The Fake It Til You Make It Trap

“How come nobody ever says they were Joe Schmo?” 

Crash Davis – Durham Bulls Catcher

 

I have always loved this conversation between Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner in the movie “Bull Durham”.  Sarandon plays Annie Savoy and Costner plays Crash Davis. She teaches part time literature at Alamance Junior College and he is a minor league catcher with the Durham Bulls who exists in a bittersweet space thanks to his being a very good minor league player but not good enough to stick in the majors. They are talking about reincarnation.

I share this video as a segue to the “Fake It Til You Make It.” approach as it relates to sourcing out your next great career opportunity. 

Fake it til you make it!  For the sake of space..let’s go with the acronym FITYMI moving forward.

I must preface the rest of this blog with my admission that I am on the fence as it relates to FITYMI!

Sometimes it works and more often than naught, not so much.

There is a devilish nature attached to the whole idea of fooling people, adopting the pretending until you can produce approach. It can make for a great story as long as it works out. If it doesn’t work out, consider it a stark reminder that putting in the work and honing your craft isn’t a bad idea. 

Sir Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies) thinks FITYMI is 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!

 

 

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. I think it could work if you are faking the role of entry level sales associate, data entry assistant or a client services coordinator.

Do not go with the FITYMI model if you are 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 FITYMI strategy has its flaws. Beyond the obvious flaw I just shared, the other fly in the ointment is that those who choose to FITYMI, are often not what one would call a go-getter. Maybe a go-getter in getting a job but not a go-getter in the sense of learning the job. If a candidate is willing to fake their resume..chances are they will fake their effort. 

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 workhorse out in the pasture that we actually are. I am reminded of my 13 year old self when I opened my first bank account. I walked out of the bank with $10 in the account with a steely eyed focus on saving my next $1,000,000. Plans changed when I walked into the corner store. My goal of becoming a good little saver did not stand a chance up against my 12 years of habitual candy purchasing. Wanting to be or do something usually requires work. 

All successful people work.  The clouds did not open up when they were born with trumpets resounding and a higher power declaring them great.  They have talent and they worked. They worked really hard and were decisive. Somewhere along the way, they changed their approach to how they pursued success. They had to get beyond the definition of success and focus on the pathway to success. Successful people fall in love with the journey. They turn their gaze away from the trophy and turn their focus on the trials and tribulations that one must endure to get to the trophy. 

Like an athlete building muscle memory, when you 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 the norm and not the exception.  Your original destination was the express lane but somehow you got stuck in the collector lane and you are comfortable there.

So, faking it is an option but it only bears value when it is a transitory step toward a greater destination. A step that requires work and an effort that extends beyond adequate. 

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. Choose to do something that is valuable to you. Then hone your craft.  The art of developing your expertise and the energy that surrounds that effort transcends any need to fake it. If you are invested you are a sponge. If you are a fence sitter you are watching life go by.

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. 

Be realistic. Set goals that you can reach. Expertise does not come in one fell swoop, it’s 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!)

Change the Acronym: Rather than go with FITYMI…maybe go with another acronym?  IIDFIDS – If it doesn’t fit, I don’t sit!  If the suit doesn’t fit then don’t wear the suit. Find something that fits. Sometimes, you will wear a suit that doesn’t fit. Do not get comfortable.

There is nothing wrong with moving from one challenge that may not fit you to another that may. Sometimes, you will wear a suit that doesn’t fit. Do not get comfortable. Work hard until it fits or visit a career tailor the get fitted right.

Life offers very few absolutes. There are no guarantees. The most valuable commodity we have is our time. What we do with it will determine our path. Spend it wisely! 

Know who you are and who you can become.

 

________________

Ken Evraire is an award-winning leadership coach and team builder, a single dad to three world changers, aspiring author and 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/kenevraireleadership/  or on twitter https://twitter.com/kevraire17

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.” Ken Evraire

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 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/kevraire17    Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kenevrairedotcom/   

Is anyone really uncoachable?

Whenever I am told someone is uncoachable, I always wonder who the coach was. Not to disparage any coaches out there but there are a never ending number of avenues available when it comes to coaching people up for success. Patience, fortitude and a willingness to know who you are coaching up is key. 

A failure to coach is usually connected to a “my way or the highway” coaching approach that is limiting to say the least. Fact is, the “my way” approach is now about the coach and not the person being coached. The “my way” approach is lazy. Your way offers a high risk – low reward scenario. Its like winning the lottery once and hoping the exact same numbers will come up again. The odds of that occurring are 1 in 20,358,520. It is not going to happen so you better look at a different combination of numbers…you had better look to a different approach to connecting. That is coaching! 

Now, I know coaching people up offers a greater rate of success but hoping the same plan works each and every time sets one up for inevitable failure. Reason being, when you factor in the human spirit, the perpetual motion attached to such an energy requires an ability to adapt. One must be agile. 

One must be willing to establish a buy in with each team member and the team member must establish a buy in with the coach. The ebb and flow between a coach and the team is constant. 

Coaching isn’t a straight line from point A to point B experience. It’s a meandering, take 2 steps forward, 1 step to the left, 2 back to the right and 3 forward dance. It’s imperfect, it’s fluid and it’s personal.

The silo approach to inter action is no longer of value. Contribution is key. Overlap and inter-play is crucial to a teams success. The transparent sharing of the strategic where, what, who, where and why creates an ownership that makes it easy to justify spending over 2000 hours per year at work.

The fact of the matter is times have changed.  The “I tell you to jump and you ask how high” approach to leadership and coaching has fallen to the wayside.

Any coach worth his or her salt, in whatever realm, be it in business, a not for profit agency,  leading an elite athletic team or perhaps a house league squad, must be agile, willing to adapt and proud to serve.

Robert K. Greenleaf wrote that a servant leader “begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions.”

He emphasized that servant leaders have five important qualities:

  • they are open to listening to others, and to their own intuition;
  • they know when to withdraw and refresh themselves;
  • they are able to persuade rather than just coerce;
  • they accept their followers’ imperfections and have empathy for them;
  • they can conceptualize a clear vision and follow it one step at a time.

Sounds like the servant leader is a fairly progressive coach. Someone who would stand ahead of the coaching curve today. So, its amazing to learn that he wrote it over 50 years ago and that it stands the test of time.

What I love about the list of important qualities is that they are instrumental in the greater search for fulfillment. Human interaction, the ability to connect, communicate, collaborate and conquer is part of our DNA! Our survival hinges on it. As technological advances arrive and as companies morph and mold in a bid to find success, the importance of the human element remains constant. As sure as the sun rises and sets, there is always an opportunity to coach up. A coach worth his or her salt looks relishes the chance to coach no matter the circumstances.

A great coach finds a way!

 

Coaching and leadership is all about finding a way. To serve others.

Ken Evraire is an outside of the box team builder, leadership and coaching consultant who now aspires to become a documentary producer! Stay tuned!

Ken can be reached at ken@kenevraire.com.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevraire17

What was the score of the game?

50,000- 70,000 thoughts a day!

Researchers believe we have 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts in a day! So when I do the math based on the top end number of 70, 000 thoughts a day and my being 53 years of age, I have had approximately 1,354,150,000 thoughts in my lifetime and counting. WOW.

Now when you consider how much football I played in that time, isn’t it odd that I can’t remember the score of one game? I can remember Darren Joseph, Earl Winfield, Lonzell Hill, Scott Walker, John Hood, Wally Zatylny, Lee Knight, Richard Nurse, Dan Johnston and so many others like I met them yesterday, but scores of games? I got nothing.

It’s true. If you asked me the score of a game I played and I wouldn’t be able to offer an answer. Not one score, be it from a pre-season game, a regular season game or a playoff game. A tyke, mosquito, pee-wee, bantam, midget, junior, university or professional game.

It has nothing to do with my donating my brain to the Legacy program at Boston University, or at least I hope not. At the end of the day, I think it has to do with connections we have to others and drawing what was really important from our experiences. In sport, the final score is so black and white whereas, in life, the score is nuanced.

Fact is, in football, I could have played a great game and the team could still lose or I could have played like crap and the team could still win. The final score did not tell you the story.

Competition and Human Nature

Don’t get me wrong. In the moment, the final score was important because we are by nature, very competitive and there is a value placed on winning. Winning meant keeping my job.

In the pros, winning meant making more money and being able to pay the bills and taking care of myself. It also enhanced my social status and to be frank, from an ego standpoint, I loved the idea of walking into an arena of competition like a gladiator and being envied by the audience. Doing something special that very few others could do was kind of cool.

The ability to compete is directly linked to our ability to survive. Competition is one of the most basic functions of nature and will forever remain a powerful instinctual driver in human nature. There is no chance at all of evading this instinct.

In my mind, the reason why I don’t remember the score of games is directly connected to learning that the most important tally wasn’t on the scoreboard but rather in the dressing room when I looked my teammates and coaches in the eye.

  • Did I do my job?
  • Did I compete like my life depended on it?
  • Did I have my teammates back?
  • Did I honor the pact I made with my teammates?
  • Did I keep my promise?

If I answered yes, then I earned their respect, I respected the game and I slept well at night. I always looked forward to watching the game film when I played well and always hated it when I played like crap. Like they say…”the eye in the sky don’t lie”.

Honorable Bank Robbers

One of my favorite movies ever is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The story focuses on the friendship between two men who just happened to be bank robbers. It was about the trust, honesty and commitment that they shared in a very unpredictable environment. Their success hinged on their ability to keep it personal and to draw strength knowing the other would be there through thick or thin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9KBOhPXhds

The end game wasn’t about how much money they took but rather about their belief in the journey they chose to share.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyR7XB0VBPM

When I work with coaches or athletes, I always ask this question.

“What do you want from your experience?”.

They all want to win. They want a ring and a trophy. Many coaches will say, I want to be a game changer…a difference maker.

Then I ask them to think beyond the scoreboard. What do they want to accomplish beyond the final score?  There is usually a pause followed by a vague answer that they hope lands close to the target.

That is when the real coaching work takes place and it is in that moment that I tell them to forget the trophy because it collects dust.

That they will only wear the ring when they are trying to impress. Forget the team jacket, it won’t fit in 5 years. I tell them the real victory could arrive well beyond the completion of the season.I ask them to visualize being out front of the grocery store 5 years down the road.The coach sees his former player or vice versa. How do they visualize that moment? What is the preferred outcome?

Does the coach or kid stop and take the time to say hi? Do they reminisce? Share a memory? Do they pretend to not see each other? Do they turn in a different direction?

Great memories are personal. They extend from a genuine place. Despite competing in the very alpha male world of football, my ability to care for others was the only score that counted.

Ken Evraire is an outside of the box team builder, leadership and coaching consultant who now aspires to become a documentary producer! Stay tuned!

Ken can be reached at ken@kenevraire.com.

Invest in self is a step in the right direction.

Well…a new year is upon us! The obvious blog would be to suggest the value of a life altering resolution that will either help you get past a tough 2018 or to build on a prosperous 2018.

Either option is far too easy. Rather than adopt and all or nothing approach that will likely set you up to fail, let me suggest another avenue of thought.

Take time out to recognize what will be the arrival of an abundance of momentum building portals that accompany all decisions that you make. No matter what turn comes your way, good bad or indifferent, consider it a momentum building opportunity. Every crossroad is a potential investment opportunity.

Get into the habit of investing, be it in yourself, those you care for or those you may lead. Now, the process is not perfect. There are no guarantees but the mere effort is a victory in and of itself. Swing the bat! Don’t let it sit on your shoulders. Should you strike out, don’t stop swinging the bat. If you do, you fall into the New Year’s Resolution trap. The all or nothing inevitably leads you to nothing. Casino’s stay open because they win. They always have and always will.

So, what are the next best steps? First and foremost, know that you are human and perfection is not the goal. Being perfectly imperfect is!

Here are 4 keys that can help you invest in yourself and in turn invest in others around you.

Key #1- BREATH. Breathing connects the physical to the mental and provides a great physiological and psychological balance that will allow you to slow things down and see the entire board. Slowing things down is the difference between a major league baseball player making 20 million dollars a season and a guy riding a bus in double A baseball wondering how he can get to the next level. The star slows down a 98 mph fastball, the minor leaguer see’s the 98 mph fastball as a 100 mph fastball!

Check out former Navy Seal Mark Divine and founder of Seal Fit training as he explains breathing techniques when facing stressful situations. If it works for a Navy Seal, it should work for us just fine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1sBsaDy0FQ

Key #2 – POSITIVITY.  Positivity will allow you to establish mental control when combined with healthy internal dialogue. I admit at times, It’s easier said than done, but positivity allows you to manage stress and the health benefits that accompany the positivity approach are invaluable. Our thought process highway can race on the edge of control. How we manage the hundreds to thousands of thoughts we have each day is key to our success.

Key #3 VISUALIZATION – now that you are slowing things down you can see the board with a new sense of clarity. You can now make decisions that ebb and flow rather than stand disjointed and disconnected. Elite athletes always talk about muscle memory. Now the brain is not a muscle but it certainly behaves like one. The brain can be trained to improve to improve cognitive functions like working memory or math skills. One can’t help but believe it can be trained to become a better decision making machine. We believe what we think we see. See the forest beyond the trees.

Key #4 MICRO-GOALS…breakdown your to-do list into pieces so you can enjoy smaller victories and in turn build the type of momentum that will take you in the direction you so desire.

Success begets success. NHL teams break down their regular seasons into 4-5 game segments. The idea of trying to win 50 of 82 games can feel daunting on so many levels and can lead to the all or nothing approach to failure. Asking your team to win 3 of 5 over period of 10 days is far more manageable. Rather than focus on one large victory, turn your energy toward 10-15 micro-goals.

Flying is a lot easier when you don’t have a piano on your back!

I wish you the best in 2019!

If you are thinking of hosting a leadership seminar, coach up clinic or a team building session, consider creating a tailor made opportunity with me. Simply email me at ken@kenevraire.com.

Best of the best,

Ken

Ken Evraire is a team building, leadership and coaching consultant. He combines over 20 years of experience from his work in the corporate sector and from over 10 years during his time as a professional athlete.

I am giving my brain away.

“I could while away the hours, conferring with the flowers, consulting with the rain. And my head I’ll be scratching, while my thoughts were busy hatching, if I only had a brain.”

Friday evening…B.C. Place, Vancouver, B.C.

Somewhere in the red zone (between the 20-yard line and the goal line). I woke up to Dr. Mark Aubry looking down at me.

I asked him what happened? He told me I got hit!

“No shit I got hit!”.

I could hear voices.  I could taste blood.  I could hear the opposing players arguing with the officials about their ruling it was indeed a catch and not a fumble.  I could hear the crowd responding to the replay of the hit on the big screen.  I always wondered what an “audible gasp” sounded like.  Now I knew.

I had a couple of teammates telling me to hang in there.  Who they specifically were I couldn’t tell you.

I remember it all like it happened this morning which is odd because it happened back in the fall of 1990.

I had always assumed that you would not remember anything after getting knocked out, but I did.

A few moments earlier I was exiting the huddle after QB Damon Allen called the play.  The play called for me to run a 12-15 yard hook route on the right side of the line of scrimmage.  I went through my usual pre-snap checks and balances.  What is the body language of the defensive back covering me?  Would he play man or zone? Would he play press coverage?  Would he blitz?  I caught the strong side linebacker peeking my way which told me he was looking to cheat in his drop to his zone.  I was not surprised what with it being an obvious passing situation.  Just to be sure, I tracked the free safety.  Where he lines up often dictates the defense you will see.

On this occasion,  he was playing at depth (about 15-17 yards away and in the middle of the field) which told me he was going to drop deeper to defend against any deep passes.

Based on all of the variables, I had a good sense that I was going to get the ball.

As I took off on my route, my first steps widened me away from the SAM linebacker in a bid to avoid his trying to bump me off my route. I knew that once I got passed him I could settle at 12-14 yards in a window between him and the middle linebacker.  It was a route I had run a million times during my career.  I was confident.  Maybe too confident!  I got to depth, settled down and gave Damon a target. This was simple pitch and catch!  He delivered a dime hitting me right in the middle of my jersey numbers with the pass.  I was all set to take off up field in a bid to gain some extra yardage…then BOOM!

The last thing I saw were brown eyes.  The very same brown eyes belonging to free safety Robin Belanger.  The very Robin Belanger that had I failed to notice cheating up on coverage as the play unfolded.  Safe to assume I noticed as soon as he sent me into la-la land!

*Of note, I only knew it was Robin Belanger after I watched the game film a couple of days later!

After Dr. Aubry established that I had been knocked out, I miraculously sat up, yet was wary of the news that was about to come, because I knew something was not right.  I felt like I had gotten run over by a truck!  I asked him what the damage was.

He replied, “Separated shoulder, a broken nose, a few teeth had pierced your lower lip and you likely have a concussion.”. 

All were injuries I would recover from.  It’s not like I blew out my knee (which I did in 1993).  I didn’t think twice about making a recovery and getting back on the field.  The concussion didn’t even trigger an element of fear or doubt.

“With the thoughts I’d be thinking, I could be another Lincoln, if I only had a brain.”

Yes, I was done for the day.  In hindsight, it was also the day I subconsciously decided that I would play the game safe.

It was not the first time I was knocked out and thanks to a combination of forces (an ability to catch punts and being on a bad team) it would not be the last.

The first knockout took place in Ottawa when we hosted the Toronto Argos.  I ran a shallow crossing route and saw the LB on the other side of the field drop back into zone.  Cool, I would just gear down in the space he vacated and all would be good.  Yet, that was not just any linebacker.  It was all-star Ben Zambiasi.  He was a former Georgia Bulldog, tougher than nails and sly…very sly.  I had heard stories about Zambiasi but as a young, seemingly invincible fool, I chose not to give any of those stories credence.  That I regret…a lot.  I didn’t see him but I sure felt and heard him.  As I geared down, I looked to the QB and it was in that moment the lights went out. Zambiasi had dropped a few steps then torpedoed me and I was sent ass over tea-kettle.  The wind was knocked out of me but rather than panic, everything was oddly calm…almost surreal.  The best way to describe it may be he hit my Control-Alt-Delete button.  I knew I was hurt but not injured. I could hear Zambiasi arguing with the ref that I had ran into him but I couldn’t see anything! I tried turning the lights on by opening my eyes and closing them over again but nothing.  I know I scared the crap out of my teammates what with their looking down at me and watching me blink my eyes over and over again! Odd thing is, I did not leave the game. I missed a couple of plays but continued to play.  There was no “how many fingers?” questions.  I was asked how I felt and I said great! I wanted to compete.

(Funny thing is Ben Zambiasi was on the coaching staff when I joined the Hamilton Tiger Cats. My fondest memory was his plotting to steal the team bus after a season ending loss in Edmonton. I was an eager recruit but regrettably, the mission failed.)

The third time I got knocked out was in San Antonio, Texas. As a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders, we traveled there from Memphis as part of a 2 city road trip.  By then, I was trying to recover from a surgically repaired torn ACL, just finishing out the string!  Truth is, I never completely recovered.  My knee doesn’t completely bend.  The knee cap was bogged down with scar tissue despite my going in to have it cleaned on 4 separate occasions!  I was holding on to the game and was a mere shadow of my former self. Life beyond the game scared me.  During my recovery, I enrolled in a Computer Programming Diploma Program  at CDI College, even though there was nothing about me that screamed computer programming.  Everyone was seemingly in computers and they were making money doing it.  Why couldn’t I?  Sure, I wasn’t passionate about it but I was in survival mode.  So much so that I returned to what was in essence, an abusive relationship that was not good for me.  Like they say, “It’s better to dance with the devil you know than the one you don’t know”, and I knew football.  All for $55,000 before taxes!

Did I mention we were not a very good football team?  So much so, that the coach in his infinite wisdom had me return punts.  Now, I was never a burner to begin with but as luck would have it I was one of the few on the team that could catch a punt which is all that I was asked to do.  Why? Because every time we lined up on punt return we tried to block the damn thing.  Great idea if it works but bad for me if it doesn’t.  If we are going for the block, I have next to no blockers available to help me out.  It just made sense what with our being a bad football team, that we would be fail miserably in the category of “blocked punts”.

I swear I could hear the Texans punter Roman Anderson laughing before he punted one my way.  It was in the Alamo Dome so tracking the ball was challenging to say the least.  His hitting the ball about 9 kilometers up didn’t help either.  By the time the ball came down and was caught, I was surrounded by the Texans punt cover team.  I utilized the old “duck and cover” technique which fared well until the 2nd quarter.  As luck would have it Texans FB Tony Burse, all 6 ft. 220 lbs. of hurt, figured out my strategy.  He whacked me pretty good.  There were 2 sounds…him hitting me and my hitting the turf. This time the lights went out and back on quickly.  Just a flash!  I immediately regained my focus but in that moment, completely lost my will to play.  That was when I decided I would retire at the end of the season.  I also decided I was not going to return punts or play football for that matter on that day.  The trainer pulled me from the game.  I went to the locker room, showered, took a couple of pain killers and then drank a few beers on the team bus while listening to the rest of the game with the bus driver. He was pretty chatty and I had nothing to say.

“I would not be just a nothing, my head all full of stuffin, my heart all full of pain. I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry. If I only had a brain.”

So, I am giving away my brain.  It may be the only thing worth giving away once everything is said and done. I have had 2 cardiac ablations for an atrial fibrillation issue. My back and hips are stiffer than a Regina wind storm and my memory is starting to go.

I am a father to 3 wonderful, precocious children. I have a wonderful, patient partner in Pamela, who has gone to hell and back with me. I have been impatient, moody, confused and frightened. I have also avoided seeking help for fear that there is some real damage. Again, another example of my dancing with the devil I knew versus the one I don’t know.

I am sharing my story because by going public, I have intentionally forced my hand.

I have chosen to share my story because I have decided to seek help. I have decided to avoid the trap of thinking I am invincible, that I am okay and that I am being brave by “manning up”, by not doing anything.

If I didn’t have kids, I probably would not be seeking help. Picking yourself up and pretending you are okay and getting back into the game is not an act of bravery.  Asking for help is.

I would have continued to live in the silence.  To simply exist but my kids need me.  Elijah, Summer and Nate need me.  Pamela Joy needs me.

I am not regretful. I grew up in Lebreton Flats and spent hours at the Boys and Girls Club.  We did not have much besides big dreams and great parents.  My dad, Ken Sr., played minor league baseball with Pete Rose and Ritchie Allen.  My mom, Paulette, was and still is our Rock of Gibraltar.

I knew as soon as my dad lifted me up on to the ticket box outside Lansdowne Park so I could see one half of the field as the Rough Riders played the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, football would be my way out.

With that said, as much as I loved the game, Pamela and I will have plenty of discussions regarding our kids and their playing contact sports.

Here’s the rub in all of this. I have no idea if what I just shared made sense.  I guess that is yet another reason I have decided to donate my brain. They will likely find nothing (pardon the pun!).

Gosh, it would be awful pleasin, to reason out the reason, for things I can’t explain. Then perhaps I’ll deserve your and be even worthy of you.
If I only had a brain!

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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 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