Monthly Archives: December 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR

I hope that you enjoy a wonderful Christmas holiday season with family and friends, and look forward to a fantastic New Year. In the midst of all your Christmas shopping and festivities, please don’t forget the true “Reason for the Season.”

Merry Christmas

Thank you for your loyal support the past few months. The next blog will resume Tuesday, January 1, 2014

Until 2014, Merry Christmas!

s2s,

Kevin

What was your best memory of 2013? 

Comments?

 

FIVE CONSEQUENCES OF A LEADER OUT OF BALANCE

Experts say as a rule of thumb, if you are working more than 55-60 hours a week, you are working to much and are likely out of balance. You may be able to work more than this for a season, but it’s not sustainable. If you persist in working this much – or more – something will eventually break. Burnout is inevitable.

As a coach, scout, or organizational leader in baseball, there is a high emphasis and priority on scouting, recruiting, and developing players, staff, coaches, and prospects. Simply put, to build a championship team and organization.

In the early years of my professional scouting career, I was determined to succeed. It’s just part of my DNA. Part of what drove me was fear. Coming right off the playing field, I didn’t have any experience in scouting, and I was a bit fearful that I would be exposed by older, more seasoned scouts. However, I was also driven by the desire to achieve. To be the best. As a result, I was moving up the “scouting latter” fairly quickly.  In those early years, working both an area territory and crosschecking, I would start my day by 4:00-5:00 am, and would often not finish the day until 12:00-1:00 am. I would average between 17 &18 hour days. During the scouting season, it was 7 days a week for several months.

My dear wife, Valerie was a trooper, but with a small child, she definitely needed relief. It didn’t take long for me to realize that my work / life balance was totally out of whack. It was simply not sustainable. I can remember lying in bed at night and physically shaking from stress and exhaustion – burning the candle at both ends was catching up to me. Solely brought on by foolishness, poor discipline, poor choices, pride, and the male ego to succeed.

As a leader, think of it this way: If you are working more than 55-60 hours a week, (which is very easy to do as a baseball coach, scout, or organizational leader) like it or not, you are out of balance. You are putting at risk at least five of the following very important assets.

Balance Scales

  1. Your Health: Early in my career, I thought I could get by by eating junk food, minimal sleep, and not having any physical disciplines. However, I learned that this will inevitably catch up with you. How many people do you know who have died young, simply because they refused to take care of themselves, burn the candle at both ends, and not have better balance in their life physically. I can think of many!  Like Colonel Sanders said – “There is no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery.” 
  2. Your Family: You can’t afford a divorce. The cost is incalculable, not only financially but emotionally. Just ask those who have gone through one. You also can’t afford to ignore your children. If you don’t invest in them now, you will be forced to spend time with them later—in rehab, in jail, or worse. When you’re home – be home. If at all possible, turn the cell phone and computer off. Plan a date night with your spouse. You get one chance to be a husband and father, don’t chase the money, status, and fame at the expense of your family. It’s not worth the cost. S2S leaders don’t just succeed at work. They also win at home. Your closest relationships deserve your best. Leaders lead at home. It starts with not just being there, but really “being there.”  Fully engaged, totally present, and thoroughly interested. L.O.V.E. is spelled T.I.M.E.
  3. Your Friends: Sadly, I didn’t really have many close, personal friends and relationships until about eight – ten years ago. Many acquaintances, but not many close friends or accountability partners. I thought that my baseball colleagues and church “acquaintances” were enough. Not so much. I have several great friends now that mean the world to me, both in and out of baseball. I give them permission to speak in to my life,  keep me balanced, and hold me accountable. However, I must continue building margins in my life to invest in those relationships. Remember, leadership is about relationships. The best way to strengthen the relationships with friends – is to listen to what they have to say.
  4. Your Effectiveness. I truly believe you are most productive when you are relaxed and rested. Work is like golf—or any sport. The harder you force it, the less effective you’ll be. You are the most productive when you’re not stressed. The number of hours you work has almost zero correlation with your effectiveness.
  5. Your Example: I heard a great quote that says: “A lot more is caught – than taught.”  The people you are leading and influencing on your team or organization will unconsciously mimic you. They can’t help it.  As a leader, you set the pace. If you work seventy hours a week, your people will think they must work seventy hours a week. Most of them won’t be able to keep up. And you will be responsible for the consequences. Be wise, be smart, and lead with integrity and character of heart. Lead by example!

Don’t get me wrong. I still work hard, but with balance – and you should as well. However, there is a vast difference between working hard and working smart. I have built in margins and boundaries; in order to have sustainable balance. I encourage you to do the same. Guard your healthPrioritize your family. Value friendships. Build margins to be effectiveLead by example to those you are leading and influencing. If you do, you will be making progress as a leader in balance.

s2s,

Kevin

Based on the five important assets, is your life more in balance or out of balance?  Comments

OVERCOMING THE “ARMCHAIR QUARTERBACKS”

While it is true that there are head coaches and organizational leaders that are not meeting expectations, I can assure you that none of them are trying to fail. Let me encourage you right from the get go; Failure is never fatal – until you allow it to be final!

Some coaches and organizational leaders may be guilty of surrounding themselves with weak talent. Some may be guilty of not having a sustainable plan. Some may have limited resources compared to others. Some may have an unmanageable schedule.  But those things are never mentioned when “heads on the platter” are called for.  However, in the end, it generally comes down to play calling, strategy, and production (which means wins and losses, success or failure).

Fans are so smart. It’s hard to believe they don’t have all the coaching jobs. As a leader, you should go ahead and get it through your head that you will be second guessed. There will be those who think they know more about what is needed than you do. It never ceases to amaze me how a head coach can maintain sustainable success year after year, and then all of a sudden forgets how to coach and win? Sorry, not buying it!

With the NCAA football conference championships and bowl games revving up and in full force, there is no end to those who are experiencing disappointment, as fans wake up and face their teams loss over the weekend.

In today’s world of win at all costs, a few head coaches and organizational leaders are already on the hot seat, and more will be on the way soon. It appears on the surface that fans, and even some media know more about winning than the coaches do. Words said and opinions written for all to read or hear about.

However, I’m quickly reminded of a great Proverb that says; “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” 

Whether you’re a head coach or an organizational leader, it’s important to remember the following two principles that will keep you in the game when the “Arm Chair Quarterbacks” (naysayers and critics) come calling.

Armchair QB

1) Do the right thing: Assuming you have the right plan, there is no reason to deviate because of a handful of critics and naysayers. If you work your plan – your plan will workNote: There will always be critics. If you cower down because of a naysayers and critics, you will never make it as a leader. Stay focused. Keep your hand to the plow, and keep making progress. Always remember; Speed of the leader – Speed of the team! Set the example and keep doing the right thing.

2) Do things right:  You can do the right thing in the wrong way. Great leaders do the right thing in the right way.  This is called the character test – It is recognizing that your leadership is not about you as much as it is about the mission, the process, and the team of players, coaches or staff you are leading and influencing.  Passing the character test may not eliminate your naysayers and critics, but you will be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience knowing that you are doing things right. Guard your heart, and maintain your character and integrity – in the end, those you are leading and influencing are watching if you are doing things right.

You have greatness inside of you! So do the right things in the right way and stop listening to the “Arm Chair Quarterbacks.” If you do, you will be positioned for leadership longevity.

s2s,

Kevin

Q: As a coach or organizational leader, what are some ways you handle “Armchair Quarterbacks”?

Comments?

5 REASONS WHY LEADERS NEED TO MAKE PROGRESS AT SAYING “NO”

I heard a great quote that say’s: “If you don’t tell your time where to go…someone else will!”  If you are wired anything like me, at times, I have a hard time saying “NO.” Perhaps you do, too? I think it is more common than we think, especially for those who are leaders, and who are empathetic, nurturing, or generally care about people. We simply hate the thought of hurting someone else’s feelings or not trying to solve the problem. Most leaders are problem solvers!

Possibly, you don’t really notice this to be a problem, because you have had an assistant who says “no” for you. If someone has a request, they have to get through your assistant first. He or she filters all requests.

This gives you the buffer you need to consider the request more carefully. You let your assistant say “no” on your behalf. The fact that you don’t have to deliver the bad news keeps yourself focused, intentional, and productive.

However, if you’re like me, I don’t have an assistant. That means all requests are coming straight to me.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, a baseball coach (an acquaintance) who I met briefly at a ballpark last summer—sent me an email. He said:  “I read your blog and follow you on Twitter. We met briefly last summer at a ballpark in South Carolina. I am going to be in Georgia next week and would really like to meet with you. I am in the middle of a personal challenge and could use some wise counsel. I know you are busy, but this is really important. It would mean the world if you could make time for me. Could I buy you breakfast, lunch, or just coffee to pick your brain?” 

I ended up saying “yes”— and was kicking myself almost immediately. The lunch meeting ended up being totally unproductive. He didn’t come prepared. In fact, when it was all said and done, I had no idea what he really wanted.

The problem is that I am now getting more of these request weekly. It could be a full-time job if I let it. However, that’s not going to happen, thanks to the encouragement of my family and close friends. There is too much at stake. They are holding me accountable.

I have resolved to say “no” to many requests unless there is a really compelling reason to say “yes.” In other words, I have switched my default response from “yes” to “no.” Sure enough, I’m getting plenty of opportunities to practice!

As I was thinking about this today while enjoying my birthday, I was reminded again of why it is so important that a baseball coach or scout who is a leader, learns to say “no,” I made note to five reasons.

If we don’t make progress at saying “no,”….

  1. Taking ownership of other peoples’ priorities will take precedence over ours. Living “focused and being intentional,” begins to become “unfocused and unintentional.”
  2. Mere acquaintances—people we barely know!—will crowd out our time with God, family, teammates, and close friends in our life.
  3. We will not have the time we need for rest and recovery. We will never be an effective leader if we don’t prioritize proper rest and recovery for our life.
  4. We will end up frustrated and stressed. This will put undo stress on the team, players, coaches, and family that we are leading.
  5. We won’t be able to say “yes” to the really important things or the best things. The “good” becomes the enemy of the “best.”

This last one is a clincher for me. Every time we say “no” to something that is not important or not a priority, we are saying “yes” to something that is!

Question: Is there room for progress? If so, I encourage you that it’s OK to say “no” to some good things – so you can say “yes” to the best things!

s2s,

Kevin

How are you doing at saying “NO”?  Comments below