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!

The Journey

Just because it didn’t happen the way you wanted doesn’t mean God isn’t working.
— Steven Furtick

I have a dream that burns inside my heart.  It casts a vivid vision in my mind; filled with clarity.  The destination seems certain, but the pathway leading me there isn't as much.  Although each step is unclear, the place I discover most joy is on the journey.


It's a trip where my character is revealed through the way I respond to adversity.

It's a venue where I fail, get back up, and then succeed.

It's an adventure where each step I take leads to growth.

It's progress in learning that sometimes the right decision is the one that hurts the most.

It's when my faith is challenged.

It's progress in realizing the dream that God instilled in my heart.

And most of all, it's path that's only lit when my full trust is in the One who is I AM.


Along the way there are detours, bumps in the road, and wrong turns.  

There are also beautiful views, magnificent sunsets, and worthwhile purpose.

Every day the journey emerges clearer and my scope reveals more of God's plan.  Not because I've found some secret, but because I'm trusting God to direct my steps.  This dream I'm referring to can't be stripped from me.  Despite the world's attempts to divert me, I will continue to hold on to the promises that God has given me.  

Which do you love more? The dream God gave you or the God who gave you the dream?
— Mark Batterson

We are all on a unique journey and we all have a dream burning inside of us.  Regardless of the circumstances trying to bump us off course, stay true to the principles that will keep us running full steam ahead, chasing that dream!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
— Proverbs 3:5-6

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!

Confident Faith

“Confident faith” is a characteristic that we as coaches need to embrace every day of our lives.  Acts 6:1-7 is a great demonstration of “confident faith,” as the apostle Paul writes about discipleship.  The church was upset with numerous things involving widows and therefore, the 12 disciples gave them a talk and told the congregation to pick seven men of good reputation to lead them.  The people liked what they had to say and decided to choose seven men to lead them.  The chosen seven were: Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus.  You may have never heard of them before, but we read that the reason they were so special was because Paul tells us they were, “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”  We see at the end of the passage that the Word of God continued to be preached, the number of disciples multiplied, and even priests were being obedient to this faith!  How did this core group of seven chosen leaders accomplish this calling?  They were full of “confident faith,” and these are the characteristics that it displays.

1.    Confident faith sees every failure as an opportunity to get better.

James chapter 1 tells us to, "count it all joy..."  Through both failure and trials, we need to see them as an opportunity to become better.

2.  Confident faith spends its time doing what it's called to do.

Don't get discouraged if you are not an expert in your calling right away.  Despite the lack of experience, it is essential to stick to what you're called to do!

3.    Confident faith chooses the right people to tackle the problem.

The congregation chose 7 men who were full of the spirit and wisdom.  The people that they chose were already in the church, but they just needed to be noticed.  Find somebody who is passionate about fixing the problem even if they aren't experts.

4.    Confident faith trusts the team to come up with the solution. 

Have faith in your team.  Don't try to do everything on you own.  The 12 disciples could have tried to fix everything on their own, but instead they allowed the church to pick their own leaders to find a solution.

Can You Do It?

Success is something that all of us want to obtain.  Hard work, long hours, and an undying determination to be the best are all components necessary to achieve it.  However, what do you do once you reach a certain level of success?  How do you maintain your foothold at the top?


One of the worst things that can often happen to a team and/or a business is success.  Elation overcomes team members and it's a natural tendency for people to boast about what they've done.  They focus on their recent efforts and forget to pursue continual growth.  Social media also presents an easy and tempting platform to showcase pride in our accomplishments.  If boasting and arrogant pride isn't the proper way to handle success, then what is?

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
— Proverbs 16:18


Handling success is a constant battle.  It takes a conscious effort to fight off pride when it tries to creep into your heart and mind.  Team members need to understand that their success is the byproduct of trusting each other to do their jobs.  The pathway to success requires individuals to put away their selfish ambitions for the greater good of the team.  Each person is required to fulfill a specific role to make the team great.  Unfortunately, once success is obtained, it isn't unusual for individuals to think that they did something special. The best teams will understand that they still aren't perfect and success actually drives them to focus more.  They strive for continual growth and look to improve in all aspects.  They continue to lift each other up and perform their role to the best of their ability as a service to their teammates.  When praise is deserved, they allow others to build them up as opposed to lifting themselves up for the world to see.  

The key to handling success is maintaining a humble spirit with confidence and trust.  Fight away prideful and arrogant thoughts before they penetrate your heart, or they will bring you down in an instant.  The best teams only become the best after they learn how to handle success!  Can you do it?

Connecting With Players

The difference between a pest and a guest is an invitation.
— Joshua Medcalf

My desire as a coach is to connect with our players and build genuine, lasting relationships. I want to be a trustworthy mentor so that when something happens in their life and they need advice, I can be counted on.  


Our job as coaches is to push players to become better both on and off the court.  Sometimes this requires us to say things to our players that they don't want to hear.  Although we  constantly encourage and applaud our players successes, we also criticize and point out their flaws quite a bit, too.  And which one do you think most players dwell on and remember?  

Well, that depends.

Connect before you direct.
— Jamie Gilbert

As coaches, we need to pour our hearts into our players.  We need to invite them into our lives and make an effort to be transparent with them.  We need to be willing to share our experiences because we have been there too.  It is foolish of us to expect our players to feel a connection with us if the only interaction we have with them is on the court or during required team meetings.  There needs to be more.  We need to get into their world and be vulnerable.  They are going through a lot and it is our responsibility to be there for them.  We are only able to do that when we establish a sincere connection with them as people.  

I'm convinced that if I can authentically connect with our players off the court, they will respect me and listen to me on the court.  Now, the applause and encouragement means so much more to them and they know that when I criticize and correct, I am doing it because I believe in them.  


No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Building Relationships

Building relationships is crucial in any job, but they are extremely important in the realm of coaching.  Without true relationships between a coach/player, coach/AD, coach/media, or coach/administration, there will not be any trust. Relationships are built on the foundation of trust and that trust can only be built by loving and being committed to serve others.

I am learning on a daily basis how to become a better leader and how to enhance my relationships with the people I surround myself with.  I like to believe that one of my strengths as a coach is my ability to genuinely love others and make them feel comfortable talking to me.  I'm a quiet person by nature, but God has given me the unique ability to relate to people and gain their trust.  I look forward to the opportunities I am given to impact others simply by showing an interest in something they love.

Although many relationships are developed through servant-leadership and a display of love towards someone, most relationships are maintained through tough love.  In my experience as a coach I have had to work with people in ways which they do not like.  College athletes, especially basketball players, do not typically like being told that they are wrong.  Many coaches will deal with an issue like this in one of two ways. 1) They will lash out at the player by yelling and insisting that they are right, or 2) They will give in to the player and let him do what he wants, even though the coach knows it will not make him a better person.  In my opinion, both of those options are unwise.  If we truly desire to build relationships with our players we must love them first.  We need to tell them things that they don't want to hear and love them enough to show them how they can make themselves a better player and person.

There are three simple acts that we must contribute to if we truly want to build successful relationships.  The three are:


As a coach this could simply be having an open door policy for a player to come into your office and talk about life.  It could also be something such as offering a helping hand anytime they may need it.  Reach out to others and offer your talent/knowledge to make them better.  However, availability is something that we need to make an effort at.  We can't always expect people to come to us when we are available.  We need to go place ourselves in the world of others more often. (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24; Ephesians 4:12)


Sometimes as coaches we feel that we need to talk, talk, talk.  There are times when the best thing for our team is to just listen to our players.  I'm not talking about "pretending to listen" while you're actually just "waiting to talk".  There is a difference between the two!  Make eye contact. Truly connect.  Listen for tips to run a play better.  Ask them to give insight on team functions and core values.  Asking questions and listening to your players is such a powerful way to build trust and ultimately build lasting relationships. (James 1:19; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 18:13)


Do something for someone without expecting anything in return.  Coaches and athletes alike tend to be very stubborn and selfish people!  It is human nature to look out for yourself when really we should be looking to do something for another person.  It's not natural for us to want to serve others, but it is necessary to make an effort if we want to establish genuine relationships.  Seek out opportunities to serve and make someone else's life better. (Acts 20:35; Matthew 6:21; 1 Corinthians 9:14)