Contagious Leadership

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus

I used to play ball with a guy who was really intense on the mound. If you booted a ball when he was pitching, he’d glare at you or make some comment about stepping your game up. I remember feeling like I had to be perfect each time I went out to my position. What generally ended up happening was that, when he toed the rubber, everyone played a little tighter which made us all a little more error-prone.

Fast forward to Monday night’s college football championship game featuring Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota from Oregon University. Mariota is expected to be a high draft pick and have a successful NFL career. Without question, the stakes for Mariota’s championship game were a lot higher than my baseball games years ago. However, when faced with adversity, he reacted much differently than the aforementioned pitcher. Multiple times, Mariota did his job extremely well but that effort wasn’t reciprocated on the other end. On two specific occasions, Mariota made tremendous throws only to have them dropped in critical situations.

Football is a horse of a different color. In a sport where testosterone and manliness are held in high regard, we respect guys who yell at other guys. We praise quarterbacks who jump all over guys for not doing their jobs. We call them tough and fearless leaders. We admire their tenacity. However, when Marcus Mariota’s teammates dropped important passes, he took a different route. He sought those players out and patted them on the helmet and told them to get the next one. He didn’t scream at them and tell them to catch the damn ball. He encouraged them and instilled a confidence in them that they would make that play when given the opportunity.

Personally, I find this route far more admirable that the emotional outburst route. It shows maturity and leadership. It tells someone that you have their back and that you are confident that they will do a better job next time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for mediocrity. We should hold ourselves and our teammates accountable for our performances. What I am pushing for is better leadership, which was exhibited by Oregon’s QB Monday night. In the biggest game on the biggest stage, he chose to be a leader who supported his teammates even in the toughest of situations. To me, that speaks volumes about character and leadership.

It should be noted that I’ve never been a fan of the type of coaching that we often see in the game of football. That’s my personality. I was never motivated by someone screaming directly into my face. That does it for some, but not for me. Maybe that skews why I was so impressed with Mariota the other night. However, I do believe that his style is not only effective, but compassionate and representative of true leadership.

Further, this type of leadership is contagious and is certainly an example worth setting. Thanks to Mr. Mariota for exemplifying this trait.

Have an awesome Wednesday,


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“Momentum? Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.” – Earl Weaver​

You may believe, like I believed, that forming a new habit takes about 21 days. Maybe you’ve heard a month. Upon doing a little digging,though, that number is actually more like 66. 66 days. Over 2 months. That’s how long it would take us to make something like exercising or watching what we eat a habit. 66 stinking days.

That means that if I want to reach a point where exercising regularly is a part of who I am, I need to do it consistently for two months first.

This time of year is rife with folks (me included) bent on making positive personal changes. How many of us will reach that 66 day plateau, though? How many of us will eat berries, leaves, and twigs for about four days and then call it quits? It’s certainly easier to quit, says I, as I sit here eating carrots for dessert instead of chocolate pudding. However, in the past couple days, I have added exercise as a part of my daily routine and have watched what I am eating. I’ve cut back on junk and unnecessary snacks. That, my friends, is called momentum.

What legendary baseball manager Earl Weaver is saying about momentum in the quote I chose for today is that momentum is only as good as its ability to continue to draw you forward. As I was researching effective exercise methods, I came across an excellent blog by Coach Stevo about momentum and goal setting. The refrain in this piece is “All that matters is momentum.” In essence, until we decide to put that first foot in front of the other one, we will accomplish precisely nothing. However, we can accomplish awesome things if we’re willing to make that first move. “All that matters is momentum.”

The idea, then, would be to create enough momentum to where the positive change you wish to see in yourself reaches the 66 day milestone and becomes habitual. I know I’m not alone in doing one of the following:

• Setting giant, sweeping goals across multiple spectrums and achieving none.
• Starting something and not seeing it through.

As it pertains to setting “giant, sweeping” goals, momentum isn’t necessarily measurable, so the size of your goal is irrelevant to it. All that matters is making the effort to push forward.

RE: starting and not following up, this is something I know far too much about. Again, I doubt I’m alone. What happens to me a lot is that I reach a point where I think, “I haven’t done this in so long now that it doesn’t even matter anymore,” and I lay the goal to rest. Momentum, once started, can’t be stopped. It can be slowed, sure, but allow yourself the opportunity to allow that momentum to get rolling for you again.

Here’s to hoping those resolutions we’ve made are met with the same desire in making them come to life. “All that matters is momentum.” Let’s get moving.

Have an awesome Tuesday,


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Listen. Read. Communicate.

“It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter.” – Steve Anderson, Chief of Police, Nashville, TN

A friend of mine, knowing my generally liberal stance on most issues, tagged me in a Facebook post about Al Sharpton yesterday. The week prior, we had a discussion about Rev. Sharpton where we disagreed about his efficacy. As such, when he came across an article that articulated his point on the subject, he tagged me. This set off a lengthy and, initially, a heated conversation about police and community relations.

Right out of the gate, I was pissed, if I’m being honest. I felt attacked. How could he not see my point of view? How does what I feel not make sense to him? Chalk it up to the narrow minded conservative right, right?

At a certain point, though, we each relaxed. For whatever reason, we calmed down and stopped firing off texts without reading what the other had written. We asked questions. That bled over into today. We discussed more topics, and what we found is that we actually shared similar beliefs on a whole lot of issues. Sure, we didn’t agree 100% on everything, but it felt much easier to discuss things when there was no fear of offense.

My interest in politics and social issues may stem from getting older…I don’t know. I find myself getting more and more worked up over social and political issues than I ever have. What I’ve noticed (and it’s hardly a revelatory observation) is that we are beyond divided. We’re fractured, and this fractured division is largely due to poor communication. Mostly, it’s because of an inability or utter unwillingness to listen to an opposing viewpoint and seriously consider it. Instead, we seek out only the information that suits our agendas. We repeat blatant falsehoods that we read online and don’t bother to fact-check it. We shut off any possibilities of being exposed to differing opinions as if it is somehow going to infect us.

We are not helping to close the rift that we have created. In order to do this, we have to start listening. We have to start being open to the possibility that what we believe may or may not be actually true. We have to allow for the possibility that, though it may be painful, sometimes personal change is the only way to truly advance.

Let’s, like Chief Anderson says, “subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with” for the possibility that middle ground can be reached and progress can be made.

Listen. Read. Communicate. It’s the best possible way to start to close an ever widening gap.

Have an awesome Tuesday,

P.S. – To read an outstanding example of this, read Chief Anderson’s response to a letter he received from a concerned citizen.


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Windows on the World

“Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are the windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in.” – Alan Alda

I saw one of those “funny” e-cards on the Internet today.

Hilarious, huh? Yeah…

We tend to make broad assumptions about things that we don’t know about. We base these assumptions on things we couldn’t possibly know about. We’ve all likely heard people talk poorly about those who receive assistance. They write them off as lazy, manipulative, and “ghetto”, apparently. We all know someone who is abusing the system and we bitch about them and their new iPhone, freshly done nails, and Coach bag. Do we all know the actual welfare statistics? Negative. Do we know all the people who receive welfare? No, we do not. But we pass judgment on a whole passel of folks because of what we assume to be true. Do you think it’s statistically possible that every single person is manipulating the system? I’d say that’s doubtful.

Let me get off my soapbox on that.

The point I’m ham-fistedly driving at is this: we don’t know what we don’t know. Passing judgment is not our responsibility, nor is it even necessary. I understand it to a degree: we pay a whole bunch of money in taxes and a portion of that goes into a giant pool that is then used to help others. Some people do take advantage of that situation, and we resent that. But it’s a slippery slope to assume that everyone who falls under a certain umbrella is the worst of what we believe them to be.

If Alan Alda is correct, and our assumptions are the windows on the world, our windows don’t need to be scrubbed: they need to be replaced completely. As we continue to divide ourselves socially and politically, our assumptions grow in scope and depth. All black people are this… All white people are this… All cops are this… It’s an insane way of thinking, but it has been so ingrained in us that it’s hard to break.

It can be broken, though. Admittedly, it would be an extremely difficult exercise, but, with practice, it can be done. I propose that we approach it like this: everyone gets a clean slate and the benefit of the doubt until they give you reason to remove it. Don’t paint people into corners that they can’t get out of. Don’t force people into places where they can’t fit.

I say we start there and see where it gets us. I can only assume it will be a much happier place, but then again, you know what happens when you assume…

Have an awesome Tuesday, and Merry Christmas!


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(E-card photo pulled from

It Starts at Home

Children are like wet cement; whatever falls on them makes an impression.
– Haim Ginott

It starts at home.

The first time I slipped up and dropped a four letter word and my son repeated it, I knew this to be true. For better or worse, the things that we say and do are reflected in and by our kids. So, why would that not also be true when it comes to things like bias and prejudice?

Regularly I see stories posted on Facebook that look too outrageous or unbelievable to be true. I came across one recently and had to do some personal research to fact-check. Unfortunately, my research found the story to be 100% true. Ronin Shimizu was a 12 year old boy. He enjoyed cheerleading. However, since this isn’t considered the “norm”, he was bullied for it. He was bullied so much, in fact, that he ended up taking his own life. Over what? Cheerleading? Certainly we’re not that dense as a population that we can’t wrap our heads around a boy wanting to be involved in cheerleading. Certainly we’re not so petty as to allow this to be the basis for ridicule.

But, alas, we are. At least in this case.

Sure, kids can be cruel. We’ve all seen how that works. Hell, a lot of us have been on the wrong end of that cruelty (I found out early on that I was not at an acceptable height for a lot of folks). Here’s the bothersome part, though: kids don’t come equipped with knowledge like this. It’s learned. My 3 year old son has no idea what it means to be short or why it even matters. He doesn’t understand the rationale of some that “only girls should be involved in cheerleading”. Further, if my wife and I are doing our jobs, these things won’t ever occur to him by virtue of any lesson we do teach.

“It starts at home.” This comment was attached the original posting I saw on Facebook, and it struck me as patently true and poignant. We’ve got to do a better job of showing our kids how to love and how to show compassion and empathy. Without those values, the cycle of judgment and hate will continue to repeat itself.

It starts at home.

Have an awesome Wednesday,

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Isn’t It Kind Of Silly?

“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” – Sean Covey

I heard a story recently about a woman who decided to make some changes in her life. She decided to start eating better and working out regularly. The results of her hard work and willpower were noticeable. She felt better physically and mentally. She also lost weight and toned up. All good things, right? For some unfathomable reason, some people around her felt the need to tell her that she had gotten too skinny and needed to “eat a pork chop”.

A few years ago when I decided (again) to go back to school, I told a friend about my plans. He just laughed at me. He made a sarcastic comment to the effect of, “yeah, I’m sure you’ll finish this time,” and laughed. He knew that college was something I had tried a few times before and hadn’t gotten through.

Why do we choose to tear people down when they’ve accomplished things? When people make the effort to better themselves, why do some of us have an immediate need to poke holes in those efforts? Initially, I’d point to low self-esteem and general insecurity. We see others making positive changes and feel that we’re stagnant, so we decide to minimize what they have done. Or, we feel insecure about our appearances or perceived lack of accomplishments, so, to make ourselves feel better, we take whatever steps necessary to diminish others. Put more succinctly, per psychologist Jeffrey Sherman,

“When we feel bad about ourselves, we can denigrate other people, and that makes us feel better about ourselves.”

The flip side of that is that we are far less likely to put others down when we feel better about ourselves. Instead of wasting time bringing others down for their positive steps, take some of your own. Not happy with your weight, for example? Exercise. Eat better. Set goals and work to achieve them. Encourage others and let them encourage you. Stop wasting precious time and energy on tearing other people down who have made decisions to better themselves. That is a poor substitute for making yourself better or solving your own issues.

If it is true that our general outlook can frame how we view others, there are solutions to that as well. Learn how to feel better about yourself. Determine where your weaknesses are and address them. Calling someone “too skinny” won’t make you skinnier. An exercise routine and a healthier diet will, though. Laughing at someone for wanting to further their education won’t advance your career any quicker, but setting goals for advancement for yourself sure
couldn’t hurt.

Start making yourself feel better. Get you figured out before you start casting aspersions on those around you. You will make exactly zero progress by tearing down someone else’s. Hop to it.

Have an awesome Tuesday,

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E.L.E.! Everybody Love Everybody

E.L.E. Everybody Love Everybody!” – Jackie Moon

Anybody want to talk about Michael Brown? How about Darren Wilson? No?

Yeah, I’m not going to do that in depth here. Not specifically, anyway. What I am going to do, however, is talk about some of the things that have caught my attention since this unfortunate event unfolded. This situation, unlike any in recent history that I recall, has served to divide people in ways that I didn’t think possible. In the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision and the unrest that followed, I have seen people call other people animals, barbarians, and generally uncivilized. Verbal attacks on other human beings laced with semi-cloaked bigotry were spewed across my various timelines, and the very worst in people was played out for all to see. People that I have known for years displayed behavior that I thought them incapable of.

What bothers me most that maybe didn’t get to me as much five years ago, is that when things like this happen, I envision the world in which my son will live in the next 10-15 years. How different will his world be? How long will it be before some jerk take the time to teach my son the unfair and awful lesson that people attach meaning and value to the color of skin? Right now, two of his closest friends (unbeknownst to him but apparently and painfully aware to the rest of the world) are considered different from him because of how they look…except, he doesn’t see it. (They don’t see it, either, by the way.) It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that people either continue to blindly prop up or plainly ignore, neither approach being what any reasonable person would consider productive or progressive.

See, the truth that many choose to ignore is that we are all people. This country will never be comprised of solely people that match up to your skin color, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or otherwise. Sure, it’s easier to identify with people that share common interests. However, this country was built by immigrants and continues to be inhabited by the lineage of those immigrants. That fact won’t change for the foreseeable future. So, as I see it, we have a couple options: Option A: grease that wheel and keep that cycle rolling. Continue to hate and be scared of people that we don’t understand. Or, Option B: try to break down some barriers. Try to show and accept love. Try to take time to understand something that is currently beyond your grasp. (You can probably imagine which option I advocate for.)

Whenever we are confronted with divisive situations we often turn into the crappiest possible versions of ourselves. We fight instead of bridging gaps. We argue instead of engaging in healthy debate. We attack instead of learning. This modus operandi is getting us nowhere.

You don’t have to walk an entire mile in someone else’s shoes to begin to understand them. Just start with a couple steps and work from there.

Have an awesome Tuesday,

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