Category Archives: Ken’s Blog

First Step in Leadership? Learn to Learn

I am coaching tyke football for the Nepean Eagles and I am excited!

My excitement extends from my love for the game and from my wanting to coach my 8 year old son who has decided he wants to play!

I get to coach kids up!

We will win some games and lose some games. That is a guarantee. Funny thing is the kids forget the scores of the games (win or lose) about 24 hours after the fact, so the focus for me is not on the scoreboard. Yes, I want them to compete but more importantly I want them to learn how to learn and the value of putting themselves in the position to compete that will invariably offer a high rate of success.

Now keep in mind, the team is made up of 7-9 year old boys who for the most part have very little knowledge of the game. They may think they know a lot about the game but in all honesty, they don’t know squat which is why I am excited.  They are a fresh canvas and their football experience as a tyke can set the tone on their relationship with the game as a player and/or as a future coach.

WORTH NOTING>>>The photo below is not of the Eagles! 

Let’s continue!

There is a great responsibility with being a coach! I have seen far too many get locked in on the trophy rather than the teaching! I have seen a lot of coaches enjoy early success but have no plan B in place when the opposition figures them out. Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I have seen a dynamic running back who is the fastest kid on the field take off on a sweep and score a bunch of touchdowns but look lost when a well prepared team neutralizes his speed. The kid is looking to the bench for answers and the coach is telling the kid to run the play, not wanting to admit that the play doesn’t work and that the failure to develop a plan B, a counter punch is on him!

So, coaching up means coaching with competency! Competency begins with a willingness to grow, to evolve.

Which leads me to share what I think is an invaluable foundation for anyone who is tasked with helping others up to succeed regardless of the arena! It could be  a tyke football team or a high tech startup. Football team or Fortune 500 company.

Initially described as “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill”, the theory was developed at Gordon Training International by its employee Noel Burch in the 1970’s. I found it while studying former Navy Seal Mark Divine ( and how Navy Seals are trained in a bid to enhance their performance in the field. Now, I am not asking my Eagle tykes to plank for an hour but I will utilize the “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” theory.







The 4 stages are as follows…

  • Unconscious Incompetence – Almost all of the kids have no idea what they don’t know! They may think the way I coach isn’t useful. They will want to go run into each other with no sense of technique or skill because they are unaware that they lack the technique and skill. The only way to move to the next level of consciousness is to coach up until the light comes on. Once that light goes on..the real learning begins! By coaching up I can stimulate the kids desire to learn and that is when the game becomes a craft!
  • Conscious Incompetence – So, now I have an athlete that has conceded to the fact that there is a skill or knowledge deficit.  This is a stage where the margin for error is great! Coaching Up with a high degree of competence will set the tone. When a kid bumps into his/ former coach a few years down the road, how the coach taught that athlete in this stage will determine how they react. Happy and excited = coaching success! Unimpressed and disconnected = coaching failure.  No one is perfect. No one masters a skill in a moment. The making of mistakes in a safe environment is integral to the learning process at this stage. Explaining the 5W’s (what, when, where, who and why) is invaluable! Hey kids, this is what we are going to do, when we are going to do it, why we are going to do it, where we are going to do it and who will do it!) Again, it goes back to their becoming craftsmen or craftswomen!
  • Conscious Competence – The Eagles now know how to do something! Tackle, throw a ball, carry a ball or run a play! Yet, repeating the skill a couple of times does not make one a master. To get there, some muscle and mental memory work is required. That requires concentration! The kids may get the play right, then try again and misstep, try again and misstep, then try again and get it done correctly. Limiting the number of missteps requires a refining of the conscious involvement requires concentration. Practice makes almost perfect!
  • Unconscious Competence – Ah grasshopper! You are now a master! You have put the time in! The light is on, the motor is purring like a kitten and you can drive the mission
    with one hand on the steering wheel and one hanging out the window! The kids have had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Once the Eagles have mastered a skill they can now build on what they have learned and begin the process of mastering another skill. Soon, based on habit forming behavior, they can source out the new challenge and attack it on their own, trusting the learning process.

When you ascend to the top of a mountain, you don’t stand there overlooking the land below and exclaim to the world, “I am a mountain climber…lets go sit on the couch!”.

No, you want to climb more mountains. Bigger, taller mountains!

You want to build on what you know. You want to experience the “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” again, again and again!

My goal is to prepare the kids for the challenges that lie ahead, short term and long term. I want to coach them up to succeed in the now and for that moment when they move up to the next level of play! I want them to apply “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill” to all that they choose to do and for it to become a habit that they can rely on in all facets of their lives.

By doing so, the victory lies in the moment when I bump into them ten years down the road. If they are excited and remember their football experience like it occurred the day before, then I did my job! If they turn the other way or have little to say…I failed!

Coaching and leadership has absolutely nothing to do with the little trophy they give you for winning a game. Changing someones life through empowerment will never fit on a mantle at home!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
or visit him Facebook or on twitter









Steve Kerr – I would want you to coach my son.

I have always liked Steve Kerr. Ever since he was a member of the Chicago Bulls!

Yes, that team had Michael, Scottie, Tony, B.J., Horace, Bill and of course Dennis but there were a handful of consummate team guys who stood out thanks to their subtle contributions. Steve Kerr was one of those guys.  His back story is incredible.(

Once you do a background check on Kerr, everything simply makes sense as it relates to his success as a person and as a coach.

After coaching the Golden State Warriors to the 2017 NBA title, Kerr now has 7 NBA titles to his credit (5 as a player and 2 as a coach). Yet, its not what he has done in the spotlight that really impresses.  What really stands out is his humility, respect for the game and his genuine connection to those around him.  It’s his ability to lead, give credit where credit is due and connect on a deeper level with his players and staff that leaves me wishing every coach/leader at any level should spend a day with Steve Kerr.

He is a LEADER! No doubt about.

Here is a great article written by John Eades entitled “6 Powerful Leadership Lessons From World Champion Steve Kerr”

Far too many leaders stray from the fundamental lessons. Pressure will do that. The key is sticking to what brough you success in the first place!  Don’t blink. Trust in your core leadership principals and coach up!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
or visit him Facebook or on twitter

Thank you Ottawa 67’s AAA Minor Bantams – CHAMPIONS!

There are many moments when I am amazed at the transformation a team can experience by simply buying in. I have seen it in the boardroom. I have seen it in career transition seminars.

And now I have seen it in the Ottawa 67’s AAA Minor Bantam hockey team. Now, getting a room full of teenage boys to focus for any length of time can be challenging, to say the least, but this team was destined for great things!

Head Coach Jim Cooke gets it! He understands the value of building the team and he understands that bringing a new voice to the locker room was the key. I signed on for 5 sessions, scheduled through the season. They were a very good team that could become great with a little help.

I spoke to them about incremental growth, focus, the finite difference between winning and losing and the knowledge that it isn’t about their opponent but rather, it was all about them and what they do. They would reap what they sow…guaranteed!

Tonight, they face the best team in the league in a do or die playoff game that will reward the winners with a trip to the semi-finals. The losing team would be done for the year.

Like the Grey Cup Champion Ottawa REDBLACKS, the 67’s had an up and down regular season.

The REDBLACKS were underdogs going into the championship game against a Calgary Stampeder’s team that went 16-2 during regular season play.  But they prevailed. Here is a link featuring the day before the championship game clips.

The focus was on the REDBLACKS being a team that had overcome challenges during the season and were battle tested, unlike the Stampeders. I asked them about the Stampeders not being punched in the face all season (literally and figuratively). They had not faced adversity like the REDBLACKS.  Talk about a fun study of quiet confidence in an athlete and a team!

The 67’s had 6 games left in the regular season. I showed them this video and I challenged them to go 5-1 and become the most dangerous team heading into the playoffs. I wanted them to become the team that no one wanted to play.  They re-focused, promised an incremental improvement in their individual game that would benefit the team and guess what. They went 5-1 over their final 6 games.

They eliminated the Ottawa Senators AAA in semi-final play and then overcame the Ottawa Valley Titans to win the title.

Congrats to the boys and the coaching staff on a job well done!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
or visit him Facebook or on twitter

Thank You Team Diabetes

Thank you to the Team Diabetes fundraising team for asking me to speak at their launch party. As a veteran Team Diabetes marathon runner (Honolulu 2x and Barcelona), I see the life-changing impact this great initiative can have on others.

I run for my mom…I run with pride. It’s the most important jersey I have ever worn!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
or visit him Facebook or on twitter


Tomato or Tamata? Know your team!


Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit…wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad!”. 

What a great line! You never know when you are going to find a pearl. Case in point with this line. I found it in a Steve Berry authored book titled “The 14th Colony”.  Thank you!

If you are responsible for leading a team this quote should resonate deeply within you because it is the cardinal rule of all cardinal rules when it comes to setting up others to succeed.

Knowing your team…understanding your team’s individual and cumulative skill set is always the first step. Do you have a roomful of tomato’s, apples, apples or rutabagas? The odds are you have a veritable mix and if you fail to acknowledge the exact make-up of your team you are destined to fail because somewhere along the way you are going to ask a tomato to do something that a potato does quite well.

Oversimplified? Certainly but it is the most common flaw of leadership.

How can you build anything without looking around and asking if you have the ingredients, components, pieces, tools etc.? It doesn’t matter if you are building a team, a cake, an airplane or one of those uber complicated IKEA closets.

So, why do so many leaders get it wrong coming out of the gate?

They have the best of intentions and they certainly want to succeed but getting locked and loaded on one way of accomplishing goals is the fatal flaw. The ability to adapt is everything.

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have won appeared in 9 Super Bowls and won 5 (to the shagrin of all non-Patriot football fans)!

They are known for doing things the “the Patriot way”. The Patriot way is the unwavering understanding that adapting to all challenges and doing all you can to put your players in a position to succeed is key. They won’t always succeed but more often than naught..they won’t fail. No one player is the hero every Sunday afternoon. Week in, week out, they find ways to win with different chess pieces on the board. As soon as you think you have the Patriots figured out…they adjust and offer a new challenge to the opposition. They dictate terms and the ability to do so hinges on the knowing what every player can do and cannot do.

So, why hasn’t every team simply copied the Patriots? It’s because the Patriot way requires patience, perseverance, precision and the willingness to make the tough decision. Its a long haul and many teams need to win today which forces their hand. Patience is not a commodity they own.

The Patriots are always in a position to manage the inevitable, difficult times with clarity, with patience and precision. The bar of competency is never lowered! If a player is injured, traded or retires the adaptation begins. They do not rebuild…they re-load.

As a team builder and movie buff, I am always looking for storylines that inspire.

The movie “Apollo 13” ranks among my top choices. Plenty of very smart people want to work at NASA…very few people actually get to work there because NASA wants a specific type of smart.

They don’t only want people who can help get a 45,931kg rocket to the moon and back but rather a team that can get a flight crew back when the 45,931kg rocket craps out which it did for the Apollo 13 crew.

Apollo 13 Flight Director Gene Krantz discussed one of the crucial issues they had to overcome after an explosion on the ship forced the flight crew from the command module into the landing module which was not designed to carry the crew around the moon and back to earth. Somehow they had to re-build a filter that would save the lives of astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert.

“The trouble was the square lithium hydroxide canisters from the CM (command module) would not fit the round openings of those in the LM (landing module) environmental system. After a day and a half in the LM a warning light showed us that the carbon dioxide had built up to a dangerous level, but the ground was ready. They had thought up a way to attach a CM canister to the LM system by using plastic bags, cardboard, and tape- all materials we had on board. Jack Swigert and I put it together: just like building a model airplane. The contraption wasn’t very handsome, but it worked. It was a great improvisation- and a fine example of cooperation between ground and space.”

The only way a team can enjoy success is for leadership to know what each team member can do individually, incorporate their skill set into the team and then ask to savor the ask of performing at a high level of competency.

So, to get somewhere, get to know your team! Getting off on the right foot is challenging and rewarding. Getting off on the wrong foot is easy and consumes time and energy. For every step in the wrong direction, there are 2 steps backward to make up for getting lost.

Ken Evraire is an award winning presenter, team builder and coach. As a former professional athlete, he has learned a from great coaches…learned even more from his bad coaches!

To learn more about Ken, visit his website or visit him Facebook or on twitter



Leading a Team? Go the DISTANCE!


Are you planning on leading a team anytime soon? Becoming a business leader? Team leader? Family leader? Perhaps you are already in the leadership thick of things as you read this post and are feeling a tad desperate.

Let’s begin with agreeing on one salient point. The kinetic energy that accompanies your becoming a leader can be exhilarating! Successful leaders have an instinctual desire to help others. To set the table for others to succeed is rewarding in and of itself. Being promoted to a position of leadership is a great honor.

The first caveman who brought fire to his clan likely took the time to give himself a pat on the back during a quiet moment as everyone slept warm and comfortable.

When asked to expand my role as Director of Fundraising / Marketing to Interim Executive Director at a small not- for-profit agency that had been deep in crisis, a part of me was thinking, “No way!” but the leader inside of me was thinking, “Yes, of course!”. I had only been with the agency for 8 months but I wanted to bring fire to my clan no matter how unwelcoming the team was to my promotion.

So back to you. Congratulations! You are now a CEO, new district manager, team captain, father or mother.

Almost everyone will pat you on the back. Congratulate you, wish you the best. Some will promise complete buy in. Some, not so much! Some want to sail with you…some are torpedo captains and they may have you in their sights.

Once the dust settles a series of realities will hit you!

First, you have taken on a great, vast, pressurized responsibility.

Second, for all that you thought you may know about leading a team, you actually don’t know that much. Sure, you have been mentored, you have a great set of parents who served as great role models through your life or you have been the assistant coach behind a legend and learned as much as you possibly could. That is not enough. Yes, it is the foundation of what sustains a soon to become great leader, but in the outset, it is nowhere near enough.

So what can you expect? What should you know? It all begins with Trust.


You may begin with a grade of A+ by virtue of your being the new boss, but that will change and if you do not work to earn the team’s trust, you will be quickly be facing a failing grade! You cannot inherit trust. Trust is not built overnight. To gain trust, a leader must be willing to go the distance…a leader must be genuine. Trust lies so deep within our being and the physiological response to giving it someone or having it betrayed is powerful! You can’t please everyone but by leading with integrity and professionalism, you can be trusted by everyone. The team may not agree with some of your decisions but they will follow thanks to the credit you have earned with them.

It’s a Marathon!

Any seasoned leader will tell you that there is no eye opening, eureka moment confirming you have figured things out. In fact, if you think you have come to one of those moments… if you think you have figured things out…get set for a big wake up call. You won’t decipher some secret leadership code and sail down easy street for the rest of your career! It is a marathon! The goal is the destination with a focused energy on overcoming the inevitable challenges that lie ahead. All NHL teams want to win the Stanley Cup but not one team on the circuit goes into the season without breaking up the schedule into manageable chapters with attainable goals. Winning 3 of 5 versus winning 55 of 82 is far more manageable. Be prepared to go the distance.

Communicate, Collaborate And Conquer!

If you get the chance to attend an elite level team sporting event, take a moment, close your eyes and just listen. Listen to the back and forth chatter! Any team that has its sight set on conquering the competition must be able to work as a collaborative and if memory serves correct, all great collaborations are founded in great communication. Silence is deadly! Silence leads to speculation and assumption. Talk about taking the expressway to creating negative space and courting inevitable failure! Communication and collaboration is all part of getting on the same page. If the entire team is on the same page the odds of success increase significantly. The first thing I teach aspiring quarterbacks, running backs and receivers at my football academy is that the most important time during the game is the 25 seconds between the play being called and the snap of the ball. By being on the same page you will be able to run the play with a high degree of competency and should the defense line up in a manner that would be detrimental to the play called, the quarterback can audible out of the original play and introduce a new play that will set them up to succeed. That same page, high level of competency allows a team to dictate terms. Staying a step ahead of the competition is the key to success. Sure, some teams that get lucky may win the odd time but those victories are few and far between. Syncopation equals success!

The Value of Time

Time is the most valuable commodity that we own regardless of where we are positioned on the hierarchical ladder at work. As a team leader never lose sight of the fact that people are spending a significant amount of their time at work. Yes, they get paid to do so but taking that for granted is a major leadership misstep. Some need the work, some love the job, some see the gig as a stepping stone to greater things. No matter the circumstance, being mindful of your team’s contribution from the perspective of time is crucial. If you want your team to go the extra mile, to put in the extra time…appreciate and value the investment from the perspective of time. Thank them for their contribution. It’s an investment that offers a high rate of return.

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned a from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
or visit him Facebook or on twitter


Leaders need to look in the mirror (often)!

So it’s late…and my wife is upstairs killing a slice of key lime pie. Better the pie than me!

To suggest that she is not pleased with me would be an understatement. We have enjoyed a great long weekend with the kids! As is always the case, our home started to look like a frat house after a good run during pledge week. This is what happens when we convince ourselves that we are a borderline bohemian family! I think we have adopted this lifestyle in a bid to justify our want to procrastinate! Truth is, our kids (Elijah 7, Summer 5 and Nate 4) are not bohemian but rather regular, normal kids who suffer from severe short term memory loss when we ask them to put their apple core’s in the compost, put their Mr. Freeze tubes in the garbage, not leave their BMX helmets in the middle of the doorway etc. If you have kids I apologize for preaching to the choir! You feel our pain!

Now, I was tired and a tad impatient which is not the best time to remind me that as the adults we may need to stop playing the role of entertainment director to our kids and begin preparing for what will be a very busy summer! Preparations began with attacking the in-house to-do list. A to-do list that I have been avoiding like an opponent tries to avoid a Mike Tyson punch. It will inevitably sock me right in the kisser (not in a literal sense) so I might as well just bite the bullet and get to work because she is right. Yes, any rational man would do so…or would they? Again, did I mention I was tired!

Yes, she was right. Indeed, we needed to get back to reality and create some structure at home. Yet, rather than agree with her…I chose to fight it. It was a no win but like a tempestuous, impatient child I didn’t want to win…I just wanted to disagree for the sake of disagreeing! For no other reason than I was tired. I was the dad and I was right (at least in my own mind but in the deepest recesses of my mind I actually knew I was wrong!). Shhh, don’t tell Pamela!

Now when I say “fight it“, I mean I still washed the bathroom floors (our 4-year-old believes hitting the bowl is optional!), began to purge the basement, re-claim her office space that had become our 4th toy room, and did some dishes but I did it all while applying the silent treatment. Now that is leadership! (not).

Leadership or co-leadership is not easy. Never has been…never will be. There are days when the last thing you may want to do is lead! There are times when you want to sit in the back of the bus and watch the street blocks go by! There is nothing wrong with that. Just let the other driver know.

Understand that there are times when you need to be led. Accept being led by another is not a bad thing. Sometimes you need to let someone else grab hold of the steering wheel. Sometimes you need to let someone else look at the map!

So, tonight I find myself needing to re-set my intentions. I am still tired but no so much that I can’t take the time to look in the mirror and remind myself to practice what I preach!

Leadership is not about one person sitting atop the mountain enjoying providence over all but rather an open journey that is built on a foundation of trust, patience, communication and respect. Self-correction is key to your success. Without it, you fall into the trap of simply repeating the same mistakes!

Leaders who do not take the time to look at themselves honestly in the mirror as a tool for self-evaluation are destined to fail. Often times the only one to hold a leader accountable is the leader him or herself. It doesn’t matter if you lead a team of 500 or a team of 5!

Tonight, I will look in the clean mirror (thanks to my work earlier this evening), evaluate my performance and learn from it.

Sleeping on the couch also serves as a great reminder of my need to improve my game! Isn’t it poignant! I am now wide awake and can’t sleep! I should go tidy up the garage!

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder. As a former professional athlete, he has learned a from great coaches and learned even more from the bad ones!

To contact Ken email him at

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.ken
or visit him Facebook or on twitter

Pendulum of Possibility – The Power of Being Decisive

What is the most valuable commodity we all share? I ask this question at the outset of each of my presentations be it a team leading focus project or a career transitions initiative.  Some say its health, some say its family and friends.

Both are great answers but at the end of the day the most valuable commodity we all share is time. Our time…my time, your time…time! How do you choose to spend your time? What do you want to accomplish with the time you have?  Do you live in the moment? Do you live looking back through your rear view mirror wishing you had done something different when you had the chance? Do you spend your time convinced that time is on your side and that what can get done today can wait until tomorrow?

Knowing we have no guaranteed allotment of time it would make sense that we do our best to draw as much out of the time we do have but as you know it just doesn’t happen that way. As a result, far too many people look back on the things they wished they had done than the things they did accomplish. We spend a lot of time idolizing others believing that when they were born, the clouds opened up and a higher power simply declared them as destined for greatness but it just doesn’t work that way. A decision is made followed by another and another. I doesn’t matter if its a Fortune 500 executive, a left-handed pitcher for the New York Yankees or the first violinist in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. A decision to be great is made and that decision is made knowing that other great decisions moving forward are required.

The reality is the Pendulum of Possibility is constantly in motion. For every decision you make be it a pro-active decision or an inactive one…a decision is being made and a navigational change occurs.

Dr. Sharon Melnick touches on this very foundation of thought in her Build Fast Confidence YouTube video. Build Fast Confidence – Dr. Sharon Melnick . I really enjoyed the assertion that we have on average 60,000 thoughts per day and that a shift in how we recognize and respond to those thoughts can act as a vehicle of positive change.

As a former professional athlete I learned that an “in the now” awareness was key to any and all success. Each and every play on the football field represented a potential transitional moment. The game could turn in a direction each and every time the football was snapped. When things go awry the entire focus cannot be on the play that went south because there is nothing you can do about it. The focus turns on getting back on track. The focus turns on a conscious navigational decision that gets you back on course. It doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of the playbook but rather a simple decision to let go of the negative and make positive decision making a habit forming skill.

Time is only on your side when you do all that you can to control it. It can be your moment but ownership can be fleeting if you are not consistent in your decision making. By being consistent you can define and re-define who you are and the direction of your journey.







The Football Player and Explosives Specialist

I had a neighbor who may have the most interesting and in the same breath, the most unwanted career ever. No, he is not a judge on The Voice!

Of the top 5 gigs that you run to Babylon and back rather than pursue…his not only ranks in the top 5 it may also make up the top 5!

He is a bomb disposal specialist.  That’s right. So essentially, when sane people run from the mere hint of an explosive device he walks toward it!

For security reasons, I cannot name him but he ranks a 27 on the alpha male scale and that says something knowing the scale actually only goes up to 10 (trust me it was tough to rank him so high considering I am about a 7.5!).

Now, one Halloween after the kids finished trick or treating, the guys on the street decided to gather for a few beverages!

His wife asked me not to talk about his job and I agreed. Yet, after a few beers and his wanting to talk football until my ears hurt, I felt it was my inalienable right to ask him a couple of work related questions!

In fact, it took me about 1.1 seconds to ask him the obvious $64,000 question.

“Do you ever get scared?”. Amazingly, it took him 1.1 seconds to reply. It was an unequivocal “No”. Being the former investigative reporter that I am I felt compelled to ask the next, hard hitting and seemingly logical question, “Why not?”

Amazingly, it took him 1.1 seconds to reply. It was an unequivocal “No”. Being the former investigative reporter that I am I felt compelled to ask the next, hard hitting and seemingly logical question, “Why not?”

Rather than answer my question he offered up a question of his own. “You played football, right?”.  Were you ever scared?”  I replied, “yes and no”.  He then asked me to explain.

No, I was never scared of the obvious.  The obvious being the potential consequences that accompanied trying to catch a pass on a field filled with defenders aka heat seeking missiles. The decision to compete at a high level came with risks, I understood this reality because it was part of the job description.

Yes, there were times when I was scared and it had to do with my not feeling prepared or feeling like my teammates were not prepared.  A prepared individual can compete on an elevated, instinctual level.  A team of prepared individuals can work in unison and enjoy a higher degree of success.  In turn, the possibility of falling victim in what essentially is a human demolition derby was minimized. Preparedness and awareness allowed me to focus on success and not survival.

“Bingo!” was his reply. “In football, what do you call the process of preparation?” he asked.  I could only come up with “game planning“. “Bingo!” he said.  It was then that I told him to stop saying bingo…it was kind of annoying.  Yes, I am calling out a decorated explosives specialist in a garage on Halloween night. Clearly, the beverages were taking over!

Yet, he agreed that game planning and preparation was the ultimate key in trying to avoid heat-seeking missiles on the football field or explosive situations in the theatre of combat.  Game planning and preparation was the key to his individual success as well as his teams success.

That’s when he introduced the 360 Degree Circle of Influence and to be frank…it immediately spoke to me and my work as a leadership coach and team builder.

With every step a team takes regardless of the theater, the story always has the potential to change in any number of ways. As a result, each and every member of the team plays a critical, organic role in the success of the mission regardless of rank.

Successful teams feature an elevated expectation of competency that allows a team to be versatile and open to change. Getting better is a process that is organic in nature and is key in managing fear and doubt. Managing the fear quotient requires a clear strategy based on the following..

  • trust
  • syncopation
  • communication
  •  willingness to adapt and overcome

A great example of this can be found in auto racing. Drivers utilize

Drivers utilize saccadic vision in the bid to find a balance between their peripheral vision, forward vision, processing information and making decisions at a high rate of speed.  Put a G licensed driver with a clean record into an open-wheeled, Indy racing car and as them to drive. Fear and the anticipation of failure would take over.  A focus that is too narrow or too broad is the recipe for failure. The ability to sense and to adapt to circumstances is key.

Michael Schumacher, Mario Andretti, Dale Earnhardt or any other elite race car driver races to win…not survive.

The ability to sense and to adapt to circumstances is key. It requires practice….it requires an investment that is called preparedness.

Hockey players call it “keeping your head on a swivel!”. Preparation and training slows high stress moments down.

Today, successful corporate leaders have realized that the 360 principal is applicable to themselves and their teams. They understand that the key to fulfilling an objective is to find an alternate route when you come to an obstacle… to problem solve on the go.  NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz surrounded himself with a team of brilliant minds that can launch a rocket into space…but more importantly, bring that rocket back safely after an oxygen tank blows up en route to the moon. “Failure is not an option!”

The combination of preparedness, communication, versatility and trust is the foundation for success regardless of the theater you work in.

Ken Evraire is an award winning keynote speaker, team builder, coach, former pro athlete and part time comic.

For more blog posts, visit Ken at or to contact him, email him at



If there was ever a case study on how a coach can “lose” a team and how a coach can “win” a team it was found in the 3rd period of last nights Ottawa Senators/Montreal Canadiens playoff game.

With the Sens well on their way to a game 3 victory Canadiens Head Coach Michel Therien chose to throw out his tough guys to help send a message to the Senators. In a perfect world, Therien would see his heavyweights beat up on the Senator’s players and in turn send a message heading into game 4.

Unfortunately for Therien, the Senators not only won the game but they also won all the fights! Now, that in and of itself does not necessarily put you on the fast track to losing your team. Throwing the tough guys out there to send a message has been done before and will be done again (perhaps in this series).

What sunk Coach Therien was the response from Sens head coach Paul Maclean. With :17 seconds left on the clock and enjoying a power play Maclean called a time out. Maclean knew it would be akin to throwing gas on Therien’s fire and now the rivalry is personal. The decision won’t change how Maclean coaches but it will certainly affect Therien’s approach. So, the Senators are up 6-1 on the Canadiens and the game is a done deal…but Therien in his lack of infinite wisdom chose to put Brandon Prust on the ice who had spent his last shift taking runs at Sens players. The decision to call a time out not only infuriated Therien and his players but it also sent a message to the Senators players. Coach Maclean will do whatever it takes to protect his team. He could have easily taken the emotionally charged route of sending his guys out there for another brawl but he opted to have his guys sit back away from the play on the face off and simply let the clock wind down. Habs defender Josh Gorges chose to fire a slapshot at Sens F Kyle Turris. Prust chose to race around looking for anyone to get in his way which the Senator players were instructed not to do. Rene Bourque (fresh off concussion issues of his own) threw Gordie How like elbows at Senator medulla oblongatas!

So, you have 2 coaches with 2 completely different approaches. Coach Therien now faces the challenge of convincing his players to play for him when it is clear from the post game comments that there is a disconnect between the coach and his team. Not one Montreal Canadien defended their coach for wanting to turn it into a back alley gang fight which ironically is not what the Canadiens do all that well. Therien has cried that Maclean’s calling a timeout was disrespectful. Maclean made it clear that he couldn’t give bag of pucks that Therrien was offended. Sometimes you shouldn’t poke the bear or in this case the walrus (Brandon Prust’s opinion, not mine!).
Coach Maclean has a room full of players that trust him and would skate through a wall for him and that is all that matters. The same cannot be said for Therien.

I have been a part of professional football teams that believed in their coach and on teams that had little to no faith in their bench boss.

The Ottawa Senators know they can beat the Montreal Canadiens on the ice and in the alley. The Montreal Canadiens also know this to be the case and face an uphill skate against an inspired opponent.
History is repeating itself. Many in the know believe Therien lost his team when he was the head coach in Pittsburgh. As for Maclean (former Red Wings assistant coach) history also repeats itself. It’s no wonder players would play for less in Detroit. They know the coach and his staff won’t get trigger happy when the kitchen heats up!

Leadership 101 = anyone can lead on the easy days! Its how you lead when the crap is hitting the fan that separates great leaders from good ones.