If you have been around our program on the day of a game, you will see “Game Day Flags” flying around campus and town. This tradition started a few years ago when I was coaching for the Fairhope Pirates. I had spoken with an alumnus that mentioned in his playing days, “Skull and Cross-bone Flags” would fly downtown on game days. That putting the flags up would bring great school spirit, awareness to the community, and excitement for the game. We decided soon after to bring this tradition back; so we created new flags and had placements for them in as many places as possible. Everything we do in our program is about total player development, so every decision is to ultimately help them have the best experience possible. I personally loved that the players can ride to school and see something that signaled the night’s event. I want our players to feel valued, important, and know that everyone is behind them. It is also a proven fact that you excel at a higher level for something greater than self. We now have these flags downtown and at every school location. As much as I like this idea, when you think of why flags are used in general; it usually revolves around a symbol of who we are, communication, and an allegiance of our association. As we rise up each morning, these same reasons can be applied to our daily lives…
A symbol of who we are… When we wear the patch of a flag on our sleeve, it is a symbol of our nationality or organization. So each day… What do we represent as a person? What qualities do you want to be known for? How we act, sacrifice, and choose to spend our time will serve as our daily symbol. We stress to our players that it is important to pre-think life decisions long before the actual moments. If we wait for the moments, the moment may just decide for us. To help with this I believe that it is important to not only write down goals but to write a personal mission statement. To have something that helps guide our representation and aligns our actions. We need to have an intentional mindset for our daily lives. How do I want to be defined as a professional, student, player, friend, spouse, parent, or person of faith. What we believe the most will typically determine our choices. We need to believe that we are meant for good and people need to see it. These thoughts or beliefs will also guide how we communicate daily and who we choose to place in our lives.
How we communicate… Originally flags could be used as a warning sign or system of communication between ships. Everyday we are sending a message whether we realize it or not. How we communicate should be a direct symbol of who we strive to be. This could be through our body language, temperament, words, or mindset. Are we sending warning signals to people to stay away or the signal that we are ready to go in a positive direction? No matter what position of life we hold, there is a decision to be made everyday. How we decide our mindset will have a direct correlation with a positive or negative experience. Choices are always followed with some type of consequence. It is important that we also realize that just because we have a bad day and fail, doesn’t mean we cannot have a different message tomorrow or change in the moment. The challenge we each face is to fly the right flag on a consistent basis. The more time we make the choice for a positive impact, the more it will become a life habit.
Allegiance of our association… Who we belong to? Who do we choose to hang out with? Who do I choose to be in my life? As best we can, these people should be a reflection of what we truly wish to represent. I love the saying, “To surround yourself with people on the same mission.” So ask yourself:
- Do the people I consistently surround myself with make me better?
- Do the people I consistently surround myself with align with my beliefs?
- Do the people I consistently surround myself with compromise my goals?
- Do the people I consistently surround myself with represent me positively?
If the answers to these questions are positive, then they will help you stay on the right course and encourage the best version of you. Our personal symbol should mean something and these people will be a big piece of the picture. It is also key to understand that if these people are not always present, it is okay to stand alone and not be afraid. To believe in who you are, what you wish to represent, and to not compromise your standards. No matter what we think, we will eventually take on some characteristics of who we are around the most. I have seen many people in my career make effecting decisions based off of social acceptance or external rewards that do not match who they truly represent. I love the words by Douglas McArthur (a quote we are also using to guide our Team Leadership Council), who said:
“A true leader has the courage to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”
Remember that we each are the leader in choosing those in our circle. I also understand that everyone’s personal circumstances or environments are different, which can increase the difficulty. However, we are still personally responsible for our choice of association and it can have a positive or negative impact. I encourage you to ask key questions. I encourage you to be around people that make you better. I encourage you to be bold and stand alone if necessary. I encourage you to be the best version of you!
So everyday when that sun comes up… Get ready to set sail… Know who you are and that you are meant for good… Communicate every day for a positive direction and impact… Associate with the right people on the journey, they will make you better and are much more enjoyable… And be ready for the battle, because I assure you that in your life…
Everyday Is Game Day!!