I love professional development. Throughout my life I have found many opportunities to learn by shadowing people I want to emulate, finding conferences to learn at and books to sharpen me as an individual. This past weekend I was able to attend a conference called Next Level You. For the past several years Coach Swider, the head football coach at Wheaton College, has spoken to conclude the weekend at this conference. *(Coach Swider’s coaching background can be found at the end of this blog).
One of my favorite phrases is “success leaves clues”. Coach Swider is living an exceptional life and through speaking has been sharing his wisdom beyond the locker room. He speaks with NFL teams, various companies, at graduations and at professional development conferences. I feel fortunate I have been able to hear him speak on more than one occasion and I wanted to share what I learned with all of you.
Here are Coach Swider’s 12 concepts to know so you can live a life without regret;
- Someone has to want to be motivated if they don’t you can’t do it for them. You have a choice of what kind of person you want to be. Make the choice to be a person who wants to be challenged, motivated and confronted.
- Integrity-Can you be trusted to do what is right? Be a person of honesty, with good character, and be loyal.
- Audit the state of your soul. Leaders reflect where they are in their heart. When perspective is lost a person can become disoriented, irrational and frustrated. Regain perspective. When Coach Swider’s team lost a game he came home and was so angry he decided to rake leaves. Later that night he was having trouble sleeping when his son came into his room. Coach said; are you having a hard time sleeping? His son responded he was. He said he was thinking so much about something, mind you he was under the age of 10 years old. So Coach asked him what was on his mind, and his son said; “Dad when I come play football for you will I call you Dad or Coach?” All of a sudden Coach Swider’s perspective was restored to what really mattered in life. His son respected him so much as a coach he wanted to address him as that but also loved him so much as a father he wanted to call him dad. When his son did play for him he called him Coach on the field and Dad in the offices.
- Quitting is NOT an option. When you take on an opportunity or join a team of any kind think of the worst possible conditions. It is easy to say yes when things are rosy and clear and easy. But what about when the conditions are tough? When Coach Swider speaks to his team at the first day of practice he paints a picture of a day when it’s 30 degrees, they are tired, the field is muddy, it’s finals week and he is in their face at practice. He then asks, do you still want to commit to being part of this team and all that means?
- Seek to serve rather than to rule. Amazing leaders are self-less, humble and service oriented. This world and life do not revolve around you. Serve others and your joys will be greater.
- Your mission should be motivated by cause. What are you motivated by; playing or winning? If you are on a team and you are motivated by playing, you are concentrating on yourself. If you are motivated by winning you are focused on what is best for the whole team and the team’s goal as a whole. Glory is a bad motivator; instead fight for a cause. Ask the question what is best for us/ for the organization/or for the team? And then check your individual goals and make sure they line up.
- Do not treat people as things, people matter. When you place rules and demands on people without a relationship it will equal rebellion. People want to know you care before they care what you know. Time spent on developing relationships is never a waste of time. Learn to really listen and wait your turn to talk, listen to understand not to respond. Make yourself available to everyone.
- Discipline-be willing to labor wanting nothing in return. Can you work at something and not be paid or reinforced in any way?
- Competent-are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution? The small details in life matter, they turn into the big things. Are you willing to pay attention to those minute details and make them important even though there aren’t immediate returns?
- Enthusiasm! Genuine leaders lead with energy, passion and enthusiasm. If you have ever been in a room with no enthusiasm or energy you are part of the problem. Have a powerful and positive presence. Is this who you are? Energy and enthusiasm can overcome anything!
- Moral Courage-This is the ability to act despite of your fears, do what’s right because you know that it is right. One year Coach’s son played in a junior high football league that won the entire league and were champions. His son’s coach asked where they wanted to eat and celebrate and the boys said Hooters, so they went to Hooters. Coach Swider’s son said he was uncomfortable going there and didn’t want to partake. He gave his money to one of the boys and asked them to bring his sandwich out to the parking lot where he waited on the curb, where he planned to eat. The whole team went in and 15 minutes later the entire team came back out. The coach said they decided it wasn’t right and that they could do better. In that moment Coach Swider’s son who was all of 13 years old had moral courage and did what was right, his actions changed the hearts of grown men and shifted the direction of that entire team.
- Understand the responsibility of being part of the team. You are part of something more, this is not a place to allow ego, pride, jealousy; those things are poison and will destroy your team, it’s only a matter of time. Be more!
* The 2015 season marked Mike Swider’s 20th season as head coach and his 31st as a member of the Wheaton College football coaching staff. Since taking over the program in 1996, Swider has posted a 159-44 record with an 80% winning percentage, which ranks him first all-time in both categories among Wheaton’s 21 head football coaches. He also holds the ninth-highest winning percentage of any active Division III coach and the 12th-highest winning percentage of any coach in Division III history with 10 or more years of experience. During Swider’s tenure as head coach, the program has reached the NCAA playoffs seven times in the last decade, won eight CCIW titles, produced 31 All-Americans and 198 All-Conference players.