Be First and Be a Better Leader

Leadership is a fluid thing. Everyone takes that path and develops an individual approach to how they are going to lead. The more opportunities you have to be placed in a situation of leadership the more chances you have to test and retest the core principles that make up the foundation of your own personal leadership style. One thing that is fundamental for all leaders is the concept of being first. Your team is going to look to follow you so you have to be taking a proactive approach the setting an example and not a reactive approach to being a leader.

Be first to communicate and last to withhold – The best way if heard this described is the quote below. But also understand that when communicate with your team so there is a clear understanding of vision, strategy and issues, you step into a leadership role.

“Lying puts problems in the future; the truth puts them in the past”

Be first to praise other – You need to be leading the celebration for the good work that your teammates are doing. It’s also important that people understand that they are appreciated for the things they are doing. Too often we miss opportunities to acknowledge people and express gratitude.

Be first to confront issues – You cannot allow issues to fester, small issue might not seem like a big deal but it they begin to compound you will have a large problem before you know it.

Be first to protect and defend the team – You might not always agree with everything that is happening but when it comes to public interaction you have to defend your team in public and confront problems in private. It’s important that everyone has the chance to voice an opinion but they should feel comfortable about doing it around the team.

Be first to serve and last to be served – A servant leadership approach will make it evident that you’re doing things with other people’s best interest at heart.

The Importance of Empathy – Are You Losing It?

Have we created the elimination of empathy?

Our current day to day engagement with people is happening at an alarmingly rapid rate and that speed is beginning to impair our ability to truly relate with and understand peoples pain.

We have a ridiculous ability to consume mass quantities of content from multiple channels and “friends” right now.  But there is a lack of understanding for how the context of what’s being said is interpreted.

For example, when you get an email and you are trying to understand the tone with which it is being written. You end up assuming that tone, right or wrong. Then consider how easy it is to deliver opinions in such a wide open market. What we are left with is a vast, near infinite platform for hurtful, uneducated comments.

Empathy is a key leadership trait that is essential for helping you share and understand other peoples experiences. The better your understanding is of how people feel, the easier it becomes to have an impact on them.

Your ability to connect with people will change dramatically when you focus on being more empathetic. You will be a better listener and you will engage more with how they are feeling. It heightens your emotional intelligence which gives you the ability to ensure that feelings can’t control the outcome of a situation.

Leadership is about empathy.  It is about having the ability to relate and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives – Oprah

When Did You Stop Asking Why?

“The Important Thing is Not to Stop Questioning” – Albert Einstein

When did you stop asking questions?

I’m not sure how many of you have a small child at home, but I do and I can attest to the fact that he asks no less than 100 questions per day, every day.  While it can be a tad irritating when you start going down the rabbit hole of him saying “why” to everything I say, I’ve come to the realization that it’s my duty to foster that curiosity.

I’ve become fascinated by the notion that at some point we all had that curious nature that made us ask questions and dive deeper into learning.  But there had to be a tipping point where we started to just blindly accept that the things being told to us or the things we read were fact and shouldn’t be questioned.

If you want to easily unlock opportunities to make change, than you all you need to do is ask “Why?”

This one question forces an immediate reflection into what you’re doing and if the purpose is beneficial.

The inability or lack of desire to ask questions ensures that things remain status quo and puts an immediate road block in front of development.  You owe it to yourself to revert back to the four year old child inside you and start asking “why?”.

If not, you commit to forming assumptions based on what other people are telling you. One of my favorite quotes from Gary Vaynerchuk is:

“If you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one.”

Ask your question and you might feel like a fool in the short term, or don’t ask your question and you may remain ignorant forever.

Muhammad Ali Showed Me a Magic Trick and I Learned Three Life Lessons

I came running into the locker room after a normal pre-game warm up and standing in the middle of the room was Muhammad Ali.

Now to say I was a little shocked would be an understatement.

After the initial shock wore off, I was standing there having a conversation with one of the most influential people in history. From what I remember it was a surface level conversation and it even included some magic tricks but it was the experience of sharing time with such a great person that had the most impact.

I often think back on that encounter when people ask me who the most famous person I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet is. It doesn’t get any better than someone who not only excelled in their chosen sport but stood up with conviction for their beliefs.

Muhammad Ali taught us many things through his words and his actions; I’ve continually gone back to his lessons so I could continue to grow. Below you’ll find a few of my favorite lessons and quotes from the champ.

Suffer Now

“I run on the road, long before I dance under the lights. I hated every minute of training but I said ‘don’t quit’. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

Desire, Dream, Visualize

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”

Embrace Change

“A man who views the world at fifty the same way he did at twenty wasted thirty years.”

4 ways leaders create abundance and fulfillment for your team

Work/life balance is something that we all seek to find. In this day of constant connectivity and always feeling like we have to be answering emails, text, tweets, etc it’s gotten harder for some people to carve out time.

I had a great conversation with Tracy Brower yesterday about not trying to create a work/life balance but working to creating integration between your work and your life. Becoming intentional with how you decided to invest your time and bringing more value to the office than you’re taking away.

“The world we experience is the world we expect to experience. It’s about perspective”

Listen to full conversation HERE

Tracy gave good insight into the role that a leader must play in helping create an environment that is conducive to healthy work /life


  • Leaders must model an authentic integration of work and life in their own personal lives to set the standard for the team

2.Pay Attention

  • Keeping team members engaged and feeling part of the overall process. Engaged team members are happy team members


  • Make sure that all team members understand the vision and the purpose. You have to make the brick layer understand they aren’t just laying bricks they’re building a cathedral


  • Leaders get the right people in the right seats on the bus to ensure that things are moving forward.

I love the idea being intentional with the decisions you make and work to better understand how to use your time effectively. There is confusion between what is urgent and what is important and it can throw us completely out of balance.

Work/life integration isn’t a myth, it’s something we can all accomplish and as Tracy says “creating work/life integration can provide you abundance and fulfillment.”

Tracy_Brower FB

The No.1 thing you can do to make an immediate impact for your team

Finding the gap to help your team

The idea of finding a gap was one that was initially taught to me by Coach Izzo’s college coach Stephen Kirk. He pulled aside follow one of our practices and explained to me how he saw that our team was missing someone who would do the dirty work. Our team needed someone who would commit themselves to playing defense, rebounding and grabbing every loose ball that hit the floor.

He told me:
You don’t have to be a superstar in order to make a big impact”

That stuck with me and truly shaped how I viewed my role within the program. The more I plugged that gap, the more I played in games. I was lucky that I had someone with an outside perspective that pulled me aside and gave me such good advice; I wasn’t able to see that opportunity while I was in it.

There are 3 things that can help you focus in on where opportunities may be and how you can create your impact on your team.

1. Look for the gaps that you can use your skillset to plug
2. Seek an outside perspective
3. Fully commit to the decision and attack it

Listen to the audio version here

Taking control of your time and clutter in your life – A Conversation with Todd Duckett

Click Link to Listen to the conversation

I’ve been extremely luck that I get the chance to sit down and talk to people like Todd Duckett. He’s always offered a great insight into the idea of living authentically and with a focus on a purpose.

Todd opens up about his ideas about time and removing clutter from your mind, body and soul.

I love having this conversation on the podcast because Todd and I have had similar talks in private and I’m excited that I get to share his perspective with everyone.

Get ready to open your mind up on how you can perceive time and passion in your life

Duckett FB

“My staff is my walking stick and my forest is life”


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