Success. Wikipedia defines success as an achievement of an objective/goal, a level of social success, the opposite of failure. The Oxford Dictionary simply says that success is the attainment of wealth, fame or social status.
Interestingly enough, “Success” was the name of an automobile manufacturing company that boasted a car with a two-cylinder gasoline engine, steel tires (rubber for an extra $25), and a chain drive. It claimed top speeds of 4-18 mph depending on which one you picked off the lot, as well as an incredible 100 miles per gallon. The Success model was already completely outdated by the time the company launched in 1906. The story of Success ended after only ten short years in the manufacturing business. Despite the affordable price tag of only $250 per “horseless carriage” it was an utter failure, joining a long list of early unsuccessful automobile companies.
According to the definition of success it is an achievement of our own predetermined goals, allowing us to handicap the ceiling of our own potential. Success is also the accumulation of wealth, fame and status, no matter what we have to do and whom we have to hurt to get them. Is it then an admirable pursuit to seek success for our business, our family, and our lives? Despite what Wikipedia and the Oxford Dictionary tell us, there must be more to the idea of positive achievement than just setting our own goals and celebrating our own achievements. So what then is a true definition of the concept of success as we envision it?
I believe that as we begin to calculate and lay out our path towards success in our endeavors, we should actually be focusing instead on finding ways to be significant. The definition of significant is: meaningful, of consequence, having or likely to have a major effect, important, influential, effective.
I have been fortunate enough to hold positions of leadership for several different companies over the past 15+ years. In my trial and error attempts to motivate people and to become a leader who values significance over success, I have learned that one of the most important determining factors in attaining high levels of achievement is the ability to focus and take ownership. By that I mean having the healthy inclination towards finding the intrinsic motivation and strength to override extrinsic influences. When you reach the point where you begin to claim ownership over your circumstances, you are then able to push the boundaries of your potential. The harsh reality is that there are many external factors that greatly influence our ability to attain success as it has been defined for us. In the case of the car company, the grim truth was that because of their own mistakes, their designs and technology were all outdated by the time the company was launched. Their competition had legally copied all of their ideas and beat them to market. In our own lives, these external factors are often beyond our control, lowering the ceiling of our potential by taking ownership away from ourselves and placing it in the circumstances that we find ourselves in. This leaves us vulnerable to every defeatist attitude our minds can conjure up. We find it easy to believe the lies around us- I can’t because: “I’m too young/old”, “I don’t have enough money”, “I don’t drive the right car”, “I don’t know the right people” etc., then the definition of success rings in our ears and whispers that nothing is our fault because we were held back by our circumstances. The obvious solutions are to then just lower our goals and objectives a little bit, making success achievable once again.
I want you to consider something amazing. Significance is not impacted by external influences. Significance doesn’t care how impossible your circumstances, how little money you have, or what car you drive. None of that matters because significance is achieved simply by intrinsically choosing to be meaningful, of consequence and influential.
What will you choose for your life, your family, and your business? Are you going to chart out a path for success, one that is heavily impacted by external influences? Or are you going to choose to be significant and live a life that positively impacts others no matter what your circumstances?
I will conclude with a proposal for a shift in our pursuits. I propose that whenever you consider the value and level of your own success, instead substitute the concept of Significance. The founder of the Success car company, John C. Higdon, was not very successful with his own company, but he had an extremely significant impact on the automobile industry. He allowed other manufacturers to copy his designs, which advanced automobile development to the point where when he actually launched his own company, his designs and technology were all outdated.
I believe that one of our main purposes in life is fulfilled only when we answer the call to be significant. We are each given a unique quantity and diversity of talents, what we do with that amount determines our significance. Do I make a significant positive impact on the people that I come into contact with? Do I use a significant amount of my resources to increase the quality of life of those in need? Do I use my athleticism and talents in a way that makes a significant positive impact on the kids that always get picked/served last?
In sports, when you reach out to the child that always gets picked last your chances of being successful on the field often diminish, but Every time you pick that child, your level of significance increases.
At Soccer Shots the caliber of our great curriculum allows us to educate a wide range of kids and we enjoy seeing success every day as we watch the ability of each child grow and develop. As an organization, the success of the soccer education we provide is not what motivates us. Instead it is the significant positive impact we have on each child’s life by “bringing character development lessons to young kids through the platform of soccer”.
‘Google it!’ or ‘Let me check online!’ These are common phrases that have become a part of our culture. Google has become a verb. While I’m far from being anti-technology(I actual
ly watched the entire Apple announcement last week about their new operating system . . . seriously), I’m a little worried about how it’s increasingly intruding into our lives.
I recently saw a photo essay entitled “Death of Conversation,” in which the photographer took photos of people on their mobile phones instead of talking. He then spoke about how he took more and become more aware of it, it started to really bother him. People not talking at dinner, next to each other on benches, or in situations that it just seemed like a natural time to interact. It was almost uncomfortable to watch them not interacting.
So what’s my point? What am I getting at? My point is: as a dad who happens to run a youth soccer program, I’ve come to believe that it’s the responsibility of us all to recognize the negative impact of technology!
A few tips to pass along that I’ve worked into my habits . . .
When your child is playing, don’t use it as a chance to check your status or answer emails. Use it as a time to watch your children. To encourage their efforts. To laugh when they laugh. To laugh when they don’t laugh so they know everything is ok and they should be laughing. Children learn first by observation. If they watch you on a device at dinner, waiting for a ride, sitting at the park, at the pool, etc., that’s is what they learn they should be doing. Not how to ask and answer questions. Not how to deal with situations and the give and take of conversation.
Dr. Larry Rosen wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post. Here is an excerpt where he identified 3 main issues that arise from overuse of technology:
Lack of time for essential personal interactions in the real world
Lack of time for creative thought and mind wandering
Lack of time for calming overactive brains
“… the overuse of technology keeps children from spending time playing with their parents, siblings or peers. As these young children grow up and embrace electronic communication, as do their older preteen and teenage siblings (a typical teen would rather connect with their friends through texting and social media than face-to-face), they are sending and receiving messages behind glass screens. And behind a screen you do not see anyone but yourself reflected back. You don’t have a sense of the “context” that the recipient finds himself in nor do you have an understanding of how your message impacts that person. And adding in the occasional LOL or smiley face is not sufficient. Without this contextual information from those receiving your messages, you will have a very difficult time learning the pragmatics of communication including an understanding of the impact that your words have on the other person as well as the niceties of back-and-forth communication. Learning these skills was far easier before technology arrived and we parked ourselves and our children in front of those high-def screens.
Our brains have a specialized mechanism, called the Default Mode Network, which has been appraised as being operational during daydreaming, mind wandering and other non-task-oriented behaviors. If you are constantly and actively making decisions about what to do on an iPad, you will not activate the DMN which neuroscientists are now understanding keeps your mind focused and does not allow for the types of “ah ha” experiences gleaned during mind wandering.
Finally, neuroscientists have begun to show evidence that interactions with technology over-stimulate your brain. Dr. Gary Small at UCLA demonstrated this with brain scans of older adults who had never used the Internet showing more activity when using Google than when reading a book. Other studies have validated that the constant task switching afforded by multi-screen technologies activates more of your brain than simply working on a single task to completion.
What is the solution? I tell parents that children need to use technology at a ratio of 1 to 5 meaning that for every minute of tech use there should be an equivalent 5 minutes of time spent doing something else including talking to people, interacting with toys that promote creativity (and mind wandering) and doing activities that calm an overactive brain. So, if your child uses an iPad for 30 minutes (my recommendation of the maximum time for a child up to around four or five-years-old) then he or she should do some other activities for 150 minutes to balance out their brains and to allow for practice communicating and mind wandering. As the child gets older, the ratio starts to change and around the time your child is a preteen the ratio is usually about half and half. When technology becomes more prevalent in the teen school and social life that ratio flips to 5 to 1 with teens still needing time away from technology but also needing to connect with their schoolwork and their virtual social worlds.
One further piece of the puzzle concerns the amount of time spent using technology before taking breaks. Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman was well known for his work on sleeping behavior, teaching us that our sleep comes in roughly 90-minute cycles, each culminating in a dream state. Kleitman also talked about a BRAC — Basic Rest and Activity Cycle — that we maintain during the day that is also around 90 minutes. After about 90 minutes of technology interaction we all need a short rest–I advocate about 10 minutes–and neuroscience can tell us what we can do to calm our brains and make them more available for completing our work in an expeditious manner. For example, a recent study by Dr. Richard Coyne and his colleagues showed that if you walk in nature your brain activity calms to a state of involuntary attention, which is much less activating and energizing. Other research has shown that looking at art, listening to or playing music, practicing a foreign language, exercising, meditating, taking a warm bath or shower, or even having a pleasant conversation with a friend face-to-face or on the phone calms your brain. And for an added bonus, many of these activities have also been shown to enable your Default Mode Network. Many people report that they get their most creative ideas when wandering in nature or taking a hot shower or bath. Neuroscientists agree.”
As much as we take care of our kids’ bodies by feeding them, their health with doctor appointments, and their clothes by making sure they’re properly covered, we need to take care of their BRAINS! Our jobs as parents isn’t getting easier, which makes it even MORE important. Make your children look you in the eye when they talk to you, teach them how to read people’s emotions by their facial expressions… play the ‘face game!’ Ask things like: what does happy look like? show me what sleepy look like! Finally, remember, LIMIT TECHNOLOGY… go outside and play some soccer! :)
This week, my heart has really been with young women… more specifically, young survivors. Until not that long ago, I didn’t realize that breast cancer was the most common cancer diagnosis in women age 15 to 39, and the leading cause of cancer death in women age 15 to 54. I’m in that age group. My sister is in that age group. My daughter is going to be in that age group soon (much sooner than I want to think about, actually). I am surrounded by magnificent young women on a daily basis, and my heart breaks when I allow myself to think about all the “what ifs”… what if any of the young women I know and love were to be diagnosed? What if my precious daughter, my princess, found a lump? Typing those words was hard enough… I can’t actually imagine what it might be like as her mom, so I’ll stop heading down that path and think about taking action instead.
You see, I’m a little bit of a control freak. Since testing positive for the BRCA1 genetic mutation and learning that I was at significantly higher risk to develop breast and ovarian cancer, I’ve learned that there really isn’t much about cancer that works for control freaks like me. I have learned that I can’t control my DNA or the fact that I’m wired with hereditary risk for not one but two deadly cancers. I also can’t control the fact that I have probably passed my faulty genetics on to my children, and their children, and their children’s children. But, I can control what I do. I can control my actions. I can control how I respond to this thing, this stupid cancer thing, and it’s in my actions that my children learn. You see, one day, when they are no longer minors, they will have to make the decision for themselves as to if they have genetic testing or not. I don’t get to make that choice for them (an obvious issue for this Control Freak). I want them to be tested, but I also want them to make their own decisions. Sure, my way is probably right…… oops, see, there I go again, with the control thing. Anyway, they are going to have to choose whether to be tested, and they are going to have to choose what to do if the result is positive.
I think my best shot at parenting them through this is in my actions. I have chosen to talk about breast cancer openly with my three precious little ones. They have gone to appointments with me and my daughter even helped me change bandages and empty drains after my double mastectomy last year. I don’t want them to be scared. This doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer is over 90% when caught early. That’s HUGE! I also recently read about how 80% of cancers in young women are found by the woman herself, which means that our best chance… my daughter’s best chance… at fighting back against breast cancer is to know herself and her body and to make things like monthly self-exams and annual well woman visits a priority.
As a mom, I’d give anything for her to not have to think about these things. I want to protect her and her brothers from all the darkness in the world, including breast cancer. But I can’t. What I can do is teach her how to value her own health and how to know what is normal for her body, so that when something isn’t quite normal, she finds it – quickly – and tells her doctor.
And so, my challenge to you is this… Sometime in the next week, take a minute and encourage a young woman in your life to be more than aware, and to learn and understand what is her “normal.”
Here’s a couple resources to help get you started:
We joined the Soccer Shots franchise community as owners in 2010. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, of course, but were filled with a combination of excitement and fear and hope for the future. We had been owners for about five minutes when we started dreaming about one day expanding our business into another territory and having a more regional presence. It took time (longer than we wanted), a lot of thought and planning (a.k.a. sleepless nights), and a lot (I mean, a LOT) of soccer balls and goal scoring and high fives, but we were able to successfully expand in August 2013.
About two weeks after receiving the news that our expansion had been approved and completed, I received some different and unexpected news: I had tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, and I was therefore at significant risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. If you follow the celeb news, this is the same genetic mutation that Angelina Jolie wrote about last year when she shared that she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy. Because of this bum BRCA1 gene, I quickly learned, I have a lifetime risk for developing breast cancer of up to 87% (normal risk is about 12%) and ovarian cancer of up to 54% (normal risk is about 1.5%). I found myself making appointments with not one but two different oncologists and a plastic surgeon, learning as much as I possibly could about what it meant to have this thing called “a genetic predisposition to cancer” and what my options were for screening, treatment, and prevention.
After many tests, scans, appointments, research, thought, consideration and prayer, and at the recommendation of my oncologists, I underwent risk-reducing surgery – a bilateral oophorectomy to remove my ovaries in October, followed by a double mastectomy with reconstruction in November. I had complications after the mastectomy that ultimately led to four additional surgeries, with my last surgery successfully completed a couple months ago, in late July 2014. When we expanded our Soccer Shots business last year, I hadn’t planned on spending that first year in the operating room or home on medical leave, but that’s what happened and I’m grateful for the Soccer Shots community and our team of coaches and staff that kept our business going – and growing – despite the storm our family was going through at home.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I’ve been spending a lot of time lately considering what it means to be aware. In the past, whenever this time of year rolled around, I would buy and wear pink things with catchy phrases that supported the cause. Don’t get me wrong – I love pink, but this past year has taught me that the pink ribbon is more than what I’ve given it credit for in the past. It’s more than being aware. It’s being aware … and then doing something with it … taking action. It is taking the time – every single month – to do a self-exam and to know what is and isn’t normal for my body. It is scheduling my annual well woman exams, and keeping those appointments, no matter how busy my schedule is when that appointment time rolls around. It is talking to my 9-year old daughter openly and in ways she can understand about women’s health and genetics and cancer and breasts and what my scars mean and how we can be proactive with our health together.
I’m not a survivor. My heart breaks every time I think about the thousands of women, and those that love them, who have fought breast cancer, and I will always try my best to live a life that honors them. I will forever be grateful that I got the chance to essentially beat cancer before it could beat me. My hope is the same for you and the women that you love.
This October, do something. Take action. Be more than aware.
Kaden Henderson and Ruby Baker took turns trying to score on each other. Two orange cones made up the makeshift goal that they rotated in and out of as they explored their new interest — soccer.
Kaden and Ruby, both 5, were two of about 90 children who took part in a free soccer clinic Sunday before the second annual Mack Brady soccer game at Jeffrey Field between Penn State and Ohio State. Mack was 8 when he unexpectedly died from a blood infection on New Year’s Eve 2012. Parents of the Penn State men’s soccer team decided to sponsor an annual event in his memory.
Each year, Inc. Magazine publishes its Inc. 5000 list. Companies make the list for their remarkably daring, focused determination to build amazingly fast-growing companies. This year Soccer Shots is ranked 2,020 on the Inc. 5000 list after a year that saw 200% growth.
Inc. Magazine ranks Soccer Shots the Consumer Products & Services category. This category is the fastest growing industry sector in the country and provided over 1800 jobs nationwide last year.
The World Cup is reaching a fever pitch among aspiring young athletes. Soccer Shots in Getzville is a soccer youth program for kids, and its leaders said the World Cup has definitely been heating up their program.
“So many parents are excited about the World Cup. So many parents wearing jerseys from different countries, hopefully the U.S. but lots of other countries,” said Mark Miller, Soccer Shots program director, “So there’s definitely a lot of buzz around soccer right now, and it kind of trickles down to the kids.”
Although it wasn’t one of those, “I didn’t know I was pregnant!” stories, my husband and I literally became parents unexpectedly, overnight. Just like that. No time to plan, decorate a nursery (nor did we even have an extra bedroom that couldbe a nursery), Google everything you know nothing about, read baby books, mentally prepare, etc. But everyone says that you are never fully prepared anyway, so perhaps that all would have just been a waste of time. Regardless, last summer we suddenly found ourselves the legal guardians of our nephew, Alex, when he was just four months old. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Having taught dance, coached various sports and babysat since I was 14, I thought I had learned a thing or two about parenting in the past 18 years. The thing about teaching or coaching or babysitting is that at the end of the day, you give the kids back to their parent. And I now believe NOTHING could fully prepare me for that full time responsibility! My husband had never done so much as changed a diaper, so his head must still be spinning.
We dove in to the role of parents, but again, with no time to read books or do research or contemplate cloth diapers vs. disposable. Our goal was simple: keep Alex happy, healthy, well, and alive! I’m proud to report, it’s been nearly a year and we’ve managed to do that without sweating the small stuff too much. Sure, his bedroom wasn’t cute. The décor theme was “Soccer Shots office” until we bought him a house for his first birthday. Who knows if all of his toys are developmentally appropriate. I did actually begin to wonder this when I heard a woman in Target having a near meltdown on the phone with her husband trying to decide whether buying a jumper chair would have a positive or negative impact on their baby’s development. It truly blew my mind that she had time to even consider the possibilities. I wanted to share with her that she would never regret the fact that if she bought it, she’d at the very least have a safe place to put her child for a minute or two when she needed to use the restroom or wash both hands at one time.
This isn’t meant, by ANY stretch, to be an entry about parenting advice (see below about a Johnny Jump Up then determine how much you trust my newly developed skills), but I do want to share a few other lessons that I’ve learned without the luxury of baby books, parenting classes or even Google in most cases.
In regards to the info above about the jumper, or bouncer, or whatever you want to call it, Alex had a legitimate, hand me down Johnny Jump Up. Yes … one of the “super unsafe” ones that you mount above a doorway that were banned in the 80s. We made sure it was securely attached to the doorway and he LOVED it, and so did I. It is one of those devices that allows you to take care of YOU first. If there is one thing I’ve been forced to remind myself of the most over the past year, when baby poo was hitting the fan, it is, “The plane is going down. You need to put YOUR oxygen mask on first to be better equipped to deal with this.” Truth. It’s not selfish. It’s what you need to do to respond appropriately to a given situation. Just don’t take too long to do it.
If you’re planning to have kids or already have them, chances are, you are or will become an expert in logistics. Little did I know that planning for just getting you and your baby from point a to point b takes some practice. You’ll surely forget a diaper, a change of clothing, wipes or toys when it is most necessary. It wasn’t long before I learned to keep ALL of these things in my car. And that in order to be on time for something, I needed to plan to leave at least 45 minutes early. No joke.
Not only does parenting make you a super effective planner (you have every right to brag about how you made it from a baptism to a birthday party all in one day without a meltdown or missing a nap!), but you will also become incredibly good at time management. Usually you will really want to take a nap during baby’s nap time, but you won’t. You can’t. That time will be used for washing dishes, taking a shower and even feeding yourself. And you’ll be able do it all in record speed. Productivity during nap time is huge.
Which leads me to my next point about exhaustion. I consider myself pretty active and physically fit. I’ve run marathons and I run around soccer fields with preschoolers for a living. But after one month, the physical and mental exhaustion of constantly having to be one step ahead of Alex was something I’d never experienced! My body eventually got used to it … until Alex began walking and the feeling returned. There is nothing that compares to the feeling that you get in the pit of your stomach when you turn your head for a second, look back and realize your child has pulled off a vanishing act. “Seriously?” you ask yourself, “Where could he have gone so quickly? The house is not that big and he is not that fast!” But he is, and he’s climbing up the stairs.
As we near the finish line of Alex’s adoption process, I couldn’t agree more with what every parent will tell you: every bit of this is totally worth it.
Running skills (both his and mine) came in handy as Alex and I ran the bases after he attended his first baseball game recently. Our whole extended family cheered him on loudly from the stands as he was easily the smallest, and last child to cross home plate. He had no idea what he’d just done, nor is he likely to remember it at 15 months old, but there was a huge smile on his face the entire time (even as he “slid” into second base). These are the other types of moments that will stick with you – the ones that make it all worth it.
Soccer’s popularity in Western New York has been years in the making, and starts with youth soccer. Mark Miller, Executive Director of Soccer Shots in Buffalo, has seen its popularity soar during the World Cup.
“The parents and the children are wearing jerseys, whether it is USA or Germany, or Portugal, the different jerseys you might see of the more popular teams,” he said.
Soccer Shots teaches kids ages 2-8 the basic skills and coordination that will benefit them for a lifetime.
Soccer Shots players learn the skills of the game, as well as sportsmanship and character from professional soccer players each Saturday at Veterans Park in Delray Beach. Last year, Soccer Shots coaches midfielder Daniel Villegas and forward Edvin Worley were playing professional soccer as members of the Wichita Wings team, a part of the Major League Indoor Soccer League.