Growth Series: Reflections on Intentional Leadership

This is the fourth part in our Growth Series, where our AD partners share how they are focusing their energy inward, reflecting on the values they want to work on the most, and putting goals into action to become the best version of themselves.

Life is like a sewer…what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” – Tom Lehrer

What does your perfect world for school sports look like? In my perfect world, coaches are coaching from their purpose and students are having enjoyable experiences where they are improving as athletes and as people. I have committed myself to this vision and work toward it each day. Admittedly some days are better than others. However, when doing purpose-based work, the highs of doing this work dramatically outweigh the low moments. I serve to use the power of school activities to make the world a better place, serving alongside coaches to achieve their purpose. To do this, I must make sure I take the time to make sure my own saw blade is sharp.

As ADs and coaches, management duties could easily absorb our days. As servant-leaders, sometimes it seems our focus is on helping everyone but ourselves. I now know I must be intentional in my leadership efforts in order for me to live out my purpose—this includes taking the time to look inward, reflect on the values I hold, and put goals into action to become the best version of myself. Here are some examples of what I have done this fall to feed my own personal growth and sharpen my saw:

  • Transformational Purpose Statement. I’ve always felt school sports had the power to change the world for good. This fall I went back and revisited my purpose. I realize my role in making the world a better place through school sports is largely through my support of coaches as they work to achieve their purpose, and I wanted to be sure my purpose reflected this reality.
  • Reading. Here are a couple of great book recommendations: Culture Code by James Kerr and How Champions Think by Bob Rotella. I loved both books—they really get you thinking about how you operate as an organization and the mental approach we take to our work and lives.
  • Book Clubs. I am a part of two book clubs this year. Our coaches and advisors are meeting and discussing the book Legacy by James Kerr and I am also part of an InSideOut cohort where we are reading the The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and re-reading Joe Ehrmann’s InSideOut Coaching. InSideOut Coaching is the book I return to over-and-over to remain a grounded, purpose-based coach.
  • Writing. Writing is cathartic for me. My core values prioritize character and ethics; part of living out my purpose as a leader is to help student-athletes develop into better people, not just better athletes. Staying in alignment with this purpose, each week we deliver a character education or life lesson story for our teams to consider. This fall I wrote 11 new lessons to help our staff coach moral skills in addition to important performance skills. Another core value I hold closely is appreciation. Showing thanks is a habitude I strive to practice daily. This fall I sent over 70 thank you notes. My list included many of our coaches’ spouses, thanking them for all the time and support they give our programs.
  • Professional Development. I was very fortunate to attend the Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s state conference this fall and the National Athletic Director’s Conference in San Antonio in December. Every time I have the chance to attend a professional development opportunity run by athletic directors, I am amazed by not only the many great things happening in schools across the country, but also the generous sharing of these best practices with others.

InSideOut principle number one is to be a better AD / Coach you have to be a better you. In our busy lives and jobs, each of us must find the time to become the best version of ourselves.