As 2018 kicks off and I reflect back on the roles that I played in 2017, I realized I introduced a big one. In addition to serving as eimagine’s Founder / CEO, sales guy, fire-putter-outer, and leader and personally as a husband, father, friend and wanna-be Deacon, I added high school soccer coach to the mix. High school soccer coach? I’m still smiling and albeit surprised with the new role.
Having been mentored and coached by two legendary coaches in Michigan high school soccer and with my eldest son approaching high school, the stars began to align towards me leaving club soccer for high school. When my friend, Paul Kapsalis, and I sat down at Starbucks and discussed the possibility of my assisting him at Cathedral- a local high school in Indianapolis, it was a role I simply could not pass up.
For those unfamiliar with Indiana high school soccer, it seems you play 18 games in 36 days. It’s not actually that bad, but once summer practice ends, it is a season of games with little time for practice. Having never done it before, the entire experience was new to me and I’m grateful to Paul and the Cathedral administration, particularly Doug Seagrave and Principal Worland for taking a chance on me.
A few months removed from our season, I see five clear patterns emerging between my role at eimagine and my role at Cathedral.
It seems so obvious but I don’t know if enough businesses, and high school soccer teams, define what success looks like? What are the goals and objectives to success? How will we measure these? Are they realistic? How will achieving our goals impact the people, and even the community, involved? Without clearly articulated, SMART goals, you simply are left on the sidelines watching.
A foundational component of success and goal achievement is preparation. As a mentor of mine once said, “You only need to do three things to succeed here: prepare, prepare, and prepare.” Preparation on the practice field results in success in the game. Practice time with our players was my favorite aspect of coaching. Challenging them on how they prepared and what preparation meant both mentally and physically was a daily focus. To be the calm in the storm, you have to prepare for the storm and I think preparing is the fun part.
There is an adage that investors don’t invest in companies, they invest in people. I always interpreted that as investors invest in leaders. To be a great company, you have to have great leadership, but I don’t think it’s just leadership as a person, but leadership as a process. Are you investing and training in your young leadership? Do you mentor? Do you empower? Do you provide an environment for aspiring leaders to grow and improve? I see this in my role at eimagine and in my role at Cathedral. Last fall, we had great senior leadership yet we could not solely rely on that leadership, we had to be grooming and cultivating next year’s senior leadership. Leadership is a process, one that we called Philotimo. To learn more on Philotimo, I recommend you check out Paul’s book, The Leadership Code.
It’s been a mantra at eimagine for years and it definitely carried over to high school soccer – clear, open and honest communication is a foundational component of success. You simply cannot get out of your own way with competing messages, stories, and communication. What surprised me was the complexity of communication required in high school. From school administrators, competing schools, players and parents, communication was daunting. I think our entire staff did a great job of having one voice and message and that guided us to success. Communication is often that activating agent which binds companies and teams together and propels them to achieving their goals.
Adversity is easy to identify on the soccer field. Did a player fall asleep mentally and get beat on a run? Did an injury force time away from the game? Did you get benched for being late to practice? Adversity in the work place often is more subtle and harder to see, but rest assured it’s there. My goal as a coach was to help players prepare for and process adversity. If you can learn to deal with adversity at a young age, you will be better off as an adult. One of the great things eimagine does is respond to adversity. Delivering software is not easy and empowering our staff to take chances, calculate risk and understand the dynamics and politics of implementing a new system is fun stuff. Adversity does not have to be seen as negative, why not see it as a step that must be taken to reach your goals?
As I look back on my role as high school soccer coach and the overlap it has on my role at eimagine, I’m excited for what the future holds and what lessons I can share between the two roles. I’ve always said I started eimagine to build something. What better way to continue that passion than helping shape and build high school athletes? It truly has been a blessing to me and I look forward to sharing the experiences and knowledge between my role at eimagine and my role at Cathedral. Special thanks to my first senior class, thanks boys – now go End It!