Dana Safa Bernardino
On this Bring It In podcast episode, 1Huddle’s CEO and Founder Sam Caucci sat down with Jerry Lynch, Founder and Director of Way of Champions who has worked with 115+ championship teams. He’s consulted 12 Hall of Fame coaches, including Steve Kerr, Anson Dorrance, and Phil Jackson and is the author of over a dozen books, including Way of Champions, The Competitive Buddha, and his latest, Everyday Champion Wisdom.
On this episode of Bring It In season three, Jerry sat down with Sam and discussed winning the relationship game, how failure is a gift, and how your thoughts control your being.
Audio available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.
Below are some of the insights Dr. Lynch shared during our chat, edited for length and clarity. You can find more Bring It In podcast episodes here.
Sam: How have you been?
Jerry: Busy, busy enough is the way I define it.
Sam: What made you write this one?
Jerry: The hundreds and hundreds of coaches out there who tell me how much they like my work, but they don’t have time to read all the books. And I said, what about one book? And they said, even one book is hard. I said, how about one book that’s divided up into 142 lessons. So the reason I wrote this is because, okay, so you have a favorite rock group or you have a favorite band or whatever, and you couldn’t wait till their greatest hits album came out. And the reason is you didn’t have to lug 13 albums to a party or to wherever you’re going.
This is the best, this is the greatest hits book of Jerry. And what I do is I go back to the 15 books I’ve written and I’ve taken excerpts from that, I’m also doing a lot of podcasts like with you and so forth, and I take excerpts from that and blogs, my blogging, and all of that work over a period of time, I put into little bite-sized lessons where a busy coach, a busy leader, a busy CEO can open up to lesson number 33 and say, ‘wow, okay, this really hits it right on the money.’ And you can carry that message with you for the rest of the day or maybe the rest of the week, or maybe the rest of your life, and you don’t have to worry about getting so deeply involved in a book that you put down, you can’t pick it up and you feel you lo you’re losing connection with the book and the material. This is a really easy, fast, deep way to help coaches and leaders to connect with the material and the message that I’m giving. So that was it.
Sam: There’s a lot of stuff you had to go through to put this together. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.
Jerry: Right down here, I’m opening it up, I have a drawer of files that’s about *that* big. And what I do is, when I give a talk, like two weeks ago, it is in Salt Lake City and it’s an hour-long talk. I take that talk and I put it in a file. I keep everything that I’ve ever done, but you’re right. The process of starting that was enormous and it wasn’t the writing so much as the gathering. I can open up a book, like Win The Day or Thinking Body Dancing Mind, which I’ve written, and there is just a ton of stuff in there.
What I had to do is, I had to say, you know, from my experience, working with coaches, leaders, athletes, this is really the message that they really appreciated most. And so I would excerpt that particular message, or this was one of my favorite blogs. Everyone has told me about it. They said, ‘I really appreciate that blog.’ I got a lot of hits on it. I’ll take that and put that in the book. So I have a sense about what people are craving, and I might miss the target from time to time, but I think 142 lessons, mindful lessons, probably covers a vast array of everything that you’ve ever wanted to know about what I do.
Sam: There’s just so much we could talk about, we could have booked this podcast for hours. Everyday Champion. Why’d you use that for the title Everyday Champion Wisdom? Why’d you choose Everyday Champion?
Jerry: Well, everybody that knows me and my work and you are one of them, you understand that my business is called Way of Champions. Now, what does that mean? It means if you wanna be a champion, first of all, you don’t become champions. Like the Golden State Warriors are not gonna be crown champions tonight. They’re champions already. And the result of the game will be a mere byproduct or a reflection of being a champion.
So my business model is called Way of Champions. And, and how did I come up with that? It’s not the way but way, ways of. Sam I’ve been with a lot of teams in organizations over a 45-year career. I’ve actually had 116 championship teams. Most people in my profession quite honestly feel very fortunate if they have been exposed to, or worked with four or five teams that have won national or world championships. And here I have 115, well, it’s not because I am special, it has nothing to do with me. What it has to do with is, if I’m going to immerse my heart and soul and my spirit and my work in teams that are that level of play, I’m learning all the time what it takes to be a champion right now. You could list things that this is what a champion is. This is how a champion lives. They win the day. They might not win the game, but they win the day. And this is what they do.
They meditate each day, they exercise, they eat properly. These are the kinds of things that I’ve discovered leads to on the scoreboard, a championship team. Now, that I’ve said that, I might have 378 teams total, that doesn’t mean those other teams aren’t champions. If they’ve worked with me, I consider them champions.
If they’re not willing to be champions, I leave. There’s no point in me fighting someone who’s arguing for their limitations, or a team or an organization that says they want this, but they’re not willing to do it. They’re not willing to go the distance. So what I’m doing is I’m working with all these people, even if they weren’t track crown NCAA or NBA world champions, or lacrosse world champions.
Even if they’re not crowned, Sam, these are champion-level people. They’re doing the right things. They might not have enough physical talent to put them over the top, but what I’ve gotten out of them and what they’ve gotten out of themselves is amazing compared to what would’ve happened had they not had that way of champions inserted into their culture, which brings up the whole subject again, of the work that I do. A lot of it has to do with building and sustaining championship cultures, championship, like cultures.
Sam: Last time we talked was about Competitive Buddha, which I found to be an awesome work as you think about reframing and Buddha thought the Buddha was so competitive.
Jerry: Right? I even have Buddhist friends who call themselves Buddhist, which I don’t call myself anything, I’m just me, and I learned from Buddhist endeavors, but I have these Buddhist friends who thought it was an insult to come up with a title like that. How dare I call a Buddha competitive, right? And I just sat back and just said, well, you know, history shows that he was the first student-athlete ever, and quite a competitor at that.
And then I explained to them that his whole idea of competing was not to beat up on someone, but to learn from them and to get better because the other person brought their best game. So it was like, we compete together. In Latin, the word is Cum Petere, which means to seek together. So if I’m in business and you are in business, you’re gonna like me, because what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna challenge you to raise your level in your organization, while at the same time we go out to lunch and I learn from you what I need to know to raise my level. And so it’s a cooperative, collaborative, compassionate way of being, and that’s the way of champions as well, because the Buddha was a champion. The way he acted, the way he did things, he did it like a champion.
Sam: Yeah, totally.
Jerry: But I’m glad you brought that book up because it is one of my favorites. It was the one I wrote before Everyday Champion Wisdom, but we’ll come full circle here and everything seems to be champion champion champion. But I think that people can relate to that idea, and I think a lot of people feel relieved that they don’t have to be crowned the champion that, you know what, I’m a champion. I go to bed at night. I put my head on the pillow. What a day I had. I lived the day of a champion. And that’s what’s important.
Sam: I think that you hear the point defining champion. You know, we live in a world today where, speaking through the lens of some folks listening who are in HR or are a first time manager in an organization or are a senior manager, and they have responsibilities to coach and develop the people and their scope of care. And one of the things I love about Everyday Champion Wisdom is the thought I had running through it is the definition of champion and how we define that.
Jerry: Champions, it’s multidimensional as you learned. It’s not just one thought like a champion is this. I talk to champions, every time I get the opportunity to be with an athlete or coach or an organization that is champion-like, I ask them, ‘so why do you consider yourself champions?’ And what comes out of that is a multifaceted definition of just what that word is.
And basically, to me, if I had to sum it all up, it’s not what you do. It’s not what you say. It’s how you feel and how you’re being as a result of how you feel or vice versa. So I get up in the morning, right? This is really true of me. I mean, I think it’s true of you as well, Sam.
If you’re feeling pessimistic and fearful and you’re feeling low confidence and you’re feeling like you’re devalued and you’re feeling unprepared, you’d have to agree with me, and those listeners of yours would have to agree with me, that that’s not gonna be a high-performance day. So let’s go back to your question about being a champion.
Being a champion is understanding that feelings equal function. You don’t have to believe me, but I’m gonna ask you how’s that working for you if you don’t believe it. Because, when you do get up in the morning, let’s change the scenario. Let’s say you get up and you go to the toilet and you take a shower, you get dressed, you get ready for your day at work, and you’re gonna be leading people, and you’re feeling grateful and you’re feeling, ‘God I’m feeling fearless. I could take on the world. And I’m feeling very optimistic. I feel relevant. I feel important. I feel valued. I feel respected. I feel well prepared. Wow.’ I’m gonna say, do you agree that that’s gonna be perhaps one of your highest performance days?
Jerry: Sure. Right. Of course. Now a champion thinks and feels and acts in certain ways that are on higher levels. We all know what those high levels look like. I just described to you low-level emotions, being afraid, being pessimistic, being devalued. And then I flip the switch, which a champion will do, and what happens is now I’m feeling courageous, I’m feeling grateful, I’m feeling important and valued and confident. OMG, I could predict my performance that day, or if I’m a coach, my athlete’s performance, or if I’m a CEO, the workers, the workforce. When I create that environment, I can almost guarantee you that performance is gonna be at a higher level.
So back to your point about what is a champion. A champion is a person who understands that concept of performance and knows that they are in charge of their feelings because their feelings come from thoughts. If you ever thought about yourself, it’s gonna create a feeling and that feeling will create a function or behavior. A performance.
The good news is we can control our thoughts. We get 70 to 80,000 thoughts a day. I don’t advise you to try to count them because that will interfere with the process, but let’s just take that for what it’s worth. And I’m being conservative. 70 to 80,000 thoughts a day. If you can’t control those thoughts, you’re like a monkey on a tree, you’re all over the freaking place. You’re up and down, sideways, this way, that way you wonder why things aren’t going well, and all of a sudden things start going well. It all has to do with the thoughts that you pay attention to. Those thoughts create the feelings which then create the function.
So I personally wanna get out of bed in the morning. I want to feel confident. I want to feel abundant. I want to feel optimistic, valued, important, respected, empowered, all of that. So, what I do is I create those thoughts. And that’s what champions do. So I’ll train an athlete, I’ll train a group of people in a culture. This is the way we need to think, because we’re gonna act this way. So we might as well create the thoughts that are gonna allow us to behave and perform it at a higher level. So boiled down to its simplicity, a champion is not so much what you do, it’s how you’re being. And the being part or the feelings part, I’m being confident. I’m feeling important. I’m being fearless. I’m being selfless. I’m being all these things. So that’s a simplistic yet sophisticated way of defining what a champion is. Most people would just say, ‘well, you know, the Warriors won the championship.’ Yeah, they won the championship. That’s not why they’re champions. They won the championship because they are champions to begin with. And that’s the key.
Sam: It’s a powerful perspective. Again, I’m looking at this through the lens, Jerry, of, when I read Everyday Champion Wisdom and I read all your books, there’s a lens. I’ll look at the book as a manager, as a leader, that’s focused on developing workers. I don’t know where this is gonna go, what I’m about to do, but I wanna paint a picture for you, and I want to get your take, wherever you want to go with it given your worldview and perspective in 116 championship teams and you’ve worked with teams that have gotten to the top and been champions and ones that haven’t had the right behaviors.
Today you turn the television on, which maybe is the first mistake of the day, and you see, here are some of the stats you might see come across when you’re watching Squawk Box or Wall Street Journal or CNN or Fox or whatever your flavor is in the morning. As a leader, you see ‘only 15% of global workers wake up every day and are quote, excited or engaged.’ You see ‘one in two, the great resignation, one in two American workers say they’re going to leave their current job within the next year to pursue something else.’ ‘They’re now calling,’ this is a new one, you gotta love the names they put on things, ‘the great boss loss is the new one. Four in five managers are now so fed up that they’re saying within the next year they can’t do it anymore and they’re gonna look for another opportunity.’ At the same time, we could throw one more number out, one in two Americans are in jobs that are considered low wage where a $400 unexpected bill would put them potentially into poverty. And these make up 80% of service sector jobs.
With this state of the workforce, in our communities, in our society, that’s kind of the lens I look through when I read Everyday Champion Wisdom. Where do we go from here?
Jerry: Good question. Where do we go from here? I mean, look, we can’t solve the problems of the world, but we can take one problem at a time and help ourselves to function at a higher level in that world. And it’s a one person to one person deal. The statistics are astounding that you throw my way. I’m definitely not surprised. The level of happiness in the work world, in the sports world, is so far removed from what the intention is. I love my work. I mean, at my age people are always asking me, when are you gonna retire? And I say, I’m not gonna retire, I’m gonna rewire and refire. And that’s because I love my work and why do I love my work? My focus is not so much on making a living. Although I do that pretty well. It’s not about making a living as much as making a difference. I think a lot of managers in the corporate world are not feeling.
It’s not about the relationship game, you know, it’s about outcomes and results, and just like in sports, do you win the championship? Do you not win the championship? But what about the relationship game? To me, in my environment, it’s so important to make that connection, and I think a lot of people at the managerial level and the leadership level they’re not making a connection heart to heart. Head to head, they are, they’re professional boss heads, ‘I’m the boss, and I’ll try to connect with you, my underling or my worker.’ But that’s not gonna go anywhere. I mean, you can’t connect with me with my resume. We’ll never have a conversation. We won’t like each other. You won’t wanna be with me and I won’t wanna be with you. But if I connect my human heart with your human heart? I mean, I’ll ask anyone who’s listening here. How many of you have worries? How many of you get depressed from time to time? How many of you get stressed? I mean, we’re up to our eyeballs in this stuff.
You know, the world is a very challenging, difficult place today and we can point a finger at COVID and point a finger at the economy and all this stuff and how everything is interrelated, but the bottom line for me is the relationship. You know, when I talk to someone like Steve Kerr or Phil Jackson, or Anson Dorrance, 22 National Championships at Carolina, or Cindy Timshow, the winningest lacrosse coach of all time. When I talk to these people, they tell me the most important game that they’ve won on the way to a championship is the relationship game. If you don’t have a connection and you don’t have that caring and you don’t have those relationships, people are not gonna work for you. They’re not gonna wanna work there in that group. They’re not gonna work for you. And I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to produce and have outcomes and when you start doing that, we forget about the relationships.
You look at the organization, Sam, that you most admire, whether it’s athletics, business, whatever organization in life, I’m gonna tell you the thing that you most admire, even if you haven’t thought about it is boy, they have great relationships going on there. People are really connected. They really care about each other. And when that element is gone, people leave. Take it to the marriage level in this country, out of every two marriages, one doesn’t make it. And I’m being somewhat conservative, especially with COVID, people found out they had to be together for more periods of time, a longer period of time and they found out they didn’t really like each other.
So, the divorce rate has gone through the roof, but I’m coming back to why? It’s not that the person isn’t beautiful looking or they don’t have a great soul or whatever reason you got married, they have all of that, but there’s no connection. There’s no deep. The deepness of the connection, when you win the relationship game with me, what you’re doing is you are making me feel a certain way. And when I feel that way, I don’t wanna leave you. I don’t wanna leave you. I look forward to coming to work on Monday. I wanna be there. Why? Because it makes me feel so, so darn good.
And so, a lot of these stats, the thing that’s missing is the cause. They’re talking about symptoms in the work environment, but they’re not talking about the cause. And Everyday Champion Wisdom goes right for the cause. In there, I talk about mindful lessons in connection, mindful lessons in the relationship game and how important it is. I mean, the 14th man on the bench in The Golden State Warriors is made to feel as important as the number one person on that team.
And what does that do? I’ll tell you. When I feel those elevated emotions in an environment, I’m gonna be working till late o’clock at night with joy and a smile on my face, not resentment and remorse, and what’s the best way to get rid of that? Well, you can change the work environment. You can change yourself or you can leave. Most people are choosing to leave.
Sam: Building on the idea of a deep connection, you now have conversations happening. I heard somebody yesterday say the word Zillennial to me…
Jerry: Say that again?
Sam: Zillennial, which is gen Z and millennial together, which is now the majority of the workforce. Millennials, Gen Z group, and generations are always interesting, right? Cuz people like to put these labels on things. In your mind, as you think about it, I would imagine that champion coaches do something different as far as being able to continue to build that deep connection with different age groups. And I think about Anson Dorrance who’s continuously over the years, and I met him through you and your work, has just been able to continuously perform at a high level collectively with generations keep changing on him. They were changing on Phil Jackson. They were changing on Steve Kerr. They’ve been changing on a lot of other coaches. What are they doing differently?
Jerry: You’re right. Generation X, Generation, Z, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Alright. We have all these different generations. Wonderful, fantastic. And they change, you know, some people are more entitled than others. Some generations are harder workers than others. But there’s certain things that do not change and the great leaders of our time, whether you go back to Roosevelt or Kennedy, or whoever you choose as your model of great leadership, they all understood one thing, and that is that human beings don’t change.
Whether you’re in Afghanistan, Nairobi, New Zealand, Antarctica, or California, or New Jersey, people are people. And guess what? We all crave, literally crave, the same thing. So we can start with food and we could talk about food. Like, what’s your go to comfort food? Oh my God. Once you tell me that, and then I share with you mine, we have a conversation going now, we’re connecting. You get the feeling like, ‘this guy thinks I’m important, he’s asking me these personal questions.’ These things don’t change. We crave connection. We crave caring. Now you might crave it, but then the question is, ‘well, Jerry, what do you do about it?’ And I’m saying again, it comes back to not what you do, it’s how you’re going to be. When you look at an Anson, do, and you look at a Phil Jackson or Quin Snyder, or any of these great leaders in athletics and great leaders, a Steve Jobs, back in the day, they had something that all great leaders have.
They have a sense of collaboration. They understand that this is a collaborative effort. And by being collaborative, most of them understand that you lead from the back, right? You lead from the back. You sort of point away and then you let people learn. When you look at Phil Jackson on the bench, when he was coaching, he never stood up and yelled or shouted out orders in the most difficult part of the game, he let the players figure it out so they could learn. And so he understood that all these leaders, Phil included, understand that we have to be a certain way and those ways are very clearly defined. When you look at it, it becomes the definition. And talk about this in The Competitive Buddha, which I know you remember, the whole idea of servant leadership. They’re servants first, they’re here not to be served. They’re here to serve and that doesn’t mean be a slave. And that doesn’t mean being demanding. Of course, being demanding means you care. Right? I mean, if I’m not gonna demand for my kids, I probably don’t care about them.
So all these things these coaches understand, the ingredients it’s connective, but it’s cooperative, collaborative. Cooperative and collaborative in an environment where you are being genuine, authentic, and vulnerable.
Vulnerability is one of these things. I just have to say this, vulnerability is something you really admire and love about other people, but when you are being vulnerable, you don’t like it, right? I don’t wanna be vulnerable. But when Sam is being vulnerable and you are being open and honest and genuine and authentic, it’s like a magnet. I’m attracted to you. In fact, I’ll follow you right to the edge of the cliff. And I will jump even before I have wings, because I trust you. You’re being real with me. You know, I am amazed, like when I talk with elites such as Steve Kerr, I’m amazed at how humble, and that’s another word you wanna put in there, how humble he is.
He understands that he is the accumulation of wisdom coming from so many other sources in his life. And I’m just another one of those sources. And one of his assistants is one of those sources and an athlete could be one of those sources. And, the thing is very humble, very vulnerable. You know, I got this or I blew it, my bad. I could have done better. Or I’ll say to you, ‘Sam, I don’t know if I’m right here, shoot holes in this, but this is what I think.’ I mean, that’s a sense of wisdom, deep wisdom. Like I know that I don’t know everything and I know that I’m not gonna come close to knowing as much as maybe I probably should know. But that’s wisdom just knowing that.
And I know these great leaders, I’ve worked with these people. In some capacity, I’ve had contact with people that most people really respect and admire. And I can tell you they’re genuine, they’re authentic, they’re vulnerable, they’re open.
Sam: With all of those traits that you just outlined, and I love what you said about how they see themselves as the accumulation of wisdom, I would imagine that that creates an environment where the way that they process failure is different and how they look at what some may look at as a setback. I mean, I guess is that fair to make it?
Jerry: Oh, it’s not only fair, but it’s absolutely essential. I think that’s part of the vulnerability piece. So we lose a game, you know being open and vulnerable. Yeah. I didn’t prepare you. It’s my fault. Understanding the question. Oh, so we did lose. Why are we a better organization because we didn’t get that contract? Why are we a better team because we didn’t get that victory? And what that does is, these leaders know, the gem is in the setback. The gem is in the loss, in the failure. Failure is our greatest mentor, our greatest teacher. In fact, I have a chapter in this book, Champion Wisdom, and it’s a chapter. It’s just one lesson and it’s called the success of failure.
Oh, wait a minute. Now don’t gimme this stuff about failure. I don’t wanna fail. No, I’m not suggesting you go out and fail, but I am suggesting that to be the kind of leader that you aspire to be, and to be the leader that you admire, you name your leader, whoever he or she is, I’m gonna tell you that they understand to your point, Sam. Failure is a gift, and anyone out there that thinks they’ve gotten to where they are without failing, they’re very shortsighted. They’re very myopic. You have to see, like my best seller right now has been out for 30 years, Thinking Body Dancing Mind. 30 years and I still get royalties from that book twice a year, that really makes me feel good. It feels good that people are buying the book.
Now, having said that, guess what everyone should know: that book was turned down for publication 13 times. Well, thirteen’s not a lot. Oh, really? Try writing a whole book and have anyone say to you that it’s not a good book. Don’t waste your time. We don’t want it. And then, okay, good. I’ll try again. So you go out and you try again and you get another rejection. By the time you get to five or six, raise your hand if you think you can keep going. And I kept going and on the 13th try, I landed a publisher. And it made it a best seller in 15 languages and it’s still selling well. And how did that happen? Well, after the second rejection, I scratched my head and I said, what’s going on here? Like, what do I need to know from this failure, from this setback, from this rejection, that’s gonna make me a better writer?
So I would ask the publisher, why is this rejected? Tell me. ‘Well, you don’t have enough stories. People don’t relate to a book without those stories.’ Ah, the next version I had 15 more stories thrown in there. You bet I did. Some I made up, but they were good stories. Like a lot of good stories.
Anyway, it got published and so, so much of my work, I, I tell people, I love to do this, I’ll be standing in front of 3000 people giving a keynote talk. And I’ll say, first of all, I want you all to know that you are here today to listen to the biggest failure you’ve ever met. And they go, whoa, what do you mean? And I say, there’s only one way I could be here right now, 90% of my steps trying to go forward were met with failure. We’re met with resistance, rejection. I said, but the quality that I have is resilience and resilience is what great leaders have. And so they understand, coming way back to your point, Sam, that failure, mistakes, errors, and setbacks are our greatest teachers. We have to understand why we are a better version of ourselves because of that setback. If we don’t, we’re gonna wind up quitting, we’re gonna wind up chucking it, throwing it in. I would’ve quit after four or five with my book, unless I had that kind of mentality.
Sam: With my company, with 1Huddle, I remember the first investor who said, I don’t think you should call it a game. Nobody will like that. They won’t take it seriously. Aren’t I happy I didn’t listen to that person. And learn from it.
Jerry: And what did you learn? What did you learn from that? Right. And so you trust your intuition, your intuition is made up from wisdom from all over your body and all over your life. It’s real wisdom. And so you did that and here you are, how many years later.
Sam: Jerry, the book, again with Everyday Champion Wisdom, as well as your others, you know, I could see how you would expect folks to read it that are in business, obviously in sports and coaching, makes perfect sense. Athletes, makes perfect sense. I was also looking at this through the lens now as a parent of a five-year-old daughter who just started playing soccer this season. And that was funny, Jerry, to watch soccer practice. I stood as far away as I could.
Jerry: Well, they should have, they should have barbed wire fences surrounding the kids’ field, right? Keep those parents away. And I was one of those parents and I had to change that kind of behavior, but I get it.
Sam: Of everything, this is gonna be a hard one, but you know, won’t be hard for you, but given that this is the best of the best, which lesson do you think is most important for me to share with my daughter, Nico, in this moment, five years old, growing up, just graduated from pre-K yesterday. They threw a whole graduation thing. But as a parent I wanna help her develop on her journey. Which lesson here do you feel is most important?
Jerry: I’m not gonna give you a lesson, one lesson out of this book for her. I’m giving you nothing for her. What I want is for you to give something to her, and I want you to give her the space to develop, to learn, to have her setbacks, to embrace her losses. By being accepted by you telling her, your loss doesn’t feel good. What did you learn from it? Why are you a better athlete because of that setback and loss?
So you become the mentor. You become the teacher, not Jerry Lynch. And to be a good parent, you only need five words. That’s all you need. Stay behind the fence. And when they come out from behind the fence and you’re going home in the car and you have these five-year-olds sitting in the back, just tell her two things.
Number one is I love watching you play. That’s five words. Isn’t it? That’s all she needs to know that her dad loves watching her play. And then the next sentence you say to the rest of the group is, who wants to have lunch? And that’s it. Look, I wrote a book. It’s called Let Them Play. You might not be aware of it, but it was like four books ago and it’s called Let Them Play. It’s for parents, young children, athletes, OMG.
Sam: I’m gonna hand it out to parents, watch I’m gonna buy a box.
Jerry: I’m telling you, it will change the landscape of where your child plays. You will have parents coming up to you, thanking you so much saying Sam, I can’t believe this stuff. This is amazing. Now that came about cuz I have four athletic kids and the first one I made 5,000 mistakes, maybe a little more. We’ll call it 5,000. How’s that? The second one, I made 500 mistakes. I got better by the fourth one. I made a hundred mistakes. The problem is that I’ve learned from all my mistakes, going back to the failure, setbacks, and all of that, I learned from those mistakes.
I wrote this book, Sam, because I can guarantee that if a parent takes the heart of what I’ve been writing in that book, they will be the absolute best sports parents that they’ll ever wanna be. And their kids, this is the kick, the kids will be the best athletes that they could possibly be.
Raise your hand as a parent right now if you would like your child to experience high-level performance, everyone’s gonna raise their hand. And then I say, do you know how to do that? Yeah. Well, what I gotta do is, like when my kid is on third base, he’s gotta remember that to lead off, well, only about four steps because he could be picked blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I say, no, that’s not. You read this book and you learn things like, I love watching you play, who wants to have lunch? But we go a little deeper than that. And we take a lot of the principles that you and I are talking about today like failure and help your child understand it’s okay to lose in fact embrace it because this is why you’re better because of it.
And, so Let Them Play to me, if I had that book before I had kids, it would’ve been a godsend for me. And so I learned a lot and I put it into that book. So don’t worry about giving your kids any lessons. The lessons are gonna be there. What you do is when they come to you and they say, dad you know, I just feel so terrible. I missed a winning shot. I could have scored a goal. And you say something like you, what did you learn from that? How can that make you better? And so we start emphasizing that sport becomes this microcosmo classroom for kids to learn about life, but it also becomes a classroom for parents to learn about kids and how to really parent.
And sports is a wonderful vehicle. I’m so glad to hear that you have that five-year-old and by the way, I’ll make a call. I’ll get Anson to show up at practice to make sure he gets a good look. A good look at the five-year-olds, right?
Sam: Nah, he’ll show up with all the other coaches, the competitive cauldron stuff. I know what he’ll do.
Jerry: Right, exactly. And he’ll get you guys working for sure. That’s exactly what he’ll do. But you know what I’m saying? Like less is more. Yeah. And I understand, your question is a great one. And that’s what so many parents ask of me, and I put it right back into their court.
And I say, look at that book, take a look at it. It’s gonna answer all your questions and it’s gonna make you the best, absolute, not only sports parent, but the best parent you can be. And it will enable your child to develop their full human capacity. And it might not be soccer, but you’ll never find that out if you keep giving them reasons why they should play soccer.
Sam: Great. I love it. I’m getting it. Nice. I’m not joking. I’m gonna hand them out. I’m gonna find parents to hand them out to.
Jerry: You get those parents?
Sam: They’re easy to spot.
Jerry: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah, right, it’s like, oh boy.
Sam: Jerry, last question for you is as we move to wrap I wanted to ask in the process, you mentioned you spent a lot of time going back through a lot of prior work and rediscovering as you put together Everyday Champion Wisdom, what was the one thing maybe that stood out to you or came back to the surface that you said I haven’t thought about that maybe in a while. Cause I could imagine the volume of work you went through to create this book. What was the one thing?
Jerry: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a great question. And I don’t know if there’s one thing because I had the experience, what you are talking about. I would open something up and say, God, I haven’t read this in so long. And God, I forgot. I forgot. I used to teach that or, oh my God, I needed that last week and I had no idea that that was still around, you know?
All right. Having said that, I guess what I’m trying to say with that statement is there’s so many things. When I look at those 142 lessons, to be honest with you, I probably need about 137 of them right now. I mean, they’re that relevant to my daily life. And just because I wrote the book doesn’t mean that I practice everything that’s in there.
I wrote the book so that I can remind myself that this is what I need to do as well. So I need this book. I need a lot of the lessons in here, and every day will be a different day and every season is a different season. but the one thing, this just shot right up to the top of my forehead, that really stands out with all of the work I’ve done, is the concept of gratitude, gratefulness.
This is something that we generally tend to overlook. Yeah, you know, we appreciate this or we appreciate that. Appreciation is coming from your head. Yeah, intellectually, I’m really happy I have this. But gratitude is coming from the heart. I mean, it’s a really deep feeling of, how fortunate am I? How fortunate am I to be here with you today and really feel that I am so grateful for this opportunity.
To say I’m grateful is a massive understatement, but back to the gratefulness piece, when I got outta bed this morning, before I jumped outta bed, my wife and I shared with each other seven things that we’re most grateful for. And then we went on with our day. It’s such a powerful concept of being mindful enough to remember all that we’ve been given and then go out during the day and give back for everything we’ve been given. Because what we understand is that great athletes, great leaders, great people, they’re very grateful. So I talk about going from grateful to great. So are you great because you’re grateful or are you grateful because you’re great?
It’s the other way around. And so this whole idea of gratefulness, gratitude is remembering every day, because what do we do? We moan and hone and complain and I don’t have enough and God, why didn’t that happen and how come that didn’t work out? Wait a minute, time out. What’s going well in your life? What have you been given? What are you grateful for? Let’s start with your health.
How fortunate am I to have health? You can’t buy it. In fact, if you don’t have it, it’s quite expensive. Having love in your life. Having people who love you. That little five year old, OMG, it doesn’t get any better to enjoy and to appreciate every hour of her existence. So the list goes on and on; great friendships, having a beautiful home, right near the ocean, I have to pinch myself.
And from that place of gratefulness, everything else falls into place. For instance, my feelings, all of a sudden, I start feeling confident. I start feeling optimistic. I start feeling fearless. So all my feelings are high level emotions, elevated emotions. My performance goes up because I’m feeling really good. And I’m feeling all these emotions because why? Because I’ve been given so much and I want to give back. And so the underlying theme for anything that happens to me in my life, the foundational structure seems to always come back to gratefulness. And when I wrote this book, there were so many sections of that book, lessons that really are steeped in the whole concept of being grateful. Gratitude, an attitude of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude.
Sam: Jerry, thank you. I’m grateful for you taking time today. This is our second go round together and I just gotta say it. I think that, when we talk and hearing you speak on these topics, I learn every time we talk, I get better from it. And I feel more grounded based on what you share. So thank you for taking time.
Jerry: Yeah. Yeah. And likewise for me, I’m not here to sell a book. I’m here to give a message and that message is one of gratefulness and how grateful I am to be here and how much I learned after an hour with you and the questions that you ask, it forces me to go and look deeply into, what does that mean or what is that all about? And you know, I have a better day because of it. And I think what this book does, will open up a lot of conversations. I mean, if you have a group of eight or ten people and everyone says, ‘okay, today, we’re gonna read lesson number 40, leadership as a game changer,’ all right, good. Now we have a conversation. And then, that becomes the impetus for connection, coming together and caring and cooperation and collaboration on a topic. That’s very simple, but yet meaningful.
So I want you to know that coming on your podcast is not away from me to advertise me. It’s a way to make a difference for you and I together. To make a difference in the lives of those people that you are going to reach, not me. And when you do, you are as big a part or more of this process than I am. So I’m honored and I’m privileged to have this wonderful opportunity. And I guess I have to get busy writing another book so we can do this again real soon, right?
Sam: I was gonna ask you when or what’s the next book, but I figured, last time I asked that you came out with another one. So I don’t, I didn’t want to put any pressure on you.
Jerry: I do have another one waiting and at the end of this basketball season, I’ll find out if I’m gonna write it or not. So I’ll just leave you at that. Tonight, hopefully, is the end.
Sam: Same here.
Jerry: I know you’re back in Jersey and I don’t know the connection you have with the Boston team, but I have a lot invested in the Warriors winning.
Sam: Yeah, no, I think everybody here collectively is rooting for the warriors, so.
Jerry: All right. It’s gonna be a great game. Curry’s gotta go nuts tonight. Gonna go absolutely berserk.
Sam: They’re home?
Jerry: No, no, they’re in Boston. He does really well on the road and he went 0 for 9 from three-point range the other night. And history shows that when he has a night like that, he comes back with a vengeance. I see him hitting like nine for 10 or nine for 11. So we’ll see.
Sam: It’ll be exciting.
Jerry: Yeah, well, I appreciate you, and all the good stuff you’re doing, Sam, and let’s keep this relationship going, okay?
Sam: We will. Thank you, Jerry.
Jerry: Wonderful, wonderful. Thank you so much.
Topics Discussed: Future of Work, Culture, Champions, Coaching, Failure
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