Monthly Archives: September 2017

“CHARACTER” THE INSIDE INFLUENCES THE OUTSIDE

As a professional baseball scout, one of the most important priorities I park on while meeting with young prospects is regarding Character. It is fascinating listening to these young high school and college prospects define the word Character and what it means to them.

In a sentence, here is a clear definition of the word Character: “The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.”

I believe it is a normal human desire to be concerned about how we look on the outside. Truth is, there’s nothing wrong with that. However what can get us in trouble is worrying more about how we look on the outside more than how we really are on the inside.

Our reputation comes from what others believe about our outside. However our character represents who we really are on the inside. The good news is that if you focus on being better on the inside, than the outside, over time you will also become better on the outside.

Why do I say that? The Inside Influences the Outside. More than twenty-five hundred years ago, the writer of Proverbs noted that “As we think in our hearts, so we become.” That ancient idea has been both echoed by other wisdom writers and confirmed by modern science. Coaches teach the importance of visualization for winning. Psychologists point out the power of self-image on people’s actions. Doctors note the impact of positive attitude. What we believe really matters.

We reap what we sow, more than we sow and later than we sow. What we do or neglect to do in the privacy of our daily lives impacts who we are. If you neglect your heart, mind, and soul, it changes who you are on the outside as well as the inside.

Character is a personal quality that embodies many important traits such as integrity, courage, perseverance, confidence, and wisdom. Unlike your fingerprints that you were born with and can’t change, character is something that you create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing.

When we fail to make the right character choices within us, we give away ownership of ourselves. We belong to others or to whatever gains control of us. And that puts us in a bad place. How can you ever reach your full potential and become the person you can be if others are making your choices for you?

Winning in life is more than just money, it’s about winning on the inside and knowing that you have played the game of life with all you had and then some. If you want to be successful, you must prioritize building your inside ahead of your outside.

Helen Keller likely said it best; “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Be your best this week. Make character the crown jewel worth chasing.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

GRINDING FORWARD BY LEARNING TO SAY “NO” AS A LEADER

Earlier this week I stopped by a local Starbucks to get a cup of coffee on my way to an in-home meeting with a 2018 high-school draft prospect and his family.

As I waited for my cup of coffee, I looked closely at the coffee machine with all the beans piled up high in the grinder. I made this elementary perception; “Without the grinder, there is no coffee. Beans are just that, beans.”

Leadership works much the same way. You can spend all of your time trying to stay fresh and on the cutting edge as a baseball coach or scout by saying yes to everything and everyone, however at some point you have to be a strong grinder to not only be great at what you do as a coach or scout … but a great leader as well.

The daily grind gets a bad wrap. I’ve been around some who don’t even like the terminology “grinder.” Few, if any, wake up excited about the grind. That’s because most like taking the path of least resistance.

However what if that changed for you? What if each day you approached the grind as an opportunity to bring value into the lives of your teammate, staff or athletes you lead?  What if you equated the grind with your chance for influence? The grind, is never a grind, if you love what you do.

One of the keys to staying focused on the grind is the ability to say no! This is a skill that may leaders fail at and it impacts their ability to lead effectively. It will actually burn a leader out. They will soon become a “Dead Leader Running.”

As a leader, saying no is OK. You have permission. You must say “no” to some good things, so you can say “yes” to the best things!

If what you’re being asked to take on or do does not line up with your core mission and values as a team, staff, department or organization, it’s OK to say, No!

Walk away. Go the other direction. It may even be a good thing – but it’s not necessarily the best thing. Learn to say no and keep grinding forward.

The best leaders are the ones who consistently show up and discipline themselves to do the little things with excellence. Remember, never perfection, but always progress.

Embrace the grind, stay focused, stay disciplined and learn to say no. Doing so will maximize your influence!

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

VISION LEAKS! FOUR ACTIONS STEPS TO REINFORCE YOUR VISION

Vision leaks! This is one of many leadership lessons my mentor has taught me through the years. Tragically, many leaders miss this elementary truth. The mistake is explainable, but not excusable. The thought goes something like this; Since the vision is still burning in our inner most being, we make the fatal assumption it is still vibrant in the hearts and minds of those we are attempting to lead. Wrong!

Earlier this week I was walking down my driveway only to discover that we had a small waterline leak. It started out very small, however within hours it grew exponentially until water was pouring out from under my driveway and my water meter was in fast forward motion (can you say ka-ching $$). Needless to say I shut the water valve off and called my plumber to replace the waterline.

In a similar way, vision that leaks makes the leader’s work exponentially harder. It starts out very small, however within time, the vision has large leaks. So, how can you and I keep the vision front and center for our team and organization and minimize the leaks? The answer is both simple and challenging. Below are a few action steps to consider.

Make it Clear: Are you as the leader crystal clear on your vision? One of my mentors who is a pastor always challenged me with this thought: If it’s a mist in the pulpit, then it’s a fog in the pews. Until the vision is clear to you as the leader, it will not be clear to others. Leadership always begins with a picture of the future. You cannot create what you cannot envision – and neither can you communicate it.

Make it Simple: Are you sure your key coaches and leaders on your team and in your organization know your vision? Do they use the same language (words and phrases) to describe it? If you embrace the challenge of communicating your vision (daily), you will want to enroll your leadership in the effort. Clear and simple communications is a core value in all high performance teams and organizations. The vision and message must be simple and it must be aligned.

Track It: How often are you currently talking about the vision? Keep a record for one week and track how much you are talking about the vision. Every time you mention or illustrate the vision, make a note of it. You may decide to ask your key leaders to do the same. This will either heighten your awareness regarding the challenge ahead, or affirm your current actions. For most leaders, it will be a wake up call – the reason your organization is not talking about the vision…is because you are not talking about it.

Work the Work: To make your vision an active part of your daily life and communication it will require work! It will require thought, preparation, focus and discipline. Here’s an action step for you to consider. On Sunday evening look at your calendar for the upcoming week. Consider every meeting or connection you will have over the course of the next five days. Plan ahead how you can link the work or the conversation to your vision. Commit to use every opportunity to reinforce the vision. You may be surprised by the outcome.

Yes, vision leaks! However when the leader makes the vision clear, makes it simple, tracks it and works the work to communicate it and reinforce it over and over again; then those you lead will do as well. Stop the leak, because if you don’t, it will prove very costly.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

THREE BENEFITS OF HAVING A MENTOR IN YOUR LIFE

Recently, I heard a story of a man who was driving in the middle of a downpour. The rain came down in sheets and visibility was terrible. The man was unsure if he should stop or keep going. Suddenly he spotted a set of tail-lights ahead of him and decided he’d simply follow them. They seemed to be going in the right direction, and it was a big comfort to know there was another person on the same journey.

He followed those tail-lights for what seemed like miles, until they suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. The man sat there, his windshield wipers pushing water aside furiously, wondering if the car had encountered a problem or hit an animal. Then, instead of moving again, the car’s taillights disappeared. Frustrated, the man began cursing to himself about the idiot in front of him who obviously didn’t care about those behind. About that time, someone knocked on the man’s car window.

He rolled the window down in the pouring rain to encounter a woman.
“What’s your problem?” the man asked.

“I was going to ask you the same thing,” she said.

“Well, I’m not the idiot who stopped in the middle of the road and turned off her lights,” the man snapped back.

“No,” the woman replied, “but you are the idiot who’s parked in my driveway.”

I love that story because it illustrates two key principles.

  • First, nobody wants to go through life alone: We all want to know that someone else is taking the journey with us, and we often prefer following someone who’s just a little ahead of us on that journey. Remember, the people you surround yourself with will determine the quality and direction of your life.
  • Second, and most importantly, who we choose to follow is vitally important: Many of us end up like the man in the story – we simply follow the first person that seems to be heading in the same direction. However that can leave us looking pretty foolish. Remember, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

Mentors matter and having the right mentor matters even more. You see, the right mentor expands your vision. They help you see farther, and stretch your horizons. They help you see more by uncovering your blind spots. We all have them. In addition, they help you see clearly to discover your best path to success.

Personally I have chosen mentors at every step along my journey. Some intentional and some not intentional, they just happened. I can’t see it all, I can’t know it all – and neither can you. We all need someone to help us in our pursuit of intentional growth, and the right mentor helps you take massive leaps towards that goal. Throughout life, I have seen so many leaders in and out of baseball crash and burn because they did not have any systems built in their life to keep them accountable and develop personal growth.

Mentors do three things for you:

They know the way: They have insights and wisdom born from experience. There is no substitute for experience. They are a guide in life and leadership to help keep you on the right path.

They show the way: They generously apply their insight and wisdom to your specific situation. They direct, they point, they show you how and why you need to prioritize personal growth.

They go the wayThey walk with you through your own journey and help you learn from your experiences. There is a great proverb that says “Two are better than one, because they get a good return for their work.”

We were all created to be in relationship with others. As a baseball coach or scout we all want others to think that we have it all together. The fact is, we don’t. We all need a partner, yes a mentor.

As a leader, if you do not have a mentor that you are meeting with on a regular basis and you allow that individual to pour in to your life for personal growth and accountability, then it is just a matter of time when the wheels of life will come unhinged. I encourage you to make finding the right mentor a priority. One that knows the way, shows the way and will go the way. You won’t regret it.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin