A few days ago I had the opportunity to sit down on two separate occasions with two different colleagues from the coaching profession who I would also consider mentors and friends. We did something I think is good for the soul...we shared a meal together and talked about life in a truly collaborative way and learned from each other.
I was reminded of something I heard from Bo Mitchell, the chaplain of the Colorado Rockies, on the Sports Spectrum podcast with Jason Romano. Mitchell spent time in federal prison and has used his story to help show the goodness of God’s grace. When someone asks him how he is doing, Bo responds, “Never better.” How is it possible that in every situation and at all times Bo is “never better”? It is possible when we understand that all the things that happened in our lives, the failures as well as the successes, are preparing us for the moment we are living right now.
The first friend who I spent time with is a high school teacher and basketball coach who I respect immensely. Dave is not afraid to speak up for what is right and he is a coach who leads for the 20 Year Return.
Many times, people in education and coaching say they want what is best for the kids. However, when it comes to getting out of their comfort zone or doing something outside the mainstream, they are content to stay in their bunker and avoid the risk of facing fire. That is not Dave. He not only talks the talk but he walks the walk. We can often tell when people are sincere with their intentions or if they have ulterior motives, and Dave is as genuine as they come. When I look at Dave I am reminded it does not matter WHERE you coach, it matters WHY you coach. Coaching for a long-term impact can happen at any level and no matter what a team’s win-loss record is.
Dave, like the rest of us, is placed where he needs to be right now according to God’s plan. If that needs to change, then he will be pulled to go elsewhere or something will happen to move him. So, just like Dave, we can be “never better” and look to impact the people we lead where our feet are right now.
The second friend I had a chance to share a moment with was John. When I coached against John four years ago, his team was ranked #1 in the state. I sent him an e-mail the week of our game because it was the final regular season game so it was our senior night. We were also having a special night to raise money for a community member who was battling gallbladder cancer.
We had several activities planned and it could potentially be a distraction to his team, so I wanted to give him some warning about everything on the schedule. His response was that all the things we were doing were exactly what high school sports are about. The game was one I will never forget. The atmosphere was electric and the game was well played by both teams. At one point we were only down by one point in the 4th quarter before they pulled away. Our team won the school’s first regional in 18 years the next week and John’s team went on to win the state championship.
The year before, John’s team finished 3rd in the state, but what many people don’t realize is that entering the postseason that year his team was 12-12 and he was on the hot seat in terms of keeping his job. Does winning change everything? No, but maybe winning those games was part of John’s journey to build relationships to prepare him for what was coming.
John was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His response has been the same as it was as a coach. How can he use the situation to build relationships and help other people? John has started spearheading fundraising efforts to help those affected by cancer and raise awareness. One of the life questions we pondered together was, “Is it possible that everything in our lives, good and bad, is preparing us to live in the present moment and use our gifts and experiences to serve others?”
Is it important to have a vision for our lives? I think so. Believing in what we think is possible gives us hope to persevere through difficult times. But what we also need is trust in God. Our vision is our vision, but we should be open to the fact that God may have a different vision for us. It’s quite possible that His vision may be a little better than ours. What may seem impossible to us is indeed possible with God.
If we want to enjoy the journey so we are “never better” every step of the way, we need to hold our vision while remaining alert to the signs that God may be calling us to rise even higher!
I encourage you to like and share John’s Facebook page to support his fight against cancer by clicking HERE!
Inspiring leaders to Rise Above and Enjoy the Journey!
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