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There Is Value In Being An Underdog

underdogUnderdog – a participant in a fight, conflict, contest, or game who is not expected to win

The Oklahoma Sooners were a 17 point underdog last night against arguably one of the greatest college football teams and football coaches of all time – Alabama and Nick Saban. 17 points is the largest underdog that Bob Stoops has been since becoming the head coach at OU. Well we know how the story played out, the underdog OU beat Alabama 45-31 in one of the biggest upsets of the BCS Era. Not to mention, OU pulled off the upset with an underdog Freshman QB at the helm.

There are so many underdog stories of success and they should be motivation for everyone to keep an underdog mindset. There Is Value In Being An Underdog. With the right influences, leadership and coaching – underdogs seem to work harder, try harder and compete with “We don’t have anything to lose and everything to win mentality.” One of the major contributors to the success of an underdog is having little wins along the way and beginning to believe.

“If there’s one cultural quality we have, it’s that we always see ourselves as an underdog.” ~Bill Gates

The truth of the matter is that we all have some underdog in us from one situation or another. The key is to view your life and your situation as that of an underdog. Is life beating you down? Fight harder. Are you expected to fail? Prove them wrong. Does your boss think you don’t have what it takes? Keep working. Do you find yourself in a slump? Keep swinging. Are you having success? Prepare more and work harder because you can always get better. So you stay at the top of the mountain? Keep climbing.

Take on the mantra of the old cartoon Underdog.  “There’s no need to fear–Underdog is here!”

No Fear!

Great Leaders Are Willing To Challenge The King and Great Kings Want To Be Challenged

the kingIn all my years of leadership/followership and in my role as a leadership consultant, I have come to realize that Great Leaders and Great Leadership Cultures are willing to Challenge “The King.” I’m not talking about challenging KIng James to a game of 1 on 1 after you eat a triple steak stack from Taco Bell. I’m referring to “The King” as the Big Boss, The CEO, The Department Chair, Team Leader, The Senior Pastor, The President. Any leader that’s making the decisions or has the title of “The King” in your situation.

What generally happens in an organization is that “The King” develops a style, a system and a reputation for the types of decisions that they will make and the type of feedback that they will take. BTW- that “King” can also be a “Lady.” Those that are closest to “The King” begin to accept those tendencies as the law and over-time challengeable actions, decisions and offenses go un-challenged. The excuses range from,”that’s just how so and so is, to you know they will not even entertain that thought or you can’t say that they will get upset the Kings apple cart.” This type of situation and culture is not good for “The Kings” nor the leaders that follow them.

“The King” ends up leading from an isolated rarely challenged clueless bubble that’s not going to bust because it’s not being poked, prodded and challenged. Those that follow “The King” will sit around and talk about what “The King” is or is not doing and the decisions “The King” is or is not making, which only leads to more problems for “The King” and the organization.

Great Leaders Challenge “The King” which makes them better leaders and him a better King. If an organization is being led by a King that is not willing to be challenged by those around him, the organization is being set up for failure. If leaders are not willing to challenge “The King” they will never be great leaders. If an organizational culture does not embrace challenge at all levels, it’s time to change the culture. Great Leaders Challenge “The King” and Great Kings create a culture where all things, decisions and people will be challenged — Even “The King.”

Let’s take a look at LeBron James aka King James situation last night in their tight game versus their conference foe from the East, the Indiana Pacers. These two teams are the top in the East and are basically fighting for home court advantage. The game was tight, the Heat were losing, tempers were flaring and LeBron James went off on Mario Chalmers after a turnover and leaving Paul George wide open for a shot. The King continued to yell and scream at Chalmers all the way through the time out, Chalmers didn’t take LeBron’s antics laying down he instead challenged The King. Chalmers gave it back to him and let him know that he was wrong.

Initially Chalmers challenging The King didn’t go so well as King James jumped off of the bench and charged Chalmers (as if to fight him) and had to be restrained by his teammates. Chalmers, one of the smallest guys on the team, wasn’t threatened and continued to challenge The King. The great thing about the ending to this story is that The King apologized and said “My Bad, I was wrong.” (see the video of the LeBron James and Mario Chalmers exchange below) More often than not, the King will respect those that are willing to challenge them, their throne, their decisions and their actions. This should always be done in an appropriate, consistent and respectful manner.

If an organizational culture allows for an absolute, imperious, or overbearing control to permeate through their organization, they are setting their organization up to become a dictatorship and ultimately a failure. If an organization and The King allow for challenges and are willing to admit they are wrong, that’s an organization that’s setting themselves up for success, an organization that’s setting themselves up as a championship organization.

Great Leaders Challenge “The King” and Great Kings Want To Be Challenged

How One Play That Changed The Lives Of Many

Great story… It’s not about you, its about helping others win.

My Life Mission: I Love HOW (Helping Others Win)

Kobe Bryant Returns Video – Season Of Legend

This Kobe Bryant Returns Video says a lot without saying anything. Season Of Legend… The Legend Continues December 8th.

How Football And Faith Helped A Group Of Troubled Youth See The World Differently

Life Changing story Of Football Fans Cheering for the other team. Enjoy!

10 Variables To Achieve Maximum Success

10 Variables To Achieve Maximum Success

For those of you that follow me, my blog and my social media streams; you know I like to share lessons that I learn from everywhere. Often times that everywhere consists of what I’m learning from my wife and two sons. Recently my 10 year old son Jayden won that (USATF) USA Track and Field National Championship. (See the video above.)

It wasn’t an easy task for Jayden to do and there were many variables that contributed to his success. I have Identified these variables as something I’m calling 10 Variables To Achieve Maximum Success.

1. Teachability- Jayden was always eager to learn. He listens (most of the time), he watches YouTube videos of shot-puters, he’s always watching and looking at successful athletes, he embraces new techniques & he learns. All of his coaches praise his teachable spirit. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must have a teachable spirit)

2. Adaptability- Jayden has a number of different coaches that provide instruction for him. He has the track coach for sprinters, he has several basketball coaches, several football coaches, mom and dad and 3 different shot put coaches. With shot put he has learned to listen to what all of the coaches are saying and really try to put those lessons through the lens of his personal shot put coach. He has learned to adapt, eat the meat, be adaptable and spit out some of the bones. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must be adaptable)

3. Practice- Jayden works hard and gives 110% almost every practice. He always asks to run w/ the sprinters, even during times he was supposed to be just working on the shot-put. He is always open to extra practices. He goes to track practice, works out with a trainer, goes to individual workouts and rarely complains. As a matter of fact he is the one that requests the additional workouts. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must practice)

4. Resilience- Jayden always learns from his mistakes. When his teammate began throwing farther than him in a couple of meets, he simply worked harder and got better and next thing Jayden began throwing farther than his teammate. As a matte of fact, he beat his teammate on the biggest stage at the national championship. Earlier in the season Jayden had some challenges with scratching by going out of the ring or throwing out of bounds. He didn’t let it get him down, he pushed through, made corrections and got better. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must be resilient) 

5. Growth- Throughout this season, Jayden has gotten better and better and better and better. He has pretty much increased his distance and has thrown a personal best almost each and every track meet. He understands the importance of growth, the importance of getting better and the importance of improving. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must be willing to grow)

6. Heart- Jayden has the heart and desire of a winner. He told us he was going to win, get 1st place and be the National Champion… and he did. Although he has not gotten 1st place in every track meet; he has always had the heart, desire and a will to win. The will to win and the desire to succeed are the key ingredients to tapping into maximum success. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must possess heart)

7. Commitment- Jayden has been committed to both track & field events. When I was laughing and making fun of the possibility of Jayden throwing the shot-put a couple of years ago… Jayden made me eat my laughter. He has remained focused & has stayed committed to this new sporting event. His commitment continues to pay off! (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must be committed)

8. Performance- Jayden always performs well when everything is on the line. During the peak of this season, He performed, he threw his best and he got 1st place. He likes to see where his competition, rise to the occasion and beat them. He loves competition. He likes to compete against the best, even if he really doesn’t have a chance. He’s not the fastest kid on the track team, but he loves competing against the fastest. Competition drives performance and performance leads to success. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must perform)

9. Belief- Jayden always believes he has a chance to compete and a chance to win. Self belief is a critical component of real success. Jayden is generally the smallest shot puter in the competition that actually competes at the highest level (see video above to see the size of his competition), it’s a big mans sport. He works on getting stronger, works on technique and believes that he can compete with the bigger, stronger competitors. Self belief is contagious, the ore you believe in yourself, the more success you will have. (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must believe)

10. Have Fun- Jayden always competes and he always has fun. He’s serious when he needs to be serious, he works hard and plays hard in practice. He smiles the majority of the time. Competing is fun and have success is just a nice bonus. We always make sure we provide opportunities for fun activities, because having fun is a must. Jayden knows that at the point it’s not fun, we will shift gears. We adjusted the number of practices and meets we went to this year, all in the spirit of keeping the fun. We keep fun little competitions, we have fun in the cities that we travel to, we have fun re-capping our experiences. If you are not having fun and enjoying what you do, it’s time to do something different… Period The End!!! (If you want to achieve maximum success, you must have fun)

What do you think? How have you seen these variables contribute to success? How have you seen the lack of these variables led to failure. 

Video and Workouts Of New #Thunder Big Man Steven Adams

I really like what I see of Steven Adams in this workout and video. He is a natural in front of the camera, his workout looks superb and you can see Thunder GM Sam Presti in the background. I actually think all of the jockeying that the #thunder were doing with trade stuff was simply smoke and mirrors. I think the #Thunder front office knew they wanted this guy.

If there are two things the #Thunder organization does well, it’s drafting and developing players. Remember a little somewhat unknown guy named Russell Westbrook who couldn’t play point guard, or the 3rd pick in the draft a few years ago James Harden (before the beard) or how about the 24th pick shot blocker from the Congo Serge Ibaka.

Every player that gets on the #Thunder roster gets better, period the end. Look forward to what they do with this young tough big man. I love that he’s so smooth, was a former rugby player, likes contact and he’s from New Zealand (everyone that I know from New Zealand is awesome.)

More Steven Adams Highlights Below

One things is for sure… Steven Adams will be one of the more popular Oklahoma City Thunder Players this off season.

10 Leadership Lessons From Tim Duncan’s Career

tim duncanWell the NBA Finals wrapped up with the unlikely San Antonio Spurs missing the opportunity to win their 5th title. I say unlikely because everyone including them Heat themselves had pretty much crowned the Miami Heat as the 2013 NBA Champions before the season even started. Well, the Heat were tested throughout the playoffs and passed every test, even the test of the well-coached Spurs.

Even though the Spurs lost and Duncan missed a point blank shot, he will go down as one of the greatest NBA Superstars ever. Not to mention a SuperStar who shined bright like a diamond while staying outside of the spotlight. Here are 10 Leadership Lessons From Tim Duncan’s Career.

  • 1. Substance Over Style “The Big Fundamental” Looking good is great, performing great is better. Duncan doesn’t win the style contest, but he is a straight up winner.
  • 2. Greatness Is Appreciated More When It’s Gone – Tim Duncan’s Game, Career and Place in history won’t be appreciated until he’s retired and gone.
  • 3. Great Leaders Know When To Defer – Duncan has admittedly turned the team over to Tony Parker, which has extended his career and allowed him to continue his greatness.
  • 4. You Can’t Care What People Think – Duncan doesn’t get the commercials, the shoes, the endorsements… He just gets the trophies. Duncan could care less what people think about his personality or lack there of, all he does is win.
  • 5. Classy over Sassy – Tim Duncan is one of the classiest players in the NBA. It’s hard not to like classy… when in doubt, keep it classy.
  • 6. Quietly Be The Best At What You Do – Tim Duncan will quietly go down as one of the best power forwards to ever play the game. Period, the end.
  • 7. Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last – Nice guys finish wherever they want to finish, Duncan is nice and he doesn’t finish last. 🙂
  • 8. Get Better With Age – They say some things get better with age, great leaders get better, lead better, play better and make better decisions with age. Duncan seems to get better the older that he gets.
  • 9. Know How To Lead Up – Duncan plays for a tough coach and he’s one of the few players that knows how to lead up, talk to Popovich, how to handle him in the media and how to lead up. There is an art to leading up and Duncan figured it out.
  • 10. Make Those Around You Better – Duncan makes his teammates, his coach, his city, his community and the NBA better.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on these lessons, Duncan’s contributions and add other lessons to the list.

7 Leadership Lessons From The Oklahoma City Thunder

thunder tshirtThose of you who have followed me for awhile, know that I’m a fan of 2 sports teams: OU Sooners and OKC Thunder. Additionally, I’m also a fan of great leadership, leadership lessons and seeing people realize their leadership potential. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a young franchise filled with young players. Fortunately for Thunder fans like myself, neither of those two factors has limited their success. The Thunder have been very successful and I’m a true believer that everything rises and falls with leadership, in this case the Thunder have risen because of great leadership and having great players is a part of great leadership.

I thought I would share 7 Leadership Lessons From The Oklahoma City Thunder.

  • 1. Size Doesn’t Matter – Although Oklahoma City is a small market team, that has not prohibited them from being successful in comparison to the Big Boys. Not only did the Thunder make it to the NBA Finals last year, they are consistently outranking NBA franchises in all areas from much larger markets. They have been voted by ESPN The Magazine as best franchise in sports, Kevin Durant ranks #3 in Jersey Sales, #12 in NBA Franchise Values…
  • 2. Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number – The Thunder were the youngest team in the NBA last season and are still at the top of the youthfulness meter this year. The Thunder get it done with a young franchise, young GM, a young coach, young players and a veteran named Derek Fisher who is obviously young at heart.
  • 3. Release and Reload – In just a few years the Oklahoma City Thunder have released more players to greatness than some teams will ever see. Some notable players they have released in the last year or so include some of this seasons NBA Stars, all of who played or are still playing in the playoffs: James Harden, Nate Robinson, Jeff Green, Eric Maynor, Daequan Cook… The bottom line is the Thunder has a strong enough leadership culture/supporting cast that they can truly release and reload, while staying lean with salaries.
  • 4. Hungry Hungry Hippo – The Thunder remain hungry and have a hungry swagger about them. When Kendrick Perkins showed up from the Celtics, the Thunder didn’t just have a sense of hunger, they developed a sense of toughness that was needed to compliment the hunger. To top that off, Russell Westbrook’s me against the world swagger is just the right seasoning for the team leader and currently injured point-guard extraordinaire to keep the team pressing full steam ahead. It’s contagious!
  • 5. Development Is The Lifeblood- Development is crucial when it comes to leadership. Many thought Russell Westbrook was drafted too high and couldn’t play point-guard in the NBA. Obviously the 2-Time All-Star has crushed those thoughts, as he has developed into being one of the best point-guards in the NBA. (He may not be be a “traditional” point guard, who needs traditional when you are great?) Hasheem Thabeat was drafted high and could never seem to get on the floor when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies; however since he arrived in Oklahoma City, he has put up career highs in almost every category and has been a key ingredient off the the bench all season. The Thunder have been praised by their use of the d-league system. Their d-league team is just an hour and a half away in Tulsa and players have been known to play in the d-league and get some playing time for the Thunder all in the same week. Derek Fisher was brought in not only for his contributions that we have seen in the playoffs, but to help develop both Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson (it’s hard to argue with 5 rings and more playoff games than every NBA player besides a few.
  • 6. Look Into The Future – The Thunder Leadership have tremendous foresight. Whether it’s seeing the unreached potential of a rising Serge Ibaka and signing him to a max deal, the realization that it would be almost impossible to keep James Harden around, to re-signing Derek Fisher this year which proved to be one of the more Big Time decisions ever, with the loss of Russell Westbrook.
  • 7. Culture Trumps Everything – The thunder has a unique culture, a culture that aligns with the culture and values of the city and the fans. At the end of the day “We are about team, we are about community.” It was nice to see the free Thunder t-shirt represented by every fan during Game 1 with the Grizzlies, simply said “Community” across the chest. Other free playoff t-shirts in the past have said “We Are One” “Thunder Is Community” “Rise Together” you get the picture. Culture is so critical, a great culture will bring out greatness in everyone. Money + Great Players + Big Cities ≠ greatness. If you add the 7 things on this list, you are destined for greatness.

The Thunder may have a little ways to go before they can take out the already crowned repeated NBA Champions Miami Heat. They are definitely close and are clawing at their heals. Greatness takes time to achieve and leadership is the only road to greatness. Don’t worry about size, age, losing key pieces to the puzzle, simply stay hungry, develop what you have, have some foresight and remember culture is crucial. For the record, this Thunder fan isn’t crowning the Heat. The easiest way to fall is to think that you have already arrived.

Do any of these resonate with you and your organization? Share your thoughts? 

7 Leadership Lessons From Cinderella Darling Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) has went Star Trek on this whole thing we call March Madness. The Eagles have crashed the March Madness party as a 15 seed that 1st knocked off the 2 seed basketball giant Georgetown. Last night Florida Gulf Coast’s win made them the 1st 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 ever. Don’t you just love when people, teams and organizations accomplish things for the 1st time.

To be honest with you I had never heard of Florida Gulf Coast and believe me I’m not alone, hardly anyone had heard of them. As a matter of fact the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have only been in Division I for just six years and eligible for the postseason for two. Say What? Yes, this is only the 2nd year they have been eligible to be consideration for the big dance.

Florida Gulf Coast’s success is a surprise to many, but was not a surprise to the 2 seed Miami Hurricane, as Florida Gulf Coast had beat the Canes in November. The success is also no surprise to 2nd year Head Coach Andy Enfield and the crazy group of barely recruited players… their mantra is simply give us a chance and watch us soar like Eagles. Not sure if that’s really their mantra, but it should be.

I love taking morsels of wisdom, as well as life and leadership lessons from stories like Florida Gulf Coast. Below are 7 Leadership Lessons From Cinderella Darling Florida Gulf Coast.

  • 1. Give Me A Chance – This is one of the most overlooked leadership lessons and opportunities. The only thing FGCU asked for was an opportunity to compete, they got their opportunity and they are maximizing every minute of it. Many people on your staff and team are just wanting an opportunity and a chance. Yes they may be a 15 seed, an underdog, too young, under qualified, under experienced… They are saying, if you see just a glimpse of potential, just give me a chance and watch me soar like an Eagle.
  • 2. Have Fun – If you don’t know a thing about basketball, you can look at this FGCU team and see that they are having fun. Whether it’s Senior Guard Sherwood Brown sticking his tongue out as he runs down the court, Comer’s crazy passing, managers and players from the bench doing some version of the chicken dance (The Funky Eagle), or the rest of the team’s college version of “Lob City” in their “Dunk City.”  If you want your team to do well, insert some fun and let them work, lead, act and play free. If you don’t believe me, just look at the Miami Heat (Yes, they are having fun and have won 26 in a row), or Google and it’s fun atmosphere being voted the best place to work several years in a row.
  • 3. Seize The Moment – Although give me a chance is awesome, it’s what you do with your chance that matters. Weak men and women wait for opportunities to arise, strong men and women wake them, make them and seize them.
  • 4. Believe In Your Team – Coach Andy Enfield acknowledges that his team as a bunch of “characters” and also acknowledges that he believes in every one of them. He believes in them enough to subliminally encourage them with their next big game against in-state basketball giant Florida. When asked about Florida, Enfield stated, “We know they can be beaten, but we also have an unbelievable amount of respect for them.” That’s code word for, I believe in my team and we will show you on the court what we can do.
  • 5. Be Aggressive – The Eagles love to push and be aggressive even when the game is tight and on the line. “That’s just our style of play. We want to push the ball down the court and we want to attack, attack, attack… We’re going to be in full attack mode the entire game.”” said point guard Brett Comer, who had 14 amazing assists in the Eagles victory over San Diego State University. If you want to win in whatever it is that you do, you must be smart and you must be aggressive.
  • 6. Love What You Do – The coach and leader must absolutely love what they do, that’s the only way it will carry over to the team members. Eagles Head Coach Andy Enfield, 43, is a former college ball player at Division III Johns Hopkins and was the program’s all-time scoring leader. As a coach Enfield has been known as a shooting guru landing him jobs w/ the Bucks and Celtics in the NBA. Enfield is actually a self-made guy who is married to a super model and who made tons of money on Wall Street leading a software development company. Andy and his wife both gave up their careers so he could pursue what he loves and opportunity to coach. Love what you do and what you do will love you.
  • 7. Success Leads To Success – Andy Enfield may have been an unknown before this tournament, no matter what happens during the rest of the Eagles’ season, Enfield will be at the top of everyone’s coach vacancy list. Success Leads To Success. Those unknown players may find themselves increasing their success stock in the NBA draft or playing overseas. Don’t be frustrated if people are coming after your great players, it’s part of the game. Success Leads To Success. Don’t be mad because your successful team member wants to try new things and pursue new adventures. Success Leads To Success.
Personally, I hope Florida Gulf Coast will win the entire thing…  I think Florida Gulf Coast will win the entire thing. There is just something special about all aspects of this team, it kinda reminds you of a destined Baltimore Ravens team.
What do you think? What leadership lessons have you learned? What do you think the ending will be to this Cinderella Season?
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