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Know How to Teach Others What You Know (Give)

June 23, 2011

Installment #5 about being an expert as it relates to the Spring 2010 issues at the Plymouth Soccer Club

4 Things mankind craves most – Freedom, Happiness, Peace & Love. None of these can be obtained without first giving them to someone else. – John Wooden, legendary UCLA basketball coach

Shortly after graduating from Indiana University in 1991, I took a few core classes in hopes of earning a teaching degree (a second Bachelor’s), much like the one my wife Tiffany was completing. Tiffany earned hers in 2002, but two courses and other distractions later, I did not attain such a degree. I did earn my Master’s in Computer Information Systems many years later, but it was seventeen years on from my original Bachelor’s that I felt teaching would be the path to pursue. The idea of being able to give to those who wanted to learn, connecting with moldable minds and being more connected with my community gave me hope and meaning. It was all based in the understanding and mission of Community, Camaraderie, Competition. Again, in the summer of 2009, I took 3 courses in hopes of earning that elusive teaching degree, and again, finances and distractions got in the way. I was about a month short on getting some of that so-called “Obama money” after attending 3 sessions with a state agency
that was supposed to provide for the funds, but the program was nixed mid-process. I’ll never understand the politics or policies of that one, but without funding and a way to maintain regular income at that time, I opted for a low-paying, full-time, less than stellar position at a small software company in Walled Lake, MI.

It was a comment and book recommendation at that NSCAA Convention in January 2010 – by one of my favorite speakers, Bill Beswick, — that led me to the book Mindset:
The New Psychology of Success
 by Carol Dweck. Having devoured the book about 2 weeks later and sharing the premise of the book with our Plymouth Soccer Club coaches and administrators, I felt a connection with something so academic yet relevant to the path I was taking with my life and the Executive Director proposal. The following is a short summary from Daniel Pink that I find just as revelatory as he does (The 3 Rules of Mindsets).

Dweck’s broad argument is that what people believe shapes what they achieve — mostly irrespective of their innate talent. Some people, she says, have a fixed view of
intelligence: They believe that intelligence is an entity, that we’re each endowed with a particular finite supply. Others have a growth view of intelligence: They believe that intelligence can expand through practice and effort.

Your starting assumption about intelligence — your mindset, as she calls it in her book — heavily determines what you’re able to accomplish. And people with growth mindsets generally accomplish more and learn more deeply.…Dweck set out three rules that nicely summarize the differences between the two mindsets along with
quotations from students that demonstrate the rules.


Fixed mindset: Look clever at all costs. (“The main thing I want when I do my school work is to show how good I am at it.”)

Growth mindset: Learn, learn, learn. (“It is much more important for me to learn things in my classes than it is to get the best grades.”)


Fixed mindset: It should come naturally. (“To tell you the truth, when I work hard at my school work it makes me feel like I’m not very smart.”)

Growth mindset: Work hard, effort is key. (“The harder you work at something, the better you’ll be at it.”)


Fixed mindset: Hide your mistakes and conceal your deficiencies. (After a disappointing exam score, “I’d spend less time on this subject from now on.
I’d try not to take this subject ever again, and I would try to cheat on the next test.”)

Growth mindset: Capitalize on your mistakes and confront your deficiencies. (After a disappointing exam score, “I’d work harder in this class
and spend more time studying for the tests.”)

If you have children, manage others, or are at all interested in improving what you do and how you do it, you need to understand Dweck’s research and its implications. For more info, here is the transcript of a speech from last year in which Dweck covered ground somewhat similar….. Stanford Magazine had a good profile of Dweck a few years ago that included an excellent infographic explaining the differences between the two mindsets. And be sure to check out her books — either Mindset or the more academic Self-theories.

Clearly, the examples above are geared toward students and how the different mindsets affect them in regards to learning and exams. However, this topic became a common discussion point for Coach B and me as he was working toward his teaching degree after many years in other, unrelated work and I was constantly challenging my own vision and desires for myself and the club. I really admired his tenacity to work toward his teaching degree and the time he devoted to it, in addition to his responsibilities as a single parent and coach/trainer.

The opportunity to teach so many young soccer players was always the primary fuel in the hybrid world of the expanding competitiveness of Plymouth Soccer Club. When I came in to the club, we probably had 200 members. By 2008-2009, we were over 400. In that same time, Coach B was one of the defining factors for our growing success. The manner in which he transferred his unique teaching style and personality to the field drew some players to the club. This was, and continues to be, true of other club coaches, but it wasn’t until well after everything had settled down that I came to the conclusion that not all coaches and administrators actually understand and embrace the Growth
Mindset over the Fixed Mindset.

The February 2010 Board of Directors meeting took place at the small office we were renting from a local indoor soccer facility. We had recently secured the room, nothing special, but it gave us our own space to have private meetings anytime we needed. I had invited 6 people so they could get a sense of what the Board did so they could determine whether they would have any interest in the soon-to-be-vacant Treasurer position and any of the At-Large Members we were prepared to propose as part of our Bylaw modifications. I was encouraged by their attendance as we discussed normal state of affairs and business items. I can’t say that I remember exactly what was discussed that night – there’s no record or Meeting Minutes as Ms. Secretary conveniently destroyed them later on – except for one specific topic. Toward the end of the meeting, I casually informed everyone that I was considering a proposal to the club for the creation of the Executive Director position. Generally speaking, it seemed to be accepted by everyone (Mr. Treasurer wasn’t there) and there were enough questions that it seemed the general idea was being supported. At one point, it was asked what type of salary the position would take, to which I responded that I hoped it would be $35,000-$40,000 the first year with some sort of increases set over a 5-10 year period. It was also clarified that the position would not include any other fringe benefits commonly found in any job but would generally take on all the responsibility of fund-raising and sponsorships to support such a position.

There was also a brief discussion about how the club could grow and expand its base through the current City of Plymouth’s Recreational program. I made a comment something in the nature of “we need to find a way to merge our programs” which was also interpreted as “we need to take over the Recreational program.” Whatever I said, or however I said it is certainly up for debate, but I feel confident that I’ve never made any statements that should have led anyone to believe that we were going to take over the Recreational program. The politics and headaches that would present were, and still are, far too much for a volunteer organization to take on.

The reason I bring up this portion of the story, while seemingly irrelevant to the Growth Mindset or “Giving” theme, is that in the chronology of events shortly after this meeting, I became mired in a Fixed Mindset and temporarily lost sight of why giving and teaching is so important to the mission of Community, Camaraderie, Competition. I lost sight of the friends I had around me and the thoughtful minds who would have kept me focused on the true goals. I’m not suggesting that any of my fellow Board Members where these people, but reverting to a Fixed Mindset – or as Seth Godin calls it, the Reptilian Brain – set me on a selfish path. My primary focus became how to make this Executive Director position a reality, how it and the club would sustain the financial load, and how I would be able to maintain a basic income through something I had great passion about.

A few weeks after that February meeting, Ms. Secretary calls to tell me that someone from that February meeting is a “leak”! Someone has gone to the City of Plymouth Recreational Director (Steve Anderson) and told him how I want to take over the Recreational soccer program. Since I know this isn’t reflective of the truth and, in hindsight, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the room that would have gone to Steve with this information, I spent about 2 weeks asking vague questions to everyone to determine if they are truly trustworthy. Instead of just asking for the truth, I’m tip-toeing around everyone. Including, Ms. Secretary since I’m of the impression that she is being totally honest with me.

It’s now the mid-March Board meeting at which it was our agenda to accomplish a few simple items:

  1. Propose about 5 seemingly insignificant Bylaw changes that would simply clean up inconsistent and unnecessary language
  2. Make changes to each of the Board Member ‘job descriptions’ so that going forward it would make sense to have someone else responsible for accomplishing these tasks, thus allowing the Board to have ultimate over-sight of that person, aka the Executive Director.
  3. Vote in a new Board of Directors to take over the new positions in June (as this was a provision we had written in to the Bylaw changes).
  4. Upon full acceptance of the Bylaw changes, I would give a “state of the club” address in which the Executive Director position would be proposed and then tabled for
    further discussion and more focused documentation for a later vote.

Oh, but this went astray when a topic in the Bylaw proposals went in a direction none of us ever expected. Much to our surprise, yet really unnoticed, Coach B points out how the language in the Bylaw proposal regarding club voting rights has a problem. It’s innocent enough, but generates quite a debate. Because of the twists and turns this took over the next several weeks, I actually shrugged it off as a minor road block. I figured it would be quickly resolved for the next meeting. We weren’t able to complete the full
agenda, not all of the Bylaw changes were ratified, and it was way past our promised time, so I held off saying anything about the Executive Director position. A couple people ask me why I held back, but I basically shrug it off as not a big deal. “We’ll do it at the next meeting.”

Through email, the Board continued discussing the Bylaw issues so that we could complete them at another meeting to take place a few weeks later. Again, at that meeting it was our agenda to complete the Bylaw changes and eventually talk about the proposed Executive Director position. However, this meeting takes place on April 6, 2010, a day after what I had considered one of the worst days of my life! From this date until well into 2011, I had lost focus of my Growth Mindset, my ability to “Give”, and ability to teach others what I knew. From that point forward, I felt I was in for a fight to keep my reputation, sanity and family.

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