Monday, November 16, 2015


Influence concept.

Leadership guru, John Maxwell, says that “Leadership is influence and influence is leadership, nothing more, nothing less.” Many people mistakenly think that leadership is a title. Titles may give a person some prestige or artificial power, but true leadership involves the amount of influence that a person has. Maxwell further states that a leader without followers is just a person going for a long walk.

Great leaders are influential. People want to follow great leaders. You don’t have to have a title to be influential. People are willing to be led and influenced by others if they feel that the leader can take them where they want to go.

Your team captain, your boss, your political representative may not be a strong leader because they aren’t influential. They may have perceived power because of their title but they are lacking in the influence area. They might not have the charisma or the character or the results that people are looking for. They might not connect with others.

What does all of this mean for you? Some of you reading this do not have a title. Some of you may feel that you are not important. However, everyone has the ability to influence someone. You have the ability to make positive choices. You have the ability to be enthusiastic. You have the ability to be trustworthy. Essentially, you have the ability to be a person of character that others believe in.

If you are one of the harder workers on a team and you are successful, that will speak loudly. If you add value to people’s lives, they will be indebted to you. If others know that you truly care about them, they will be loyal to you.

The world around us needs strong leadership now more than ever. You may not be THE leader, THE boss or THE captain but you can be a leader. Everyone has a scope of influence. At the very least, you can influence yourself.

Years ago when I was coaching, I had a team that decided they would run sprints for every turnover that they committed in the game the night before. They did this for the first game. However, after having a number of turnovers in the second game, the captains decided they didn’t want to run any more. I asked a freshman after the game why she didn’t run even though she had committed to doing so. Her response was as you would expect…no one else was doing it so why should she? She went on say that she was only a freshman and had no pull with the other girls. I then pointed out that her two best-friends were on the team and that surely they would have run with her. One of those girls also is close with another team member, who might be good friends with another team member and so on. The law of influence multiplied out might have affected the majority of the team. Doing what is right has to start somewhere. Why not be the one to start it.

If you want to be a true leader, you will want to “Lead yourself…Influence others…Change the world around you.” As says, “Leadership begins with U”. Lead yourself first. Be the person that you need to be. Only then can you truly influence others. Once you influence others, that is when we start to see real change in the world. As Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” It starts with you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

3 Ways to Handle Obstacles at Work

How to handle obstacles at work The following is a guest post by a long-time friend of mine, Dr. Michael Nichols, who was named as one the Top-100 speakers in the country in an article.   

This week while traveling, I had conversations with several people about how tempting it is to compartmentalize areas of life like OBSTACLES. Maybe it helps us feel better about ourselves. Maybe it puts problem areas in a neat little box so we can push them out of sight and out of mind.

Think about this – OBSTACLES are inevitable. They’re a natural part of life and work. Right?

So, if obstacles are to be expected, even unavoidable, why the need to label them?

The fact that we label obstacles makes them scary. Conjures up anxiety.

What if we simply viewed obstacles as a part of life – and a part of our work?

Obstacles occur to help you determine if you really believe in the vision.

Yet most people never get past the obstacle. So they never accomplish their dream. They never live out the vision.

So today, when you face obstacles – and you will – here are 3 ways to handle them…

1. Quit calculating the size of the obstacle and remember the size of your vision. Keep your eye on the vision. Focus on it. Fanatically.

2. Find a solution instead of letting the obstacle become an excuse.
  3. Prepare for future obstacles. If obstacles stop you, you will never breakthrough. You’ll never experience the miracle. And your vision is worth it.

Your life matters immensely. And your work matters. So don’t give up. Don’t quit. Not today.

Question: What obstacle are you facing that you need to move past today?  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Persevering to Finish Strong

Has your season been disappointing? Are you frustrated with your results? Do you have a sense of despair? Do you feel that there is little hope?   If so, then I want to encourage you today to run the race with perseverance and finish strong. Don’t be discouraged.

I am reminded of the Jacob Riis’ quote concerning rock sculptures…

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

Just like the stone cutter, you don’t always know when good will come but you do know that if you quit, it will never come. 
Last season, our football and volleyball teams were both struggling. However, they didn’t quit and kept on persevering. 
Both teams were able to put it all together and win first-round sectional games in the state tournament. If they had let despair get the better of them, they never would have found success.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

5 Components of Contagious Leadership

contagious-leadershipThe following is a guest post by a long-time friend of mine, Dr. Michael Nichols, who listed as one of its' Top-100 speakers in the country.

Is leadership really leadership if it's not being passed on to others?

Ralph Nader once said: The function of leadership is to create more leaders, not more followers.

Culture-shaping leaders place the success of others, the team, and the organization above their own well-being. Often at great personal cost. They understand that there’s far more value and fulfillment in sacrifice than in self-preservation. And they consistently choose to serve future leaders in a way that makes them more successful.
And future leaders love them for it!

So if you’re energized by developing new leaders, here are 5 often-neglected factors that will take your leadership viral…


This might seem a little obvious – you’ve got to start.

I can’t tell you how many people have sat across the table – over coffee, breakfast, or lunch – and told me about their new idea. Or their intention to write a life plan or a vision for their work. Or their vision for a new product, service, or organization.

Then, months (or years) later, when I ask how it’s going, there’s an uncomfortable pause followed by – I never was able to get it going.

There’s always a reason to not start. And there are many more reasons to walk away. And every one of those reasons will guarantee your failure. They’ll sentence you to a life of mediocrity.

At some point – if you are going to lead – you’ll have to chuck every stinking excuse out the window and do something. Take one small step. Make one simple decision. Do something! Just start.

So what is it that is keeping you from making progress? Why haven’t you started?

One of the most encouraging books I’ve read this year is "Start", by Jon Acuff. Every leader in the world should read it.
Coach Bechler Note:  Get 'started' today by clicking on this link to watch a quick free video from Michael Nichols that will be sure to add value to your life.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hope Is Not The Best Strategy

"I hope we do better this year."

"I hope that I start."

"I hope that we win the championship."

"I hope that I get recruited by college scouts."

Have you ever said any of those statements?  Have you ever used the word 'hope' in describing something about your athletic team or your athletic career?  Have you ever wished that something was different but did nothing about it?

Former NFL head coach and current ESPN broadcaster, Herm Edwards, once said that "Every goal needs to have a plan or else it's just a wish."

This year, do you believe that you will win, be better or start because you are finally a senior?  Or will you accomplish your goals because you have a plan for how to achieve them?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Prepare to Win

July is here. That means one month left until the start of the high school practice season. How will you spend this month? Will you prepare? Bobby Knight used to say “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”.

As a former college basketball coach, we played games in the winter but players were made during the summer. The same is true for the other sports, as well. Great players don’t train because they love training. They train because they love winning.

Think back to last year? Did the last game end well? Did you have regrets? Do you wish that you had work harder or been more ready? Was the role on the team what you wanted?

After one of our team’s games last year, a number of players were distraught. There were even some tears shed. I commented to a number of players “remember this game, remember this feeling…let it motivate you.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keep Athletic Departments Accountable

This editorial appeared in the Chronicle-Tribune on May 21, 2015

We are both grateful and concerned about the effort to plan spending for the Marion High School athletic department. Last week Athletic Director Jamy Bechler came to the school board and said he has been working in the past year to clean up the spending of funds that fall outside of the overall school budget.
“I had a stack of bills numbering about $15,000 and we did not have the money to pay for that when I came in,” Bechler said. “What we did is we tried to stop the bleeding. We tried to stabilize the athletic department and we tried to modify some behaviors in terms of making sure we put into place an expenditure process.”

Other than paying for the transportation of sports teams, public schools don’t use tax money to fund athletics, Bechler said. The department relies on donations and event ticket sales to provide much of the money that goes for things like uniforms and paying officials to referee games.

“The data we have currently goes back to 2006 where we had a CD (certificate of deposit) of $95,000,” Bechler said. “That was essentially our savings. We had a checkbook for $31,000 in 2006. Eight years later when I took over, we had $30,000 in our savings and $6,300 in our checkbook. Over the course of eight years, we lost nearly $90,000. Essentially we are living beyond our means.”

Bechler was appointed director last spring. We are grateful he had the courage to do something to fix the problem while there was still time. He has shown leadership, even though those used to spending on a whim will now have to adhere to a budget. Bechler has instituted a spending process to increase accountability and the fund now projects a surplus balance of $12,000 at the end of this year.

Thank goodness Bechler did the right thing.

But we can help but wonder along with School Board Member Pam Hutchison that if the unchecked spending without a budget went on for so many years, perhaps there are other areas of school finance the board should check and make sure matters are being handled correctly. It might not be tax money, but the athletic department money is public money. We need to have a handle on it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Transforming Marion's Athletic Spending

Bechler addressing the crowd at the Marion turf field dedication ceremony in August
This article was written by the Chronicle-Tribune's Jillian Fellows on May 14, 2015
When Jamy Bechler was appointed director of the Marion High School athletic department last spring, he took command of sports teams with a storied and successful past as well as a mountain of debt from more than a decade of unchecked spending.  

Bechler presented a financial summary to the Marion Community Schools board members at their Wednesday meeting, and the numbers told a story of the highs and lows of athletic spending over the years.

Bechler began by quoting from a financial report put together in 1996 by the athletic director of the time that "the athletic department was very close to dipping into the investment principal in order to meet operating expenses."
That report indicates that the financial situation for Giants athletics has been in poor shape for many years, although current records only date back to 2006.
"The data we have currently goes back to 2006 where we had a CD (certificate of deposit) of $95,000," Bechler said. "That was essentially our savings. We had a checkbook for $31,000 in 2006. Eight years later when I took over, we had $30,000 in our savings and $6,300 in our checkbook. Over the course of eight years, we lost nearly $90,000. Essentially we are living beyond our means."
Immediately after stepping into the athletic director position a year ago, Bechler was faced with debt and unmonitored spending. Bechler and his staff quickly began efforts to turn the finances around.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Marion Student-Athletes Learning Leadership Skills

Some Marion High School student-athletes are learning how to be better leaders in order to help their teams on the field of competition and improve the world around them.

About 25 student-athletes from various teams at Marion met weekly this past semester before school to learn about different leadership concepts.

“The morning sessions taught me a new thing every single week on how to be good teammate and player both on and off the field,” said Luke Oliver, who plays both football and soccer.

The student-athlete leadership training was led by Marion’s Director of Athletics Jamy Bechler.   It was a combination of the IHSAA and NAIA’s Champions of Character programs and Bechler’s own ULeadership initiative, which promotes the concept of “Leadership Begins with U.”

Friday, January 9, 2015

Opportunity Knocks

The Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes will battle Monday night in the first-ever College Football Playoffs Championship Game. Both teams have glaring examples of people who took advantage of opportunities presented to them and didn’t quit or become disruptive to their teams. I will come back to these Bucks and Ducks in a moment.
As a long-time coach and now an athletic director, it pains me every time that I see a student-athlete get disgruntled over playing time or their role on the team. In nearly every case, the player quits. Oh, they might not quit the team and they might not even make a visible show but slowly and surely they cash out mentally. Instead of seeing the opportunity in every challenge, as Winston Churchill used to say, they see the difficulty in every opportunity. Unfortunately instead of persevering, they make excuses and take on a victim-mentality.