10 Things Being an Athlete Taught Me About Leadership

NLP EncoreAn impactful leader in my life used to go camping with his dad growing up. His dad would always say: “Leave the campground cleaner than it was before.” While he meant it literally, he was also conveying a deeper message – leave your legacy by paying it forward for someone else. In Jesus’ words: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48)

I’ve often asked myself: Why have I been given the life experiences I have? And while I still don’t fully know that answer, I believe a big reason is to use them to serve others. It is in this spirit that Next Level Performance was formed – to deliver elite sports performance training while paying forward the valuable leadership and character lessons athletics can teach. It is our desire that every Next Level student-athlete would use the platform of their sport to be a positive difference maker both on the field and in their schools and community.

So what are we trying to instill in our Next Level athletes? Here are 10 things athletics taught me about leadership that I hope to invest in each athlete we touch at NLP:

1. It’s not about me

I will never forget sitting in rookie meetings with the Indianapolis Colts and listening to Clyde Christensen outline that football is a brotherhood, not a family. “If we are a train going down the tracks and one of you falls off,” he began, “in a family, the entire train would screech to a halt, we would all jump off, pick you up, dust you off, and slowly start the train again. But this is not a family, it is a brotherhood. And the train is screaming down the tracks toward our first game in 21 days. So if you fall off the train it is your job to catch back up, because we have no time to slow down for you.”

It was a powerful reminder that there is no indispensable person. No one is above the team and we all have an important role and responsibility to fulfill.

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