The Youth Sports Trophy Culture: It’s Not About Trophies It’s About Values

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Are Participation Trophies Sending The Wrong Message To Our Children?

This past weekend one of my clients sent me an article and asked what I thought about Pittsburg Steeler Linebacker James Harrison having his children (ages 8, 6) return the “participation trophies” they received from one of their sports teams. Harrison posted the following on Instagram:

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.”

As former college basketball player and someone who coaches fathers on how to perform at their highest level in life and business, my initial reaction was total support of the message. I never received a participation trophy growing up and was taught the same core values Mr. Harrison was teaching: Everything in life and sports should be earned. My default response was to return to my own experience as an athlete who worked his butt off to eventually earn a college scholarship. In large part because of my experiences growing up, I’ve come to realize how important it is to work hard, experience defeat and be able to learn and improve from losses and disappointments. These are lessons we can take into our everyday life as a parent, business owner, or someone trying to reach their full potential. It’s not defeat that defines us in life but how we react to it that creates our success moving forward. All important lessons I believe Mr. Harrison’s statement supports.

On the other side of the argument are those  believe participation trophies serve as source of pride and a self-esteem booster for kids. That children who participate and work their tails off all year need to be rewarded for finishing the season and not giving up on their team. This reward anchors a child’s experience and encourages them to show up and contribute to the collective.

A 2014 Reason-Rupe poll showed that the more successful adults are in life, the less likely they are to be in favor of the participation trophies. The poll found that the desire to withhold participation trophies increased with income, age, and education. For example, 55 percent of those making less than $30,000 a year were in favor of participation trophies, while only 23 percent of those at the top earners ($110,000 +) wanted trophies for all. It really isn’t about trophies, which by the way has skyrocketed into a 3 billion dollar a year business. The issue is really about instilling values and life lessons in our children that they can take off the field into the world.

It is important that we all take a deeper look at this discussion and see why there has been such a spirited debate over whether participation awards for children are healthy or not. I know parents who sometimes struggle to identify the fine line between appropriate praise and overcompensating by praising everything their child does. Behind Mr. Harrison’s statement is the bigger issue of how to best support our children (emotionally, psychologically) and prepare them for success in life.

Here are questions to consider:

Are participation trophies a way to improve and support positive self-esteem in a child?

OR

Are these types of awards part of a bigger problem that creates entitled and unmotivated adults?

In order to create a meaningful discussion that goes beyond who is right and wrong, I wanted to explore several different perspectives and then offer a potential solution to the issue at hand:

The Issue At Hand

How can we best set our children up for success in life (socially, emotionally, psychologically, financially, spiritually, etc.)?

Different Perspectives

Over the weekend, I made some calls and asked this question:

Is James Harrison right? Are participation trophies sending the wrong message to our children?

My first calls were to the professional and college athletes I work with who are also parents. Next I asked some of the high-performing fathers (business owners, CEO’s) who said they were either average, below average or non-athletic growing up.

Finally, I went to the people who this debate affects the most, children. I asked my own children (ages 13, 17) as well as some of their friends what they thought about the debate over participation awards. There are far too many instances in today’s society where adults and experts create a discussion about our children and youth without including them. This was an important perspective and their responses may surprise you.

All three perspectives were important for me to integrate into what I already know from my experience in child development, parenting and human behavior.

Here is what I’ve learned from everyone’s comments:

The “Yes” Argument

Participation trophies creates a false sense of accomplishment

“I wanted to give my children all they wanted, all I hadn’t had. In so doing I may have deprived them of what they needed most: the grit and the tools, to take on the world and make their own way.” Harry Belefonte

The professional athlete’s I spoke with whole-heartedly agreed with Harrison’s perspective. One stated, “Great job Mr. Harrison for teaching the value of hard work and that nothing in life comes easy.” As a father, I also want to instill in my children the importance of creating good habits, working hard towards a goal and giving your best. I agree with Mr. Harrison that teaching children the importance of earning things in life through hard work is a very important life lesson.

These are the times in our life when the most profound transformations take place because of defeat. Defeat and experiencing losing is important for development and has a way of getting our attention. It allows us to look at our habits, work ethic and performance to see where we can improve. If you never experience losing and are rewarded for simply showing up you may never learn this lesson of perseverance.

What I’ve noticed from observing the high performers I work with, whether its sports or business, is a sense of never settling for mediocrity. Winners in life, business and sports always feel that there is more to do. If business exceeds expectations in the first quarter, they want to top that in the second quarter. If the team wins a championship, they are quickly focusing on repeating the following year. In many ways, there is never satisfaction because there is always a bigger milestone to achieve.

The “No” Argument

Participation trophies teach children the value of showing up

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up” Brene Brown

The lesson that may have been missed in all of this is the value of showing up. One of the CEO’s I spoke with had a different take on the message the trophy sends. “By not giving a child a trophy after a long hard season teaches children that there is no value in trying. As Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of life is showing up.”

As a father who has coached many of my children’s teams over the years, I understand the hard work, dedication and commitment that a children (and parents) make to attending practices and games. Advocates for participation trophies argue that sending a child home after a long season empty handed sends the message that there is no value in the attempt. Sports can be a microcosm of life and teaching children that it’s bigger than winning or losing is important. By earning participation trophies, children receive the message that being accountable, showing up and working hard means something. Some children won’t be superstars or be fortunate enough to be on winning teams, but that doesn’t mean they’re not embodying winning values.

What the kids are saying

“Participation is more than just showing up”

When I asked my 13-year-old son and the players on his AAU basketball team, I was expecting them to be opposed to the trophies. These very competitive kids are always looking to win the next game and tournament. To my surprise, most of them (9 out of 10) were in favor of the trophies. They told me that they understand the difference between MVP, Championships and Participation Trophies and there is room for them all. The players went on to say that working hard and being committed during the season should be rewarded. WOW! I was impressed.

So, I called my 17-year-old daughter to see if she would have another view. A few days earlier, I had moved her into her dorm room for her first year of college. She spent most of her life on dance teams that participated in recitals and competition. Her view was similar to that of my son’s team. She said, “participation is more than just showing up, it’s agreeing to work to be part of a team. Whether we win or lose, it doesn’t take away our effort.” She continued to say that a criteria has to be met to receive it though. Things like attending practice, working hard and being a good teammate. Children get it and fully understand the distinction between a first place trophy and a participation trophy. As they schooled me, I wondered to myself if it was the adults, who were making this more complicated than it needed to be.

It’s Not about Trophies It’s about Values

“The major value in life is not what we get. The major value in life is what we become”

Most people are either on one side or on the other of this debate with no wiggle room for common ground. Participation trophies are either GOOD or BAD.

There is common ground between both sides of this debate that can ultimately benefit our children. The commonality is that everyone wants the best for their children, but we often go about it different ways.

As a student of child development, I also have to point out the research of Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck who wrote a New York Times piece titled “Too much praise is not good for toddlers.” In her research, Dweck talks about the negative repercussions of praising children for everyday achievements. She doesn’t discourage praising kids altogether, but suggests focusing on how they approach difficult tasks, strategize and concentrate.

The adults may have missed what the the kids recognized all along: Participation is more than “just showing up.” Webster’s defines participation as “the state of being related to a larger whole.” Isn’t that a value we want to instill in our children? Teamwork, sacrifice, service and contributing to a greater good.

It reminded me of the college professor who on the first day of class announced, “You all start the year with A’s, and this is what you have to do to keep it.”

Maybe the answer is to place meaning and emphasis on values rather than a trophy. Sports can provide valuable life lessons to help our children develop into healthy adults:

1. Teamwork– Teamwork in sports fosters emotional and social development that can easily carry over to life. This translates in how well your children work with their teachers, classmates, relatives, and anyone else they may encounter in life.

2. Resilience- You will experience adversity in life but never give up. Everyone gets knocked down, but what’s important is how you respond.

3. Sportsmanship- Your character shouldn’t be determined by a win or loss. Show up in the world as the person you want to be.

4. Fun- Children do this much better than adults do. In sports and life, find what brings you joy. Follow your dreams and have fun with it.

5. Hard work- This is a valuable lesson that translates in all aspects of life.

6. Everyone has strengths- Teaching children to look for the strengths in other people is a great lesson in relationship building though connection and empathy.

7. Responsibility and Commitment- “No practice, No Play.” Sports help children understand the importance of following through with their commitment by attending practices and games. Being responsible for yourself and keeping your commitment to your teammates is a valuable life lesson.

So… Is James Harrison Right? Are participation trophies sending the wrong message to our children?

It depends… Trophies don’t send messages, PEOPLE do! 

Maybe we’ve been debating the wrong question and complicating the issue all along. Harrison’s points about earning things in life and dealing with adversity are great life lessons. I think it’s fair to challenge the second part of the statement “your best sometimes isn’t enough. When children give their best, it should be good enough.

Competition is at the heart of sports, and maybe trophies should be reserved for the winners, but everyone’s effort deserves to be acknowledged.

“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”

Fatherhood Picture Of The Year Contest: And The Winner Is…..

First, I’d like to thank all the families who contributed to the Fatherhood Picture of the Year contest. It has been a huge success, as we received an overwhelming response of amazing pictures depicting modern day fatherhood.

Pictures were submitted by wives, husbands, children and friends, which made it all the more fun. The decision to choose a winner was extremely difficult, so I enrolled the help of my own children in the process.  Before I announce the winner, I’d like to personally thank and recognize all the fathers for being such great role models in the lives of your families.

And the WINNER is……..

All nine fathers below are the winners. Yes, that’s right, we have an 9-way tie. These submissions of our fathers in action were too good to pick just one winner.

Congratulations to all our fathers below. As promised, each winner will receive a FREE coaching session from me.

Here are our winning father’s:

Charles Jones shows that “proud papa” smile moments after the birth of his precious newborn

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Jeff Bogle sharing the sunshine with the light of his life

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Darryl Mathis in the New York State of mind with his adorable children.

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Rob Barea teaching his son that fatherhood is a marathon not a sprint

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Jon Harrison and his son “May the force be with you”

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Jesse Foster shows what being an ambidextrous father looks like

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Michael Vigneau riding the waves of life with his little ones

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Brian Henderson sharing creativity and endless possibilities with his daughter

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Brian Mininger with his own version of the “Fab 5”

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Congratulations to all our winners…

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Father’s Day: 3 Things To Think About This Year

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What an amazing Father’s Day weekend it has been already. It started out with Friday Pizza Night with my children and continued into Saturday at Brooklyn Bridge Park. We roller skated, played basketball and barbecued. But most importantly we laughed, talked and enjoyed each others company. Another opportunity to celebrate life as a family!

Father’s day is a celebration! A great celebration honoring the importance of a father’s influence on his family and society. Its origins date back to July 19, 1910 when the governor of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day.”

While I am a big advocate of Father’s Day celebrations, I also understand that fatherhood is an everyday responsibility. As a father of three wonderful children and someone who works with fathers throughout the world, I’ve dedicated my life’s work to shifting the perspective of fatherhood.

In my TED Talk, at TEDx Boca Raton, titled “The Most Important Question A Father Can Ask Himself,” I addressed the importance and impact of fatherhood.

Here are three things to remember this year when celebrating Father’s Day:

Fathers Matter- Children with active fathers in their life perform better academically, behaviorally and socially.

Today’s Father is Present- Today’s father is more active in their children’s lives than at any other time in history. The amount of time the modern father spends with his children has tripled since 1965.

Fatherhood Is Leadership- “Like Leadership, Fatherhood isn’t about your authority, position or title. Fatherhood is about influence; how one life can influence another.” A father’s actions and example directly influence the lives of his children and family.

While you think of what present you want to buy your father this year, take the time and reflect on what his presence has meant to you and your family.

HAPPY FATHERS DAY!
From our family to yours

 

Fatherhood Leadership Academy

Fatherhood Leadership Academy blue

Are you a father that wants MORE?  

More freedom? More fulfillment? More time to do the things you love?

Are you a father who wants to be better?

Do you want to be a better leader? A better father? or BOTH?

Are you a high achiever who has found success in the business world but sometimes feel like you’re failing as a parent?

Did you set your goals and dreams aside when you became a father and no longer think they’re possible?

If the answer is YES… The Fatherhood Leadership Academy is for you!

Click here to learn more: Fatherhood Leadership Academy

Fatherhood Picture Of The Year Contest

 

 

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In honor of all the Fathers out there, on Father’s Day I am hosting a:
“The Fatherhood Picture Of The Year” contest!

The goal is to highlight positive Fatherhood during the month of June.

I’m looking for the picture out there that captures modern day fatherhood at its best! Make it fun…

Rules of the contest:
1) Only 1 photograph submission per household (so choose wisely)
2) Anyone can submit (wife, husband, child, friend, mother, significant other)
3) All pictures must be submitted by June 15th
4) Winner will be announced on Father’s Day

Email the picture and father’s name to:
devon.bandison@gmail.com

The WINNER will be announced on Father’s Day and will receive a  1 hour one-on-one Live Your Legacy Coaching Session with me!

Although there can be only winner, we know that all Fathers are Winners! All pictures will be posted to recognize every outstanding father that was nominated for the contest!

Have fun gentleman!

Are You Living Your Default Future?

man try to exit from his glass sphere

Lets Stop For A Minute! Yes Stop….

Take a deep breath, check in with yourself and become present.

Ok, are you here?

Good…..

Now check in and see where you are on your journey called life! With almost half of 2015 behind us, now is a great opportunity to become aware of where you are in the here and now.

Have you reached the goals, dreams, and milestones that you had set for yourself? Are you satisfied, fulfilled and passionate with your life? Is what you are about to do today what you really want to do?

Or

Are you living your default future?

What is a default future you ask?

Your default future is that life you “settled” into. The one that has subtly placed your dreams to the side because “life showed up.” The vision of the life you really wanted for yourself that has been placed on a waiting list. It is that relationship, job, or situation that has now gone on auto pilot. Many people I work with begin to realize they have settled into their default future without even knowing when it happened.

Some have promised to go back to school after a year, and it’s 10 years later. Others have said they wanted to start their own business but continue to show up to a job they hate. Some wanted to have a healthier relationship with their body but never made it to the gym. You get the point.

We all have had opportunities in our life to either settle or move forward towards our ideal life.

Where are you?

The number one cause for this life on auto pilot is….Failure to leave your comfort zone

Yes, the dreaded comfort zone. Trust me when I tell you that your comfort zone is NOT your friend. Your comfort zone leads you to a one way ticket to your default future.

Comfort zones foster an attitude of learned helplessness, making progress harder. Learning, creating, and growing happen only when you step outside and challenge yourself.

“Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone”

Here are 3 Ways To Move Out Of Your Comfort Zone:

Lean In- Ever been working out at the gym and it hurts? Then you make a decision to lean in and continue working out despite the pain. What happens? The result is that you become fit, stronger and generally feel good about yourself. The discomfort was worth it. The same applies to your life. Lean in to discomfort. Choose to have that difficult conversation you’ve been putting off. Choose to apply for those jobs that you think you”ll never get. Choose to book put a date on the calendar and book the flight to your dream destination. Choose to write that book you’ve been putting off.

Become Present and Expand- Awareness can bring about change. When you become aware of your tendency to default to your comfort zone, shift your mindset to expansion. Ask yourself, what can I do that will broaden my horizons? Is it a 30-day challenge? Is it a conference you wanted to sign up for that will deepen your knowledge base? Is it an email to the author of the book you really connected with? These are all ways to expand.

Accountability- When leaving your comfort zone it’s important that your track your progress to ensure that you’re not subtly slipping back into old habits. Support yourself by creating an accountability group with friends. This can include gym workout buddies, a book club or a master mind.

Looking for deeper transformation? Consider hiring a coach or connecting with a mentor.

As you begin to move out of your comfort zone you will see opportunities that you thought were out of reach. This will build your confidence and allow you to take healthy risks.  I’ve seen miracles happen with the clients I’m fortunate enough to work with as a result of pushing past their comfort zone. Transformation in its truest sense. Leaving your comfort zone will create a life of increased fulfillment, optimism and confidence.

Make the decision today to get out of your comfort zone and live your ideal life, instead of your default future. Life is truly what you make it!

 

Making Headlines: The Fatherhood is Leadership Podcast

I wanted to thank everyone for your support of the:

Fatherhood is Leadership Podcast

Because of all of your support, we have reached the New and Noteworthy page on iTunes.

news and noteworthy

Thank you again. If you haven’t already done so, please go to iTunes and give us a rating and review! This will help move the podcast forward so we can continue bringing value and content you love.

Onward and Upward!!!

My TED Talk Takeaways

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Recently, I was honored give a TED talk on fatherhood and leadership at TEDx Boca Raton. As a professional speaker and someone who has watched many TED Talks over the years, it was exciting to be part of such a rich history and tradition.

For those who are unaware of TED, TED is a nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. The motto of TED is “ideas worth spreading.” You can see for yourself at TED.com.

I have to applaud the organizers of TEDx Boca Raton for putting together a first class event. Everything from the pre-conference VIP party to the event itself was filled with innovative, thoughtful people making the world better.

My talk was titled “The Most Important Question A Father Can Ask Himself,” drawing from my experience developing programs and coaching fathers throughout the globe. And of course my own experience and trials as a modern day Dad!

My idea worth spreading….”Fatherhood is Leadership!”

After a few days processing my time with other thought leaders, scientists, engineers, gamers, child prodigies and former professional athletes, I have a few takeaways from my TED Talk:

  1. Tell and Own Your Story- This applies to a public forum like TED or in everyday life. Our lives are a continuous narrative of the impact we make on people and the world. Be proud of sharing your story, ideas, accomplishments and perceived failures. Tell it, own it and be passionate about your story!
  2. Preparation- There is no substitute for hard work and preparation. Rehearse…Rehearse…Rehearse… Whether its a big speech or boardroom meeting, preparation is the key to success. Nervous energy can be expected but preparation turns that energy into peak performance.
  3. Innovation Can Be Simple The best way to approach complex ideas is to make them simple. Creating an authentic perception and reality of ‘new value’ for the audience is what matters. Remember Albert Einstein’s quote? “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, your don’t understand it yourself.” Just because a topic is complicated, doesn’t mean your talk needs to be complicated—the true mark of good communication is clarity.
  4. Remember “It’s Not About YOU”– Whenever you are asked to deliver a speech, workshop, idea or information don’t lose sight of the goal. For me it’s always to provide value to anyone who has taken the time to listen. When preparing I always ask myself “what’s in it for them?” While you may not reach everyone, you can surely make a difference in at least one persons life that day, if you deliver value.

Do you have a favorite TED Talk or TED takeaway? Let me know by commenting below and feel free to share with others…

If you want more details on how to become a better leader and successfully integrate work-life and home-life, let me help you. For your complimentary discovery session…and to find out about my LEGACY of LEADERSHIP coaching program, I have a limited number of appointments available and requests for people. If you are serious about creating a legacy of leadership, purpose and connection. Contact me

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Fatherhood Thought Leader, Speaker and Leadership Expert Devon Bandison teaches business owners and entrepreneurs around the world how to become better leaders at work and at home. Get his FREE report “Top 4 Way To Become A Productive Leader” at www.devonbandison.com.

5 Ways To Create A Legacy Of Leadership

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“All I ever wanted to do was save my kid…but the ‘my’ kept getting larger and larger”

Geoffrey Canada

Over the past few days, I’ve been In Savannah, Georgia where I was asked to speak at the National Youth-At-Risk Conference. One of the perks of the trip was sharing some time with fellow speaker Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone.

In our conversation we immediately connected as he learned of my work developing programs throughout the years for children, fathers and families in NYC.

The conversation shifted to this question…What type of legacy are you living today?

LEGACIES ARE CREATED BY LEADERS!

Ask yourself. What is your legacy right now?

If it was all over today, would you be proud of your legacy?

What would your kids, wife, community, colleagues, friends and families say your legacy is?

And most importantly, what would you say it is?

It starts with your WHY!

My early work with clients always starts with finding out what makes them come alive.

What are you passionate about? What is your WHY?

When you start with your WHY you create your own personal mission statement. This establishes a value system and ideal customer.

The next step is to create a living legacy so you can show up as the best version of yourself, wherever you are. Be the leader you want to become at home, at work and in the community!

Here are 5 Steps to creating a Legacy of Leadership:

  1. Vision- Know what matters. You can’t create a legacy and hand something down by accident (if so, it is usually a negative one). Until you have a clear vision of what you want your legacy to be, it will be tough to built it.
  2. Create Winning Habits- Great leaders have “non-negotiables” that they practice on a daily basis. Habits that enhance and support their value system. Drive your personal leadership vision into your life, business, and family by creating habits that support what’s most important.
  3. Connection- All great leaders influence lives through connection. This means spending quality time developing relationships at home, at work, in the community, and with yourself.
  4. Leave Your Comfort Zone– Research shows that in order to maximize performance we need a state of relative anxiety—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called “Optimal Anxiety,” and it’s just outside our comfort zone. Optimal anxiety is that place where your mental productivity and performance reach their peak
  5. Bring Value- Most successful people I know don’t think about being successful at all. They think about being of value. They know that when you bring value to a business, relationship, and community you enhance abundance and create reciprocity. (The more you give, the more you receive). The key is to convert value into behaviors that you can measure and manage. Values in action are the key to creating a legacy of leadership.

“Strive not be be a success, but rather to be of value”
Albert Einstein

Super Bowl: 3 Lessons in Leadership!

As Super Bowl XLIX approaches, what has been the major story line for you?

Deflate-gate? New commercials? Office pools? “I’m just here so I won’t get fined?”

All par for the course but if you look a little deeper you’ll find something else…

Lessons in leadership…

While growing up playing sports, coaches always stressed the connection between sports and leadership. As this years Super Bowl approaches it is easy to see the meaningful lessons in leadership exhibited by both teams. Win or lose, these two teams have positioned themselves as the best in class of their profession.

Here are three leadership lessons to pay attention to while you’re watching the game:

  1. Coaching develops talent – One could argue that the teams with the two best coaches in the NFL are in the Super Bowl. Talent development starts with good coaching. Great leaders have great coaches and mentors. If you are ready to take your performance to the next level, invest in a coach that can help you develop.
  2. Focus to finish- It takes vision and discipline to be a winner in sports and in life. Effective leaders follow their vision with a disciplined focus towards achieving a goal. Both teams had a vision of winning the “Big Game” and it was their discipline and focus that has put them in position to win. “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
  3. Champions never give up– Seattle and New England both went through their share of adversity throughout the season. People were doubting if they would even make the playoffs. But they never gave up, and are now on the biggest stage of their profession. Determination and resoluteness is what allows leaders to remain motivated and to overcome whatever adversity, obstacles and barriers they encounter.

“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”-Vince Lombardi, Hall of Fame NFL Coach

Enjoy the game!

 

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