A Football Book?

I have no idea why I checked out this book at the library.

Everyone in my family commented on it-"Mom are YOU reading this book?"  Quite off the WWII track I was on-I guess I turn corners quite fast when it comes to books.

And college basketball I enjoy, but football, I am no real fan of any team. I have watched quite a few football games in my life but if you count how many minutes I paid attention it would amount to about 5. I still have no idea of the rules and don't care to learn (because every time I say that someone starts explaining them to mean and I say "Stop don't waste your time!")

The funny thing is I loved this book, I read it twice.  I related to it so much as a mom of a large family and what I've learned along the way of observing successful families and leadership.  Who would have thought?  Of course there was some football game talk that made no sense to me, but most of it was on creating a culture of leadership, with really interesting stories mixed in. I couldn't put it down, I surprised myself!  (And I really like this Urban Meyer guy, who I knew nothing about except that he coaches OSU and maybe I would have had to think about that twice before I read this had someone asked me what team he coaches.)

Here are a few tidbits I wanted to highlight:

"Everyday you are creating or reinforcing habits in your life. The question is, are they habits that help or habits that hold you back? Be quick to break the habits that will break you."

We are the teachers of our children's habits-not only through our example of our own habits but through the course we set them on.  I don't think there is any time more impressionable for habits created than childhood.  TV, care of self, nutrition, homework, work before play, etc.  A lot to think about. Children really are at the mercy of their parents-it is hard to rework habits that we learned in childhood, but we are quick to stray also.  So what lifelong habits are we helping our children create?

"Embrace discomfort. Discomfort marks the place where the old way meets the new way. Discomfort indicates that change is about to happen. Push through the pain. If it doesn't challenge you, it will not change you."  

So true isn't it?  I have noticed it even with little toddlers-constant awakening and sometimes an unsettled-ness when a change is going to happen-going from crawling to walking, starting to speak, etc..

This is also why the teenage years can be so difficult-all that change.

And for us also-from maybe being home for the first time with a baby-adjusting to a new way of life, or a new baby added to the mix.  Sometimes hard things-a child going off to college, just life challenges in general.  Change is hard-but this discomfort changes you for the better. I was commiserating to an older friend once about something very difficult we were walking through with my husband's job and she said, "If God didn't love you so much, he would let you remain stagnant.  He wouldn't teach you things, and he does that through the hard things more than anything else."  When I look back on life, it's so true-the times of hardship are the times I now am so grateful for because of the lessons learned.  That also reminds me of the Velveteen Rabbit story-life and that change, pushing through the pain, experiencing ALL of life the good and the bad, will shape you to be more compassionate, understanding, strong in your beliefs, etc. if you allow the change, and don't let it frustrate you and make you bitter.

"We are not measured by our intentions, but by our actions.  When you are a leader, your followers are watching everything you do.  If your aim is to instill a culture of accountability and to model Above the Line* behavior, you better have the courage to take the bullet when it is called for. Some leaders have a hard time doing this. It's never been an issue for me. I can thank my father for that. Every day of my life, it was drilled into me: 
Do your work.
Tell the truth.
Own your mistakes.
Respect your elders.
Keep your mouth shut and do the right things.
Never quit."

Fist I love that basic value teaching, but also-we may have good intentions as parents, but our actions speak louder than our words. Enforcing what we speak of, and living the example is what counts. This shows its face during the teen years I think,  Are we willing to be the parent and be in charge and "take the bullet"?

On creating a culture:

"Believe it.
Demand it.
Sell it." 

First think about the guiding principals and core values you want at the heart of your organization.
Second examine yourself and make sure YOUR behavior reflects these beliefs.

Next, communicate it-it's not a debate-no confusion, no uncertainty, no excuses. "Explain to your team that this is what we believe and how we behave in all circumstances.  It is who we are."

Lastly, hold people accountable-it isn't an expectation, it's a requirement. "Remember if you permit it, you promote it."

"You don't get the culture you want, you get the culture you build."

I really think the families I admire most, live this-the parents shape the culture, deciding what they want for their families, early on.  Of course, no one can anticipate every challenge (not with the outside culture we have now) but at the core, they know where they stand.  I think of one of my mother mentors who told me, "You know Sarah, you decide what you allow or won't and you stick with it, it doesn't matter what it is.  You say, 'No we don't allow that in our family. Or "this is the way we do things."These are the rules that Mom and Dad decided."  It does NOT matter what anyone else is doing, that shouldn't even come into play, and we need to be strong about it."

I think the "our family" way makes the biggest impression.  We are building a family culture and sometimes adversity (as in, we are the weird ones who don't do this) brings us closer together.  Of course, that can't just be words-it's also time spent enjoying our children, and talking and reading and playing together.  I think more than ever, we parents are up against a culture that does not support us-so working hard with purpose and energy and a plan to BUILD that family culture must be at the forefront. No apologies, no wallowing, no guilt, no second-guessing.  "This is the way we do things in our family."  

I have had enough people in my life who grew up with a strong family culture, some who went right along with it, and some who went through years of butting up against it, and the 100% consensus is "I am so grateful for how my parents raised us."  So we need not be afraid to be different.

And then the obvious-follow through.  Ugh, it's hard and I've messed up plenty of times with wallowing or caving in, or not supporting each other in different situations as parents.  (Which should always always be done privately-UNITED FRONT AT ALL COSTS!)

And this is so good:

"...if a leader exerts too much energy, too much gravitational pull, he impairs developmental momentum and slows down his players.  These are the command-and-control leaders who try to micromanage everything. They are heavy-handed and harsh in a way they deal with the players. Often they create a culture of fear. As a result they disconnect, discourage, and demotivate players.

...when a leader exerts too little energy, too little gravitational pull, the players spin off in all kinds of directions. These are the laissez-faire leaders. They don't demand enough. Their standards are not clear and don't hold their players accountable. They are lenient and soft. They want to be buddies or friends with players. They allow an undisciplined culture."

Here is an interesting little tidbit I taught my children:
"Every team or organization consists of three groups:

-The top 10 percent: disciplined, driven, self-motivated, want to be great, and work relentlessly.
-The 80 percent of the majority-those who do a good job and are relatively reliable.
-The bottom 10 percent: disinterested and defiant.

*Above the Line behavior:Intentional, On purpose, Skillful
Below the Line behavior: Impulsive, On autopilot, Resistant


  1. I love when you share the books you're reading. Thank you for the synopsis! Lots of good stuff in that one.

  2. Wow! That is a change in books! I love the wisdom applied to a family . Coaches amaze me in how they can motivate . THE good ones seem to not only shape good teams but also good people .