Friday, May 27, 2016

Southwest Airlines Puts Employees First

All of us have jobs that we have to wake up for each day.  Do you like this job?  Is it a good place to work with a fun environment?  For one company, a CHAMPIONSHIP CULTURE has been built upon doing things a little different than the norm.

Most of us have flown before and have had the unfortunate experience of shutting off our portable electronic devices and listen to an unhappy flight attendance go over passenger information for the millionth time.  But, if you've ever flown on a Southwest flight, you may have had a slightly different encounter with a - dare I say - happy employee ...
“No smoking is allowed, not even in the toilets. Don’t be naughty in our potty. If you do there is a $2,000 fine, and if you had that kind of money you’d be flying United instead of Southwest.”

 “Your seat cushions can be used for flotation. In the event of an emergency water landing please take them with our compliments.”

 “We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately none of them are on this flight.”

"Although we never anticipate a change in cabin pressure... because if we did, we wouldn't have come to work today.... If you're traveling with a small child, what were you thinking? Put your mask on first and then help them with theirs. If you are traveling with multiple young children, assist the one with the most potential first and then work your way down."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Everyone Communicates; Few Connect

When I read John Maxwell's book “Everyone Communicates; Few Connect”, it was a jolt of lightning in my thinking.  How many of us send memos, emails, texts, facebook messages and tweets but don’t really go beyond the surface?

My brother and I can chat for 30 minutes on the phone and when I hang up, I can’t answer any questions from my wife about my brother’s family or what’s really going on in his life.  But, boy can I tell you his opinion on Michigan football or the Detroit Tigers.   

As coaches, salespeople, teachers or executives, how often do we talk and make our pitch but don’t listen or understand what others want?  I guess there is a reason God gave us two ears and one mouth.  We are constantly communicating but are we really connecting?  Are we really developing a true relationship with others?  

Ask questions.  Be interested in the other person and what they have got to say.  Understand their point of view. If we want to truly be people of influence, then we must learn to make connections with others.  

 Jamy Bechler is a certified John Maxwell leadership coach, speaker and trainer.  You can contact him at  You can also subscribe to his leadership newsletter by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Change is inevitable; Growth is optional

The world is always changing.  We are always learning more and more.  Technology is ever-changing.  Athletes are getting bigger, faster, stronger.  John Maxwell says that change is inevitable but growth is optional.  

My wife and I have lived in 8 places during our marriage.  We have seen different cultures, perspectives and belief systems.  Ironically, we have found that one thing has remained the same through the years…the world is in a constant state of change.  

Your ability to adapt to situations can lead to a higher level of success.  As a coach, I was faced with hundreds of decisions each game.  Some of them I was prepared for but many of them I was not.  I had to be ready to change course if need be.  That is life.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Encouraging Leader

Five years ago I was inspired by Mike Neighbors, an assistant coach at Xavier University, to begin a newsletter on leadership entitled THE ENCOURAGING LEADER.  Neighbors was doing a newsletter for basketball coaches and I really enjoyed it.  My entire life as a coach, I studied leadership and felt that I could add value to others with the insights that I had learned.  It started as a monthly newsletter but has since become a quarterly publication.  We have had some great leaders that have contributed over the years and I am so grateful for their generosity and willingness to write articles. For three years, I worked on the newsletter consistently but then in May of 2014 I took a new job.  I left a good college coaching job to become the athletic director at a traditional high school powerhouse in Indiana. It was a very grueling job and I put the newsletter on hold.  I kept coming up with reasons why I couldn't publish another issue.  The main one was "I am too busy".   However, what is in the middle of all excuses?  "U".  It wasn't the job that kept me from publishing more issues, it was me.  I was constantly making choices to push it further down my priority list. 

It takes time to put a newsletter together but every time that I put one together, it made me sharp and helped me learn more about leadership from many different perspectives.  Essentially by choosing to not publish the newsletter, I was taking away an opportunity for me to learn.  Just like Coach Neighbors newsletter, no doubt, keeps him sharp, at the same time helping others.  He is now the head coach at the University of Washington and they advanced to the NCAA Final Four this season.  He is a head coach in the Pac-12 and yet still religiously puts out his newsletter.  How inspiring is that?  That is one of the reasons that I decided to start being an encouraging leader again through the newsletter.  Click here to read the latest edition of The Encouraging Leader.  

Jamy Bechler is the executive director of U-Leadership and a John Maxwell Certified Leadership Speaker and Coach.  Contact him at to find out how you or your team can be more successful.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Culture Is A Choice

Leadership guru John Maxwell often says “Culture eats vision for lunch”.   When I first heard this, I wrote it down and thought that it sounded good.  However, the more I thought about that statement the more I started to see the truth of it.  We need both a strong culture and a positive vision to reach our fullest potential.  If I have to choose, however, I will take a strong culture any day of the week over a clear vision.  Even the clearest vision may not be realized if the culture is poor and weighing you down.

Put another way, would you rather have a dysfunctional or poor culture but a good vision; or would you rather have a good culture but lack vision?  You certainly want both but it is better to be strong now.  I would rather be in good physical shape now with no exercise plan than an obese person with a good exercise plan.  We all can agree that having both a strong vision and a positive culture is the ideal, but let’s examine the importance of culture for a moment. 

Indiana Wesleyan University and Coach Greg Tonagel just won their 2nd NAIA National Championship in 24 months.  Their program is known for its’ extraordinary on-court success.  Year in and year out they have a talent-laden roster, including a player that started at a NCAA Division I program before transferring.  As good as they are on the court, they are almost as famous for their “I Am Third” philosophy.  They emphasize the “Jesus, Others, You” mentality.  
They don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.  These kinds of "character" stories tend to play out well in newspapers and on Facebook but they can oftentimes be exaggerated or the product of a coach’s personality.  IWU's Coach Tonagel just finished his 11th year.  He changed the culture.  The program is not only his, but the players, as well.  They have taken ownership.  They do what they do. There is no faking it after 11 years.  The culture is established.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


"How do I get a good job one day?”  

“What do I need to do now to start preparing for the ‘real world'?" 

“The sports industry is so competitive, what advice would you give?”

“What should I major in if I want to work in sports?”

These are just a few questions that are regularly asked by students or people trying to get into the sports industry.  Harvey Mackay wrote a book entitled “Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty”.  It was primarily a networking book but it also brought up a number of good points in regards to getting a job, getting a better a job and getting ahead in your job.  Having been at the college level for nearly 20 years, I was often faced with questions from students about what to do after college when they get into the “real world”. No matter what age or career you are in, it is good to ask questions before you absolutely need the answers.  It is good to have something to drink on hand when you are thirsty.  It is good to have food in the refrigerator when you are hungry.  It is good to have a parachute packed when you jump out of a plane.  Here are a few simple pieces of advice for being prepared for the “real world.” 

Friday, April 1, 2016

I Like Geno

I admit it.  I like Geno Auriemma.  

On Sunday, Geno will lead his UConn team as they play in the NCAA Women's Final Four located in Indianapolis this year.  The Huskies are going for their 4th straight National Championship.

Many people do not like Geno.  Many people do not like UConn.  Many people say that their dominance is bad for the game.  I say excellence and the quest for perfection is not bad.

Shouldn't we all be trying to do what Geno has done with UConn?  Shouldn't we all be seeking to be the best we can be regardless of circumstance or opponent.  All of the motivational quotes that we like to spout about making ourselves better, persevering, and being self-disciplined are apparently fine and good except when we are talking about UCONN and Geno Auriemma.  When they put all of those quotes into practice then they are not praised but rather vilified or dismissed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Leaders Growing Leaders

Last week, I attended the John Maxwell Team Live Event in Orlando and received my certification in coaching, speaking and leadership from the #1 Leadership Expert in the world.  After 5 months of online training, these three days of workshops and live training were beyond insightful.  I have always been a John Maxwell fan and have read many of his 100+ books.  Now, I am licensed to teach his materials and add value to others.  The title on the front cover of our workbooks said "Leaders Growing Leaders".  That seems appropriate.  As iron sharpens iron, we add value to others and help others lead significant lives.  My leadership training platform ULeadership emphasizes that everyone can be a leader because everyone can lead themselves and influence those closest to them.  Leadership really is influence, as John teaches.  Feel free to contact me for more information about John Maxwell or how you can add value to the people around you.  In the meantime, here are my seven favorite thoughts from last week's conference.
  1. "Don't be envious of anyone's success until you are ready to go through their valleys." (Nick Vujicic) - Nick has no arms and no legs. More importantly, he has a great message!  He makes a lot of money speaking but even he started slow.  He got rejected by 52 different schools before one finally invited him to come speak.  It was 2 hours away and they paid him $50.  John Maxwell often says that everyone wants to do what he does but they don't want to do what he had to do to get to this point.  We all want get-rich quick type of success.  Sometimes overnight sensations took 10 years.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Back on the Field

The following article appeared in the March 2016 issue of Athletic Management.  It highlights Marion High School's Giant Challenge Alumni Weekend.

Caitlin Hayes is an Assistant Editor at Athletic Management. She can be reached at:

In early September, Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson donated $1 million to his alma mater, Louisiana State University, to help fund a renovation to the Football Operations Center. It was one of the largest single contributions to athletics by a former LSU football player, and Peterson was recognized on the field at the Tigers’ 2015 home opener.

The donation was noteworthy not just because it was large but because it was from the ranks of professional athletes, a group that traditionally has not opened their wallets for their alma maters. What happened next was also significant. A few days later, pledge cards came in from two more former Tigers currently in the NFL, Bennie Logan and Tyrann Mathieu.

“I think there’s a bit of a culture shift happening,” says Kristen Cain, LSU’s Special Events and Community Relations Coordinator, who runs the L Club, a group specifically for alumni athletes. “More players are giving back to their universities—and they are offering large donations.

“Behind the scenes, we’re doing a better job of reaching out to our former athletes,” she adds. “We’re educating them about our athletic foundation and what we do with donated money.”

While Peterson’s gift generated headlines, the trend is not exclusive to large athletic departments. “Alumni and fundraising go together, and if you’re not tapping into or at least trying to cultivate your former athletes, you’re probably not doing your job as effectively as you could,” says Tim Schoonveld, Co-Athletic Director at NCAA Division III Hope College. “Like a lot of schools, we’re trying to find news ways to draw in alumni athletes. We’re not looking to create a booster club. But we’re looking to really engage our alumni in what we’re doing.”

Jamy Bechler, Athletic Director at Marion (Ind.) High School, echoes Schoonveld’s thoughts and adds that you can’t look at it as a one-way street. “Reaching out to alumni athletes is essential from a fundraising standpoint,” he says. “But you’ve got to know and appreciate your past. No former athlete wants to be forgotten. Those alumni made your teams great. We’re working hard to honor them and connect with them.”

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Winning Edge

March is finally here.  If you are a basketball fan like I am, you are excited because it is MARCH MADNESS.  We'll soon be filling out our brackets.  There will be 68 top-notch teams in the NCAA basketball tournament.  I heard an announcer on ESPN say that this year's tournament might be the most even tournament in NCAA history.  Half of the field has a shot at winning the whole thing.

Talent alone will not set these teams apart.  There are so many teams that have fairly equal talent.  Just like our team that has started their quest for an 8th high school state championship.  We are talented but so are other teams.

What is going to take us from talented to good?  What is going to give us an advantage over other talented teams? What differentiates us from the competition?

Successful people do things differently.  Here are a couple of ways that we can gain a winning edge:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How do I get my teammates to listen to me?

In our most recent Student-Athlete Leadership Team meeting, a student asked a question that had the rest of the group nodding in agreement and adding their two-cents worth to the conversation.
“How do I get my teammates to listen to me”?

There are many variations to this question, but they all come down to student-athletes wanting to influence their teammates in some way.  John Maxwell, the #1 leadership expert in the world, says that “Leadership is influence.  Nothing more, nothing less.”  

Sometimes we look at our team and see the negatives.  We want everyone to respect us and follow us.  This may not always be possible.  Don’t worry about everyone.  Worry about those that you can influence. 

Monday, January 18, 2016


Today we celebrated Martin Luther King day. He once famously said “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.  It has often been said that sports build character.   Sports allow people to learn many lessons. The games themselves, though, don’t necessarily build character. Instead, they reveal character. Just like a test that you might take in school doesn’t build your knowledge base, but it reveals what you already know. The homework that you’ve done or not done is revealed when you take a test.In the same way, what you’ve done in practice and your workouts is revealed during the games. Your habits can make or break you.

I often told my players that bad players remember the good things that they do. Good players remember the bad things that they do. A good player will remember the time that they didn’t dive for a loose ball. A bad player will make a big deal about that time that they blocked out. Good or bad habits can lead to success or failure. A person’s habits oftentimes come down to their motivation. What is most important to a person? What makes them tick? Most players and teams that I talk with will tell me that they want to win a championship. However, their actions do not always back up this claim. Many players do not act as if winning a championship is the most important thing to them.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Quotes for Achieving Goals

The New Year of 2016 is quickly approaching.  The start of the new year will surely bring about numerous "New Year's Resolutions".  Resolutions are really just goals that we set for ourselves.  The following is a list of 25 of the best quotes about achieving goals.  I hope that some of these inspire you to achieve your goals for 2016.

  1. "The way to get started is to quit talking and get doing." (Walt Disney)
  2. "A dream is just a dream.  A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline." (Harvey Mackay)
  3. "If we all did the things that we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves." (Thomas Edison)
  4.  “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” (Michael Jordan)
  5. “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” (Karen Lamb)
  6. “One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.” (Jack Penn)
  7. “Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try.” (Dennis DeYoung)
  8. “A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement.” (Bo Bennett)
  9. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” (John Wooden)
  10. “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” (Jim Rohn)
  11. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” (Wayne Gretsky)
  12. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
  13. “Your complaints, your drama, your victim mentality, your whining, your blaming, and all of your excuses have never gotten you even a single step closer to your goals or dreams. Let go of your nonsense. Let go of the delusion that you deserve better and go earn it!” (Steve Maraboli)
  14. "If you don’t  make the time to work on creating the life that you want, you’re going to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” (Kevin Ngo)
  15. “What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
  16. "People with goals succeed because they know where they're going." (Earl Nightingale
  17. "I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacation with better care than they do their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change." (Jim Rohn)
  18. "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." (Thomas Jefferson)  
  19. "An average person with average talent,ambition and education, can outstrip the most brilliant genius in our society,if that person has clear,focused goals." (Brian Tracy)  
  20. "Begin with the end in mind."  (Stephen Covey)  
  21. "Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goals." (Anonymous)  
  22. The guy says,"When you work where I work,by the time you get home it's late.You've got to have a bite to eat,watch a little TV, relax,and get to bed. You can't sit up half the night planing, planing."And he's the same guy who's behind on his car payment. (Jim Rohn)  
  23. "Do not let the future be held hostage by the past." (Neal A. Maxwell)  
  24. "You can't hit a home run unless you step up to the plate. You can't catch fish unless you put your line in the water. You can't reach your goals if you don't try." (Kathy Seligman)  
  25. “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win.” (Zig Ziglar)

    Jamy Bechler is the executive director of U-Leadership and a John Maxwell Certified Leadership Speaker and Coach.  Contact him at to find out how you or your team can be more successfulClick here to signup for THE ENCOURAGING NEWSLETTER