It’s August! Still summer, yet I’m preparing remarks to welcome new and returning football players and coaches to campus for the August 5, first official day of fall practice. My remarks, while crafted specifically to this purpose, fit any enterprise. Although I will not preach my full-throated Nature-Inspired sermon to the team, I could easily do so. My approach, instead, will be more Human Nature than Nature.
I will explain the fundamentals of leading a university… in terms familiar to them:
- Coaching and mentoring
- Assessing performance; improving performance
- Learning from my teammates; from my mistakes
- Understanding my own weaknesses
- Trusting and depending upon others
- Knowing the playbook
- Calling the right plays; executing them
- Reaching beyond our grasp; then mastering the grasp, and reaching again
- Inspiring and motivating
- Celebrating success; learning from failure
- Setting goals
- Keeping the mission clear… and foremost
- Working hard and having fun
- Maintaining fitness; staying sharp and focused
Sounds a lot like football — and, too, like life and business.
I will review the four essential and inter-connected dimensions of fitness:
- Physical — preparing the body for optimum performance.
- Mental — Yogi Berra said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.”
- Emotional — relationships provide support, stability, and anchorage. Mind and body cannot function fully in the absence of a strong emotional core. Nobody stands alone.
- Spiritual — nothing is more important than believing and trusting in something larger and greater than we.
I will tell them about Jim Valvano, coach of the 1983 NC State University men’s basketball National Champions. Coach Valvano hit the motivational speaking circuit ten years later, facing a terminal cancer diagnosis. He implored audiences to employ three things that everyone should do each day:
- Think deeply about something important to someone in your life — spend time in thought
- Laugh hard and often
- Feel something to the point of tears
- “If you think, laugh, and cry — that’s a heck of a day!”
Failure — we seldom learn by doing things well. Michael Jordan famously observed this about failing:
- “I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career
- I’ve lost almost 300 games
- 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot… and missed
- I’ve failed over, and over, and over again in my life
- And that is why I succeed”
Raw talent alone amounts to little. General Colin Powell observed:
- “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic
- It takes sweat
- And hard work!”
I will close my remarks to the team with some personal reflections:
- I am 66 years old
- I think, laugh, and shed tears every day
- I begin each morning with vigorous exercise
- I can still bench press well over my body weight
- I am a former marathon runner — I still do cardio training pre-dawn every day
- I am addicted to living
- I am committed to serving
Now I will close this Blog — Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a daring adventure… or nothing.” My interim presidency at Fairmont State University is a daring adventure. Same for my work with Great Blue Heron, LLC… and for my writing. What about your life and the enterprise you lead — a daring adventure? Are you daily incorporating Nature’s elixir into living, learning, serving, and leading? Glance at the photo of FSU’s football stadium — wooded hillsides; lifting morning fog; the promise of a new day in north central West Virginia. The beauty and setting alone mists my eyes, lifts me for the day, and stirs deep contemplation.
Great Blue Heron can open your eyes to harnessing Nature’s Power and Wisdom. Please keep reading these Blogs. Drop me a line if you want to explore how we might together lift your enterprise… and boost your life.
Featured Image: Fairmont State University’s stadium emerging from dawn fog.