When you meet someone what criteria do you use to determine that person's credibility?
We may often use external factors to see if we trust a person or what their level of credibility is, but I want to challenge you to look deeper and see if what that person represents is Big Time!
In August of 2013, I began a master's program to earn a degree in coaching through Greenville College. I had been on campus at Greenville a few times with my high school basketball team for camps. As I was doing some research on their website I read that they referred to their basketball program as Big Time. They had finished the last season with a record of 9 wins and 16 losses.
The head coach at Greenville, George Barber, had been at the school since 1999 and his best season at that time was 19 wins. He had no conference championships and no appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament. I thought, “What was so Big Time about this program?”
One of the classes I took in that Master’s program was taught by Dr. Barber (yes a basketball coach with a doctoral degree!). We read two books as assignments for that class. The first was InSideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann (click here to read our review of InSideOut Coaching). I was amazed at how Ehrmann, a former NFL lineman, described the transformational culture he established as a high school football coach.
It appeared to be a tremendous environment to play in and one that really helped players learn to be the best they could be no matter which direction they chose to go with their life. Parade Magazine named Ehrmann “the most important coach in America”. The funny thing was they never mentioned Ehrmann’s win-loss record as a coach.
The second book we read was The Strange Secret of the Big Time by Frosty Westering, a small-school college football coach in Washington. Frosty did win three national championships even though he did not emphasize winning. His philosophy was that The Big Time is not a place, but rather the condition of your heart. Once we realize that we do not have to make it to a destination in order to attain happiness, but instead we can create happiness each day by the choices we make and live in the moment with joy and gratefulness then we will understand the Big Time. Frosty laid out the blueprint for what it means to not just create a Big Time football program, but also how to individually live a Big Time life!
So does that mean if you simply say your team or program is Big Time then it actually is? This past summer my boys attended the Panther Basketball Academy at Greenville and Coach Barber gave me the opportunity to work as a coach and mentor at the camp. I had stayed in contact with Coach Barber and followed the team over the last several years, but getting to experience the program on a first-hand basis over five days finally gave me the answer to that question I asked back in 2013.
And that answer was a simple one...the relationships and the way people are treated is what makes Greenville Basketball a Big Time program. Even though in 2016-17 the team enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in school history and nearly made it to the NCAA tournament, they remained true to their values they held back in 2013 coming off that 9-16 season. The results of the race had changed, yet they were still running the race in the same manner.
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said how you run the race is more important than winning the race. It is interesting how, to some people, that saying holds more weight because John Wooden won 10 national championships. But if he would have lost more games than he won in his career, many people would dismiss it by saying that he simply said that because he couldn’t win more games as a coach.
Does winning give us credibility? Or does treating people the right way give us credibility? Or does maintaining our integrity give us credibility? Or does telling the truth and not purposely trying to deceive people give us credibility?
The principle is the principle and the truth is the truth. “What is right is more important than who is right,” again, according to John Wooden.
The Big Time is the condition of our heart. The problem is that is hard to judge. In fact, it’s impossible to judge. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a world where people would be judged by the content of their character. Character is the choices we make and the actions we take that are a reflection of the condition of our heart. “I believe who you are inside--what you believe--is important, but what you do means much, much more,” Wooden remarked. In other words, make sure that our actions line up with the values that we truly hold within our heart.
The Greenville basketball program is Big Time, not because of their number of wins, but because of how they run the race. Joe Ehrmann is the most important coach in America, not because of his number of wins, but because of the transformational environment that he promotes for all athletic teams. John Wooden is a legend, not for winning 10 national championships, but because he taught his players lessons that helped them become champions in their lives after basketball.
If we want our lives to be Big Time we must daily work on the condition of our heart and make sure that our actions line up with the values, principles, and truths we hold there.
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