Hang Up

Leaders are constantly in a state of communication.  Whether it’s in a meeting, on social media, text messages, live videos, or phone calls, we seem to always find ways to consistently stay in touch with our people and what is going on.  While thorough communication is good and necessary, sometimes what we perceive as good is hindering us in other ways.  One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was to hang up. 

One of my favorite places to make phone calls is while I’m driving in my car.  It’s quiet and there is often enough time to have a valuable conversation with someone before I arrive at my destination.  But as a young leader I would find myself pulling into my driveway, deep in conversation with a recruit or a mentor with no end in sight.  Although my conversation on the phone was going well, I would fall into one of two traps.  I would walk inside, where my family was waiting to greet me, still on the phone, or I would stay talking in the car parked in the driveway for the next several minutes while my family waited inside for me to come in.  Both traps seem trivial, but they hindered my relationships with my family even though I was building relationships with others. 

Anytime I’m having a phone conversation in the car I need to begin wrapping it up when I’m halfway home.
— Andrew Wingreen

The advice I received to hang up looks like this:

Anytime I’m having a phone conversation in the car I need to begin wrapping it up when I’m halfway home (assuming it’s a local trip appx. 20 min or less).  We all know some phone calls can take a few minutes to talk through the final details and say goodbye, so knowing when you are halfway home is a good reminder to begin shutting it down.  Once I pull into my driveway, I always end the conversation and make sure to walk inside with my attention fully devoted to my family.  This transition is crucial and helps me go in with the best mindset possible.  It gives me time to decompress and get my emotions to a place where I will be the best I can be for my family, no matter how the phone call went.  I can schedule calls for later in the evening or the next day if there was some sort of topic we still needed to discuss.  I learned if I waited until I was home to start ending a conversation, it was too late.  This small piece of advice has allowed me to transition smoothly and be more present with whoever I am meeting at the destination. 

Next time you’re deep in conversation while you drive, make sure to begin ending the call halfway to your destination.  It will give you the clarity of mind to transition smoothly into your next phase of the day!

If you have any questions or other advice regarding this, please send me an email at coachwingreen@gmail.com.

Which Do You Love More?

Lord, don’t let my gifts take me farther than my character can sustain me.
— Mark Batterson


No matter what career you are invested in or what goals you envision yourself accomplishing in the future, you are probably the type of person that is passionate about the process required to realize your dream.  You are a gifted individual with unique talents that separate you from the rest of the pack.  

But if you're anything like me, sometimes the dream God gave you takes precedent over the God who gave you the dream.  You get so wrapped up in the work and excitement of pursuing it you forget to acknowledge the reason you're able to pursue your dream in the first place.  

In his book, All In, Mark Batterson writes a brilliant excerpt about the Gift Giver.  

"If the gift ever becomes more important than the Gift Giver, then the very thing God gave you to serve His purposes is undermining His plan for your life.  God is no longer the End All and Be All.  And when God becomes the means to some other end, it's the beginning of the end spiritually because you have inverted the gospel.

God-given gifts are wonderful things and dangerous things.  One of my recurrent prayers is this: 'Lord, don't let my gifts take me farther than my character can sustain me.'  As we cultivate the gifts God has given us, we can begin to rely on those gifts instead of relying on God.  That's when our greatest strength becomes our greatest weakness."

I know in the game of basketball it can be very easy to rely on our gifts rather than on the One who gave us those gifts.  Sport is one of the easiest places for people to become prideful and believe they are accomplishing their dreams because of their talents.  I want to challenge you to love the God who gave you your dream and know the gifts allowing you to be successful were given to you by Him.  When the tests come into our life we are given the opportunity to rely on God and put an awesome testimony on display.  Keep taking action to acknowledge the Gift Giver and you will be amazed how your dreams will begin to come true as you pursue the process!

Extraordinary Leadership Begins and Ends With These 3 Words

Anyone can be a leader.  From the guy in the entry level position all the way to the experienced CEO, every person has the ability to lead.  But what separates the ordinary leader from the extraordinary one?  There are three words that permeate the best of the best; love, trust, and serve.  And please understand, the greatest leaders not only act on these words every day, but they also have the ability to get their followers to act on them as well.


Extraordinary leaders love.  They have a genuine desire to care for the people around them.  This is more than just mentioning it every once in a while, it's living it out on a daily basis.  

Loving your followers is active and if you are doing a good job at it, the people you lead will actively love you back.  


Extraordinary leaders trust.  They spend countless hours building trust by showing compassion and caring for those around them.  They allow their followers to fail and use those situations as teaching opportunities to grow.  

When the people you lead feel confidence from you as their leader, they in turn will trust you and run through a wall for you.  


Extraordinary leaders serve.  They constantly look for opportunities to put others needs in front of their own.  They understand that if they want to be the best leader they can be then they must serve their people.

There will rarely be a time when serving others is convenient, but as a leader you must do it.  When you put the needs of others first, others will serve you and the team in ways you could never imagine.  

No matter where you find yourself in the chain of command, you have the opportunity to love, trust, and serve those around you.  Stop being an "ordinary" leader.  Make the choice to be extraordinary today!

Available or Approachable?


How many of you have said that or have heard a coach say that?  Everyone, raise your hand.  I actually don't have a door in my office, so this happens to be true for me every day!  However, I remember in college having coaches and professors tell me that their door was "always open," yet no one was ever in their office.  I also remember that there were some coaches and professors that ALWAYS had people in their office.  Both made themselves available, but why did only one of them have people in there?


To be available is one thing, but to be approachable is entirely different.  If you want to have a genuine impact on others you must be authentic in building a relationship with them.  Listen to them.  Learn from them.  Grow with them.  Love them.  Once people sense that you care for them they will begin to allow you to mentor them.  Your approachability will determine the significance of your availability.  Don't just make yourself available, make yourself approachable!

We Can Hear You

15 years ago our country was attacked.  

And 15 years ago our country came together.


In moments of chaos, tragedy, and uncertainty it was crucial that the leaders of our country conveyed a sense of calmness, strength, and hope.  Men such as George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Dick Cheney, and countless others were called upon to bring such stability and direction.  On that day of September 11, 2001, these men had three traits that every leader needs to exude in a crisis.


Everybody's first instinct is to react.  Leaders, however, respond.  They project a sense of calm to keep people focused on solving the problem.  On 9/11 there are numerous accounts of our countries leaders remaining calm in the face of adversity.


There is a story from a White House photographer that was allowed into the president's private chamber on Air Force One immediately following the attacks, where he shares the phone calls and communication that took place between George W. Bush and his staff.  The ability to prioritize action, communicate with clarity, and execute a plan proved to be crucial steps in establishing command of 9/11.


We all felt it.  The pain, the hurt, the tears, and the disbelief.  Our leaders empathized with us and united us together as a country.  Through various speeches, actions, and stories we were inspired to get back up and become even stronger than we were before.  When George W. Bush yelled, "We can hear you!" to several NYPD and FDNY personnel, our country began to heal.

Political views, religious beliefs, and the color of our skin did not matter on September 11, 2001.  Nothing divided us.  We were all knocked down and we came together to rise up.  The leaders of the United States of America were strong and the people looked up to them for guidance.  I am thankful for their ability to lead through chaos by putting into action their leadership ability. Take a few minutes to watch this video - First Pitch: George Bush's pitch that lifted the nation after 9/11.


Why Do I Coach?


That should be a question that every coach asks himself consistently.  There are a variety of answers that will come back, but it's important to understand your true purpose as a coach.

Do you coach to win?

Do you coach for the money?

Do you coach for the notoriety?

Do you coach for the kids?

Do you coach because you can't do anything else?

All of these reasons are realistic and are each answers that I have heard from coaches at various levels.  Most will gravitate to the safe answers such as doing it for the kids and because they love to win, but if we accurately evaluate our motives we can surprise ourselves.

Personally, I want to serve people and make a positive impact by helping them achieve the dreams that God created in their hearts.  I will work my butt off because I love to win and I need to make money, but my purpose is greater than all of that.  My purpose is to help our players see their potential and teach them how to reach their goals.  I'm called to glorify Jesus Christ and lead by example though my actions and attitude.  My desire is to develop men of high character and integrity who will graduate and become amazing husbands, fathers, employees, and CEO's.  

Now that July live period is complete and things are going to slow down for a month or so, I challenge and encourage every coach to ask themselves that question and answer honestly.  Think deeply about why you coach and make the necessary changes before the season begins.  The more clearly you can define your purpose, the more effective and successful you will become as a coach!

Thanks for reading!

Coach Wingreen

Developing Our Roles As Coaches

Players that know their role thrive and contribute greatly towards the success of the team.  How about you, coach?  Do you know your role?  Do you know how to keep growing in your role?

Although we are not perfect or anywhere near perfect, I believe that our staff at Bob Jones University does a tremendous job of working together and performing our individual roles.  I recently had a discussion with another assistant on our staff and he asked me, "When you're around me, how much effort do I give?  A percentage."  I really appreciated his question as it showed his desire to learn and grow, but it also challenged me to assess my effort in my current role.  As we carried on our conversation we both determined that we could give more to the team and keep encouraging each other's growth to position our program in the best way possible.  You see, no matter how good we think we are doing or how well our program is portrayed, there is ALWAYS room to get better.  

We all know the various responsibilities you need to carry out as a college basketball coach such as scouting, film breakdown, & recruiting.  But I wanted to give you a few leadership skills that we often overlook that can help you perform your role at an elite level.  These are all aspects of my development as a coach that I am working on currently.


When you work a million hours a week (or so it seems sometimes) it's hard to imagine that you aren't giving your best effort.  As I had my conversation with Coach Miller, he challenged me with the fact that we can give so much more effort in many ways.  But how do we give more effort?  What does that look like?  The following traits will all contribute to giving our maximum effort on a daily basis.


Come to the office every day with a positive mindset.  Be determined to impact those around you by making them better.  Smile more, complain less.  Be interested in other's lives and ask questions about them.  If you can go in to every day with the ability to make someone else better you will be setting yourself up for success.  


Many people mistake enthusiasm for "Rah Rah" type of talk and shy away from being enthusiastic.  However, enthusiasm is defined by dictionary.com as:

1. absorbing or controlling possession of the mind by any interest or pursuit; lively interest:

2. an occupation, activity, or pursuit in which such interest is shown:

Being enthusiastic as a college basketball coach simply means giving your best when your best is required.  It means taking your passion to another level and using your gift to impact others.  You can show your effort by being more enthusiastic even when you don't feel like it.


Focusing on a task for long periods of time is always a struggle for many, including myself.  I don't know why, but it's definitely an attribute that people need to improve!  Your effort is directly impacted by the focus you put forth in anything you're doing.  As coaches, we owe it to our staff and our players to commit our focus to things that will make us better.  Make yourself a quiet place to concentrate for a little bit.  Find some music that will keep your mind focused on what you're doing.  Whatever you need to do to focus better, do it!

Although there are so many more character traits that we can develop to be more successful in our roles, I believe that these are all things that we can control and get better in.  They are basic, but they are powerful.  Let's continue to hold each other accountable and keep growing and learning together as coaches to impact the lives of those around us!

Summer Workouts Aren't Enough: 3 Reasons to do Something Else

The off-season, or the "on-season" as Coach Kevin Eastman likes to call it, is a time to improve and develop your craft.  I'm sure you've heard the saying, "if you're not practicing, someone else is, and when you meet him, he will win."  Knowing this as a competitor drives you to work hard and push yourself as far as you can physically.  You spend countless hours in the gym honing your skills and you flourish in the weight room.  You come into the season thinking you're prepared to rise up to the challenge, but did you really do all that you could to become the best player you can be?  


LeBron James just won his third NBA World Championship and while he puts in tons of hours in the gym, he also does something that sets him apart.  He reads books.  A lot of books.  It's a well documented fact that LeBron is a student of the game and obviously knows his stuff when it comes to the history of basketball.  He's commonly seen on the sidelines with a book in hand and has also been known to read books in the locker room before games.  Not only does he read sports books such as West by West by Jerry West, but he also dives in to other genres of books such as The Hunger Games, or the Divergent Series.  When asked why he reads books, LeBron said, "Because it strengthens my mind."  When it comes to superstar athletes reading books to improve their ability, he is not alone.  Here are three reasons why you should read more books if you insist on becoming the best you can be at your craft.

[Reading] strengthens my mind.
— LeBron James; 3-time NBA World Champion


It's no secret that the best athletes are able to process and react to various game situations quickly.  They are smart and understand what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.  Science has proven that reading books improves your memory and keeps your mind sharper for longer.  Would you agree that as fatigue sets in & you need to execute the scouting report at the end of a game, you rely on a sharp mind and good memory?  You bet!  Give yourself an advantage over the competition in these areas by reading books regularly.


Every leader knows the importance of relating to people.  Reading books naturally allows you to experience the world from other people's perspectives.  As you create a vision and motivate your teammates to embrace the journey, your ability to empathize with them will determine how far you go.  By reading books, you will develop an understanding of how to build relationships and relate better with your team.


Communication is one of the most essential skills in any sport.  The best players and leaders are also some of the best communicators.  As you read books you will be exposed to a variety of words and in turn, will increase your vocabulary.  You will learn how to construct sentences and thoughts in a powerful and effective manner; a well sought after skill in any position.  If you want to convey a message to your team, on or off the court, your ability to communicate is extremely important.  Reading will naturally improve these skills. 

In conclusion, I ask you this question: 


If you need some help, here are a few recommendations that I would suggest you pick up ASAP!

Toughness by Jay Bilas

Wooden by John Wooden

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talent is Never Enough by John Maxwell

Training Camp by Jon Gordon

I also have several books that I recommend on the "Bookshelf" on coachwingreen.com. Check it out!

Photos: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBA/Getty Images

It's Not Just What Someone Does, It's What They Didn't Do

What's missing?  It's easy to walk into a gym and notice the positive aspects of someone's ability, but it's a little more difficult to find what isn't there.  I recently listened to a discussion with someone who has a unique perspective on this topic and has written a book entitled, Visual Intelligence.

Amy Herman, JD, MA, is the developer of The Art of Perception, a program designed to promote better observation skills and give various perceptions to any given task.  She conducts sessions for medical programs, NYPD, FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Secret Service.  In a recent interview, she discussed the idea of the "pertinent negative," which is a medical term used to diagnose a non-existent symptom in a patient.  I want to take this idea and apply it to basketball recruiting.  

You need to identify not only what you see, but what is missing to give people the most accurate picture. It’s not just what someone does, it’s what they didn’t do.
— Amy Herman

A quick example that Amy shared of the "pertinent negative" would be this:  You go into the Emergency Room at the hospital to tell the doctor you have pneumonia.  The doctor knows that pneumonia is present if there are three specific symptoms.  As he examines you he finds that symptoms 1 & 2 are present, but symptom 3 (the pertinent negative) is absent.  Because of the pertinent negative, or the missing piece, the doctor can rule out the possibility that you have pneumonia.  


As coaches, we can't always rely on the things that we see out on the court to make a decision.  Sometimes it is more important to gain a different perspective and understand what we don't see.  We need to see what was glaringly missing from a player's game to get an accurate representation of what's going on with that player.  For example, Johnny can shoot really well, dribble past any defender, and finish through contact at the rim.  Initial observation would incline you to believe that he would be a great asset to your team.  But make sure to look for the pertinent negative.  Why didn't any of Johnny's teammates give him a high five after he scored?  Why didn't Johnny go through the handshake line after they lost?  Did you ever see Johnny talking to his teammates?  These are the kinds of characteristics that you need to be observing as a coach to make you dig a little deeper.  If you can identify the pertinent negative in any situation, it may just be the piece of the puzzle that you needed.  It's easy to see what's right in front of you, but sometimes it's more important to see what isn't there before making a decision.


The Art of Perception® & Amy Herman. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2016, from http://www.artfulperception.com/about.php  

Amy Herman on Visual Intelligence [Audio blog interview]. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2016, from https://www.accidentalcreative.com/podcasts/ac/podcast-amy-herman-visual-intelligence/ 

Champions Today

This past season, our team rallied around the phrase, Champions Today.  We found ourselves explaining its meaning to people who wondered about our purpose, and while many cynical people questioned our motives, we were given the opportunity to share our intention behind it. 

Champions and Championships are two totally different ideas; words that bring a vast accumulation of meaning.  For example, to be a champion means to fight for something, or to defend something that is important to you.  It implies that there is a process that needs to take place.  Championships, on the other hand, by definition give a distinction of completion.  The journey is already completed and achievement is already obtained.  

Champions Today by no means expresses that we have reached a premature state of success.  However, it does suggest the significance of the journey and the importance of our habits.  It indicates the influence that our present actions will have on our future achievement.  We can't assume that success will automatically appear to us just because we play the game.  We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard that focuses on the here and now.  Every decision, every habit we determine is our path that will ultimately lead us to our destination.  

Our program as a whole embraced this idea of being Champions Today and in turn, experienced positive results. Daily tasks such as showing up on time or serving a classmate became habits that allowed us to reach our goal of being champions at that very moment.  As our habits became consistent, there was a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that propelled us to the next level.  While we never perfected anything, we did become better men and better teammates.  Collective responsibility within our program became one of our most treasured core values because we saw how it allowed everyone to make each other better.  

As we continue our journey through the process we keep encouraging one another to build championship habits.  Habits that will ignite a passion inside of us to be our best.  Habits that will develop us into men of integrity.  Habits that will put aside our selfishness and humbly lift other people up.  And habits that will allow our team to trust each other.  Being a Champion Today is more than showing up and winning a trophy.  It's all about deciding what kind of person you want to become and taking the necessary steps to get there.  No one said it would be easy, but I promise you that it will be worth it!