#Family February 2


Coach4aday blog posts are ideas that are shared to help people grow and learn.
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Each year the blog takes on a different focus. In 2019 the goal is for each post to bring you the reader a lesson, quote, message, or story that can help you grow.

Family

Today the post is written by Wendell Staton the current Director of Athletics at Georgia State College and University.

(l-r) Wendell Staton and Dan attending a Peach Belt Conference event.

danandwendellmay2016

Wendell often will remark that I served as a mentor to him. Little does he realize that I have learned more from him than any lessons I might have passed on.

Wendell is an exceptional leader but has not taken a direct pathway to get to his current position. This link will tell you a small part of what he has done professionally. He excelled at each role coach, fundraiser, city administrator, and director of athletics because of his leadership skill set. He is grounded with values and combines that with a full tank of enthusiasm for life and how to server others.

Today Wendell shares with us some early leadership lessons he was exposed to about the importance of  the value FAMILY.

FAMILY FIRST

by Wendell Staton

I want to share what I learned early in my career about what is really important.

I recently returned from the annual NCAA Convention and as I visited with longtime friends in the profession I had one common response when I was asked “how are you doing?” My response was “I am so blessed to be at a great place in my life. Our daughter Ellen just got married, our son Charlie graduates college soon, and Yvette and I are blessed with good health. We are at a neat stage and life is great!”

(l-r) Wendell, Yvette, Ellen, and Charlie Staton

wendellstatonfamily

My life is great because of my family. I am thrilled that this is my natural response and it made me think of how I have been able to get to that point.

I have had many folks that have nurtured and mentored me about the importance of family during my lifetime. Dan Kenney, the author of Coach4aday is one of the best at this and always espoused balance in every way.

My post is about three important conversations I had that have shaped my leadership life. I also have to include my parents love and leadership, plus a video clip to close on leading with a core value of  “family first.”

Let me start with a sign that I saw at a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop and have shared it with my staff many times. It asks “What is Success?”

jimmyjohn27s

The last line on that sign is an awesome statement.  My wife Yvette and I are blessed to have an incredible relationship with our children. In fact, as our children have entered into adulthood we have found that they are not only our children, but our best friends. We love taking trips together, working on projects, and just supporting one another. When I see our children’s cars in our driveway, I feel like I have won the lottery.

I know I have had the privilege on saying wonderful things about my parents to everyone I know. Words cannot describe the upbringing I was blessed with and the continued support from my parents who have now been married 63 years. They provided incredible leadership in the area of “family first.” Their leadership provided the foundation for my life and emphasis on “family first.” I saw it every day and I continue to see if each day. They are incredible and I tell them I love them every day!

In the athletic world, where too often parents are over bearing and too involved, they were just the opposite. They came to every game (or any school activity) over the years and never said a word during a game. From rec ball through college, they were there and after each game they would simply say “good job,” because they knew that I gave it best and I played with integrity that would make them proud.

When I make presentations on leadership, one of the key components I stress is that when someone moves to another organization they need to make sure their values align with the organization they are choosing. I have been fortunate to have this alignment in my career. While there have been many, there are three conversations that shaped my life as a professional.

They were with Ron Lievense-Stan Aldridge-Bill Morningstar

Three Conversations That Shaped a Family First Value

1990-Ron Lievense (current Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Barton College) and I were on the staff together at Campbell University.

This was my first coaching position and Ron had already been a Head Coach. Ron and Darla Lievense could not have been better friends or mentors for a young coach and his new bride.

(l-r) Ron, Darla, and Wendell

ronlievense

They had just had their first child and I am fortunate in that I was able to watch a young coach display the proper balance or work and family. They would invite us over to eat all the time and Yvette and I would soak up everything they said and everything they did, because they did things the right way. We remain close friends to this day. Ron keeps me grounded and lifts me up each time he reaches out with an encouraging phone call. He is incredibly uplifting and an awesome example of a father and husband. The example he set for me as a young coach has set the tone for the rest of my professional life!

1992-Stan Aldridge was the Director of Athletics at Georgia College when Yvette and I were expecting our first child and Yvette was sick and just a few weeks from giving birth.

Stan

stanaldridge

He stopped by my office one day and asked me what I was doing that night and I told him I was going recruiting. He said “no you are not, you have a sick and pregnant wife at home and if you don’t go spend time with her I will fire you.”

He obviously wasn’t going to fire me, but his point made a huge impact on me. A massive impact on me!! I went home that night and was glad I did. His leadership and care for me was a gift. Telling me what I needed to hear has had a profound impact on my life, and those words have helped to bless our family immensely. While I say I don’t think he was going to fire me, I do think if I had not gone home that night it would have changed his perception of me in a negative way. Not following his directive would have shown a value system that was inconsistent with “family first.” I am now blessed to be guiding the same department he did and I speak to “family first” over and over and over.

1995-Bill Morningstar an Elon University icon.

Bill

billmorningstar

Bill was a great mentor for me and countless others. Yvette and I now had two children during our time at Elon University. Just a few days before Christmas, Bill Morningstar asked me what I was doing one evening and again I said I was going recruiting (as you can see, anyone in college coaching recruits ALL the time). He said “I am pretty sure you know whether or not there are any players in that area, so stay at home tonight. You need to be at home playing with your kids and spending time with your wife.”

In that moment, he also taught me to work smart and use my contacts by simply picking up the phone to get trusted information. He was so right and I am glad I went home that night as well. He shared countless stories with me (and all staff) about coaching and family and I still seek his counsel today.

The life of a young assistant coach with very little income and a couple of children is commonplace and Coach Morningstar was so gracious to offer advice. He is one of the finest and most selfless people that any of us will ever meet. The best decision Dr. Alan White (another tremendous “family first” leader) ever made was to put coach Morningstar’s office by the mail boxes in the department. His office was constantly filled with coaches seeking his wise counsel. He helped shape my life and so many others.

These three conversations happened during my first five years as a coach. The commonality is that someone cared enough about me to make sure my values were grounded in “family first.” We don’t get “do-overs” in the parenting world and I am fortunate to have had a front row seat in the lives of our children and expect our staff to do the same.

If you think about it from an efficiency perspective in the business world, a happy employee with a balanced home life will be a more productive employee. My career has been surrounded by folks who have been intentional about putting their family first.

As our days get shorter, no one ever wishes they had spent more time at work, and in our business of coaching/athletics your children don’t care if you win or not-they care if you are spending quality time with them. Today I am reaping the benefits of listening to three great conversations early in my career by putting “family first.” I even get to hear my kids brag to their friends about their mom and dad. That is success.

I have attached a video clip from former Auburn Head Football Coach Gene Chizik. He speaks about family as the people who really care about you, in the end they are the ONLY people who care.

I recommend two clips. The first clip starts at the 9:25 mark and ends at 10:15. The second clip is a powerful finishing statement and starts at 14:15 mark and closes out the video thirty seconds later. Enjoy!

 

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