Sport is Like a Box of Chocolates: Piece #2

Welcome back for more sweet indulgence from my lessons learned through leadership development training. (piece #1 is in the previous post).

Piece #2: Influencers come in many different packages. Some are coaches, like the one who looked her team in the eyes before our session, smiled and said “ladies, be the best!” Some are like the senior who has been through it all, refuses to quit, and still stands tall. Still others may be the new kid who barely talks but her actions speak volumes about her commitment to the team.   
Unfortunately, influencers can be negative too. The upper classmen who sit in the back of the room with their feet up on the seats, rolling eyes and making rude comments under their breath. The “star” who has a bad attitude and never acknowledges her teammates, or the captains & coaches who influence with threats.   

Nutritional value: Julius Campbell was right, attitude really does reflect leadership. Leadership is the result of influence. You don’t need a title to be a leader & positively influence those around you.
This is one of my favorite leadership quotes: 
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams

What kind of influencer are you? How can you transform to a leader?

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Says Who?

Rachael had just competed in the first tournament of the season.  Through 2 games she averaged a double-double.  This was uncommon ground for her and she wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.  Her coach approached her to tell her how great she did and how she was looking forward to seeing what she would do in the next game.  Without even thinking, Rachael replied “well, don’t get used to it.”  Rachael’s coach looked at her a bit confused, and said “what do you mean?” Rachael went on to explain how she was an “ok” rebounder, and was “decent” with assists, but “I am not a scorer”, she said.  “Says who?… says you?” her coach replied.  She then looked Rachael directly in the eyes and said, “yes, you are a good rebounder,  you are a play maker, and you are a scorer.  I will get used to it, and you better get used to it too.”  Then she smiled and walked away.  Rachael stood there somewhat dismayed and feeling something she’d never felt before.  She wasn’t quite sure what it was, but she knew she never had anyone believe in her that way, and for the first time she thought maybe it was o.k to believe in herself too.

Our beliefs shape our behavior!

Exam your own behavior.  In what areas are you acting most confident?  I can bet that, if you dig deeper into why you’re so confident, it goes back to what you believe.  You believe you’re the best shooter because you know you put in the time necessary to make shots. You believe you’re an excellent student because you are disciplined in your studies.  You believe you’re the best manager because you genuinely care for those you lead.  Every one of those beliefs elicits a feeling.  That feeling leads to an attitude about what you’re doing.  And, that attitude determines your behavior.

Fortunately, this also applies to limiting beliefs.  When you don’t believe you can do something, or you’re not enough in some area, or any other limiting belief, that too will lead to a feeling, then an attitude, and ultimately a self-limiting behavior.  Lucky for you, that you hold the power to change it all with a simple shift in your beliefs.

What areas of your life are you experiencing limiting beliefs?  Write them down… ALL of them.  No matter how awful or stupid or painful they seem,  Acknowledging what limits us is the first step.  Then, play the best  Alicia Florick, Olivia Pope, Perry Mason, or whatever lawyer you wish to be, and challenge every single thing you’ve written with one question; “says who?”  Whatever the answer is to that question, challenge it.  Make your case against it.  Then, form a new self-promoting belief statement.  I call these a “praise phrase.”  for example “I believe I am an excellent free throw shooter.” or, “I believe I am a manager who genuinely cares for, and brings out the best in those I lead.”  Write it down and post it where you’ll read it multiple times per day.  Record yourself saying it and listen to it over and over throughout your day.  Just like your confident areas, with repetition, dedication, and time, those limiting beliefs will be squelched and, just like Rachael, you’ll realize it’s o.k. to believe in yourself too!

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The Most Detrimental Form of Identity Theft

Have you ever had your identity stolen?  Imagine the feeling of someone else thieving your power, your name, your privacy, & who you really are.  What an awful, devastating, and hopeless experience.  There is another form of identity theft that is even more detrimental to you… In order to avoid this type of theft, answer this question; who would you be if your label was taken away from you?  I’m talking about the one thing that you relate with in the most personal way.  The answer you usually give to the question, who are you & what do you do? Or the description used by others to define you?

Recently, I was faced with the threat of identity theft at my own hands. I had to make the tough decision to protect myself while making a major life change. So, I did what I had to do…

I broke up with my identity!

Sounds harsh right? I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. We had been together for 10 years! I went back-and-forth struggling with the decision. After all, my identity is what brought me attention and celebrity status. I enjoyed being with her. She was fun, she took me all over the country, and to some very exotic places. She helped me meet some of the most amazing people & create lifelong friendships.  She also offered an immediate connection, and opened a lot of doors with others. Their eyes would light up at the mention of her. Several times, complete strangers would walk up to me and say “hello” as if we were old friends. Some would even ask for my autograph, all because of her.  Wow! She was pretty freaking awesome! Not only that, but I’m the only one who could claim this particular title, so that means she was unique too.  How cool is that?  Then why the hell would I ever want to break up with her?

The concept of identity is something that has become a very important topic for me. Too often I see people wrap themselves up in what they do. They are the smart one, they are the basketball player, the football player, the coach, the executive, the leader, the trouble maker, the parent, or any of the thousands of other labels we put on ourselves. Worse yet are the tags we allow others to put on us. Those that infect our hearts and minds, and become our identification.  You’re not smart enough, you’re not tall enough, you’re not fast enough, you’re not attractive, you’re damaged goods…  you are not enough!

Whenever we allow what we do, (or what someone else says we are or are not), to determine our identity, we give away our power.

Giving away our power is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves. I know firsthand, because I did just that when I allowed myself to be known as “the basketball player”.  While it may seem great at the time, it is devastating when that distinction ends. That is why, when I decided to end my role as the radio analyst for a D-I college basketball team, I thought twice about it. I was essentially breaking up with an identity that had been really good to me. It had brought me a lot of perks, attention, and recognition.

I prayed a lot about the decision, and I drew from my past experiences and lessons learned. Thankfully, what I learned is that my identity is not who I am to the public. It is not my career, it is not my past, nor my accomplishments. It is not my failures, it is not my relationships, nor is it what anyone else says I am.

I learned that only God has the power to determine who I am. Admittedly it was still difficult to let go of my radio analyst title. I even cried at the ending of such a beautiful & rewarding relationship. I also laughed at God’s sense of humor. There I was, passionate about helping others discover their true identity and purpose, and desiring to save others from the hurt that would inevitably come from giving away their power.  It was as if God was standing there looking at me and saying “Well Shelley, now what are you going to do? The time has come to put your money where your mouth is.”  Okay okay, I get it. You’re right God. I know I am not what I do. It has been a great ride and now it’s time to move on. Time to have faith… Time to embrace uncertainty with anticipation of God’s next role for me.

One thing is for certain. My identity & power are rooted in God, therefore, I will no longer be a victim of theft.

He is the vine & we are the branches.  When we stay joined, then we will produce lots of fruit, but apart we can do nothing.

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The Power of Words


Do you have someone who is a positive influence in your life?  Someone who is your cheerleader, coach, or relentless supporter?  We all need to have at least on person we can count on to say just what we need to hear at the right time.  I had a coach who made a very positive impact on my life. He was a master at motivation because he took the time to genuinely get to know me and what mattered. He knew what made me tick, and what made me ticked off!  He was hard on me when he needed to be, but he always found a way to focus on the positive, which led to my willingness to run through a wall for him.  Sometimes he would just listen, and other times he would offer advice.  His words were always empowering.  Regardless of my ability to put points on the scoreboard or rebounds in the stat sheet,  I knew he truly cared about me and wanted what was best.  We went on to have an extremely successful 4 years of basketball together, culminating in a state championship my senior year. To this day, he is still there for me if I need him.  He has transitioned into a successful business man, and raised a beautiful family with 3 amazing children who will continue his legacy of spreading positive energy and empowering others.

Empowerment.  That is the ultimate benefit of our words…

Words can lift others to heights they never dreamed they could reach on their own. Unfortunately, words can also do irreparable harm.  As wonderful as my high school coach was at empowering others, I also played for a different coach who was quite the opposite.  Her words cut like a razor sharp machete.  Every negative word & angry attack left me & my teammates feeling like we were somehow defective and not worthy. Needless to say, the longer we endured this type of treatment, the more unmotivated and defeated we all became. I could go on and on about the pain her words inflicted.  It took me years to overcome the negativity that seeped through my veins.  It was like a virus waiting to rear it’s ugly head when I was facing a challenge or big decision.   Words like, “you’re not good enough”, “you don’t deserve it”, or my personal favorite, “you’re just a loser” came ringing back through my head like she were standing in front of me berating once again.  I think she was trying to do the best she could with what she knew at the time (it has taken me years to be able to believe that), but those words cut me to the core, and it took a very long time to mend those wounds.

We all have a responsibility to empower one another.  The bible says, in Ephesians 4:29  “When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you.”

Every encounter we have provides us the opportunity to help someone grow stronger, or make them weaker. How can you empower those around you, and be the blessing they may need?

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