“I Was Fixable”

My Mom passed away in March of 2010 leaving an incredible legacy. My parents relocated to Houston a few years before that so we felt like it was appropriate to host a memorial service in Cleveland for the many lives she touched there. During the service we had an open time of sharing if anyone felt led to.

One women stood up and shared her story with us. She shared that she was broken and how my Mom reached out to her at a very low point in her life. She said that it made all of the difference to her and her faith and now she is well on her way to recovery. Then she said words I will never, ever forget.

“Your Mom looked at me and saw that……I was fixable.”

I love that.

“I was fixable.” The more I reflected on that in the hours that followed the service, I couldn’t help but think about how we’re all broken and for that reason, we are fixable.

“We’re not broken, we’re just bent.” -P!nk

What many of us need most often is someone to care. We need someone else to see that we are fixable and show us the way. We need to be that someone to others as well. Think about that today.

If you’re broken……know that you’re fixable

If you’re not broken….find someone that is.

Let them know….they are fixable.

*Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. For a full list of resources, please visit – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

Someone Else’s Belief

“At some point in our lives we were the product of someone else’s belief.”

-Inky Johnson

I love me some Inky Johnson. If you aren’t familiar with him or his story, do yourself a favor and visit his Youtube channel. He and Simon Sinek are two guys that seem to hit me with every video or quote they put out. Just incredible clarity of purpose and inspiration.

Earlier today I was speaking with someone whom I have tremendous respect for. We were talking through a large deal that is in the works and I felt like I needed his “air support” in case we got close to ultimately closing the deal. His words on the other end of the phone were powerful.

“I don’t need to be on a call with them. I can, but I have full confidence in you and that you will come to an agreement that is best for us.”

I was reflecting on that tonight when I heard those words by Inky Johnson quoted at the top of this post. How true is that? How true is that not just once, but throughout our lives? We ARE the product of someone else’s belief in us. Not only that, we ARE the believer for someone else too. So, a few things to think about –

Who believed in you?

Who have you believed in?

Have you told them?

Earlier this week we were on another recruiting visit with our son. I’ve never been shy to say how proud I am of all three of our kids. When you hear a Coach of a University filled with a tradition of winning baseball say:

“We’ve seen you. We like you. We want you in our program.”

Something inside you smiles. To hear someone confirm not just him, but what you believe about him too is a powerful thing. All the hours. All of the hard work. All of the times you won and even the losses. Someone you respect speaks powerful words of belief. So think about this today….

Who believed in you?

Who have you believed in?

Have you told them?

Ponytails, Scrunchies and Lessons in Leadership

I’ve had the fortune of building more than a few teams in a variety of areas. From inside a Fortune 500 company to a 5th grade girls travel basketball team. Some were teams that just needed a new voice. Others were an idea that was literally drawn up on a napkin in a bar. I don’t claim to be an expert. More than once I’ve thought we built a winner and had to go back and re-evaluate. Here’s what I know – I love building teams and I love coaching them once they’re built. My favorite team ever was the one that taught me the most about leadership. I’d love to tell you more about them.

Our first year coaching a 5th grade girls travel team, we really struggled. We knew there was talent but we just never found a rhythm. Before the next season, I met with the other coach and we both agreed, something had to change. We evaluated what we had and realized most of our girls also played soccer. They were aggressive. They were well conditioned. We just struggled to score.

So we pressed.

We pressed a lot.

By the end of the season we had 9 different versions of a press, traps and half court defenses in our game plan. That was my favorite team. They fought. They competed. When they got tired we subbed and the bench crew would fight and compete too. We had a team goal to force the other team to burn all of their timeouts trying to figure out how to beat our press. During the timeout, we would change it up on them. With the exception of a few teams that were just more talented, we had a really good season.

We didn’t change the team from the first year to the second. We just figured out how to put the team in a better position to succeed. We evaluated what we knew were our strengths and then pushed every ounce of energy we had into letting them maximize those strengths. Each player had a role and an understanding of what was expected of them. The goals were clear. It was a joy to watch and a joy to coach.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” —Ronald Reagan

  1. Evaluate Today – One of the first things you must do is see where you are today. What’s the health of the overall team? How is the culture? Is this team positioned for success or frustrated by lack of production? Before you can begin to assemble the game plan, you have to take an honest look at where you are today.

2. Know Your Personnel – You have to get to know your players or those you will lead. What motivates them? What drives them? Which ones will need the most coaching and which ones are naturally gifted? Will you need to add more to the team and if so, how will they fit into the culture?

3. Cast The Vision – Before you can move forward with a game plan, you have to set the sights of the team on the bigger picture. Success will take every single person understanding their role and embracing it. If they can’t see the vision, they can’t give all they have to it. This is one of the most difficult parts of getting momentum started. Don’t get stuck here but take the time necessary to get 100% support of the greatest goal.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice – We spent hours learning new presses and defensive schemes. It didn’t come easy. This is the frustration phase but when you break through, the momentum really starts going. Your team is no different. Once you’ve set the process, work the plan over and over and over again. Take the time necessary to make sure everyone “get’s it.” Remind them of the vision. Practice some more. Corporate teams and 5th grade basketball are no different. The process must be clear and the execution is critical.

5. Enjoy Game Day – When game day comes, bring the energy your team needs before you even take the field, open the doors, gather in the meeting room. “From the Jump” as I used to tell our girls. We had goals within the game (burning timeouts) and would celebrate the success of achieving it. Then we’d do it again. There were days when some players just didn’t have it. We picked them up and someone else stepped in. You won’t always fire on all cylinders but each time is an opportunity for someone else to shine. Enjoy game day. Enjoy the wins and learn from the losses.

“If you do what we ask you to do, the victories will belong to you, and the losses to me.” -Dean Smith

6. When it’s All Over Keep The Relationships – To this day, I still keep up on the careers of most, if not all of the former players. While the games were fun, the relationships are what mattered. Something special happens when you work together to achieve your goals. If done well, you’ll still be friends long after you’ve parted ways.

In one of the most memorable games of the season, we beat a rival team by 1 point on a last second layup. There was still time left on the clock but they couldn’t get off a clean play because, you guessed it….

They were out of timeouts.

Find the strategy that fits the team you have.

Then put on the full court press.

Her Name Was Dorothy

I read this story from Jim Tressel a few years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I’m terrible with names. To be honest I will forget it before we even finish shaking hands for the first time. The other day I heard someone say “I’m bad with names but great with faces.” I never thought of it that way but regardless, as Dale Carnegie once said – “There’s nothing sweeter to someone than the sound of their own name.”

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely, this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired, and in her fifties, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers,  you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say, ‘Hello.'”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

-Jim Tressel (Life Promises For Success)

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.”

-Ann Landers

The Easy Silence

I’m going to fall on the sword here. Guys, this is something we need to be aware of. I’ll be honest and say that I am NOT good at recognizing this. It’s not that I don’t have massive amounts of respect for all that my lovely bride does and who she is, it’s that I don’t often express it.

Shame on me.

It’s hard to put in to words but because of WHO she is and ALL that she does, I am able to be who I am and do all that I do. She is the CEO, CFO, Accounting and Human Resource Manager for the Conrad household. One small example is I don’t have the first clue how much we pay for groceries each month. I don’t know how much our gas, electric or water bill is. If you ask me to do something this weekend, I’d have to check with her. I don’t know our schedule or the kids schedule or the carpool schedule. Without her…I am LOST! Literally.

Far more important, she is shepherding our kids hearts. They text me memes and funny videos, they text her questions, schedules and needs. Any credit we get for great kids goes straight to her. THAT much I am sure of. Last, and certainly not least, I am thankful for the “Easy Silence” she creates for me. I got that phrase from the great philosophers “The Dixie Chicks”.

In the easy silence that you make for me
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me
In the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Her ability to “keep the world at bay for me” is remarkable. A recent increased role with my employer created the need for some long weeks. It’s temporary while we get process and improvements ironed out. There is no coincidence I’m popping Nexium and blood pressure medicine every morning. We run a pretty crazy pace and this is just a part of it. It’s chaotic and makes all that she does even more important. She keeps the world at bay. She allows for me to be a father to my kids and a husband to her because details have all been taken care of. It takes someone special and I am married to that someone.

I need to create an easy silence for her too.

I really need to say it more often.