Find Your Lobster Suit!

I never imagined wearing a lobster suit would turn out to be a game changer for me but it did back in 1989!

32 years later, I booked career presentation number 500 or at least close to number 500! I am the first to admit keeping track has not been a perfect science! 

Not sure why booking the presentation struck a sentimental cord with me but it did. Maybe it has to do acknowledging the power of a leap of faith I took 32 years ago! Maybe it has to do with my being 55 years of age, the changing of seasons or watching my kids grow up faster than wheat in Melville, Saskatchewan.

Worth noting, Melville was named for Charles Melville Hays, former General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway which, if you know your 1970’s music, inspired the name of one of the greatest bands ever, Grand Funk Railroad. How is that for a water cooler fact!

Okay, lets get back my getting all sentimental! I believe it has to do with my sitting down and thinking back on the presentations that stuck with me through the years, presentations that stood out for a number of different reasons.

Presentations that captured the audience on a level I did not necessarily anticipate. 

I always loved presenting to groups of inspired individuals and coaching people up. 

Back in 1989, as a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders, I was often called on to host or attend events the organization would run or support. My boss at the time, Jo-Anne Polak, the only female GM in professional football and considered to be a marketing genius, decided the team should host a marquee fundraiser.

With her roots in the East Coast, it made complete sense to host a lobster dinner.

Great idea? To be honest, it was a good idea but to suggest it was great would have been a stretch. So, the team was going to host a lobster gala. The story doesn’t stop there.

In addition to the team hosting the fundraiser, she suggested I serve as the event emcee in a bid to add to the evening! I said yes and I did so knowing I was not going to get paid! Yep, no pay, which to be honest, I was okay with. Jo-Anne had become my official supplier of free game tickets so as gamblers say, her ticket supply and my working for free was a push.

The wild card in all this was the very real possibility that, as my boss, she could have me traded to Winnipeg in a blink of an eye!

Remember the part about her being a marketing genius? This is where the genius comes into play. She suggests I emcee the event in….wait for it…a lobster suit!

At first, I irresponsibly and irrationally said, “Sure, what the hell.”.

Then the reality began to set in along with a certain discomfort. I had no worry about serving as emcee but had some hesitation when it came to dressing as a crustacean. Now, I could have worn a suit and tie or a team sweater and pulled it off but I knew that wouldn’t work. I wanted to wear the lobster suit! I needed to wear the lobster suit!

It was meant to be. I was meant to wear the suit the same way King Arthur was destined to bare the sword Excalibur after it was handed to him by the lady of the lake.

Many of you are likely thinking, “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.”

I agree and I admit that was borrowed from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

It doesn’t change the fact that the lobster suit and I were meant to be.

On event day, I was piped into the Civic Center Assembly Hall by the Ottawa Fire Department Pipe and Drum, and it was then that I knew somehow, someway, I would dedicate my energy toward presenting.

Rather than embarrassingly make my way to the podium on stage, I opted to walk in like I was the heavyweight champion of the world. I chose to own the room before I even entered it. I walked in selling the “I can’t believe I am the only crustacean in the room! How lucky am I?”

Before I even said a word to the sold out audience, I knew I had won.

Initially, the suit was a tad uncomfortable but not from the perspective of fit but rather from the perspective of the experience being so new. Sure there were stares of astonishment from everyone in attendance, including teammates and my girlfriend at the time, followed by laughter.

Yet, any concerns that I had were soon outweighed by what the moment brought me. Sometimes you need to stand up when everyone is sitting down. Sometimes, just sometimes, you need to be your own crustacean! Stepping out from the comfort zone and out of what we have worn in the past may be just what the doctor ordered.

Having Jo-Anne there with a smile of affirmation certainly helped as well. It wasn’t about the suit for her…it was about her confidence in me and seeing something beyond the football player. The power that comes with a combination of self determination and an authentic investment in a person is game changing!

Today, when I am not introducing, “There is an “i” in Team” concepts or tailoring client specific strategies, I am doing my best to help my children find the courage to wear their lobster suits and discard them after they have learned what they needed from them and move on to their next suit.

We are all going to spend our time doing something, so make sure it is something worth spending your time on. By doing so, you will find your “right place and right time”.

Wearing that lobster suit opened doors to experiences that went beyond my ability to catch a football.

Find your lobster suit and head upstream like you were destined to wear it. 

——————————————

Ken Evraire is the owner | principal of TECTONIC TLC Team Lead Coach.

He is a quintessential team player who loves coaching, team building and talking leadership!  He is grateful for the opportunity to work with a roster of fantastic clients ranging from the government sector, not for profit agencies, start ups, Fortune 500 companies and elite sports teams.

He is father to 3 precocious children, has the best ex-wife in the world, is a former professional football player that has since donated his brain. He has run 3x marathons (Honolulu 2x + Barcelona), done stand up comedy and believes the old school coach was wrong…there is indeed an “i” in Team! 

Check Ken out on the following social media pages…

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/ken-evraire-leadership/

Twitter https://twitter.com/Tectonic_tlc

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tectonictlc

   

Death to Clichés

The global pandemic may have gotten to me! I have been triggered!

I have to believe I would never have written this blog 18 months ago. The odd thing is, the source of my trigger extends from a very unlikely, strange source!

Clichés! Yep, clichés! I said it!  They are everywhere on LinkedIn! 

Specifically, clichés used by leadership/coaching and team building experts as a tool to stay front and present in the quick twitch minds that make up the twitter sphere audience. 

The site Your Dictionary defines clichés this way.

“Clichés are terms, phrases, or even ideas that, upon their inception, may have been striking and thought-provoking but became unoriginal through repetition and overuse. ”

Unoriginal being the operative term!

I scrolled through twitter for no less than 4 minutes and here is a list of clichés/jargon that I found.

Of note, in an effort to establish complete transparency, the final example extends from yours truly. Yes, I have used clichés in the past! I am part of the problem!

  • The first rule of leadership is that your foundation is built on trust and respect and character

  • Authentic leaders have realistic expectations of their people

  • A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.

  • Your problem isn’t the problem. Your reaction is the problem.

  • The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. 

  • Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate in a way that increases your influence and leadership

  • I would rather die of passion than of boredom

  • The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the PILOT.

  • Leadership is like conducting a symphony. It’s not your job to play all of the instruments.

  • People don’t seem to care about following a leader who doesn’t seem to care about them.

  • Why Not You? Why Not You! Why Not You. Why Not? Give Yourself Permission.

I get it. Clichés are nice, cute reminders to others. Yet, like eating liver and onions, using clichés should be enjoyed on occasion!  

Every time I read a series of clichés I am brought back to a scene from the movie released in 1999 titled, “Mystery Men”. The scene stars Ben Stiller in the role of impatient super hero Furious Roy and Wes Studi in the role as Sphinx. Sphinx relies on clichés and is pragmatic in his approach and Furious Roy is a want to get things done type of guy.

It’s been said that belly buttons are useless but I will argue that from a life giving perspective, belly buttons are kind of valuable. Far more valuable than a cliché that does not connect you to something of greater value. A belly button serves as a portal that could bring us the next great scientist, author, BMX champion, opera singer or YouTube influencer! A cliché on its own gives birth to nothing. 

Throw a whole LinkedIn lineup of clichés at someone and a trite numbness inevitably takes over.

Maybe it’s just me. Again, I did mention at the outset that I may be a little triggered!

Yet, in my defense, I believe a cliché on its own always leaves me wanting more. I feel like a dinner guest that was given bread and water and then sent on my merry way. I am left sitting in the truck wondering what the heck just happened and then searching for the closest Burger King!

A cliché on it’s own lacks authenticity. A series of clichés do not inspire me to get going, they inspire me to tune out and take a good nap! I want some substance with my side of snappiness! 

I played professional football for 9 years in the Canadian Football League. I learned early on that the coach or player espousing a bunch of clichés usually liked the sound of their own voice and more often than naught was ill prepared for competition.

Could you imagine a professional football coach commanding the attention of his team before heading out of the locker room to do battle and saying, “Fellas, fellas, gather around! Never forget. It’s a 60 minute game and the bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the PILOT. Let’s go get them boys!”.

A cliché may sound good but it won’t help you when a 230 pound linebacker is trying to put you and your rib cage in row 6! 

I have always been a guy who wanted to know the what, when, where, who and why! Each time I got knocked out in a football game, it had to do with someone now remembering their role and responsibilities. Someone forgetting the what, when, where, who and why. On two occasions it was a teammates fault, on the 3rd occasion it was all me! As I lay on the turf blinking my eyes in a bid to get my computer re-started I knew I had screwed up. So did the fans who watched the replay of the hit on the jumbotron screen over and over again!

I get it. Leading, coaching and team building is not easy. It’s a competitive industry. It’s also an honorable profession and I am proud to be a part of it. It requires an intuitiveness that connects people on a deeper level. It demands authenticity and generosity. Being in the business of setting others up to succeed and celebrating the potential contribution others can make is the reward for those who have been bitten by the leadership/coaching and team building bug.

If we ask our clients to buy in and put the work in, regardless of the arena they compete in, the least we as leadership and coaching experts can do is serve as an example. To also put the work in.

Include a link to something of value with the cliché. It could be a great blog post or a great video that expands on the idea presented by the cliché. Feed your audience. 

So, the time is nigh! Join the revolution! Join me in the fight to ban the art of posting clichés on their own. 

This whole being triggered thing is tiring! I am going to see if Mystery Men is on Netflix!

Stay safe and well!

——————–

Ken Evraire is the owner | principal of TECTONIC TLC Team Lead Coach.

He is a quintessential team player who loves coaching, team building and talking leadership!  He is grateful for the opportunity to work with a roster of fantastic clients ranging from the government sector, not for profit agencies, start ups, Fortune 500 companies and elite sports teams.

He is father to 3 precocious children, has the best ex-wife in the world, is a former professional football player that has since donated his brain. He has run 3x marathons (Honolulu 2x + Barcelona), done stand up comedy and believes the old school coach was wrong…there is indeed an “i” in Team! 

Check Ken out on the following social media pages…

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/ken-evraire-leadership/

Twitter https://twitter.com/Tectonic_tlc

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tectonictlc

Dancing With My Devil

“If you dance with the devil, then you haven’t got a clue, for you think you’ll change the devil, but the devil changes you.”  J.M. Smith (Author) – “If You Dance with the Devil

In what had become a reassuring habit I developed over a 2 ½ year span, I was trying to count the number of lights in the surgical lamps stationed above me in the operating room before the anesthesiologist knocked me out.  The answer on this day was 55. There I lay, prepped for surgical procedure number 5 on my left knee. All part of an effort to get back into the game of pro football. The first procedure, the major repair of my torn ACL and meniscus, took place on Monday October 18th, 1993. All thanks to a less than heroic moment one week earlier on the Toronto SkyDome field as a member of the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  It began with my brief chat with Toronto Argonaut receiver Jeff Fairholm as we went out for our pregame warm up.  He stood with the support of crutches and had a full knee brace on his left leg. He looked like a cyborg!  I asked him what had happened and he told me the turf got him.  No one touched him…he had sprained his knee running a route. Nothing more, nothing less…nothing dramatic.  What the mind believes the rest of the body will achieve. For the first time ever, I played scared.  All because of that one singular moment. I should have left the stadium and hopped on a GO Train back to Hamilton then and there.  Everything felt off after that. I had a bad warm up.  I bobbled a couple of passes early on in the game.  I remember telling myself to wake the fuck up before someone tore my head off.  In the 2nd quarter, QB Reggie Slack called a play and based on all of the variables in the moment, I knew I was going to get the ball. I just had to run a great route and I did. Perhaps the best hook route I had ever run in my career. As expected, the passing lane opened up and Slack hit me right on the numbers with the pass. In a bid to avoid a heat seeking missile/Toronto Argonaut defender, I planted my foot into the turf and rather than pivot away to protect myself and the ball that I had just caught, my knee hyper-extended and blew up!  Literally!  To this day, I can still hear the pop!  So could the defender.

Rather than take a moment to develop perspective and re-group, I raced to the operating room and the surgeons scalpel, all in a bid to get back into the huddle. All for a salary of $55,000 before taxes!  As luck would have it, the one thing I do better than play football is build fibrous tissue. My body builds scar tissue. So much so that I endured 3 follow up arthroscopic procedures in a bid to clean the knee up, release the knee cap and increase my ranger of motion. Now I was looking at procedure number 5 and I kind of vowed it would be the last.

“There is a fine line that separates courage and obsession.”

In Chinese, the term Lingchi translates into “the slow process, the lingering death or also known as death by a thousand cuts”.  It is related to a form of torture long outlawed.  I wish I had known this as I lay on the field that day.  For years after that misstep I put myself through my own form of Lingchi.  Little did I know it was the first step in a long, arduous waltz with my devil.  Rather than be a death of a thousand cuts, the dance was a death of a thousand rationalizations and justifications.  With each justification, with each rationalization I became a better dance partner.  A willing dance partner all in a bid to avoid looking at life beyond football.

What doesn’t kill you doesn’t necessarily make you stronger. It just kind of kills you and makes you more comfortable with discomfort.  

As they carted me off the field, I knew my life had changed.  The distance between my teammates and I was palpable.  Sure, I knew I was never going to play football forever but I never really thought about life beyond the game until that moment. Every athlete needs to feel invincible. It’s why I would never visit a teammate in a hospital if he had undergone knee surgery. Any other surgery, I would be there with flowers but not knee surgery. I went from invincible to invisible in the blink of an eye.

In what is a tad ironic, two weeks before I blew out my knee I sat down with pen and paper and attempted to look at life beyond football.  I was going to build my resume.  The idea was inspired by my taking time to clean my one bedroom rental.  As I cleaned up I found little brown packets.  Two by my bed, 3 in the kitchen, 2 in the couch cushions and a single packet in my gym bag, another in my shaving kit.  Within the packets were tablets. Toradol, percocet, naproxen and Tylenol 3’s.  Toradol was my favorite.

If you look it up toradol is described as “a short term treatment of moderate to severe pain in adults.  It is traditionally prescribed before or after medical procedures or after surgery.  Reducing pain helps you recover more comfortably so that you can return to your normal daily activities”.  Well, when your normal activities include getting run over by guys who take great pleasure in running people over, toradol was the perfect dance partner.  At that moment, I was both excited and horrified.  Excited that I found a stash and horrified that I was excited about finding a stash. 

It was my scared kind of straight moment. It was time to consider my next life chapter.  As I began to write out my resume, the panicked set in.  I immediately realized that if anyone wanted to hire someone who, on 2nd down and 10 with time winding down, could adjust his route in a split second against a safety blitz, catch a ball in the red zone with a guy zeroing in on him with the single minded goal of wiping him out, then I was your guy.  Regrettably, most HR Managers were not hiring anyone with those particular skills in mind.  It was then I first felt an overwhelming sense of worthlessness. 

In that failed resume building moment, somewhere in my sub-conscious I decided that I would dance with the football devil I knew intimately rather than embrace what I perceived as an unknown devil waiting for me on the other side.  I preferred to dance with the devil I knew versus the devil I did not know. I had already sabotaged things with the assumption that a devil waited for me on the other side. I could not fathom that mere possibility that great opportunities awaited on the other side. 

Despite waking up each morning feeling like I had been in a minor car wreck, I kept the chips on the table and opted to let it ride.  I adopted an “it’s better to burn out than fade away” ethos. I convinced myself that sacrificing my body and mind for the game was a fair trade off with the football gods.  Almost heroic! My hips were misaligned, I had torn rib cartilage the season previous, broke a couple of transverse processes in my back, suffered concussions, recovered from a torn quad that was not diagnosed until an attempt to drain fluid in my knee revealed blood instead.  In addition, thanks to a helmet to the elbow earlier in the season, I had a bursa sac that when touched, would send lightning bolts through my arm. 

To this day, I kind of believe I touched the 3rd rail on the train tracks and roasted myself.  By playing host to the mere idea of preparing for life after football, I sub-consciously set myself up to fail.  I created a chink in my own armor. 

So, there I lay in the operating room desperate to feel safe in a game that was not safe.  I yearned for comfort in a game that used competition to keep players uncomfortable.  I wanted to feel a connection, an assurance that my devil could provide but I bought into a lie.  The not so funny thing is, as the anesthesiologist sent me to la-la land, simplicity ruled.  A new clarity entered from the fog.  For a brief moment I admitted to myself that I didn’t love the game anymore.  For a brief moment, I admitted that I hated the game. 

The procedure, like the previous three, did not succeed.  I registered for a computer programming diploma course.  Now, nothing about me screams computer programming.  It was a $17,000 mission failure.  Funny thing is they gave me a diploma for coding.  I think the instructor felt guilty and created it on his home computer using clip art.  I tried on a suit that fit so many others but did not fit me.  Not even close. 

At that time, a desperate Hamilton Tiger Cat team called a desperate Ken Evraire.  Can you run?  I sure can!  Can you help? I sure can!  I would have said anything to get my fix.  The devil asked me to dance again and my being a Ballroom Dancing World Champion, I could not wait to hit the dance floor. 

Why did I go back? Why did I not leave it all behind?  Like almost all long term, dramatic, emotional relationships, breaking up is tough.  Neil Sedaka was right when he sang, “breaking up is hard to do”!  So tough that we do all we can to avoid heartache. We try to work it out. We rationalize. We compromise all in a bid to stay in the same space or go back in time to when things were good. 

This approach stands in direct opposition with our DNA and our need to dance with many partners that make our life chapters. Dance without giving up ownership. Change roles and take the lead!  Fill your dance card.

Embrace opportunities…embrace learning.

The 1st stage in the 4 Stages of Learning is Unconscious Incompetence.  Essentially, we don’t even know that we don’t know.  At first blush, the term incompetence is negative in nature but if you look at it from a different perspective, a perspective of birth…of a new beginning, the term becomes our start line.  We do not magically master something overnight. 

We work our way from stage 1 to stage 2 (Conscious Incompetence) where we acknowledge that we don’t know, that it is okay and then begin the work of knowing. 

Then we make our way to Stage 3 (Conscious Competence) where we begin to hone our craft on our way to mastery.

Once we have mastered the skill we have made our way to Stage 4 (Unconscious Competence) where we can perform the skill without thinking.  Then we repeat the process with a new challenge in mind. 

Once you ascend a mountain you don’t stop climbing.  You look for a bigger, taller mountain! 

In the book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges writes:

“Transition always starts with an ending. To become something else, you have to stop being what you are now; to start doing things a new way, you have to end the way you are doing them now; and to develop a new attitude or outlook, you have to let go of the old.”

Dancing with the same Devil over and over again forfeits your growth.  To give birth to something new…something must end. 

We are all going to dance. Find the right partner and when you do take the lead?  

 


 

Ken Evraire is the owner | principal of TECTONIC TLC Team Lead Coach.

He is a quintessential team player who loves coaching, team building and talking leadership!  He is grateful for the opportunity to work with a roster of fantastic clients ranging from the government sector, not for profit agencies, start ups, Fortune 500 companies and elite sports teams.

He is father to 3 precocious children, has the best ex-wife in the world, is a former professional football player that has since donated his brain. He has run 3x marathons (Honolulu 2x + Barcelona), done stand up comedy and believes the old school coach was wrong…there is indeed an “i” in Team! 

Check Ken out on the following social media pages…

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/ken-evraire-leadership/

Twitter https://twitter.com/Tectonic_tlc

 Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tectonictlc

 

Friend first…G.M. second. My time with Jo-Anne Polak aka JP Superstar

I had forgotten that she was given the nickname, JP Superstar! Wow, how time flies. I may have forgotten her nickname but I will not ever for forget how she personalized professional football.

I of course refer to Jo-Anne Polak, the first female General Manager in professional football.

 

For the many who don’t know and sadly, for those who forgot, Jo-Anne joined the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1987 and was named the teams business manager in December 1988. The title should have been Business Miracle Worker! She became co-GM with then head coach Steve Goldman a month later! As general manager, Polak became the first woman to hold an executive role in the Canadian Football League and the first woman general manager of a North American sports team. She held the position of general manager until stepping down in November 1991. I first met her in the off-season of 1989. I was heading into the locker room for a workout and she was there hosting a tour and working on her latest marketing marvel to re-connect fans to a team that had under-achieved like no other. The team’s hopes had been placed on the shoulders of Canadian RB Orville Lee, QB Damon Allen and K Dean Dorsey. Lee was drafted 1st overall the previous year, Dorsey had returned after a stint with the Philadelphia Eagles and Allen arrived from Edmonton thanks to his connection with Head Coach Steve Goldman . The team also acquired warrior OL Gerald Roper and Rob Smith in 1989. Smitty beat Matthew McConaughey to punch when it came to not needing an excuse to go shirtless! All were significant pieces in the effort to build a team that could compete. 

Truth be told, Jo-Anne inherited a 6 ring circus. I could go on about my teammates and their love for Jo and I could go on about how she changed the football landscape in Ottawa and how she excelled in what was an “old boys” setting but that would be too easy and too obvious.

Yes, when we got our pay cheques the morning after a game we would  indeed race to the RBC on Bank St. and First Avenue before team meetings, to get them cashed knowing full well that there may not be enough money in the teams account to cover the payroll! Forever teammates but in that moment, arch enemies! Nothing personal but I got to get paid! Some guys got paid and some guys came back pissed off! Funny how you could pick them out in the crowd!

I could go on about the charity hockey game between the Rough Riders and the Perth OPP and how it got out of hand real quick, like at the drop of the puck. Ah, alpha males!!  Jo was our “coach” and she got out from behind the bench real fast. As the competitive energy rose, she took on this panicked look on her face! She booked it away from the bench and into the stands despite our assurances that all would be fine. She arrived worrying about  about branding and selling and was now worried about a full line brawl! Yes, Damon Allen always played the wing furthest away from the bench so he could extend his shift to about 7 minutes at a time and yes, Loyd Lewis would undo his skates between each shift and get riled up when he would miss a shift as he laced back up!

For me it was about her leadership under very personal and challenging life experiences.

The first came on July 5th, 1989. We had played the Toronto Argonauts the night before in pre-season play. Guys were on pins and needles knowing the roster was being cut down. I was in a special teams film session when I was told Head Coach Steve Goldman wanted to see me. There was a pause in the entire room. Was I being cut? Perhaps traded? I had a great training camp and had really found my groove going into my 2nd year as a pro. When I entered the office I saw Jo-anne first. I had laughed about a million times with Jo by then and when we looked at each other, she had an expression of sadness. I thought, “shit, I am gone!”.  Steve was seated behind his desk. He was clearly uncomfortable so Jo-Anne took the lead and I think Steve and I were both glad she had.

That morning, my cousin David had been struck by a car and had passed away.  He was working for a courier company and had been making a delivery downtown when the accident occurred. David was the oldest of 3 boys. His father is brilliantly funny! At social events, Uncle Gerry would make my dad laugh until his lungs fell out. Still does to this day! Aunt Claudette did her best to eliminate the hi-jinx, largely because Gerry’s humor was at the expense of french hockey players even though he and Claudette were fluently bilingual! David has two younger brothers, Shawn and Chris. Shawn was the quiet thoughtful one. Chris, known as Cricket and Boots, had more energy than anyone I had ever met. I didn’t get a lot of details when I was given the news. I just knew the loss was going to carry a lifelong magnitude that no one should ever have to experience. I know because I had a sister pass away when I was 4 and she was 5. Her name was ‘Jo-Anne”, and she was likely as spirited as my boss. Jo-Jo was riding a bike that was too big for her and she had fallen into a parked car, bumping her head. No need for details but I still cry to this day when I think about her. I imagine Uncle Gerry, Aunt Claudette, Shawn and Chris will always shed a tear for David as well.

Having Jo-Anne there, sitting close by as I called my Uncle Gerry, not knowing what to say or do will be etched in my memory bank forever. She wasn’t just about the bottom line and football. Jo was about the relationships.  In the blink of an eye, she had earned my trust. She was a “show me, don’t tell me” type of leader! Always had been, always will be.

The second memorable, emotional moment came in 1991. I had established myself as a CFL pro by then and was part of a team that had a lot of potential. In the off-season, the team signed big name free agents Glen Kulka, Tony Cherry, the late John Mandarich, and David Williams. Some would argue that the team crossed the line in terms of the unspoken gentleman’s agreement that teams not sign other teams big name free agents. Some would call it the art of collusion! Coach Goldman and Jo-Anne opted to go big and create some positive heat around the team. The result was a vengeful group of competing General Managers. Fortune favors the bold but it could also come back to bite you in the ass.

We played Calgary on October 13th. I injured my knee and had anticipated being placed on the teams injured list. It was an eventful morning after the game because the team doctor opted to drain fluid build up in my knee. I was assured it would accelerate my return to the roster. When he drew back the syringe, there was blood and not the fluid he had anticipated. This was indeed good news. My knee was fine. I did have a 2 inch tear at the base of my quad but that would heal. I was going to miss some time but nothing to worry about. At least that’s what I had thought. Now, in the CFL, teams use re-callable waivers as a tool in building their weekly rosters. If a player is place on re-callable waivers and claimed, the original team can recall the player. Through all of this, the player has no idea all of this is going on. We are just a pawn in the game of football life! The fly in the ointment is teams can only place a player on re-callable waivers once a season. Now, if a player is injured and is placed on waivers, the odds are a team won’t claim him because they don’t want damaged goods. That is in a perfect world but things were not perfect between other teams General Managers and the Riders. Ah, yes…those vengeful general managers?

So, out of the blue, I get a call the next day from a guy I know from my football circle that I choose not to name. He is chatty with me than asks me about my knee. I told him that I would be fine. I explained the injury believing I could trust him. in football, trust, like contracts, is often broken. The next morning, I am called into Steve Goldman’s office. He broke the news that I had been claimed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I was stunned. He went on to tell me that I was placed on waivers in a bid to hide me because of my injury and that Hamilton had crossed the line and claimed me. I asked him how that could happen. I then learned that I had been placed on re-callable waivers earlier in the season. WHAT! In a blink of an eye I was property of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In one moment, I was on the rise and an active community member and the next, I was an after thought. I remember flying to Hamilton and being met by absolutely no one from the team and staying at some roach motel in a sketchy part of town! What a disaster!

When the news broke, I went to my apartment to pack. Jo-Anne had been on her way to Fort McMurray for a charitable event with Bobby and Dennis Hull when she called me. Before I could get pissed off she apologized and was in tears which led to my breaking down. The transaction had not been her call. Our conversation, her dismay and apology was genuine. In that moment, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was no longer a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders but would forever be connected to Jo-Anne. Here is the kicker. She was going through her own difficult time as she and her first husband had separated.

I am grateful. Who wouldn’t be. It’s not everyday you spend time with JP Superstar. I know being the first female GM of a professional football team was not easy but she did it with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding a diet coke with Wendy Lisowski laughing her ass off in the passenger seat!

The cool thing about Jo was she could sell. Whether it was kazoo or paper airplane themed nights or convincing me to wear a lobster suit and host the teams keynote off season fundraiser!

The next season, as a member of the Tiger-Cats, I paid Jo-Anne a visit with a couple of teammates in tow. No appointment necessary. We walked into her office, hung out with her and laughed. My teammates were astounded. Then, to no one’s surprise, Jo gave the guys tickets to the game so they could hand them out to people we met downtown.  The guys added about 12 new female Tiger Cat fans to our fan base that afternoon while walking around Sparks Street!

There will never be anyone like JP Superstar! She had me at hello! Can’t say the same for opposing GM’s like Cal Murphy, Bill “The Undertaker” Baker or Joe Zuger! All great guys but don’t take this personal when I say, with Jo…it was personal.

I can’t tell you the score of any game but I can talk Jo-Anne Polak until the paper planes land from the top of the south side.

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Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder, a talent specialist with Cistel Technology in Ottawa, Canada and is a former professional athlete. 

To contact Ken email him at ken@kenevraire.com.

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.kenevraire.com or visit him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/ or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Fake It Til You Make It” aka FITYMI Trap!

Fake it til you make it! Better known as FITYMI!

Sometimes it works and the majority of time, not so much.

How many times have you heard that great piece of strategic advice?  I have heard it a handful of times during my life journey and it always struck me as a high risk, rarely rewarded scenario.

Sir Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies) thinks it’s a viable option. Just get in the door and figure things out as you get going! Fact is anytime a “Sir” says something, people tend to listen with a little more interest and I did! Here is a 13 second clip of Sir Rick (not to be confused with Slick Rick). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoXhoZjkUVY

So, first and foremost, far be it for me to disagree with a guy who has enjoyed the success Sir Richard has enjoyed. In fact, I kind of agree with him. Faking it til you make it makes sense when you are in an “attack the learning curve” frame of mind and not, I repeat, not auditioning for the role of trauma surgeon, pilot, astronaut, explosives specialist and any other gig that you can think of that places human life at risk. The old fake it til you make it approach has a greater chance of panning out if you are kind of faking the role of entry level sales associate, data entry assistant or a client services coordinator.

All joking aside, there is a greater point that I think is important. The FITYMI strategy has it’s flaws.

If someone is going to FITYMI and then hope for the best, the likelihood of their succeeding is slim. Human beings are creatures of habit. We have the tendency to get excited and race out of the barn like a Kentucky Derby Champion but soon become the work horse out in the pasture just enjoying the day as time passes. The FITYMI followers want to be special but fall into the trap because they do not have enough in their tank to actually “make it”.

We beat ourselves up because we are not the next Roger Federer, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Ellen DeGeneres or Lionel Ritchie! Sure they are all successful but its not like the clouds opened up when they were born and some higher power declared them destined for greatness (Lionel Ritchie is the exception!).  Somewhere along the way,  they woke up believing that it was time to change their approach to how they pursued success. They had to get beyond the definition of success and focus on redefining their pathway to success.  They had to turn their gaze from the trophy and focus on the trials and tribulations that one must endure to get to the trophy. They focused on the work with a steely eyed focus on doing what it took to win.

I love the conversation between Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner in the movie “Bull Durham”.  Sarandon plays Annie Savoy and Costner plays Crash Davis.

Annie: ...so you see in a former lifetime I’m sure I was Alexandria, the Czarette of Russia. What do you think?

Crash: How come in former lifetimes everybody was someone famous? How come nobody ever says they were Joe Shmo?

Nobody wants to be Joe or Jill Shmo but the majority of us are because we become competent fakers. We tap out on the journey to be genuine. We tap out on the opportunity to be great.

Like an athlete building muscle memory, when we consistently opt for the “fake it til ya make it” approach you will soon get used to faking it! Before you know it…the faking becomes your end goal. Your original destination was the express lane but some how you got stuck in the collector lane and you are comfortable there.

I played professional football. Now, before the trumpets resound and the crowds cheers, it was the Canadian Football League and I made $33,000 before taxes my rookie year. This after being drafted 9th overall! In college I was able to fake it. I had no idea what defense the opponent played. I had no idea about their tendencies or what they were trying to accomplish. I was getting away with being the better athlete.

That changed when I was drafted by Saskatchewan. When my name was called, I walked up on stage to meet General Manager Bill Baker better known as The Undertaker.  As we shook hands he said, “Welcome to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, you are now a free safety!”. “I am a free safety!”.

I just played 3 years of college football and without wanting to brag, I had built a pretty good resume. I was a 2x All-Canadian, conference all star, conference MVP, conference Rookie of the Year etc. I was a pretty good receiver! Yet, they drafted Jeff Fairholm (U. of Arizona) 2nd overall. So, I am now a free safety. I could have faked it in training camp and returned to school but I was done with university life and quite frankly, I  think the university may have been done with me as well!

I wanted to play pro football so badly that faking it was not an option. I had to go into attack mode! By avoiding the trap of faking it I was able to learn and in turn compete at a smarter and faster level. Eventually, I was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders and shifted back to receiver. Talk about looking at the game from a completely different perspective. Everything made sense. I understood the chess game within the game.

So, faking it is an option but it only bears value when it is a transitory step toward a greater destination.

FITYMI only works if you are intent on getting out of the faking it lane as fast as you can. It works only if it is a layover between where you were and your next destination. No one wants to spend time at Newark International Airport, Kennedy or LaGuardia! They are hubs that lead to greater adventures.

So, how do we avoid the fake it til you make it trap?

What does it mean to you? We are all going to spend our time doing something. We look with envy at those around us who seem to be doing what they actually want to do. Who knows if they actually are? They may be full of crap, living the pretend Facebook perfect life. Who knows? I do know that if what you choose to do means something to you, you are more apt to go the extra mile. The art of developing your expertise and the energy that surrounds that effort transcends any need to fake it. The will to dig in is genuine. If you are invested you are a sponge. If you are a fence sitter you are a stone.

Game plan. Have a clear and concise exit strategy. Have a game plan that features hard and fast deadlines that will force you to get to the next level. Put some pressure on yourself to compete. Don’t get comfortable. Set incremental goals and don’t waver from them. If you are close to satisfying them then great. You have the option to give yourself some extra time. If you are nowhere near the neighborhood of satisfying the goals then you may want to ask yourself the “is this really for me?” question.

Be realistic. Set goals that you can reach. Expertise does not come in one fell swoop, its incremental and modular in nature. I remember back in grade 3 when I convinced my parents to buy me a geometry set. I vowed I would use every item in the case. I would use both of the set squares, I would protract with the 180° protractor, I would rule the class with the 15 cm ruler, I would never get lost thanks to the metal compass, and so on with the 9 cm pencil, pencil sharpener, eraser and the 10 mm stencil. As expected, I did not use all of them…in fact I barely used any of them. (of note, I had to Google all the items found in a protractor set!)

Find another fake it til you make it adventure: If the suit doesn’t fit then don’t wear the suit. Find something that fits or comes closer to fitting. There is nothing wrong with moving from one challenge that may not fit you to another that may fit you. Life offers very few absolutes. Finding what is worth your time is an imperfect science.

Faking it until you make it should be a very uncomfortable comfort zone experience. At the end of the day, the goal is to create your own right time and right place.

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Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder, a talent specialist with Cistel Technology in Ottawa, Canada and is a former professional athlete. 

To contact Ken email him at ken@kenevraire.com.

To learn more about Ken, visit his website www.kenevraire.com or visit him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/ or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17