“I believe in people. They are so much more capable compared to how they live their lives.” -Steve Hutchinson

I am blessed to serve as a high school football coach. Someone recently shared with me that our tribe lacks the LEADership it needs to maximize our true potential and ultimately succeed. He seemed sad and disappointed as if we had failed. I replied, “It’s not the boys fault. It starts with us (coaches). Rome wasn’t built in a day and we will continue to teach these boys how to LEAD both by our words but more importantly by our actions.”

There is an old saying in the coaching industry, “You are either coaching it or allowing it to happen.” Currently our tribe does lack the LEADership it needs to succeed however we are dealing with high school boys who are still developing. They are still trying to figure it out. Heck, I am 30 years old and am still a work in progress! If people were perfect than they wouldn't a need coach. I happen to believe that LEADers are made and not born. Behavior is changeable and helping people on their journey to improve themselves is what gets me the most excited in life. It’s why I do what I do.

Have you ever wondered why you hear or view the same adds again and again on Radio and TV? Advertisers have found that consumers need to hear something 7–8 times before they even begin to consider using a product.

That’s why I am committed to the process of teaching character everyday. It can’t be a piece of paper you distribute at the beginning of the year and then put away, never to be brought up again. It can’t be a quote written on the board on Monday and then not lived out through the week.

I share this not to boast but rather to help any person in a LEADership position who seeks to use their platform to teach character:

Start each practice or meeting with a character meeting. Don’t say you don’t have time for this. If you feel like character in those under your supervision is important, than you will make it a priority. As a high school football coach this last(s) 10-25 minutes for us depending on the time of year. Then, each practice or day builds off of that theme. In our culture, we have identified LEAD (Love, Effort, Attitude and Discipline) to be our core beliefs. So if “Effort” was the theme of the day, we would teach effort through specific questions, stories and video but then also challenge the tribe and preach effort through the day/practice. I have had players vote on who gave the most effort during a session in the weight room or challenged a particular group to an effort based task. The important thing is that as a coach or LEADer you reward or positively reinforce this behavior. Sometimes I have used extrinsic rewards such a protein shake or public praise to reward their effort! People typically “do” what is rewarded in any culture.

If you are in a LEADership position than you have been entrusted by God to teach LEADership to those under your supervision. You do this with words but more importantly by your actions. Just because someone doesn’t “get it” today doesn’t mean the light-bulb won’t go off tomorrow. Believe in people and continue to invest in them. Keep Choppin’


Coach Nelson serves as a high school football coach who is pursuing his doctorate in Sport and Performance Psychology. He has worked for division 1 athletic departments, professional sport franchises, a Fortune 100 Company and has won numerous awards for his LEADership abilities.

His mission is to positively influence the world through Love, Effort, Attitude and Discipline (#LEAD). To learn more about the LEAD philosophy follow him on Twitter Levi Nelson or reach out via email at rln10@zips.uakron.edu He’d love to learn about or help you in your journey!

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