Monthly Archives: April 2016

YOUR FRIENDS WILL DETERMINE YOUR FUTURE

We live in a day and age when people are measured by how many “friends” they have on social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap-chat, etc… Sadly, many leaders, coaches and scouts live a solitary life often times void of true, authentic friends.

Recently, I read a statement that said, “Show me your friends and I will show you your future. Show me the five people who are closest to you and I will show you who you will be in five years.”

Studies show that you are an average of the five people who are closest to you. Not happy with your life? Perhaps its time to surround yourself with some different people.

Many people have acquaintances, but not many have true, authentic friends. Generally, most people can count them on one hand. Authentic friends and relationships keep each other accountable and are there for one another through thick and thin. They are ones that will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

Life should be built around authentic friends and relationships.

The next five years of your life are going to pass quickly. What will you become? That is up to you. However rest assured, your destination will depend on the relationships you surround yourself with. Chose wisely!

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

What is the most important quality you look for in a friendship?

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YOUR GREATEST DECISION OF THE DAY

Last weekend after breakfast and getting some priority baseball scheduling lined up for the following week. I was faced with a big decision as I headed out to my car to start my day. What type of attitude will I chose for the day?

While baseball related administration duties are important, it is not the biggest decision of the day. The biggest decision of the day is the first one you make. It is your attitude. It is the decision to bring energy and engagement to your work as opposed to holding back, living and working half-hearted.

Leaders (coaches, scouts, athletes and employees) who fail to engage at the beginning of the day end up missing out on opportunities to influence and impact others. Why not make it a practice to ignore your circumstances for a moment and focus on the facts? Your attitude WILL determine your altitude. You can count on it!

The truth is, your attitude is a lot more important than you might think. Your attitude WILL determine your direction in life, so, why not focus your mind and heart on being positive in what you do, and you will be well on your way to a life of greater impact.

Jobs, careers, teams, organizations, marriages and relationships end or grow by the attitude we chose to display. Make your biggest decision of the day – your greatest decision of the day. Because the truth is, your attitude is a lot more important than you might think.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

What other big decisions determine the success of a leader’s day?

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WHAT LANGUAGE ARE YOU SPEAKING?

Not long ago I was watching a re-run of the TV show “Undercover Boss.” It is a two time Emmy Award winning reality series that follow high level executives as they slip around anonymously into the day to day rank and file of their own organization. A high priority of these executives is to listen and learn. To do less talking and more listening, and get to know on a more personal level those employees who are making the day to day operation a success at the grass root level.

In a day and age where communication should not be a challenge because of the many ways there are to communicate; phone, video, text, email, social media, etc..it is clear that good communication continues to be hit or miss proposition.

As leaders it is so easy to assume we are connecting with those we lead only to discover there is a gap between what we say and what is heard. If you want to remove the language barrier between you and the people you are directing, managing, coaching or leading, the following thoughts and suggestions might prove helpful.

Have Meaningful Conversation: Most communication gaps can be attributed to the fact that people simply don’t communicate. They assume. By simply talking to your team members or staff you show them value, especially if you create margin in your schedule to show interest in not only their work…but their life. A 1-minute phone call can make an impact far greater than you can imagine. Meaningful conversation is key.

Recognize That Words Matter: Language is about words. There is life and death in the power of your words. The more you unpack the meaning of words, and the expectations surrounding them, the more you position those you are leading to win. Your values are a great place to start defining the meaning of words.

Clarify Frequently: “Vision leaks.” So does clarity. As the leader, it is your responsibility to foster a culture of clarity. If you don’t provide consistent messages and repeated reminders, messages become blurry and you have no chance to keep everyone aligned and engaged in the process.

Listen More Than Talk: The best leaders are usually the best listeners. I realize talking is a major part of the job of a leader, however unless you become a strong listener there will be a serious language barrier with those you lead. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth.

Leadership IS relationships, and great relationships are built when people listen to each other and work together.

There does not have to be a language barrier on your team or in your organization. As the leader you get to choose what kind of culture you want.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

What would you add to this list to help leaders improve their communication? 

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HOMEPLATE…”SEVENTEEN INCHES”

In this weeks s2s leadership blog,  I recently read a story from a baseball coach that impacted many lives. I hope you are able to pause a few minutes and carve out margin in your schedule to read this powerful story.

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention. While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, he is worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there. In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which an actual home plate hung – a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy? After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from the State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more of a question than answer. “That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in attendance?” Another long pause. “Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach. “That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident. “You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?” “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison. “Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?” “Seventeen inches!” “RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide is home plate in the Major Leagues?” “Seventeen inches!”

“SEVENTEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to the minor leagues he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.”

”Coaches, what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking or doing drugs? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages. With the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

Then, to the point at the top of the house he drew a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

There was silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve-balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with a home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside….”dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and thousands of coaches, including me. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

s2s,

Kevin

Q: Is there any part of this story you can identify with? If so, what? 

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