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Know How to Deliver on Promises Made About What You Do Not Know (Think)

June 15, 2011

While contemplating this step about “thinking”, I came across the 17 Reasons To Ignore Everybody and Follow Your Dreams (at Ridiculously Extraordinary).

  1. If you don’t follow your dreams you crush your dreams. Eventually you’ll stop dreaming altogether.
  2. There are very few things worse than regret. What will you regret tomorrow that you didn’t do today?
  3. Dreamers who took action have created everything around you.
  4. Following your dreams doesn’t always turn out as planned, but that makes them even more memorable.
  5. Personal growth happens when you stretch yourself. If you don’t follow your dreams you’re not stretching.
  6. You want to be remembered. Everybody does. We remember those who follow their dreams.
  7. Doing what you want attracts haters. This gives you a chance to ignore them. They hate that more than anything. Keep doing what you do. (In case that wasn’t clear: Don’t ever engage haters. It’s not worth your time. Let them be losers.)
  8. Your dreams and your actions define you. If you do what others tell you to do then you’re letting them define you.
  9. Following your dreams gives you the opportunity to Ignore Everybody .
  10. When people who look up to you see you following your dreams it will inspire some of them to follow their dreams.
  11. When people who don’t even know you see you following your dreams it will inspire some of them to follow their dreams as well.
  12. Following your dreams makes you interesting.
  13. You learn a lot from failure. Since you will fail on your path you’ll learn a lot too.
  14. Someone who’s motivated to accomplish something great is instantly sexier.
  15. There are no rules in life so why limit yourself to what everybody else is doing?
  16. You might live forever , but you might also die tomorrow. Take a chance.
  17. It’s better than watching TV.

Some of these points dig deeper in to the initial Being An Expert list, but they seem to highlight the theme of “risk” that is not explicitly stated in the Expert list. While risk will be discussed in a future post on Growing, I want to draw out the correlation between this idea of “Thinking” and “following your dreams”.

It’s quite clear at this point in the story of the debacle at the Plymouth Soccer Club that I had injected a sense of pride in the club, a clear direction, purpose and mission with Community, Camaraderie, Competition, and that we were moving forward in a direction unseen in Plymouth previously. You might also say that I was injecting my visions and dreams of the club reaching a level of competition that many coaches, parents and players were hoping for. All the steps taken to maintain relationships with the professional coaches, providing an income for them and raising expectations of club operations were evidence of my passion and dreams.

I think back to all of the opportunities to sit with coaches, our Director of Coaching, or some of the Board members and the ideas that would flow from these meetings. We always had fun and always came away with some new ideas or tasks to execute. It always felt like we were executing on the dreams we had for the club.

Unfortunately, we came to a point in the Spring of 2010 when some people just stopped thinking and only acted on their own selfishness and personal agenda. To dismiss that my actions were seen as selfish by others would be naïve, but that will forever be part of the debate.

The process of thinking through and analyzing whether the Plymouth Soccer Club could financially sustain an Executive Director began in late 2009. Having been told bluntly so many times prior that I should be paid for all the time and effort I put in to the club, and given the financial situation I was in, I started giving it serious thought. I even sat at my kitchen table with a trusted coach discussing how it might work. Heck, all the other big-money clubs in the area where able to do it, grow their player/membership base and are very competitive with it. The belief was that if it could be done by so many others, why not us?!?!

WARNING: From here on, I know that I will make some statements that WILL be read as self-evidence of something improper, maybe even illegal. At no point during the idea generation or analysis of the proposed Executive Director position did I feel that I was doing anything wrong. Of course not! It was my intention to take charge of the situation the club had presented via its growth, propose an idea that so many of the coaches and other administrators supported, and do it in a way that would only benefit the club and members while providing me with the opportunity to earn a small salary to keep my family afloat. You will also read statements, assumptions, and actions that make it appear otherwise. I honestly don’t know how else to tell the rest of this story.

From December 2009 through about February 2010, I probably spent 15-20 hours per week thinking about various scenarios, modifying the possible club budget, and creating various budget projections on how to include a single salary of $25,000-$40,000 per year that would be paid to me as the Executive Director. For someone with my background, education and family commitments, this represented a small fraction of what I should be making, honestly. The scenarios and budget projections also included personal income that would come from the coaching of 2-3 teams and the regular training the club provided. All told, it might have been upwards of $55,000-$60,000 per year with no benefits! Although it was a dream opportunity that I was working hard at, I know my wife was struggling with how we would ever maintain our family budget and how the perception of “money” was influencing the proposal.

January 2010, Coach B, Coach C (he was now head coach for Reign ’95) and I attend the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Convention in Philadelphia, PA. We made the long drive together and roomed together for 4 nights/5 days. I felt it was a great opportunity to have others in our club learn about the convention and hopefully pick up new ideas as I always do at this yearly event. It was even better considering how close I was with both of these coaches!

At that time, I was still working on the initial idea of creating the Executive Director position. Many of the details had been discussed with Coach C as he was a primary character in pushing for me to create the position, but apparently I hadn’t included Coach B in these discussions. As I would learn later in May 2010, the fact that I hadn’t included Coach B in the discussions provided further evidence to him that I was “not to be trusted.” The other cases of why I was not to be trusted, again according to Coach B, can wait until later. In reflection of the moment of when I apparently brushed off any discussion of “the idea”, it was merely because 1) I hadn’t shared it with other Board Members who I felt deserved knowing of it first and 2) it was still in its infancy and hadn’t truly shaped to anything realistic. Unfortunately, this honest answer many months later was not satisfactory to Coach B.

As I began discussing the idea with other Board members, primarily Mr. VP and Ms. Secretary, it became clear that in order to even propose the idea, we would have to make some changes in our Bylaws to ensure proper “separation of duties” and correct language throughout. The actual man-hours spent on the overall vision, budget projections and Bylaw review, although never really calculated, I’m sure were staggering! I know that each of us was neglecting our regular paying jobs to make this happen.

Ah, except for one Board member! Well, at least that was the case in January when I told Mr. Treasurer that I had an idea for creating this position. It was after an indoor game in January as we were leaving the facility. I merely told Mr. Treasurer that I had an idea we would be talking about at the next Board meeting that would allow for me to step down as President and take on a new, paid Executive Director role. Without hesitation or any discussion, he immediately disagreed with the position as “not having any sort of separation of duties.” There was no discussion and no chance for Mr. Treasurer to even understand the vision or plan. Within 2 hours of our conversation, he sent an email to the Board stating he was resigning at the end of his term and that he disagreed with the Executive Director idea, again, because there was no separation of duties. Need I remind you, dear reader, that at this point in January 2010, the idea was still just an idea!

Although this was a setback, I saw it as a minor one. Frankly, I and other Board members felt it was time for Mr. Treasurer to either step down or that we would have to ask him to step down at the end of his term.  Those many reasons aren’t for this story. We felt that with his pending resignation he could be ignored and any comments were just his way of trying to stir the pot.

As Mr. VP, Ms. Secretary and I continued to communicate about the idea and future proposal, as noted earlier, we continued to think through so many budget scenarios and possible ways to make it work. We knew it would be a big financial challenge, but generating more sponsors and other fund-raising activities would be a primary activity for this new Executive Director. At one particular meeting the 3 of us had at a downtown Plymouth restaurant to discuss the role and its responsibilities, I was sharing how the budget might work and how we could build our 10-year projections. With coaching stipends prominently factored in to the budget, Ms. Secretary saw exactly what her boyfriend, Coach B, was making as a trainer and coach. It was immediately apparent that she was not comfortable with this and commented “he’s making that much and I’m paying for most of his bills!?!?! Well, that’s going to change real quick!”

After that restaurant meeting, throughout the months of February and March, we had other meetings to work through proposed Bylaw modifications, budgeting ideas and general thoughts on how to eventually present the proposal for the Executive Director position. Some of the ideas were shared with the 3 other Board members, but our thoughts were mostly focused on who would vote in favor of the proposal versus actually sitting down and talking with them about it. Although we did not know how these other Board members would react and only knew what the coaches wanted, we felt that we were delivering on the promise of Community, Camaraderie, Competition.  Unfortunately, this is where we weren’t Thinking which continued until June 2010! I guess you could say that I was just following my dream, but was attracting haters (#4 and #7 from the earlier list)!

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