Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx, is about ex-NFL player and current minister, speaker, workshop-leader, and part-time HS football coach Joe Ehrmann. S...moreSeason of Life, by Jeffrey Marx, is about ex-NFL player and current minister, speaker, workshop-leader, and part-time HS football coach Joe Ehrmann. Season of Life offers Marx's mini-biography of Joe Ehrmann, as well as an explication of Ehrmann's philosophy of 'strategic masculinity' and developing character in student-athletes through sports.
The PE staff, coaches, students and parents with whom I have met in recent years to discuss Ehrmann's 'code of conduct' have found many themes in Season of Life that resonate for us. One of these resonant themes came from the author's Jr. High basketball coach: 'He instilled in me a simple but powerful philosophy--'No Regrets'--that became the core of everything I wanted to be,' writes Jeff Marx. 'In basketball, no regrets meant that as long as we did all we could to prepare, as long as we practiced and played as hard as we possibly could, then we would never have to worry about the outcome of a game. Win or lose, we would never have to experience the emptiness of regret because we would always know that we had given our best. But when Mr. Spano taught me about no regrets, he was not really teaching me basketball. He was teaching me life. He was teaching me that as long as I always expended maximum effort in whatever I was doing, as long as I always acted responsibly, as long as I always conducted myself with class and pride and extended kindness to others, then I would never have anything to worry about. No Regrets--that's what I'd want on my tombstone.' (pp. 121-122, emphasis in original)
On p. 3 of the book, readers are introduced to the familiar question-and-answer sequence that Coach Ehrmann uses with his Gilman High School players before every practice and game: 'What is our job as coaches?' he asked. 'To love us,' the boys yelled back in unison. 'What is your job?' Joe shot back. 'To love each other,' the boys responded. The words were spoken with the familiarity of a mantra, the commitment of an oath, the enthusiasm of a pep rally.
We later learn that Ehrmann has also started a foundation (called 'Building Men for Others') through which he 'teach[es] boys his own definition of masculinity, and a code of conduct for manhood' (p. 29).
Rather than an impoverished definition of manhood (or one 'based on all the wrong things--money, fame, [and] power'), Joe espouses a different vision by offering his own 'profound understanding of what it really means, really ought to mean, to be a man. First and foremost,' he asserts, 'is the ability to enter and maintain meaningful relationships' (p. 30).
On p. 36, Ehrmann discusses 'the three components of what he term[s] 'false masculinity': athletic ability, sexual conquest, and economic success.' His paradigm of 'strategic masculinity,' by contrast, is more 'other-centered, other-focused,' and measures its success 'in terms of [the quality of one's] relationships' and 'the importance of having a cause beyond oneself' (p. 124).
Or, as his alter ego and fellow Gilman football coach Biff Poggi explains it to their players: 'the way we measure greatness is the impact you make on other people's lives' (p. 48). Ehrmann and Poggi thus actively foster a very inclusive culture and atmosphere within their team and school.
They also stress the biblical 'parable of talents,' in order to emphasize the importance they give to every player's fulfilling his own unique potential to the utmost. 'Some of us get paralyzed when we feel we don't have 'as much as' or 'as good as' someone else,' Coach Ehrmann says. 'But the person we really want to honor is the one who maximizes whatever it is he has' (p. 51).
Ehrmann's and Poggi's philosophy of coaching is easily summarized: 'teach 'em, love 'em, let 'em have a good experience.' They also have a very long-term view of how to evaluate their own effectiveness and impact on their players. As Poggi puts it: 'I won't really know how successful they're gonna be till they come back to visit in twenty years. Then I'll be able to see what kind of husbands they are. I'll be able to see what kind of fathers they are. I'll see what they're doing in the community' (p. 53).
'Win or lose,' as Jeff Marx notes, the Gilman coaches 'play down the significance of the outcome' of their games. Rather, 'the main thing' they want to see is 'good effort and sportsmanship' (p. 57).
Since Ehrmann debunks 'the societal-based, age-related progression from athletic ability to sexual conquest to economic success' as 'false masculinity,' he touts the value of empathy as 'the single greatest trait of humanity that separates us from other animals....All the power and prestige and possessions in the world will never make up for failed relationships,' he points out (pp. 97-99).
Men and boys might also be especially drawn to Ehrmann's discussion of 'father longing' and his description of men's and boys' frequent 'inability to put emotions into words' (which psychologists sometimes call 'normative male alexithymia') on p. 100. As Ehrmann puts it, males tend to 'compare and...compete, but we never really connect' (p. 101).
As we learn on p. 140, 'Joe's code of conduct revolves around four 'strategic masculinity traits' that form what he calls 'the moral and ethical foundation of a man built for others:
* He accepts responsibility. * He leads courageously. * He enacts justice on behalf of others. * He expects God's greater rewards.'
'Wherever there is injustice,' Ehrmann insists, we ought to show up, stand up, and speak up.... Whenever we can show up, stand up, and speak up, that's when we start changing the world. . . and all of us need to do that' (p. 145)
This book has been well-reviewed and highly rated by enough Goodreads readers that I won't (be able to) add much that's new or original enough to note...moreThis book has been well-reviewed and highly rated by enough Goodreads readers that I won't (be able to) add much that's new or original enough to note here.
In case no one else sited the website that adds some additional info about The Assist, etc., I'm attaching a hotlink to it herewith: http://theassist.net/site.html
I just think that fans of Swidey's book might find some more to delight, amuse, & instruct them there, too.(less)
Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is based on a deceptively simple—yet powerful—premise. The central distinction she draws here is...moreCarol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is based on a deceptively simple—yet powerful—premise. The central distinction she draws here is directly relevant to any of us interested in teaching leadership. According to Dr. Dweck (a Stanford psychology professor), each of us adopts one of two mindsets about life: the fixed or growth mindset. People with fixed mindsets tend to see human potential as static and finite; people with growth mindsets see human potential as more dynamic and elastic. Obviously, those who believe that leaders are “born, not made” subscribe to the fixed mindset. Those of us sharing the gcLi’s core philosophy—i.e. that leadership can be taught—fall into the growth mindset camp.
When Dr. Deak compares neurological pathways to rubber bands, she invokes the growth mindset. Similarly, when a leadership scholar like Professor Ron Heifetz of Harvard distinguishes adaptive from technical leadership, his distinction implicitly entails growth vs. fixed mindsets too. Over the long haul, the more successful athletes, teachers, spouses, coaches, professionals and entrepreneurs naturally tend to manifest beliefs and behaviors characteristic of the growth mindset. Few of us are bound to enjoying playing or working for coaches or bosses with fixed mindsets. Dweck’s book is full of cautionary examples of those sorts of leaders (from the likes of the Enron executives to coaches like the mercurial—perhaps infamous—Bobby Knight).
These memorable, illustrative anecdotes are one of the signal strengths of Mindset. Many readers of this sort of literature are already well familiar with the process-oriented, growth-minded approaches of perennial champions like Michael Jordan or long-tenured UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Both these remarkable competitors managed to achieve outstanding success in the win-loss column over long careers. But both considered winning merely an inevitable byproduct of their zealous pursuit of athletic excellence and their willingness to outwork their opponents. Seeking constant growth and improvement in their own teams’ abilities were Wooden’s and Jordan’s primary focus. By manifesting their growth mindsets this way, they were also able to accomplish unparalleled productivity and victorious results—but almost as an afterthought or matter of course.
Dweck and other similarly minded leadership scholars believe that leaders emerge naturally in organizations that prize learning and manifest pervasive growth mindsets. Her dichotomy also recalls James MacGregor Burns’s seminal distinction between “transactional” and “transforming” leadership. Transactional leaders—according to Burns—simply “exchange valued things” with their followers. They have a sort of quid pro quo arrangement, in which everyone’s needs and wishes get served despite possibly finite resources. Operating out of a growth instead of fixed mindset, by contrast, transforming leaders seek to enlarge the size of the relevant pie. Burns’s transforming leaders use mutual engagement between them and and their followers to enhance their collective potential, thus raising the possibilities for all.
Dweck closes her analysis by pointing out that we each can choose which mindset we embody from moment to moment. Her final chapter, for instance, offers a sort of self-guided workshop or tutorial one might follow to work on changing one’s primary (default) mindset. By showing how many contexts in which mindsets profoundly affect one’s experiences, prospects for success, satisfaction in life, or the quality of one’s relationships, Dr. Dweck offers her readers a simple, broadly significant insight. (less)
A remarkable story, of course. And an equally remarkable book.
I was surprised by how cinematic Michael Lewis's narrative in Blind Side was. I had sped...moreA remarkable story, of course. And an equally remarkable book.
I was surprised by how cinematic Michael Lewis's narrative in Blind Side was. I had sped-read the book when the hardback version first came out a couple years ago. Then I saw the movie & re-read the paperback version this past month.
It was striking how much TBS reads like a screenplay. Several of its most cinematic moments occur--pretty much verbatim--in the book version, too.
Bottom line: Michael is an exceptionally gifted writer. He has an uncanny penchant for mastering the nuances of even things like football strategy and the fine points of offensive line play at the line of scrimmage. The access he was able to get to NFL coaching eminences like Bill Walsh & Bill Parcells was truly remarkable. His discussion of strategic & tactical fine points here is every bit as sophisticated as his explication of Billy Beane, Sabermetrics, etc. in Moneyball.
(Re)Reading TBS just now has prompted me to revisit all of ML's oeuvre. Although I tend to prefer his sports-oriented stories to his financial ones, I'm even dipping in to them, trying to learn a little more about the ins & outs of the abstruse world of investment banking & high finance, as well.(less)