Last night we began practice 67 with a team of OSU grapplers by having Myles read two pages from a random spot of Mans Search for Meaning, By Viktor Frankl. Myles read. We talked awhile. Good learning. I let the room go quiet for a moment. We didn’t even make it to twenty seconds of silence. Kyle asked me what do you do when you don’t believe in one of your teammates. The room went eerily silent now. “You tell them the truth,” I responded without missing a beat. “You do this one on one. And, you do it humbly. You do this because you want to believe.” The conversation ran through the room as people weighed in and shared their thinking. It was a hard question and a good convo…
A few moments later, I violated everything I had told Kyle. Here’s what happened. Grappy had shared some of his thinking and I had noticed one of the grapplers, seated immediately in front of me, was deep in thought. Once Grappy completed his thought, I turned toward Micah and asked him a ccd question. “Hey man, what are you thinking?” He started with bullshit that he thought I wanted to hear. I stopped him mid sentence and asked again. “No man, what are you really thinking?” I called bullshit in front of everybody, all his teammates, coaches, and even a few outsiders. He looked me in the eye, came clean in an instant, and told us exactly what he was thinking. He told a personal story about not taking conflict head on when it raised it’s ugly head. Micah shared his heart, in front of everyone. The room felt like Church. Didn’t smell like Church. Didn’t look like Church. It felt like Church.
Do not wait on conflict, friend. It gets worse overtime. Conflict is not like a fine wine. It does not age well. It turns bitter. Micah shared his heart. It was personal. Took guts. He’s cool. The team got better.
This practice was possible because of the 66 before it. You see, we’ve been building trust in this room for 4 years. Real stuff gets shared now. People are losing the ability to bullshit. Sometimes Kyle calls it out. Sometimes Joey (a first year transfer from Stanford – an outsider)! Sometimes Kollin. Sometimes Ke-Shawn, sometimes Kevin. Sometimes Bo, sometimes Nate. Sometimes Jaimen, and sometimes even Zach. You see, leader, words matter. Conversations count. The more truth you practice telling your teammates, in the moment, the more trust is built. Yeah, it’s gonna hurt some feelings along the way. Life is suffering. Misery is a choice.
You can do what is easy now and eventually life is gonna get really, really hard. You can do what is hard now and life gets easier. You choose. Your choices have consequences.
Last night, right before boarding the bus and heading to the BIG Ten Championships up north, a team of grapplers held another BTL team practice. We did nothing special. We did what we always do. We helped young men become better men. We loved each other enough to speak truth. As soon as practice ended a number of grapplers hung around to talk and laugh with me. We had surfaced tension and talked it through with words that healed, maybe even as they hurt. We now laughed and talked about kicking some butt up north. We joked around for awhile, Grappy and Tervel started to lift some heavies, and Tay and I quietly headed for the side door.
It felt something like leaving Church. It felt good. How does it feel leaving your locker room, leader? Good…