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  • Rick Jones

"I Didn't Mean To...."

Several years ago at one of our pre-game chapel services, Pastor Marty Sloan shared a quote with us from Andy Stanley. Unbelievably, 4 months later I talked to our team about the quote and over half of our players remembered it: “Direction, not intention, leads to your destination". I could only wish half of our team could remember one of my quotes for 30 minutes.

A simple concept, every decision I make today, big or small, leads me to my ultimate destination. EVERY decision I make either allows me to go forward or causes me to go backward. When I hear an NCAA football player announce he is leaving his school to “prepare for the draft”, (and I understand why he wants to do that) I want to make sure he knows, he has been preparing for the draft his whole life. Every decision he has made from the time he has played Pop Warner or Youth League football has prepared him for the draft. His diet, social life, hydration, work ethic, study habits, training routine, all has prepared him for the draft. If a young man believes he can overcome a lifetime of laziness and poor work habits in a couple months at IMG training for the draft, he is fooling himself. It’s not going to happen.

If I want to be the best coach I can be, it is not going to be an accident, it will be intentional. I have to watch film, read books, talk to coaches that know more than I do. I have to put in the effort on a daily basis to be a successful coach. I have never heard of a single instance where somebody was offered their dream job while they were in their grandmother’s basement playing video games. Direction, not intention, leads to your destination.

On many occasions, driving down the road, I have seen those horrible billboards with the pictures of a pretty young lady or a handsome young man showing the gradual effects of the use of methamphetamines. At some point in their life, they didn’t start using the drug and think to themselves, “some day I hope I can see my picture on a billboard.” I would guess the process would be something like, “sure, I’ll give it try… way I’ll end up on a billboard.”

One of several rules we had for our son was he couldn’t swing the golf club in the house. When he was around 8, he was swinging the golf club in the living room and whacked his little sister in the head. There was enough blood and hysterics around to make a low budget horror film. My son’s response was “I didn’t mean to.” It was as if this magic phrase would heal the wound and stop the bleeding. It was a great example of what people call the unintended consequence. If I swing a golf club in the house, there is a possibility I will hit someone with the club. It does not matter if it was intentional or not.

I was at a football clinic one day talking to a couple coaches. One of them had won a Coach of the Year Award recently. We were making a big deal out of it and the recipient said something like, “I’m really lucky.” My other friend jumped in and said, “Luck has nothing to do with it. Throughout your career, you have worked like a dog, taken jobs all over the country, often for little or no money. You have taken chances in your career that others were afraid to try. You deserve that award more than any coach I know.

That coach had made great decisions his entire professional life. He had sacrificed and outworked people that were famous for their work ethic. He was married and loyal to his high school sweetheart, lived within his means, and had no issues with gambling, ego, drugs, or alcohol. His direction had lead to his destination. There is an aspect of luck in our lives, but too many times, we attribute to bad luck which was really bad decisions.

We have coached now for 40+ years. During that time, I have been to the funerals of 11 of my players. Of those 11, 10 of the funerals could have been avoided (actually postponed, none of us can totally avoid our funeral) if better or different decisions had been made. Lives would have been different if one of them hadn’t decided to drink and drive and another would have been different if he had just pulled over to take a nap. Our DIRECTION is not necessarily determined by those huge decisions that we make as much as by those small daily decisions, that keeps us on our path to success.

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