Author Archives: kdbmlb@gmail.com

About kdbmlb@gmail.com

Kevin Burrell serves CEO, Chief Encouragement Officer, of "From the Sandlot to the Sweet Spot; Leadership 4 Life" where he is passionate helping athletes, coaches and scouts reach their full potential. His goal is to see next generation leaders understand the importance of living a life of integrity in order to maximize their influence on and off the field or court of competition. Kevin has worked in professional baseball as both a player and major league baseball scout for the past 36 years and currently serves is on staff as an Area Scouting Supervisor with the Chicago White Sox. A HS All-American catcher from San Diego, California, Kevin was drafted in the 1st round of the 1981 free agent amateur draft (25th selection overall) by the Boston Red Sox, and was the first catcher selected in the United States. He played 10 years of professional baseball with four different organizations. However, his career was cut short by an elbow injury in 1992. Wanting to stay connected with the sport he loved, Kevin soon pursued a professional scouting career. He began with the Chicago White Sox organization. After years of dedication and commitment, Kevin was promoted as a National Crosschecker with the Boston Red Sox and eventually the Houston Astros respectively, before returning back to the Chicago White Sox organization. Kevin has a proven record of accomplishment with young amateur baseball players and is credited with scouting, signing - or recommending to draft as a national cross-checker the following players: Gordon Beckham (2B), Mark Teixeira (1B), Dernell Stenson (OF), Lew Ford (OF), David Eckstein (SS), Mark Johnson (C), Matt Chico (LHP), Mike Maroth (LHP), Kelly Shoppach (C), Adam Everett (SS), Drew Stubbs (CF), Hunter Pence (OF), Ben Zobrist (INF/OF), Casey Fossum (LHP), Josh Hancock (RHP), Manny Delcarmen (RHP), Troy Patton (LHP) and Kason Gabbard (LHP), Chris Beck (RHP), Jacob May (CF). Kevin’s extensive experience scouting future major league players puts him in a unique position. To sum up his philosophy in regards to scouting, Kevin states; "Professionalism, integrity, character, experience and knowledge will always yield outstanding results." In his free time, Kevin enjoys investing in and mentoring young athletes, public speaking, reading, writing, traveling and serving in his local church. He and his wife Valerie have been married for nearly 24 years and reside in Sharpsburg, Georgia.

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

“LOYALTY” – FEAR BASED OR TRUST BASED?

Is it just me, or has loyalty become rather scarce these days? Anyone who’s been in leadership for any length of time has likely pulled more than a few knives out of their back. Bottom line – there seems to be way too much focus on “me” and not enough focus on “we” these days. There have always been those who have fostered trust and earned loyalty, as well as those who have abused both for personal gain. However in this “what have you done lately for me” society where relationships have degenerated into little more than stepping stones, loyalty seems to be elusive as best. One of a leader’s most important functions is to create an environment where trust and loyalty are the rule and not the exception.

Leadership and loyalty go hand-in-hand. In fact, so much so that leaders who fail to understand this simply won’t endure the test of time. While successful leaders share many common traits, all great leaders have one thing in common – they are not only adept at earning the loyalty of those they lead, but they also recognize that loyalty is definitely a two-way street. When it comes to loyalty, the simple rule is that you will not receive what you will not give.

It’s important for leaders to do a gut check and take note of the difference between fear based loyalty and trust based loyalty. As a leader, do you command the loyalty of those around you because of your title, or have you earned it by gaining their trust and respect? Loyalty commanded is fleeting – loyalty earned is enduring. Note…being feared as a leader is not a badge of honor to be sought after. It’s one thing for team members to have a healthy respect for you, but quite another to be in fear of you. Remember that respect is earned, and fear is imposed. Fear based motivations don’t instill loyalty, create trust, build morale, inspire creativity, attract talent, or drive innovation. The truth is fear stifles, and if left unchecked, eventually kills those you’re leading.

While loyalty can be based on limited options, I would maintain that it shouldn’t be. Loyalty should be linked to genuine relationships. The question for a leader is how can relationships be fostered in such a way that the alternatives become less attractive? How do you tell if your team members respect you or fear you?  Below are a few thoughts and action steps to consider…

A Team of Yes-men: Feared leaders either surround themselves with like-minded people, or train people to share their views in a vacuum. Either way they lose…Great leaders value the opinions of their team whether or not said views happen to be in line with their own beliefs or opinions. The best leaders not only subject their ideas to scrutiny – they openly encourage it.

Lack of Interaction: Along the lines of point one above, if team members don’t proactively seek your advice and input then you have a problem. They either don’t value your contributions, or they know from experience that you’ll treat their inquiry in a belittling fashion. Over time, many fear-based leaders unknowingly train their team to think: “Why even try if there is no upside? The boss will never go for that.” It is key that team members have the freedom and openness to have interaction.

Feedback / Input: If you want to build trust and loyalty with those you lead, one of the best things you can do is ask for feedback and input from team members. There is an old saying, “People don’t need to have their way … but they do need to have their way considered.” Your team members are thinking what they are thinking. What good does it do you not to ask and find out for yourself what they are thinking? Ask! This fosters trust and a sense that you genuinely care about their opinions, input, insights and feedback.

Revolving Door: This is a tough one hear, however necessary to self-evaluate. If you either can’t attract or retain top-tier talent, you are not an effective leader who has earned the respect and loyalty of your team. In fact, upon closer examination, you’ll find that you probably don’t have a team. Sad but true…real talent won’t be attracted to, or remain engaged with leaders who operate on fear-based tactics. It’s a matter of when, not if, they depart.

Poor Performance: Leaders who have the respect of their team will outperform those that don’t. However leaders who attempt to use command, control and fear tactics without the necessary relational leadership principles will simply not do well. If your team and organization is not thriving and growing, there is a problem. Begin first evaluating your leadership qualities and work outward from there.

Affirmation: When a leader affirms his team members publicly, he increases the loyalty of his team privately. There is nothing more cancerous than  “back room’ conversations between disgruntled team members. A culture of affirmation will help eliminate criticism and negativity. (Special Note: If a great culture is present, and team members continue criticizing in the back room, they should be invited to leave the team)

Love: An environment of trust, input, feedback, interaction, and affirmation will never exist without love. Why? Because love, at it’s core, is the absence of fear. An insecure leader is suspicious, closed to others and slow to offer praise. In contrast, one who loves leads with an open mind and thinks about others first. In short, you have to serve before you can lead.

It has been my experience that people want to be led and they are ready to be loyal. If you will focus on the action steps mentioned above you will be well on your way to a loyal and successful team.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

 

LEVERAGING YOUR INFLUENCE AS A LEADER

As a leader, you’re likely aware that your ability to positively influence another person is the central component of your leadership. So you understand that influence matters to leaders.

But how do you measure your influence? By the number of people who work for you? By the number of followers you have on Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat? By the number of likes you get on Facebook?

While there is a small amount of validity to those numbers, chances are that you’re missing something if you measure influence in only that way. Because there are dozens of people – perhaps even hundreds that you influence without ever knowing it.

They help you bag your groceries. They pick up your trash. They serve you at the ballpark. They wait on you in restaurants. They deliver your mail, or drive next to you on the road. They pass you in the halls at your child’s school, or ride the elevator with you on the way to the office. The list could be endless. You get the point.

And these possibly “unnoticed individuals” are impacted by you in ways you may never know. I read a great quote this week from J.R. Miller. He said; “There have been meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity.

No one can understand that mysterious thing we call influence, yet, every one of us continually exerts influence; either to heal, to bless, to encourage and leave marks of impact – or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to tear down, and stain other lives.

I love that line: “meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity.” I want you to understand three very important words: Leadership IS Relationships!

Have you ever taken time to think about your life in that way? I know I have and I miss the mark daily. However, this is never about perfection, but always about progress. You impact people on a daily basis by how you choose to live. What you say. The way you act. What you do. How much you care. Your life is a book that is being written every single day.

Your life is influence in motion. I understand that anyone can have a bad day. It happens to all of us. However how many bad days might you cut out of a year if you recognized that you have the ability to make a difference to literally everyone you meet?

Your capacity to transform someone’s life every day is rooted in your choice to make a positive impact, even in the most fleeting of moments. When you make it your mission as a leader to value people and add value to them, then you are planting the seeds for a harvest of positive change. As I wrote in last week’s leadership blog; “You reap (what) you sow, you reap (more) than you sow, and you reap (later) than you sow.”

So how do you get started?

I recommend you begin with your family. Get up early and make the coffee. Prepare lunch for your kids. Pray over your spouse. Set the tone for them to influence others in a positive way, and you’ll be amazed at just how different the stories around the dinner table might be.

For me, I made a decision 2 years ago to write a short daily devotional to my adult child at least five days a week. Is it time consuming? yes. Does it take discipline? yes. Are there days I don’t want to do it? yes. Is it worth it? absolutely! It helps me as much as I hope it helps him. It allows me to leverage my influence as a father to speak encouragement and influence in to my adult child’s life.

Imagine what would happen if you expanded that positive influence from your family to those around you. Imagine if you practiced courtesy during rush hour (I know that’s a major challenge if you live in Atlanta 🙂 – or were grateful to everyone who served you a meal. Imagine if you held open doors and elevators, shared the credit with others, and added value as often as you could to every person you meet. Your level of influence would be off the charts.

At a time when some leaders seem only to care about those who are “for” them, we need leaders who care about everyone. We need leaders who make valuing others a priority instead of a promise. We need leaders who make others better instead of bitter. Our society needs leaders who take special care to consider the unnoticed follower.

You can change the world if you choose to – and I believe you can and will. So this week, I encourage you and challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and look for opportunities to influence those you come in contact with. Because meetings of only a moment can leave lasting impressions for life, and for eternity.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

THE “LAW OF THE HARVEST” FOR EVERY LEADER

Living in the south I frequently roll through the farm lands in south Georgia. This scouting season while driving through areas of south Georgia I noticed something different. The normal black dirt had a bunch of small sprouts. Every month while headed down that way this visual seemed to change. Planted crops began popping up for acres and acres. I was quickly reminded about the law of the harvest. 

 This week, I want to take a moment and remind you of three harvest principles that are not only true for farm crops, but for life itself. I encourage you to focus on the progression…

  • You reap (what) you sowThis one is straight out of my favorite book, the Bible. Galatians 6:7 reads, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” For leaders, it is vital to understand the first law of the harvest. Whatever you plant (positive or negative) is going to grow. Sow encouragement into your people and courage grows. Sow criticism, and negativity begins to sprout. Words carry a lot of weight. What are you planting into your team?
  • You reap (more) than you sow: I first learned this one from a close mentor in my life years ago. A little seeding leads to a lot of reaping. Like the first one, this principle is true both positively and negatively. Rest assured, the harvest will be bigger than the sowing. So the question is; How much and what are you sowing into your team both corporately and individually?
  • You reap (later) than you sow: My mentor also reminded me of the importance of trust with this one. Unfortunately, many leaders give up too early and they stop sowing.  Be patient. You’ll be glad you did. I can only imagine how much fun it is going to be when the true harvest comes to the farm later this year in south Georgia. Even better will be when a high-performance team culture is realized in a few months, or the coach, scout or athlete you have sown into produces a “crop” and you see growth taking place. 
  • If you look at your home, team or organization, what are you sowing into the lives of those you lead? Whatever it is, be prepared for it to affect you later. If you are hands off, lazy, unorganized, apathetic, hurtful, cutting, or discouraging you will not like what is going to happen. If on the other hand you are focused, intentional, aligned, engaged, communicate, energetic, encouraging and disciplined great things are on the way.

Remember you reap (what) you sow. You reap (more) than you so. And you reap (later) than you so. 

You’re the leader, so keep planting seeds. Soon things will begin to sprout and before you know it will be harvest time.

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin

PURSUING PERSONAL GROWTH

Over the past several months I have taken a break from writing this blog. It was a much needed sabbatical. After losing my mom at the start of 2017 and subsequent hurdles in the weeks and months that followed, I needed to take a step back and take a break from writing. It did me well.

To be honest, I love to talk about personal growth. It’s one of my passions. Although I don’t share that much or force it on others, it is a deep passion of mine. I have seen firsthand how effectively a life committed to continual personal growth produces results beyond our wildest imaginations. Because I’ve seen the power of growth throughout life, I’m always excited to share the principles and practices that will help people make it a habit. That’s the “how to” of growth. But before anyone is ready to learn the “how” of growth, they need to embrace the “why.” That’s what I want to discuss today in this blog.

There are several great reasons to pursue growth. It can help us achieve our career goals, relational goals, family goals and faith goals. Over time, it creates momentum, which encourages more growth. However there is one key reason to pursue growth that I want to discuss today. This outcome has the most power to change our lives in every way.

I encourage people to pursue a lifetime of growth not just because it will make them better, or open new doors. I encourage people to grow because growth increases hope.

Track with me for a moment: Growth in the natural world is all about looking forward. A sapling becomes a mighty oak by growing slowly over time. An infant grows into a child, who eventually becomes an adult. Hope is the same way. It looks forward. When we have hope, we can imagine a better future. And hope isn’t just wishing for things that might be. It’s the firm belief in things that will be. It’s looking past your present circumstances with the belief that you have a future.

Planting the seed of growth is not complicated. It’s as simple as a change in mindset. When we decide to believe that growth is possible, and commit to pursuing it, hope begins to rise. The change in focus is only the first step, but it can be the beginning of a long and rewarding journey.

Choosing to grow is important. But that decision is not enough to create change on its own. Next, we need to acknowledge that growth is a gradual process – that in fact, it happens one day at a time. And then we need to establish the habit of growing on a consistent basis.

When you practice the discipline of growing a little every day, you are doing your part to strengthen the hope inside of you and others. I always remind people who feel stuck … Keep Moving Forward!

With each small step taken every day, you make progress toward improving yourself and your world. I’ve heard it once said, “There’s only so much you can do, but you must do that much even if you don’t know how much that is.” When you grow, you are putting your future into motion. And with every step toward the future, hope is reinforced and strengthened.

Growth over time helps us act our way into hope. When we take small steps of growth every day, over time, we see progress. And then our hope has the most potential to be realized. If you string together enough days of consistent growth, you begin to change as a person. You become better, stronger, more skilled, or all of the above. And when you change yourself, you can change your circumstances and have an impact on other peoples lives. This begins a cycle of growth strengthening hope, leading to more growth, resulting in even more hope.

When you make growth a priority and pursue it in small, intentional ways every single day, you will experience gradual, consistent growth. And that will strengthen your hope for the future. Growth is a difference-maker. And it can make a world of difference to you today. We all need to grow because we all need hope. Be worth being!

Have a great week!

s2s,

Kevin