Monday, December 12, 2011

Time Well Spent

I spent the day with a mentor in my life many years ago and something life changing occurred for me. While I realized this mentor of mine did not accomplish a lot of things from his goal list or his agenda for the day, he was having influence in the lives of people. I found myself watching this mentor talking and encouraging every individual he came into contact with. I then realized something I had always known: people are more important than tasks.

Leaders often forget this great truth. It's very easy to get caught up with the "To Do" lists and let that drive how our minutes are spent every day. However, leaders who live with a vision of impacting people do not let the pressures of the "To Do" lists override the time needed to influence people. In short, leaders must balance the agenda with the more important reality of building and mentoring relationships.

A second realization occurred just this year as I found myself stuck to my computer one morning before school while also trying to have a conversation with a student. While I'm a believer in multi-tasking to a certain degree, this was one of those moments I shouldn't. It wasn't long before I realized I didn't hear this student talking anymore. I then realized my lack of attentiveness led this student to believe I didn't care about her situation and she left. I was very disappointed with myself. However, I made an apology and explained I did care and was failing by showing this by letting the pressures of my day interfere with what was more important.

Time is never wasted when it's used to accomplish a vision of mentoring the lives of other people.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Effective Teen Habit #7 - Sharpen the Saw

All great leaders know one important ingredient of their success is recharging. Leaders recognize they can only give what they receive. In other words, too much giving and the leader will end up "spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically" weary. Leaders MUST make time to refuel the WHOLE person.

Personally, I do this both morning and night. Every night I have a devotional time where I clear my mind and conscience and gain strength and inspiration from reading fruitful sources of wisdom such as the Bible. Every morning, I exercise. Every day I make sure I am recharging myself spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. In addition, every week I meet up with like-minded people and socialize and fellowship to recharge as well. Finally, once a year, I take a personal get-away to refuel what I call my "dream tank."

Once a year, on my personal mini-vacation, I regain perspective. Every person needs to step back and gain the big picture on life and renew their purpose in which they are living. Without the refueling of the vision and purpose, leaders including myself will lose sight of the big goal and grow weary of the day-to-day necessities of life.

Many people think they recharge with vacations but those are simply times of rest. Actually, I have known families say the opposite! Vacationing is not the main goal here. Sharpening the saw means you set aside time to recharge and refuel yourself, the WHOLE self. Furthermore, this principle recognizes the need to maintain an alertness of one's personal health (spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally). A lack of alertness and a lack of refueling often leads a leader down a path to burnout.

Without WHOLE health, any leader will fall short of his or her goals. You can only achieve what your mind, spirit, soul and body allow you too! Keep them healthy!

What inspires you? What do you rely on to recharge and refuel yourself to maximize your leadership and success?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Effective Teen Habit #6: Synergize!

Helen Keller is known for a quote, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." This is a truthful and powerful statement as she carefully stated, "together we CAN do so much." Like the cartoon, people can be co-inhabiting an area but not be working together. Furthermore, people can be working together and still not be accomplishing synergy. The potential is there but the full effect is lacking. So, then, what is synergy?

Geese flying in a "V" formation so accurately demonstrates synergy. By flying in a "V" formation, the flock of geese can travel 71% farther than one individual geese! For each flap of the wings, an updraft is created for the geese immediately behind the one flapping. In other words, synergy is when two or more team members work together to accomplish more than what could be accomplished alone. Effective leaders know how to create synergy within their teams!

The challenge is that teens would recognize this principle and overcome some personal barriers to make synergy happen. Here's how:

  1. Reject pride. Have a teachable spirit. Don't act like you have all of the answers. Be open-minded and look to first understand before trying to be understood (Sound familiar? Habit #5).
  2. Accept Diversity. Know each person on the team thinks, learns, and sees differently. This is the beauty of synergy! When so much diversity can work together to accomplish so much more than what could be accomplished alone.
  3. Persevere. Working together to make synergy happen is like a choir singing a song. Each individual MUST sing his or her part to make the whole sound right. However, each individual has to listen to each other to make sure everyone is in step and on key. This takes work and is not usually accomplished on the first attempt.
  4. Research. The team must find new and effective solutions. This takes the resourcefulness and creativity of each person to generate an effective solution that promotes, "win-win" solutions (Sound familiar? Habit #4).
Start improving your achievements by becoming the synergistic team player we all talk about but rarely achieve!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taking a break from the study of the habits of highly effective teens, I'd like to take a moment and remind us all of the need to make gratefulness a habit of our lives. Gratefulness can be defined as giving honor or credit to someone for his or her influence on your life. It's recognizing I'm "who I am" as a result of another. Gratefulness recognizes I couldn't be where I'm at today without the input of energy, time, love, money, resources of others.

I've learned that gratefulness is much more than just being polite and having good manners. I was raised to make sure I tell people "Thank you" as most people are. However, gratefulness and its importance goes much deeper than simply giving a verbal statement to someone.

Gratefulness starts with humility. Rarely do you see arrogant, self-centered people express gratefulness. In fact, gratefulness is one of the keys to overcoming arrogance and self-centeredness! More clearly, one can't be grateful without being humble first. Humility recognizes I'm not a product of myself only. I'm a product of others' influence on my life and others' contributions also. Below are some of the benefits of regularly practicing thankfulness:

  1. Contentment - Practicing gratefulness ensures that contentment will reside in one's life. Without contentment, you will be subject to be in "wanting" mode. The "wanting" mode is the endless appetite of wanting to receive something to keep a "high" (such as attention, money, gifts, etc). Gratefulness brings contentment back to the forefront of one's life.
  2. Bonding - Gratefulness strengthens the bonds you have with those around you. A simple recognition of thanks to a parent for the simple things in life remind them of how important they are to us. Gratefulness reminds people that what they do is not a mundane, unneeded service but something important we recognize as being helpful to us.
  3. Honor - Expressing gratefulness gives honor to those whom it is due. It's easy to honor those who achieve gratefulness but what about those individuals helping along the way? What about those individuals that while it may be a small part, it's a really important ingredient in your success? They need recognition.
Start with those closest to you and start thinking how these individuals have impacted your life. Be thankful. There are many less fortunate than you. I guarantee there are things these individuals have done that you have taken for granted. Tell them thanks.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Effective Teen Habit #5 Seek to Understand...

One of the most stress related activities for any leader in any capacity is resolving conflict. One powerful principle leaders need to follow is to seek first to understand than to be understood. Our natural tendency is to seek first to make sure others understand our position rather than vice versa. The truth is when we really focus on understanding others first, they are more likely to receive our input without resistance. This principle is another example of a much bigger principle of being "others centered" rather than "self-centered." If you are concerned about the other person, you are more likely to practice this principle of seeking to understand them first.

To practice this truth, three things must be present:
  1. An attitude of humility - humility will set its own agenda aside to make sure all ears are given to hear and understand the other person. Without this, a selfish or prideful attitude may create a wedge between the parties involved and minimizing the effectiveness of communication.
  2. An attitude of kindness - leaders need to know that kindness reaches the hearts of people. Kindness expressed through sincere listening builds trust with people.
  3. A will that seeks - the emphasis here is to SEEK to understand. In other words, a leader must do more than just listen, he or she must ask questions and repeat what has been communicated to ensure both parties are "on the same page."
Leaders communicate. Period. In order to effectively communicate, leaders must listen and ask questions with the purpose of seeking to understand. Lastly, seeking to understand minimizes conflict. Conflict prevention is more effective than conflict resolution!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Habit #4 - Think WIN-WIN

In our competitive society, many people are doing their best to out compete others, even teammates. Rather than having such a divisive competitive spirit, effective teen leaders practice a "win-win" mentality. It's not a thinking that says, "How can I make sure I win and he loses" rather its, "We both can win." C.S. Lewis' comment on the egotistical pride states, "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man."

Before you criticize me with, "This is bull-jive! The real world is ultra-competitive." My response is yes and no. The business and sports world may be highly competitive and I realize this but, practicing a "win-win" mentality will prove to be advantageous for everyone, not just a select few.

For example, let's say your best friend whom you also share a locker with needs to use the top shelf as much as you do. This situation may present itself as only having one winner. HOWEVER, creative thinking can provide a "win-win" situation. How? This next statement reveals the power of "win-win" thinking...

In order to create "win-win" solutions, a leader effectively learns the focus has to become on accomplishing the other person's goals. Pride is the enemy here. A leader must set his goal aside momentarily and ask what the goal or intention of the other person. Once both goals are understood, then creative thinking can act on establishing a "win-win" solution.

Returning to the previous example, let's say you ask your locker partner what his goal is. He states that he believes if he hides his cell phone in the top shelf, it will less likely be stolen. This is his real goal, not necessarily needing the top shelf. For you, you would like to have the top shelf because you are a much taller than average person and it's a better fit. Creative thinking could create several possible solutions to meet both goals: sharing top shelf, using a lock, etc.

Practicing "win-win" thinking requires the following disciplines by the effective teen leader:
  • Reject the pride that wants to be on top all of the time
  • Learn the goals of others
  • Be creative
  • Give options for solutions, let others have a "say"
  • Think, "How can I help others feel like they win?"
  • Practice being happy for others' success even when you lose
One final thought in developing "win-win" thinking is the old phrase, "Better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles with others." How might this relate to "win-win" thinking?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Part III

On my dresser in my bedroom is a little 3x5 card from my six year old that reads, "Dear Daddy, I love you. I miss you. Are you coming home tonight? When are you coming home tonight? I'm ready to play." While she can read, those words were penned by my wife so that I could actually read the note! While cute, this is actually a very sobering reminder to me every day that it's really important I live by this principle of, "Make the first things first." Or, simply put, make sure the main things in life are the main things.

Many people give "lip service" to what's really important to them but their verbal communication is not an accurate story teller. How a person spends their time really reveals what is truly important to them. I'm reminded of what I often say, "You do and say what you really believe." Time is the more accurate story teller. If my family is truly number one on my list of most important things in life, my time with them will be the evidence of how truthful I am about this.

With teens, this principle is no different. I remember a "speech" I gave my sophomore basketball players one morning as a small number of them "forgot" about the weight lifting practice the day before. I reminded them we don't forget about those things that are important to us.

The challenge for teens is establishing disciplines and habits that truly reflect what is really important. Researchers say habits can be created in a small amount of time, a few weeks even. This principle of keeping first things first challenges teens to evaluate, "What is really important in those teen years?" Before you give lip service like so many do, take inventory. Where do you spend the majority of your time? If it doesn't line up with what you think should be most important, changes are needed.

Finding teens who truly live by principles and plan their weeks around what is truly important are not easily found. Take the challenge. MAKE first things first in your life!

Monday, October 24, 2011

7 Habit of Effective Teens, Part II

Do you want to go to college? Graduate school?
What will be your worldview in life?
Are you considering joining a new team or program?
What type of friends do you want to have?
Who do you want to marry?
What will you stand for?

Finding the answers to these questions can be initiated by first considering what you want your end destination to be! Why is it important to have an end in mind? First, you will be faced with many difficult decisions as previously mentioned that will be answered for you if you don't take direct intervention on "navigating" your life.

Before starting each new day, each new project, each new season, each new relationship, consider, "What is my main purpose in this? What do I ULTIMATELY want to accomplish?" When you can answer what your end goal is, then you are ready to embark on the new journey.

Taking an inventory of your values, goals and dreams help define what you are ultimately trying to get out of life. Consider the following questions:
1. Who has made a significant impact on your life? What qualities would you like to mimic?
2. Fifteen years from now, you are surrounded by the most important people in life, who are they? What are you doing together?
3. What or who would you be willing to lose your greatest possession for?
4. If you could spend one full day in the National Library of Congress studying something, what would it be?
5. What do you love to do?
6. Explain a situation or time when you became deeply inspired.
7. What three things would you want your closest people to tell a local news casting crew about you?
8. Describe one thing that represents you and explain how it represents you.
9. If you could spend one day living the life of another, who would it be and why?
10. What are your talents?

Answering these ten questions will help you discover hidden goals and values that ultimately shape your major goal or purpose you are trying to accomplish in life.

Today has already begun...have you started in the right direction?

Monday, October 17, 2011

7 Habits of Effective Teens, Part I

Sean Covey's book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens" is an excellent resource in changing teens' paradigms of how to be successful in the present and future life. The next serious of blogs will focus on these seven habits and how they relate to Raider life.

First, one must be willing to change. Our "will" is arguably the most important aspect of our "hidden" person that determines how we will. In other words, the "will" is responsible for transferring the "what we know" to the "what we do." Our "will" is what allows our lives to change if we subject our "will" to NEW ways of thinking. Will you yield to new ways of thinking?

Second, we must address the concept of "habit." Habits are regular patterns of behavior that become a product of our subconscious. In other words, habits are behaviors that do not require active intervention to implement but are natural behaviors as a result of repeated, previous training.

In order to experience transformation, we must form new habits. This takes time, work and patience. Change can be more difficult for some and require patience on everyone's part. Success in the change process doesn't arrive in UPS type shipments but over several weeks of deliberate intervention.

Are any of the following areas in your life needing changed or lacking success?
  • Relationships with peers
  • Relationships with family
  • Relationships with teachers, coaches and advisors
  • Work relationships
  • Work conditions
  • Academic progress
  • Personal confidence
  • Communication
  • Addictions
Start the journey of implementing these seven habits by first taking inventory. What would you like to change? It starts with the "will" submitting to the laborious, but profitable process of change!

Good Luck! Habit 1, BE PROACTIVE....(more to come next week)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Need for Integrity

Often leaders feel like this little structure that will be subject to Henry's destruction when opposition gives criticism for new ideas, plans or goals. What reduces the opposition's criticism? What gives followers confidence to follow the leader's plan despite the criticism? What enables a leader to move forward with confidence in his or her plan?

The answer to all three questions is found in integrity! Integrity, as I like to define it, is the consistency in one's character. A person may be patient but when that person demonstrates patience continually, this reveals there is integrity in this character quality. Long term demonstration of qualities reveals strength or integrity of the person's character.

Dwight Eisenhower said, "In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man's associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose."

Integrity gives a leader the following:

1. TRUST - If a leader gains an ear of a follower, the leader has a voice but if a follower trusts a leader, the leader can expect action and devotion. Integrity, or consistency, gives a leader the platform to be trusted.

2. INFLUENCE - If a leader leads with integrity, people trust the leader and opens himself up to being influenced. Leaders need more than attention to carry out a vision. Leaders need to pass this vision on to the followers which is influence!

3. CLEAR CONSCIENCE - With integrity, a leader avoids harmful, offensive mistakes. This in turn keeps a clear conscience, one void of guilt and embarrassment. With a clear conscience, the leader has freedom to lead knowing others are more likely to follow.

Integrity, I believe, may be the most important quality can develop. Without integrity, all the other aspects of leadership will be leaning on broken crutches!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Become a "Connector"

This cartoon humorously reveals how a particular generation may not understand technology "lingo" but it also reminds me of a valuable truth. Leaders "connect" with people. Like this elderly gentleman, there are many who do not understand this level of connection that makes leaders effective at what they do.

What does it mean to "connect?" Connection exists in a relationship that extends beyond acquaintances, small talk or even "working together with someone." Connection is a criteria leaders can use to measure their success as leaders. A leader who loses his or her connection to those following will soon lose his influence. What does this connection look like?

Connection can be seen when individuals mutually agree on a deeper level, not just through consensus. Connection exists when an emotional bond forms that unites the leader and the other team members. I recently read by John Maxwell that the average person receives around 35,000 messages a day! Many of these messages will not resonate with the soul of a person like a leader can connect with team members. This type of connection gives the leaders influence!

How does a leader "connect?"

1. Sincere communication - A leader must make genuine eye contact with genuine listening where the communication can safely go beyond just "surface talk." Sincere communication develops from one who has sincere empathy.

2. Enthusiasm - People are drawn to those who demonstrate "positive energy" or enthusiasm. People like to connect with those who demonstrate passion, energy and feed great about a worthy cause. Leaders must be energetic in how they interact with people. Warning: Too much energy and, well, we all know those individuals who take this to the extreme and scare people away! Don't overdo it!

3. "Others Oriented" - When a leader goes the extra mile to learn about another person, this person is more likely to open up and develop a rapport with the leader. What makes this happen is a quality all leaders must possess and that is initiative. Leaders must take the first step towards developing relationships so "connection" exists in a team.

Connection is what makes good leaders great. Everyone has the ability to connect! Connection is not dependent upon position! Without connection, you will be like this powerful electric generator that is detached from any power grid or something needing energy. What a waste! Connection is not difficult to develop, leaders need to be courageous to change!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Myths of Leadership

Martin Luther King, Jr has often been quoted that the measure of a man cannot be seen in times of comfort but where he stands in times of adversity. In difficult moments, the true values, convictions and beliefs of the leader surface. Sometimes the leader himself does not realize what the foundation of his or her life had been until adversity reveals it. Leaders must face the difficult realities of the influence he or she has the privilege of obtaining. One in pursuit of great leadership cannot deny these realities. Coming to grips with these realities, certain myths must be exposed.

Myth #1: Leadership is found in position. Many are in pursuit of certain positions in life believing lies that the position is what holds the success or influence. Many find as they "climb the ladder" certain compromises are made that go against his or her core values slowly decaying the foundation that makes great leaders great. Rather than being in pursuit of the position, pursue the character needed for the position and the promotions will occur at the appropriate times. Leadership is influence, period. Great leaders have influence with or without position.

Myth #2: Leadership is innate. In other words, many believe great leaders are born with the natural ability to lead. There may be some truth to this as innate personalities and temperaments certainly gift individuals with abilities and skills to lead. However, EVERYONE has the ability to develop the leader within them. The key is learning what defines leadership and the foundation of leadership is character. Everyone has the ability to develop character and as this character manifests itself through one's personality, skills and abilities the "uniqueness" of that person's leadership is revealed.

Myth #3: Leadership is easy. This is probably the most obvious myth of leadership and most widely accepted for those who have attempted leadership. Developing great leadership abilities and skills takes time and a lot of effort. More than just a lot of effort, this effort must be a focused effort. The type of effort needed must be rooted in purposeful leadership - a purpose higher than just self-fulfillment. When leaders have a purpose aimed at benefiting others, he or she finds additional strength to work through adversity and hindrances.

Count the cost. Knowing the challenges and costs ahead of time prepares one's expectations of the realities of leadership and helps avoid the pitfalls of falling prey to the myths of leadership.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Leading While Staying Connected

John Maxwell once said, "Leaders need to be close enough to people to lead them but far ahead enough to motivate them." This couldn't be more true. Think of your great, influential teachers in your life. They were not "buddies" but "mentors." Leaders look to stay one step ahead of those he or she is leading. What benefits arise as a result of such leadership?

1. Direction - The leader who steps out in front of others and pursues a vision first must chart the course for others. Charting this course gives direction and helps those following make the right decisions to help fulfill the vision.

2. Counsel - The leader who take the initiative must learn the troubleshooting solutions first and can provide advice for others before they face similar adversity. Furthermore, when receiving advice from someone who has "been there, done that" makes the advice more credible.

3. Connection - The leader who connects with his or her followers always keeps a hand out to help. When you feel "connected" to a leader, it's much easier to take risks to accomplish goals or the vision. Without the "connection" people are less likely to step out of their comfort zone and follow where the leader leads. Connection is the bridge that keeps the leader and followers working together as a team.

Discuss what ways a leader can do two things:
a) Stay Connected
b) Stay Ahead and Motivate

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No Results?

No Results? How frustrating when you carefully word a key word search using an online search engine and you are left with no results?! In a like manner, how frustrating is it when you create a plan to accomplish something and following a whole-hearted commitment to achieve it, you feel like the return message is, "No results...try again."

Defeating. Discouraging. Frustrating! What a leader responds with in these times reveals a lot about his or her outlook on leadership. What should a leader do when he or she feels the achievement is zero? Goals are not being met? His leadership is losing favor with others? Below are some tips on dealing with setbacks or the lack of results.

1. Regroup. Gather your team in and revisit the vision and mission. Remind yourself and your team why it is you are pursuing a particular achievement. Often, setbacks or hurdles serve as valuable times to refine your vision or renew your motivation.

2. Reflect. Reflect on your influence as a leader. Ask yourself the tough questions, "Am I putting in more time than others? Am I asking too much of others? What can I do different to inspire others to achieve?"

3. Renew. Sometimes, a sense of renewal is needed to re-energize the team to achieve. It's not a matter of working harder or re-planning anything. Sometimes, the leadership just needs a sense of inspiration. Revisiting the purpose and hope behind the vision often gives a sense of inspiration.

4. Refine. Set-backs and the lack of results may cause one to refine the goals or plan of action. The vision is fine, the leadership is fine and the team is fine. Problem? Wrong plan of action. As a team, collaborate on how a better "road map" could be established to achieve a vision.

Big Picture? Effective leaders are not content with "Sorry, your search led you to no results" messages or achievements. Leaders see these as opportunities to implement effective problem solving.

Don't like the results you get? Change what you do!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Conforming 101

I've been struck with the concept lately that conformity can be a good thing AND a bad thing. First of all, conformity happens. Period. You conform to whatever you give your heart to. Studies have now shown that spouses are more likely to adopt the "bad habits" of the other spouse. Studies also reveal we tend to conform to who we hang out with, what we listen to, what we watch, etc. HOWEVER, conformity can be a good thing....

My greatest compliment as a parent came to me recently. What was it? Realizing one of my kids wants to be just like me. Here, conformity is a good thing. My point? We need to be careful that we are conforming to right standards of character, communication and leadership. If for no other reason, so that those trusting in our leadership will also conform towards greatness as well. No greater compliment could be given than seeing those "followers" desiring to be like you.

What's key then? Focusing on what we should be conforming to helps us avoid conforming to what is negative in nature. When we purpose to conform to greatness and bear that greatness daily, we are that light bulb that reminds other light bulbs what our purpose is and what could be possible.

Leadership helps others conform to what we are currently trying to conform to also.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mistakes....Not Failures

The Hall of Fame UCLA Men's Basketball Coach, John Wooden used to say, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. If you prepare properly, you may be outscored but you will never lose." In my short tenure as a teacher, coach and adviser, I have come to recognize a majority of student leaders are easily defeated. Too often plans or performances do not go as expected and the all too common reaction is an overwhelming sense of failure. No big deal, right? NO! It IS a big deal. What happens all too often is this failure turns into defeat, an act of submission by one's will to discontinue his or her efforts towards improvement. In other words, defeat leads one to quit.

John Wooden would also add to this quote by stating how he would not fail BUT he would make mistakes. His perspective on failures resulting in seeing failures as setbacks and opportunities to learn and improve. We've heard this before and maybe too much in that the truthfulness of this perspective has lost its influence on our motivation and will to live and succeed.

The difference between leaders who fail and succeed comes down to how each handles failure. Many great leaders, as John Wooden has stated, assumes and accepts failure will happen. The difference in those who become great and accomplish greatness is they understand failure is NOT the same as defeat. See failures as a means of growth and necessary to develop one's character, vision and leadership.

Look back at your last defeat. Was it as crippling as you felt at the time? How could a different perspective on failure lead to a new sense of improvement?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leadership Attributes

What do GREAT leaders do differently from the average person that make them great or influential? This all important question is necessary to answer to start the journey of developing into an influential leader. As I reflected on my own answer to this question, a few people came to mind, one in particular, my High School Cross Country Coach...

Former College All-American, he was everything I idolized as an athlete. Successful, popular, likeable, and the list goes on. What made him stand out among the other leaders and mentors in my life? He connected with me. He connected with people. He connected with EVERYONE. And, he connected with people through a genuine, sincere spirit. People trust him including myself. Little did I know at the time how much my life would be different now as a result of his influence on my life!

Finishing an eight mile run around Lake Geode, I was exhausted and extremely frustrated with a teammate of mine (underclassman) for taking a short cut to beat me. I was furious. However, how my Coach handled this taught me an important lesson. He simply asked me, "Well, you can't change him or the circumstances, what could you change? As a team leader, how are you going to handle this?" I soon realized I had a lot to learn.

Following the season, I continued to meet with this Coach of mine on a weekly basis into the first half of my first year of college. Those times forever shaped my faith and beliefs about leadership.

What made him so influential in my life? Here are a few things of his character that reveals the virtue in which my life (as well as others) were influenced:
1. He genuinely cared
2. Relationships were more important than winning
3. Consistent - there were no surprises to how he dealt with issues of life
4. Communication - he listened before he spoke
5. Priorities - it became obvious he lived his life with the most important people in mind first

Before you desire to influence others, how have you been influenced to become the leader you are aspiring to be now?