk around wet for awhile, and it might be a little uncomfortable at times. You may have to get there early, and wait more than others, but it will be worth it. An experience is much more valuable than a viewing, and I think too many of us are watching life, rather than participating in the show.

Sit up front in class, ask a question, ask another question, be the first one to arrive and get some extra reps or some face time with someone you respect at work, go on an adventure, risk something, speak the truth even when it is awkward, try something that makes you uncomfortable in an effort to grow. Get in the Splash Zone.

Much Love,

(PS, please know I'm mostly joking about my experience with my children at Sea World. Mostly)

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Wrong Prescription

I've never had to wear glasses, but on many different occasions I've picked up someone else's glasses and put them on. When I was a kid, I remember picking up my grandparents bi-focals and trying to make sense of the two different perspectives in front of me. 

For most of my life, whenever I have needed sunglasses, I have purchased the cheapest pair that I could find. They work okay blocking the sun, but when I try to run, or throw a ball, or do anything that requires hand-eye coordination, I notice that something is "off". I cannot really describe it, but I can tell, even if I look down while walking, that I'm not seeing things completely clearly. 

When you are using cheap sunglasses or someone else's prescription, it is difficult to see things as they really are.

In my quest for thriving in this life I'm leading, I reached out to some people that I trust and asked them to respond to a question: What Am I Good At?

I wanted to get some honest feedback (not ego inflating self esteem boosting feedback, but truth) on how they saw me. The feedback I received made me realize that I don't see myself the way that others see me. And I think that the truth is, that the way others see us, many times, is much closer to reality than the way we see ourselves. 

Many people say "I'm my own worst critic" and they wear that like a badge of honor. And it's a great trait, to push yourself, and never be satisfied, and to constantly want to improve. However, when our perspective gets skewed to the point that we don't see who we really are, and we miss out on what's good about ourselves, then we aren't pushing ourselves to greatness, we are missing out on what is already great.

So I sent my question to my friends, and I heard these things:

"One big thing about you is that you have that 'it' factor"
"People want to be around you"
"Would I pay you to teach me something...yes..."
"You are a great teacher, you just need material and convincing expertise"

It's important for me to express that I am not sharing this as an expression of ego or to make anyone feel as if I'm someone great. The point is, that I don't see these things about myself.

People want to be around me? I describe myself as an introvert
"It" factor? I've heard about the "it" factor, I notice "it" in others, but certainly never felt like I had "it"
A great teacher? In my mind, I'm good but not great

I don't see myself the way others do. There are two ways to look at this, and both ways force us to fight for the truth. Sometimes, other people look at us like we aren't good enough, like we don't belong, like we can't excel, like we can't achieve, and we need to speak truth and life into ourselves in those moments.

There is much more greatness inside than we are willing to admit. Let it out. Ask some people who you trust what they see when they look at you, and then listen...and then live like someone who knows they were created to be amazing.

Much Love,

Friday, October 7, 2016

Love Does

I recently read this: 

Love is an action. 

So, one of the best ways, if not the best way, to show that we love someone, is by doing. We can't say that we truly love someone, or something, and then have no action behind that love. Love takes people in, Love hugs, Love plays catch with kids, Love listens, Love makes people smile, Love helps others, Love is moved to action. Love Does.

On Tuesday afternoon I became aware of a hurricane off the coast of Florida, which had a chance to hit Coastal Georgia, where I live. In the next 24-48 hours, there was a voluntary evacuation, a mandatory evacuation, and numerous warnings about loss of life and total devastation. So we left the island.

We stayed up late on Tuesday trying to determine where to go. I wanted to try and make it a fun trip for my family, and also didn't want to be too far away when it came time to return home. It was tough to find a decent hotel that was in a good place, so I started reaching out to friends. 

Asking for help always has its tensions. But I had just finished reading "Love Does", by Bob Goff, and he argues that love is an action. Love Does, rather than Love Thinks Longingly About, or Love Considers, or Love is Interested In, or Love is Making a Plan, or Love Would Like to But Love Is Busy.

And it gave me the courage to reach out. The first person was quite a ways from us but responded lovingly, and immediately, offering us a 3 bedroom house. She lives alone, and was likely in for a whirlwind weekend with us and our two kids, but she didn't hesitate to offer us her time and her space. 

We decided not to make the longer drive, but I was humbled that my friend, whom I have not seen in a very long time, and only talk to through text to catch up, was so quickly willing to look out for us.

I also texted my friend Josh, who is one of the most amazing examples of someone who Does Love and has done that for me consistently since I have known him. Josh rents his home out on AirBnB about 20-25 nights out of the month, so I wasn't sure that we would catch him. He had a free night at his house, so we drove up to Atlanta to stay with him. 

As soon as we got there, Josh and Vanessa started talking about all the plans they had for us and our kids. When we walked in they had cookies laid out for the kids. Then they took us to the backyard and told the kids about the fire we would have later that night. Harper collected firewood to help, and Josh made him feel like the most important person there. 

We then went to all of these cool places in Atlanta, places that I'm sure Josh and his wife had been 100 times before, but they treated it like it was the most amazing experience. Everything was cool and interesting and pointed out to us and our kids so we would see it that way too. Our kids, who were at this point stuck to Josh, rounded a corner ahead of us, and Josh and his wife were there with them at a popsicle stand letting them each pick out a popsicle (before dinner!!!). 

We wandered through stores and past eateries, and then they took us up on the roof of this building that had like a miniature coney island on top, overlooking the city. They had carnival games, and a giant slide, and putt-putt, and the kids had a blast. This whole time, Josh and Vanessa are one step ahead of us, treating us and our kids to all of these things. 

The money is not the issue. we are close enough that money will move back and forth between us for the rest of our lives for dinners, surprises, loans, favors, and who knows what else. But Josh knew that we had other things on our mind, and that we had been displaced from our home, and in the car all day, so they focused on US. Love Does.

Maybe the most amazing thing to me, about all of this, is something that I discovered while reading another book recently, titled, "Leadership and Self-Deception". One of the things it talks about is that people know how we are feeling about them in our heart. Through how we want to feel, or think we are feeling, through our fake smiles, and insincere gestures, people can tell what our heart posture is towards them, and THAT is what they respond to. I thought that was powerful.

Now, Josh is outwardly loving to our kids. He laughs with them, and makes them laugh, and encourages them. But that comes from a heart of love and generosity, it's not fabricated. And even when he's tired, and it is fabricated, like he is having to force that out as many of us have to do sometimes, his heart posture is still one of love. 

So it's easy for our kids to see it, and you would think they could be fooled by the outward expressions. I mean, who are kids to be able to tell what someone's heart posture is. But they know man, they know. And I know they know, because like me, they don't just LIKE Josh, they LOVE him right back. They are drawn to him. My 2-year-old has really only ever seen Josh immediately after his birth (Josh came in AFTER. I love him, but there is a line). And I don't even think babies can see, so...

But after just a couple of hours, he was tagging along with Josh, trying to keep up with Josh, asking where Josh was. He was drawn to Josh because of the posture of Josh's heart towards him. Love Does.

I am humbled by the love shown to me and my family during this time. I encourage you to think about how you can express your love to those around you, every single day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pursuit > Perfection

When it comes to leadership, I think we often feel like we have to be perfect, or reach this certain point, before people will follow us, or before we can step up as a leader. I remember when I was playing in high school, we had some really good players on our team from my freshman year through my junior year. At the end of my sophomore year and by the end of my junior year, we had graduated all of our highly touted players. And I remember thinking, "When I'm a Senior, this is going to be my team". And I have heard this many times while coaching in high school. Kids have operated with the idea that when they became a senior, or even just an upperclassman, that they were going to somehow morph into a leader, just because they had an SR after their name on their name sign hanging on the wall of the gym.

The truth is, people don't follow an SR. Having an SR after your name on a sign doesn't make you a leader. People follow people, and you don't have to be a perfect person. Because people don't follow perfection either, they follow your pursuit. People want to see you sweating, staying in the gym late or getting to the field early. People want to see you working your rear end off in practice, WORKING on being a great teammate, and valuing every rep in practice. People want to see you pouring into SOMETHING with a great pursuit. This means that you don't have to be the best player, or a SR, or a high scorer to be a leader. It means that you could be the most encouraging encourager, you could be a phenomenal practice player, you could be someone who takes charges and gets on the floor and sacrifices for the team. When people see that you are pouring out for something, that you are PURSUING growth and improvement, that is when they are most likely to follow.

The only perfect leader that has ever existed is Jesus. But I don't think the people that chose and continue to choose to follow him do so because of his perfection. They follow because he LOVED and LOVES them deeply. They follow because he PURSUES those that he loves relentlessly.

Martin Luther King JR. was a great leader not because he was perfect, but because of his PURSUIT of something meaningful and impactful.

When you look at great athletes who have been good leaders for their teammates, they may have been exceptional in their performances, but far from perfect. Their PURSUIT of a championship, and sometimes, just their individual PURSUIT of greatness is what has drawn people in.

The father whose family loves him and admires him as their family leader: It's not because he's perfect. It's because he LOVES them, and they can see he is pursuing things to provide for his family and working to create a great life and experience for them.

You don't have to be perfect. People aren't looking to follow perfection, they are looking to follow your pursuit.

Much Love,

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Be Kind: People will Remember

This is part 3 of the "Be Kind" series. Be Kind: People Will Remember

I've had two instances in the last couple of months that have reminded me and encouraged me about the importance of treating people well, and being genuine in your kindness. About a month ago I received a text from a good friend of mine asking me if I wanted to speak at a coaching clinic. The clinic is being put on by a very successful and well-respected head coach, whom my friend had worked for a number of years ago, and remained close with. This guy had reached out to my friend, Jeff, and asked him to get in touch with me to see if I would be interested in speaking at the clinic. I had not spoken to the clinic host in at least two years, and that was only via email. Prior to that, he, Jeff, and I had shared a quick dinner in between speakers at a coaching clinic we were all attending. And that was it. A short conversation and a follow-up email in which I asked him a couple of defensive questions. In his email to Jeff, to ask me about speaking, he said something to the effect of "I was very impressed by Bryan's professionalism and I think we could learn from his experience". I don't mean that as a boast in any way. I spoke to this guy for under an hour. And no, he doesn't mention my kindness in the quote, but I feel very strongly that if I was a jerk in our meeting, or didn't treat him with respect and kindness, that he would not be making note of my experience or professionalism. He wouldn't care about those things because people remember WHO you are.

The other reminder I received recently was delivered while I was having coffee with my friend Daniel. He had recently been out on the West Coast for a wedding and told me that he had bumped into someone I'd gone to school with. It wasn't someone that I knew that well, or that I had any continued contact with since college. So that last time that I have seen or talked to this mutual acquaintance would have been about 11-12 years ago. And when we were in school together, we didn't spend much time at all together. When he ran into Daniel, somehow my name came up, and the guy said something like, "oh Bryan, he's like the nicest guy ever" Truth is, I don't really remember ever being that nice to the guy. I thought he was a little strange, and wouldn't have been surprised if he had said, "Oh Bryan, he always acted kind of stand-offish to me". Again, the point is not for you to think I'm the King of Kind, the point is, that people remember. People remember how we treat them, and if they remember you as being someone who was kind to them, it will stick with them for a long time. The more people can have others pouring kindness into them, and the more positive experiences they can have with other people, the better their outlook on their own situation will be.

Much Love,