leadership

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.

The Impact YOU Have

One reason that I love the game of basketball is because of the impact it has on people of all ages.  The game engages the craziest fanatics daily and engrosses an entire nation during March.  It captivates an audience and it will not let some of them go.  But one of the most significant influences the game has is the way it enamors a child's heart and inspires them to be like YOU.

3...2...1...

I'm willing to bet that every player and coach grew up with a basketball dream.  For some it was reenacting the final play of the game when your team is down 2 and the ball is in your hands.  You audibly count down the game clock...3...2...1...and hoist up the game winning shot.  If it went in you celebrated the win; if you missed you were obviously fouled.  

BE LIKE MIKE

For others it was watching Michael Jordan and trying to "Be Like Mike."  You would run out of the tunnel to the Bulls starting lineup song, "At 6'6, from North Carolina, number 23, Michaellll Jorrrrdannnnn!"  You would stick your tongue out on your way to the rim and attempt to impose your will on your friends with that fade away jumper.  And you're lying if you never tried to dunk the basketball while spreading your legs just like the Jordan logo.  

THE BATHTUB

Maybe you were that die-hard player that would shovel the snow off the driveway in 14 degree weather to get shots up.  Of course, the cold temperature and snow would make your ball flat, so you had a couple more basketballs in the rotation.  You would put the flat ball in the hot bathtub you had filled in order to warm up the balls to be ready to go again in 15 minutes.  True dedication.

PEOPLE WHO MADE AN IMPACT

These were all stories from my life growing up, but no matter what your dream was there was someone that made an impact on you.  Someone that you wanted to be like and imitate as a player or a coach.  For me it was my next door neighbor, Nick Hancock, and his teammate Tony Romo.  Yes, THAT Tony Romo.  I remember going to their games at Burlington High School (now Karcher Middle School) and watching them play.  I would go home and imitate everything they did.  Their shooting technique, their hustle, their willingness to dive on the floor for loose balls, etc.  My eyes were on them and they made an impact on me.

From a coaching perspective, my aunt and uncles were a huge impact on me.  They were all coaches and I would grow up going to their games.  At family gatherings I would listen to them talk about those games.  I'm not sure if they ever realized how I hung on to every word they said, but I did.  And those words have stuck with me to this day as a coach.  

There is a poem that I love to share with people called "Little Eyes Upon You."  It goes like this:

There are little eyes upon you and they are watching night and day.

There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager to do anything you do;

And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.

You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise.

In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly, holds all you say and do;

He will say and do, in your way when he’s grown up just like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right;

And his eyes are always opened, and he watches day and night.

You’re setting an example every day in all you do;

For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be just like you.
— Author Unknown

So next time you go out and do your job with the game of basketball, keep in mind that there are little eyes watching you and they are soaking up everything you say and do.  Your actions, your words, your energy, your responses - they are setting an example for the next generation of players and coaches.  I believe we have a responsibility to be a light to all of those around us.  Take your platform to heart and do your best to use the game we love to impact other people in a positive way!

See Jesus In Me

My desire as a coach is for people to see Jesus in me.  Through the way I work, the way I behave, and the way I care, I want Jesus to be at the center of it.  My heartbeat is to see those around me grow closer to Jesus because of the way I live.

However, I'm really bad at it most of the time.

My work becomes focused solely on wins & losses.  I work a certain way for certain hours, so that people will give me their approval.  I do what I do because I want the praise and glory for myself.

My behavior lacks character too often and I fall victim to Satan's attacks.  I allow my feelings to dictate my actions, which often leads to sin.  I behave the way I do because I'm prideful and want to do what only makes me happy.

My care for others is non-existent  because their needs are not more important than my own, obviously.  I focus on what I want and lookout for me, myself, and I.  I lack the care that I need to have because I'm selfish.

I COULD GO ON.

I've been struggling lately to be a light; to be the example that God created me to be.  He called me to coach and he enabled me to have the opportunity to impact young men and other coaches.  I'm passionate about fulfilling that call with the gifts that God has given me.  I want to embrace the responsibility that I have because I know the impact those with the same calling had on me.  So here's what I'm going to do:

PRAY

I believe that prayer is powerful and God desires to have that communication with us.  As a coach, I need to make this a daily occurrence with intentionality throughout the day.  However, I'm really bad at praying.  I don't do it enough and more often than not I fail to do it well.  Please pray for me to grow stronger in my prayer life!

READ

God's word is powerful.  It speaks truth and breathes life.  I need to dig deeper into the word of God and find out more about what he is all about.  I'm really good at reading it on a surface level, but I desire to dive deeper and grow closer to God.  

DO

I want to do more.  Not because I think it will earn me favor with God, but because I want to impact people.  I want to genuinely love them and show them who Jesus is by the way I live life.  I want my words to speak truth and I want my actions to display love.  I want the gospel to resonate with the people I come in contact with every day, so Jesus can do a work in their life.

I want people to see Jesus in me. 

Fueling Your Heart

Each day we are given opportunities to choose the influences we want in our lives.  The videos we watch, the music we listen to, the books we read, and the people we spend our time with.  Each decision we make fuels our hearts with a worldview that will ultimately impact the way we carry ourselves.  So, the question is, what is fueling your heart?

It’s easy to gravitate towards popular content the world is selling to us daily, but it’s important to understand what those stories are telling us.  Just because something is portrayed as “cool” or “relevant,” doesn’t mean we should be consuming it.  We need to be intentional about fueling our hearts with substance, promoting growth and excellence in all we do. 

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

Spotify has over 140 million users that consume over 1.7 billion hours of music each month.  Currently, the song that is streamed the most and sits at #2 on the Billboard Top 100, is “Rockstar” by Post Malone (Feat. 21 Savage).  The first lyrics that millions of people are actively choosing to put into their hearts when they listen to this song are, 

Ayy, I’ve been f****** hoes and poppin’ pillies. Man I feel just like a rockstar.
— Post Malone

WHAT MUSIC IS FUELING YOUR HEART?

Last month, the top grossing movie at the box office was “It,” earning $290,775,232.  It has played in over 4,000 theaters countless times, entertaining millions of people across the globe.  I understand the thrill and excitement that comes along with horror movies, but at what cost?  The description that lures people to buy a ticket to this movie is, “A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.”  Really?

WHAT MOVIES OR VIDEOS ARE FUELING YOUR HEART TODAY?

In 2016, 68% of high school seniors said that they tried alcohol with their friends.  Their friends claimed they were going to harmless parties and having “fun” participating in drinking games.  Statistics also say that alcohol causes the most harm in people under the age of 21 and is responsible for over 4,300 deaths each year. 

WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH?

The point of this article is not to tell you what not to do.  However, I think it’s important for us to ask ourselves the question, “what is fueling my heart?”  If we think about it, the shows we watch, the music we listen to, the content we read, and the people we spend our time with, influences our lives in a huge way.  If we want to be the best we can be, why wouldn’t we fuel our hearts with content that is positive and full of truth?  For me, it’s a battle every day.  I want to have fun and satisfy my need for entertainment, but I constantly need to examine what I’m fueling my heart with.  I encourage you to think about the influences you allow into your life every day and ask yourself if the fuel you’re putting into your heart is the fuel that will get you to your desired destination. 

Why Do You Play?

I was recently eating dinner with one of my teammates when he asked me, “Why do you keep playing?” I smiled and said, “That’s an easy one. Because of you guys.” My teammate looked back at me not knowing how to respond to that. But that got me thinking, and that’s a question I want to ask you—Why do you play?

My name is Robert Horn. I’m a 5’ 10” senior at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. I walked-on my freshman year and have played less than 100 career minutes. I’ve only scored 12 points in my college career. Knowing that, you now see why my teammate asked me that. It was a fair question, and its one that I’ve often asked myself.

Why do I play?

Why do I put myself through the grueling grind of college basketball only to ride the pine?

Because of my teammates and the opportunity I have to build relationships with them and make an impact on their lives. I know a lot of guys say that, especially when they are being recruited, but it’s a whole other thing when you’re forced to live it out. This is something that God’s been teaching me throughout my entire college career. If I was here only to “get mine” or for my own personal success, I would have quit my freshman year to play intramurals—and believe me, I almost did. And again sophomore year. And again junior year. But through this process, God has been showing me that basketball is so much more than scoring 20 points a night or playing 35 minutes per game. Basketball isn’t about me. Basketball is just a tool God’s graciously given me to be able to connect with guys who others can’t and in ways that no one else can. This opportunity didn’t come by me pouting on the bench or slacking in the gym—No, I earned guys respect by working harder then them though I saw less on-court opportunities than them. I earned guys respect by showing them support and excitement at their personal success and the team’s success rather than whining over my lack of PT. It was not easy and I struggled with it at different times. But when took my eyes off myself and aligned my perspective to what God called me, I found myself thankful and satisfied for the opportunity rather than selfish over unfulfilled desires. God has shown me that basketball isn’t about my glory, but about His. It’s a platform to serve Him for where He’s called me.

FOUR YEARS AGO

Four years agoI would have told you that a college career spent on the bench was a waste. But God has used these last four years to radically change me in such incredible ways. He has humbled me, convicting me of prideful desires for my own glory over the success of my teammates and the team.  He has revealed my selfishness in caring about my own athletic success over the welfare of my teammates hearts and souls. He has given me the opportunity to be a leader from the bottom, rather than someone who sticks out as the most skilled player or physically dominate person.

THE BEST PART

But the best part is that what God has taught me through basketball will carry over to life. Life isn’t about me or my success or my happiness or my glory. It’s about Someone so much greater me—God! I think it is awesome that we refer to our teams as family because our relationship with God is also portrayed as a family. God has given us the opportunity to be on His team, but we have to accept that we are not the superstar—He is! Just like we could spend 4 years chasing after PT and records, we can spend our lives chasing our own glory and satisfaction and end up wasting it on ourselves! Or we can examine our heart’s motives and take our eyes off of ourselves and finally realize why we are alive —to bring God glory. If we are Christians, we are called to follow after Jesus (Luke 9:23). Jesus’s goal was to bring the Father glory (John 17:4). Bringing God glory, not ourselves, is why we were created. So look at the gifts God has given you and ask yourself why you do them. It may be basketball, it may be music, it could be art—whatever it is, do it to the glory of God, not yourself (1 Corinthians 10:31)!

MY HOPE

My hope is that my story will cause you to examine your heart, and change your mentality as you head into next season. Ask yourself today, “Why do I play?”

Which Do You Love More?

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

DREAMERS ARE EVERYWHERE.

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.

LOVE

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.  

TRUST

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.  

SERVE

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?

I'M AVAILABLE ANY TIME.  MY DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN.

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?

YOU MAY BE AVAILABLE, BUT ARE YOU APPROACHABLE?

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.

LEADERSHIP WAS A NECESSITY

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.

1. PROJECT A SENSE OF CALM

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.

2. PRIORITIZE, COMMUNICATE, AND EXECUTE

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.

3. EMPATHIZE AND INSPIRE

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.

#NEVERFORGET

Why Do I Coach?

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