A friend of mine, Greg Hill, whom I went to high school with, was recently inducted into the Kentucky Track and Field Hall of Fame. I am very proud of Greg for this achievement. He deserves it. Greg was a multi-year state champion and record holder, a three-time All-American at LSU and collegiate champion with AAU records to his credit.
I too was a sprinter, but not for my school. I was the fastest student on my church track team winning at meets. I ran well enough in gym class at school to be recruited by the school’s track coaches. But I would not join the track and field team at school. My main reason – Greg Hill. Hear me, it was not anything Greg did, nor was it even about Greg. He was and is still today, a friend whom I admire for his accomplishments. The fault lay with me. I wouldn’t join the team because I knew I could never beat Greg in a race. I used Greg’s athleticism to keep me from being my best in high school as an athlete.
I do regret that decision and my stinkin’ thinkin’ back then. Today, I want to encourage and even push others around me to be their best. You might say it’s what I do for a living. I have learned and practiced over the years (long since high school) that to help others to be their best, I must pursue the same for me.
Do you want the people around you to perform at their best, to be the best they possibly can? If you want others to be their best, you must first daily practice and strive to improve to be your best. If you are a leader, you will never lead people beyond your ability. Therefore, continual striving for improvement is essential. Athletes and sports teams do not become winners relying on yesteryears practice. Winning athletes and teams push themselves every day for growth, for improvement.
What produces winning teams in sports or business, even in families, is the willingness to produce continual practice systems and procedures that align with the vision of the entity. Don Shula, retired NFL coach of the Miami Dolphins, said, “Everything I do is to prepare people to perform to the best of their ability.” Whether it was his coaching staff or the players on the team, Shula knew that a team will not perform on game day any better than their best day of practice.
As leaders in the business world, the church, and our own families, we need a similar resolve. Our children, employees, and volunteers will never rise above the structures of practice we build into the culture of our organization (or family). If we allow slothfulness in our organization, it becomes a habit. And slothful habits keep people from reaching for the heights they can achieve. I’m living proof, those slothful habits can be broken!
Looking back, I can now say that if I had competed with you, Greg Hill, you would’ve helped me become a better athlete and a stronger person in my teen years. I am grateful to God that He has straightened my thinking and I now let the Greg Hill’s in my life build me up.
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.