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8 ways to Grow as a Leader

Coach Ayers fist.jpg

1. Desire Growth

First, you have to want to get better. Are you satisfied with “pretty good” or just getting by? You may justify that you like to be comfortable in your job, but in reality are you striving for a reason to be lazy? Laziness is not a trademark of a leader. Lazy is for sheep. If you are reading this, you want to be a shepherd. You desire growth.

2.  Be Humble in the Face of Criticism

Correction is hard to take. But no one does it perfectly. Some of the best lessons I have learned as a leader have been challenging and hard. I like to think that correction from someone not only gives me the opportunity to change, but allows me to think through other perspectives. As a leader, you must have thick skin. You can’t build massive biceps unless you work hard and tear up your muscles at the gym.

3. Seek Wise Counsel

It is important to have people in your life that are readily available to give you wise and trustworthy counsel. I have 4 guys I regularly go to; each of these friends have a specific role in my life and how they counsel me in my leadership. Do you have anyone you can go to? One of George Washington’s best contributions was the invention of his carefully appointed advisors, known as the Cabinet. This wasn’t written in the Constitution, but he created this because he knew the importance of having a group of men around him to give him counsel. Who is in your cabinet? Do they know their roles?

4. Have a greater purpose

The famous quote by Eric Liddle states, “God made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

I recently had a talk with a mentor of mine who mentioned this statement. He talked about the importance of what I do and how I feel when I take part in it. Fill in the following blanks:

“God made me ________, and when I ________ I feel his pleasure.”

What would you place in those blanks? What is your greater purpose in your leadership?

5. Stop the Repeat

I have been an assistant coach for a number of head coaches who have said the same thing. “I have been doing this for 35 years. I know what I am doing.”  What I wanted to say in response was, “No, you did it once then just repeated it for 34 more years.” This should give you a healthy fear of repeating the same performance. Stop the repeat and get better. There is always something to tweak, change, or make better. Good leadership never settles for mediocrity.

6. Learn from Everyone

My dad used to tell me, “They teach you how to do it and how not to do it.”  Before I became a head coach, some of the worst coaches I coached for taught me a lot, mostly how not to do things. Are you looking to learn from the worst leaders?  They can teach you more than you may realize.

7. Read

Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

Read. Then read some more. Read with a friend. Read with a spouse. Gain new perspectives and further your understanding in order to improve on whatever you’re reading about. I try to read for about 30 minutes before I sleep every night. (Sometimes more if the book is really good). I sleep better and I learn something. Knowledge is in books, not on American Idol. 

8. Celebrate Small Victories

Do not be too important to be passionate about your role. Be enthusiastic with your leadership. Some of my favorite coaches to watch are Pete Carroll or Jim Harbaugh – their passion and excitement is contagious. Athletes want to be led by a coach that is charismatic in their beliefs. Do you believe in your own leadership? Don’t be too important to miss out on what is happening around you. Be excited about having Gatorade dumped on you after a win; tackle an athlete that just broke the school record; storm the court after a win. Show that you care.

Growth will happen when you seek it out. It will not happen because you were given a title. It is an unfortunate commentary, but a good leader is an exception not the norm. Be the exception!


A Reason to Read and a Recommendation

Harry S. Truman — 'Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.'

Are you a reader?

I once heard that in today’s world we learn and gather more information in two weeks then someone would have in his or her entire life in the 19th century. That’s astonishing. But the information we collect, is it all good information? Information is widespread across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Pintrest, the entire Internet, TV, etc. Is all of this useful information we are absorbing? Probably not. 

Time is very valuable because there just isn’t a lot of it. It is hard to find time to read. My own personal goal is to read 30 minutes before I go to bed each night for a number of reasons, including getting a good night sleep.  

According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 95% of people use an electronic device within the hour before bed. Researchers caution that the artificial light from tablets and smartphones can suppress the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, preventing a good night’s sleep. "Electronics are ruining our sleep,” advises Dr. Lisa Shives, a medical expert for and founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. “They just shouldn’t be in the bedroom. If you must have your iPhone nearby, find a charging station just outside the door.” Megan Kaplan wrote an interesting article on why reading before bed is a good thing.

Click Here for Full Article 

One leader once told me they want to read but don’t know what?  My answer, read something you like. Here is one recommendation that I highly recommend:


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

By: Laura Hillenbrand



Hailed as the top nonfiction book of the year by Time magazine

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography and

The Indies Choice Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year award


This book tells an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity. Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit. The story tells of Louis Zamperini, who as a boy had been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown eventually spending over 2 years in a POW camp in Japan. 

Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

This book is now going to be a major motion picture this year, written by Joel and Ethan Coen (writers and directors of No Country for Old Men, Fargo, Big Lebowski).

Click here for movie details 

To order the book click here.

 I have added a video that serves as a great introduction and epilogue to this incredible story.  It speaks on the author’s relationship with Louie and portrays a man who heals from the power of forgiveness. Watch below and buy the book. You will not regret it.

Praise for the Book 

“Extraordinarily moving . . . a powerfully drawn survival epic.”The Wall Street Journal
“[A] one-in-a-billion story . . . designed to wrench from self-respecting critics all the blurby adjectives we normally try to avoid: It is amazing, unforgettable, gripping, harrowing, chilling, and inspiring.”—New York 
“Staggering . . . mesmerizing . . . Hillenbrand’s writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don’t dare take your eyes off the page.”People (four stars)
“A meticulous, soaring and beautifully written account of an extraordinary life.”—The Washington Post
“Ambitious and powerful . . . a startling narrative and an inspirational book.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Marvelous . . . Unbroken is wonderful twice over, for the tale it tells and for the way it’s told. . . . It manages maximum velocity with no loss of subtlety.”Newsweek

What are you reading?

Add a comment or send me an email if you would like some suggestions.