Tag Archives: Team

Barriers Can Make You Better

I am writing these words on March 27th. For basketball fans across the country and around the world, March Madness is in full bloom. And with the field shrinking down to Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four, this year’s tournament has been filled with surprises.

As it happens every year, there have been a number of great games go down to final shots. There have also been plenty of great story lines filled with upsets, bracket busters, and Cinderellas. On one end of the spectrum there has been lots of second-guessing, hand-wringing, and head-hanging. On the other end standing ovations, celebrations, and jubilation.

As each college basketball season comes to a close I am always reminded of the amazing feat accomplished by the UCLA Bruins during their unprecedented 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships in 12 seasons from 1963 to 1975.

During that amazing run, UCLA had a number of truly great players but, arguably, the greatest was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). His athleticism and ability to dunk the basketball made him stand out like a man among boys on the court.

But between his sophomore and junior years at UCLA, the NCAA Rules Committee made a rule change that outlawed the dunk shot. It was widely believed that the committee had instituted this change with the single goal of lessening Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance during games.

At first, Kareem was devastated. He perceived this as a huge barrier to his success. A giant obstacle thrown in his path. But his coach challenged his perspective and told him to look at this barrier as a way to raise his game to a higher level. As he later wrote in his autobiography, Kareem:

“At the time, Coach Wooden told me it would only make me a better player, helping me develop a softer touch around the basket. This I could use to good advantage in the pros, where I could also, once again, use the dunk shot. He was right. It didn’t hurt me. I worked twice as hard at banking my shots off the glass, on turn-around jump shots, and on my hook. [This barrier] made me a better all-around player.”

Just as the “no dunk rule” barrier caused Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to develop more of his potential by forcing him to focus on other skills and abilities so too can barriers have the same impact on our lives.

Whether the barrier you face is new technology, a new competitor, a challenging student or an economic downturn, remember barriers can truly help us to become even better than we were before.

Be a Thermostat

This has been a very different winter in Georgia. We have had more instances of snow than I can ever remember (and I have spent 40 winters here).  It’s been very fun!

As a result, I have paid more attention to two very different tools than ever before: the thermostat and the thermometer.  Honestly, I haven’t given these two tools much thought in my life.  I always kind of put them in the same camp…you know, they have something to do with temperature.  But in actuality they are quite different…almost opposites.

A thermometer is used to measure the temperature. To passively “observe and report”. To not interfere or influence.

But a thermostat is just the opposite.  Rather than measure the temperature, a thermostat determines what it is going to be. Rather than passively “observe and report”, a thermostat actively engages and creates. Rather than stay in the background and not interfere or influence, a thermostat fully engages and influences.

Do you realize people have the same abilities as these two tools? We can sit back and measure everything that is going on around us and have no influence on the situation or we can get in there and make the changes that we want to see.

Reality Check: it is easier to be the thermometer, but much more rewarding to be the thermostat.

What is cool, though, is that we can be both!

Learn to “see” what is going on around you: the atmosphere at the kitchen table, the environment of the office, the climate of your relationships—this is being the thermometer.  Then, if you don’t like what you measure, change it—this is being the thermostat.

Here are two questions to help you:

  1. What kind of an environment would I like (in the office, home, relationship, etc.)?
  2. What do I have to do or be to help move things in that direction?


The longer I live the more I see the negative impact that mediocrity can have in virtually any situation. From a mediocre project team member pulling the team down, to a mediocre waiter ruining a nice dinner out, to a mediocre parent unwilling to say or do the hard things that good parenting sometimes requires… mediocrity, at its core, is really something most of us would like to avoid.

For those who truly aspire to do great things, beware of the mediocre in your midst. You see mediocrity recognizes greatness… resents it… and seeks to pull it down. Rather than rejoice with or emulate greatness, when the mediocre encounter it, they want to destroy it. You see, true greatness makes the mediocre feel “less than” and rather than work harder to become better, the mediocre would rather you become mediocre too.

It could be the athlete who tells his teammates to slow down during pre-season wind sprints, or the teacher who tells her colleague to stop using so much technology in the classroom, or even the sales rep who belittles a coworker for staying late, the bottom line is they do not want to work harder to get better and they don’t like that you do.

Watch out for the cynics too. Cynical people are sometimes nothing more than mediocrity with a bad attitude (which they try and mask by cutting everything else down). You can almost hear them rolling their eyes as they talk. Cynicism is cancer of the attitude and you do not need to hang out with it. You deserve better.

The Final Countdown to Africa has begun

Well, ready or not here it comes! We leave for Burkina Faso, Africa in 4 days! Just yesterday, our entire team gathered together to go over last minute details and to learn more about the villages and people we will be visiting.

Conditions in many areas have gotten even worse and according to the Mayor of one region “The thing we need more than anything else is water.”

The 5 amazing teenagers (Connor, Dan, Jared, Kyle, and Logan) who started Dry Tears continue to astound me with their vision to change a continent…and to have the opportunity to help them (in any small way) is an honor. Feel free to visit their website at drytears.org

In addition to visiting where wells have already been built, we hope to scout out other villages where future wells can be dug and more lives impacted.

Because many people will be reading this blog, if you are looking for a way to really make difference in this world, I strongly encourage you to partner with me in helping the guys in Dry Tears. Their organization is truly committed to their mission of “Building wells. Building lives.” All of the money given goes directly to help others. None of the guys nor their Board of Directors is paid and the focus is truly on helping others…even this trip to Africa is not being paid for with money given to Dry Tears.

Here is the amazing thing, your school, company, church, or organization can actually fund the building of a well for only $5,000. Do you realize how easy it is to impact an entire community…water changes everything!

I can’t wait to get there!