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I Am Crossing the Line…..

Posted: March 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm   /   by   /   comments (1)

Your passion and your purpose must be greater than your challenges. To be successful you have you be willing to work harder, lean more, practice longer, lead better, smile more, and love deeper. 

Dabo Swinney  Clemson Tiger Head Coach

LOVE DEEPER. You and I live in an age when only a small minority of individuals desire to spend their lives in pursuit of objectives which are bigger than they are. We are genuinely scared of pure love, always looking for the angle. Precious few are those who have goals and purposes which they esteem worthy enough to willingly sacrifice themselves, to suffer, and , if need be, to die for them. We are stuck with constantly asking ourselves, How will this benefit me? or What can I get out of this? In this article, I want to talk about crossing the line of leadership. To look at the questions deeply rooted in our core. Questions like: Are we doing business, or Are we doing kindness? Are we searching for success or significance? These are two sets of  questions that really fill the core of what and how we do our day to day.I am crossing the line of leadership. The idea of humility and serving others. What we fight daily maybe a result of the basis of our pursuit.

Success or Significance?

I am reminded of a quote in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, “and when they died it was as if though they never lived.”

Our world is driven and marked by success. It is looked at by wealth, prosperity, and for some wins and losses. Success is such a broad term, and can be used in many different facets. With that in mind, I chose to give us some definitions.

Success is defined as:

  • absolute, outcome, result
  • degree or measure of succeeding
  • one that succeeds
  • the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
  • The attainment of popularity or profit
  • a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity

A common ground in these examples is result, target, and obtain.

Significance is defined as:

  • the quality of being important
  • the meaning to be found in words, events or decision.


Here are some key thoughts:

  • Success is: knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential sowing seeds that benefit others.
  • If you really want to help someone, you will find a way! Otherwise you will find an excuse.
  • If you are helping someone and expecting something in return, you are doing business and not kindness.
  • Significance comes from when you add value to others- you cannot have success without significance.

To love what you do and feel that it matters- how could anything be more fun? Katherine Graham

What about in the professional world of coaching? Well great coaches are marked by winning percentage and coaching trees. The most significant coaches changed something, created, harvested, grow, and generations follow. The coaches who are only successful may have a winning percentage, and footnotes in record books that leads to a Jeopardy question. Take a look at the “coaching trees” picture. These 3 coaching trees have been very successful at “branching out.” I failed to include everyone on their list, but as you can see this method has produced from generations. Each one of these coaches in their own right have been significant to football, while being very successful (remember the definition of successful). On the flip side of this we could all find some coaches who have been successful at the win/loss percentage, but their lists are non-existent. In fact some of their success was short lived, and usually plagued by selfish decisions, the media uses other adjectives for.

So how do we find focus and “cross the line” of normal leadership, to being significant. We could first look at this verse: Proverbs 23:7 As (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he.

We could also look at this: What are your motives?

Selfish people rarely find significance. As we spoke about earlier we all have seen successful people who in the end, it is like they never lived at all. There careers for a moment or years were very successful, everyone flocked to them, but now have to be searched for to find their part in history. Selfish people deal with the absence of fulfillment, and look for ways to do business instead of kindness. Their motives are what is in this for me, instead of how does this impact others. The key element they lack is a willingness to serve. I will say as a young coach starting out, your goals are wins, titles, rings, and records. This was true for myself and for any coach who is eager. We fail to see the point that our “professional heroes” found all of these accolades with their willingness to serve others. These assistant coaches did not go on to “spreading the branches” of the main trunk, by not being served by their leader. I am reminded of Jesus washing the disciples feet. For the love that is evident in the laying down of life at the crucifixion is also demonstrated in the laying down of life in humble service in the foot washing.

When you help others, you help yourself, when you help yourself you cannot help others. Helping others makes your legacy significant. It makes you humble yourself and give, and by giving you are planting and growing. Helping others also strengthens your community, your follow, and your leadership. Being a leader is having someone follow, and humble themselves in doing so. So if you what others to follow you must humble yourself as Jesus modeled for us.

What are your influences?

Influence is what molds us into what we become. It is the atmosphere for how we think, react, and conduct our day to day. There are many books on creating culture, and other similar titles, but let us boil it down to the root. Influence.

When you influence a child, you influence a life. It was the late Billy Graham who said: “A coach will impact more young people in a year than most will in a life time.”  Influence is the aspect that shapes a growing entity. Whether we look at a desert or a lush field of green grass, we can see how the influence of atmosphere has on the area. It is apparent to the eyes, and the outcome of the influence. If we want our players to humble themselves for the school, team, cause, for something bigger than themselves, should we not influence them to be significant by modeling humility? Are we modeling “what is in it for me” or what can I get out of this?” We often fight selfishness inside of teams, and organizations, but what are we as leaders modeling. We have to look inside ourselves to see what influences our actions, and what we are projecting.  Then think about the golden rule in regards to influence. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Model what you want people to be like from the correct influence. Because it is what makes this world a better play and kind and humble to others.

How does time play in this?

People who are looking for success see the equation like this, Success = lifetime. Success will begin and end with them. It is closely tied with greed, because it takes and gives nothing back. It is harvested and then left barren for the next successor to fix. We see it in the professional world all of the time. Companies, programs, etc. When we make a decision do we think of the impact of others around us, or think of ourselves. Would you be able to leave in the broad day light, or pack up at night? The idea of success and time, must translate into a lot longer than a lifetime.

People who are seeking success and significance see the equation like this: Significance = Several lifetimes. People who desire to be significant value time. They really look at how their decisions impact those around them. It is careful consideration, and can be a very weary task. Because sometime the best decision for all is not the best decision personally. I have wrestled with this myself in my personal life, and it is more easier said than done. I left a Head Coaching position to go back to a position coach because it was what was best for my family. In order to offer my children a better opportunity, I had to move away from family a budding career, and something I had worked hard for. It took many years for me to see the fruits of this decision, and I spent countless instances wondering if I had made the right decision. On a resume, that might bring up an alert to a potential employers, but I know when I lay my head down at night my conscience is at ease. That decision will impact my family for generations long after I am gone in a positive light. As these coaching trees above, these coaches decision to humble themselves to their employees, led to departure, but also continued to spread the humility and impacted generations of young people. One coach has at best 30 years to impact their players, but a coach that grows their tree constantly multiplies their impact on the world through others. This is the whole basis behind Jesus words of Go Tell, and be my disciples.

What is your focus?

Successful people ask themselves this question: How can I add Value to myself?

Significant people ask: How Can I add value to others? What can I do with others, for others?

Significant people share their focus, and impact others in life. They are constantly in a servant leadership role. That has been a buzz topic in the leadership realm for the past few years, but seldom does it really root itself in humility. We are looking for a structure that will allow us to be servants, but it is really all about our motives, focus, time, and influences. We are by nature selfish people, because the vast majority of our teaching is solely on personal gains. The word networking is often thrown around, because we look to gain some kind of leverage. Again are we doing business or doing kindness, when adding value to others? The question of humility must be the foundation of every decision you make. Adding value to others strengthens your community, and by teaching other you are again spreading your impact. Teaching and modeling is a method of humility. If we withhold our knowledge and value, we will soon find that our impact runs out of time with us. Do you take or do you provide?

What is your reward?

Success: My joy is a result of my success

Significant: My joy is a result of others success.

It is productive to get beyond myself and to help people grow and develop. It leaves a legacy. That is why there are fields, buildings, streets, parks and many other physical structures named after significant people. Significant people make and extend history, all because of their humility. They realized that the prize was much bigger than self. That there sole purpose was to nurture and grow humanity and leave a lasting impact for generations to come. Long after they are retired or perished, their impact can be traced back to them “the roots of the tree.” Their joy was found in seeing others success. Can you imagine the relationship built between Dean Smith and Michael Jordan, or Bill Belichick and Nick Saban? How much joy did these coaches receive from seeing others they helped grow succeed? I bet it made them love deeper, and smile more often. What if in the coaching world we made this a conscience effort, how much better our profession would be? Are you constantly planting and filling a need, or are you just harvesting. Do you want to be successful or significant? I have decided to make a conscience effort to plant and grow for the rest of my career.


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  • March 6, 2018 at 7:31 pm Daryl Patrick

    We teach “The outward expression of love is being a servant to those around you.” I have learned far more from coaching than I have instilled into my players. But, if I only taught them one lesson, I hope it is that lesson. Great article Coach. Thank you for the reminder of why I coach… “How Can I add value to others? What can I do with others, for others?” and “My joy is a result of others success.” Great reminders at this time of the year.