When I started volunteering in the football office at Blinn College, I was immediately given a very important title: "Coach."
I didn't have to sign a piece of paper, making it official. I didn't have to fill out a registration form or apply for a special card to carry in my wallet.
In a blink, I was "Coach Myers."
Even though I felt like an impostor with a whistle for a while, every time someone referred to me as "Coach," it made me smile the biggest smile. That title was a constant reminder of the wild and crazy ride I took in order to accomplish that dream. I loved it.
As time passed, I felt less and less like an poser, because I began to grow in my new profession. I started to realize there was so much more that went along with that title. The responsibility. The organization. The student-athletes. The passion. The caring. The game.
I loved all of that more than the title itself.
When I walked away from TCU to launch e-Partners in Giving last May, I had a flash of deja vu. The first day I sat down in my home office, the titles "president" and "CEO" were firmly attached to my name.
Again...no special ceremony. No application form.
And just like my first day on the football field, I felt like a complete phony.
But just like it did at Blinn, the awkwardness started to fade. Now, I feel more comfortable referring to myself as "president" and "CEO." All it took was the appreciation of the day-to-day responsibility and a constant reminder of the consequences.
I also think about all the people who are relying on me, and how I refuse to let them down.
I recently saw this Q&A feature in Inc. Magazine:
Q: What are the skills I need to become a CEO in more than a name?
There were three pieces of advice from the answer that stood out to me and inspired me to take action.
A: "Start the transition by taking down from your wall those framed employee-appreciation awards. CEOs seek validation from profits and happy customers, not from a proud boss."
Action: I took down my "Teammate of the Month" certificate given to me for my "outstanding performance" in the TCU Athletics Department.
A: "Hang in its place a poster board in which you've inscribed a single word: strategy. 'If you can do only one thing, set and maintain a strategy for the company,' says Matt Bowen, president and CEO of Aloft Group."
Action: I did just that. Now, hanging on the wall, is a framed "STRATEGY" with Bowen's comments written above it. I also added two quotes by Emerson and a homeless man I met while living in Oregon. (You have to read it to completely understand.)
A: "Next to that strategy poster, hang a second sign of equal size that reads people...You have to hire the right people, and then create an environment in which they can thrive."
Action: I did that, too. Hanging just below my "Strategy" sign is my "People" sign. Accompanying the 200-point reminder is two more quotes. I called on Henry Ford and Vince Lombardi to drive home the point.
The article concluded by saying: "Strategy and people are the concerns of leadership. And that's what you are now: a leader."
Maybe "Coach Myers" hasn't hung up his whistle and retired. The game has simply changed.
(Finishing up the metaphorical comparison: What do you think my web developer or lawyer would do if I told them to drop and give me 25 push-ups?)
A MONTH OF GRATITUDE
A good friend of mine recently started a unique and touching series on her blog. It's called "A Month of Gratitude." They are quick notes about things in her life that she is grateful for. On her first post, she described the project as "an attitude of humble gratefulness for the good, and often under-appreciated, people and things in my life."
In her first three days, she wrote about her husband, her son, and someone who smashed into her car.
Even though you don't know her, I encourage you to visit the blog: Life With the Schroeders
• Big Brothers Big Sisters: I have been matched with an incredible young man named Anthony. He is 12 years old and lives here in Fort Worth. In the last two weeks, we have gone to the movies, played tennis, and gone to the water park. One of my daily prayers is that I can be a positive influence in his life.
• The WARM Place: Twice a month, I am serving as a house parent for this Fort Worth-based organization. The WARM Place provides grief support services for children and their families who have experienced the loss of a significant relationship through death.
• Presbyterian Night Shelter: Still need specific items for the dispensary, including vitamins, foot powder, razors, deodorant, and antibiotic ointment. The shelter also needs school supplies, underwear (all sizes), socks (all sizes), and 10 infant pack-and-plays.
"God’s definition of successis really one of significance –the significant difference our lives can makein the lives of others.This significance doesn’t show upin win-loss records, long resumes,or the trophies gathering dust on our mantels.It’s found in the hearts and lives of thosewe’ve come across who are in some waybetter because of the way we lived."