Nov. 12, 2020

Emotional Intelligence, Insecurities, and the Journey of Growth with Eric Pfeiffer of MPWR Coaching

Emotional Intelligence, Insecurities, and the Journey of Growth with Eric Pfeiffer of MPWR Coaching

In Episode 5, Eric Pfeiffer, Founder and Senior Consultant of MPWR Coaching and Collegiate Soccer Player, talks with Phil about emotional intelligence, dealing with insecurities, self-love, permission to fail, the journey of growth, and conflict...

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In Episode 5, Eric Pfeiffer, Founder and Senior Consultant of MPWR Coaching and Collegiate Soccer Player, talks with Phil about emotional intelligence, dealing with insecurities, self-love, permission to fail, the journey of growth, and conflict resolution. Specifically, he discusses:

  • His story and how his experience playing soccer intersects with other areas of his life and leadership (2:05)
  • Emotional intelligence and why it is critical to success in soccer and leading others in any area of life (6:16)
  • How coaching sports organizations is the same as coaching any other organizations (8:27)
  • Insecurities, how they affect us in soccer and other areas of life, and how we can overcome them in sport and life (12:41)
  • How self-love is different from narcissism and why the distinction is important to understand (17:46)
  • Permission to fail and why it’s necessary to learn how to embrace failure and fail forward (21:01)
  • How insecurities and emotional unintelligence manifest themselves in our lives (and on the soccer pitch) and why overcoming them is essential to flourishing in life (23:59)
  • The journey of growth and phases of development for anything worth doing (28:58)
  • Creating a culture that celebrates healthy failure (29:07)
  • What soccer teaches us about conflict resolution and how we can work through conflict together in a healthy way (40:49)
  • How he uses the lessons he learned from soccer in his marriage and parenting (47:19)
  • His recommendation of a book that impacted his thinking of the intersection of soccer, life, and leadership (52:14)

Resources and Links from this Episode

Audio with subtitles available on our YouTube channel (video not available due to technical difficulties)

MPWR Coaching website –

Eric Pfeiffer on LinkedIn –

How Soccer Explains Leadership Facebook Group --

Das Reboot: How German Football Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World, by Raphael Honigstein


Phil:[00:00:00] Welcome back to the How Soccer Explains Leadership Podcast. Again, we have a great show in store for us today. today we have Eric Pfeiffer.  I'm going to let him talk about his amazing background, his story, all the things that he's doing to help leaders. He's a leadership coach at his core. That is what he does, whether it is actually his title or not. It's what he's been doing for many years. He's also happens to be a guy that I played a little soccer with when we were younger. and it's, it's just my pleasure to be able to have him on today. So I have no doubt that you guys are gonna enjoy the conversation we have here in a minute. But before we get there, I want to remind you to, if you haven't done so already to subscribe to the show at Apple Podcasts or Spotify or wherever you're listening right now. Just hit that subscribe button so that you don't miss any of the future shows. As well as, check out the Facebook group, if this is something that you're really interested in, and this is something that you want to go deeper into this conversation, we do have a Facebook group where we are having that conversation a little bit deeper than we are able to have here on the, on these episodes.

Plus you can actually engage with me with the guests sometimes and with other people who are thinking about these issues at a deeper level. So with that, I want to get right to it with Eric Pfeiffer. Eric, how are you doing today?

Eric:[00:01:19] I'm doing fantastic, Phil, thanks for inviting me to be on your show.

Phil:[00:01:22] Absolutely, man. like I've said with some other guests, I don't care how big you are. There are some people that have not heard of you now. I'm not saying that you're super huge,

Eric:[00:01:32] but.

Phil:[00:01:33] But, you know, there are some people who don't know who you are.

So why don't you just spend a few minutes, sharing your story, who you are, how you got to be, where you are today and, you know, , particularly since this is how soccer explains leadership, I want to hear about what soccer has to do with your life, leadership and how that intersects.

Eric:[00:01:50] Yeah, well, that's a big question. So I'll hit on a few big points and then you can mine out anything else if you'd like. I obviously grew up playing soccer from when I was about five years old. I fell in love with it. My mom did also because growing up with four other or three other brothers, And about a year and a half apart, my mom finally found a sport that would tire us out before we got home.

And, over the years, found a love for it. And there are so many things about the sport of soccer. The fact that it's a team sport, the fact that, there, it requires a great degree of exercise. there's an incredible, you know, plethora of skills that are required to grow and develop over the years.

So I took a liking to, it was a constant challenge. And for someone like me with my personality, I need a new challenge, regularly to keep me interested in that soccer provided that. Played through, lots of years in the club arena, in orange County, California, and then played through high school, played through college, which is a fun story after playing at four different universities in five years, you know, made my rounds that might explain a little bit about where I was as a human being at that point of my life.

But, after college, Was actually supposed to travel to Europe, to Germany and make an attempt at picking up with, a club to pursue soccer as a career. And I ended up actually going through a pretty radical personal journey, fell into some pretty ed, pretty dark depression and went on a kind of soul search.

And that was where I encountered, it just kind of a faith journey with God and became a Christian. And, and that really  took me on an alternative pathway of exploring, my faith and exploring what that meant for me as a person, what it might, how it might inform my career path, my life journey.

And so then that's what got me into ministry. Started working in churches eventually went to grad school to become a pastor. But obviously soccer always played a significant role because that's what I grew up with. So it, it probably unbeknownst to myself, played a significant role in the development of my character and my personality, things that I valued.

And so even as I was working through the world of church in those early years, I've found myself constantly wanting to be a part of a team. I didn't want to work in isolation. I deeply appreciated that within the life of ministry, there are, there's always new skills that you can develop. There's new ways to grow.

And at the end of the day, I know it might sound unspiritual, but I liked to win. I wanted to be successful. I wanted to achieve things. so that, that was kind of the journey. And then along the way in ministry, I found this love for working with leaders, which then translated into, a career into coaching.

And there's a lot more behind that, but realize that I love working with leaders and teams and organizations to help them operate effectively, to achieve great things to win. like we had talked about in a previous conversation, it took me years to begin to connect the dots between what I've experienced in soccer.

And obviously I never coached soccer. Once I hung up my boots. That was it. I never coached, never played again after my collegiate career, which most people say is a shame. I say it saved my physical body from all the wear and tear, but you know, it took me years to really connect the dots to realize that so many of the principles, values that I learned or resisted during my development as a soccer player, Really were deeply connected to the work I was doing in ministry and, now as a leadership coach.

Phil:[00:05:27] Yeah. Now you're, explaining a little bit more about what you're doing right now, because a lot of what you're doing in the leadership coaching is not just, what you'd normally hear leadership coach. I mean, that can mean so many different things to different people, and it does mean different things, depending on what type of, Tools, you're using different things you're focusing on.

right now you're really focusing on emotional intelligence. There's a lot of what you do in your leadership and how, that is really critical to the leadership and the leader's effectiveness. So can you just, talk about that for a little bit? What is the emotional intelligence?

What does that mean for those who don't know? And then what's that got to do with leadership?

Eric:[00:06:01] emotional intelligence can be broken down into really simple terms. It's about learning to lead yourself. So that you can effectively lead other people. What emotional intelligence explains is that so often we're operating out of a reactive posture because we're being triggered all day long and getting emotionally and mentally and physically hijacked.

And when we're hijacked, we're not able to operate. And the best version of ourselves. You know, you put us in a convenient environment and in our best moments as human beings, we generally operate pretty well out of a clear mindset. We operate out of our core values and principles.

But you put us under enough pressure. And, I like to say, when you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice, squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice. What happens when you squeeze a leader enough, what comes out of us? And so the journey of emotional intelligence is dealing with what happens to us under increased, prolonged pressure and how often things come out of us that we don't like that are not favorable to us, to our environment and to the culture that we're a part of.

And so. The emotional intelligence is this journey of learning to recognize what's happening. beneath the hood of our own car and how that is deeply impacting our attitudes behaviors, the way we engage with other team members, clients our significant others. Our kids, the person checking you out in the grocery store.

I mean, it is a very deeply human. Endeavor. And so for me, years ago, I discovered that this is really heartbeat of leadership. And there's so many, like you said, there's so many ways of talking about leadership, but emotional intelligence self-leadership really is at the heartbeat of, leadership, any industry in any context, in any country, in any cultural environment.

this is really. Radically important,

Phil:[00:07:51] On that note. And I will say in any sports team as well, right. And any soccer team in the context of this podcast, but on that note, you have actually done some consulting with some sports teams, some professional sports teams, other teams, do the leadership principles, the emotional intelligence conversation.

Does that differ in any way when you're consulting with sports teams or. Other organizations,

Eric:[00:08:12] right. That's a great question. Because we work with law firms, construction industry. We work with, tech firms, pharmaceutical organizations, marketing and sales organizations. we really work across a large scope and diversity or variety of different industries and organizations including athletic organizations.

So we've worked with professional athletes, coaches, and then obviously office staff. within the sporting world. And I would say this, the context is different, but the leadership principles remain the same because at the end of the day, We are helping human beings learn how to lead themselves and lead others more effectively.

So the principles, the tools, principles, and practices are consistent across the board because at the end of the day, people are having to operate under increasing levels of pressure. And the higher you go in any industry organization, the greater your role and responsibility. You can sure bet that the more pressure you're going to come under.

And so learning how to operate well under increasing pressure is our focus and our specialty. So we've been happy to see that, this all transfers and translates into any context, including the professionals coordinators, you. Now, it does help that I had a long career, playing sports, even playing through college at a higher level.

So I have a deeper appreciation for what athletes are going through. and even, coaches as well and the office staff, but at the end of the day, it's the same across the board.

Phil:[00:09:38] And I, and I'll say too, because it is human behavior because it's people, this translates internationally as well.

And I say that because we've done it as an organization as well, we've trained people in pretty much every continent. I haven't been able to go to Australia. So if there's somebody in Australia listening right now and you want to fly me over to help consult with you, I would love to do that.

I'm sure Eric would, Eric would probably come with me. But it does work because these are human principles and humans, people are, people, cultures are different. contexts are different, but I love the way you answered that. and it leads into some of the, the rest of the conversation we're going to have today, which does go into some more principles.

Some of these principles that you alluded to at the higher level, we're going to go now kind of go into the trees a little bit here. we're not going to be at the forest floor, so to speak with your specific organization, but if you want to find more about Eric, you want to  connect with him.

Eric, how do we do that? How can people connect to find out more about your organization, about you, and your leadership, where can they find you?

Eric:[00:10:36] they can simply go to, empower That's MPWR. So the word empower without the vowels, you can thank my millennial business partner for that clever little thing.

So it's You can find us online. You can find us on LinkedIn on any social media platform and people are also welcome to look me up. Eric Pfeiffer. The last name is spelled just like Michelle Pfeiffer. That's the easiest way to explain it. And they can find me on LinkedIn or any other social media outlet, and we'd be happy to chat and have a conversation.

our passion is to help leaders, teams, and organizations move the needle in terms of their emotional intelligence, because we believe that people are the engine of business.

Phil:[00:11:20] That sounds like you've said that before.

Eric:[00:11:24] That's my elevator speech.

Phil:[00:11:25] I mean call me crazy.

But, anyway, so, with that, let's move on to the,  the meat of what we're going to be talking about today.

And the first thing I want to talk to you about, and it's something we've talked about before, and it's something I've seen firsthand because. I played with you. So, I know that what you're saying is true. I, I fact checked it with my memory and it, was true when we were talking before. So I want to talk with you a little bit about, just really insecurities.

I coach high school girls. I have. Girls and boys in my home, I know a lot of teenagers. I was a teenager. I'm also human. So I know insecurities are part of, of what we're dealing with, who we are, they're part of our lives. And they do affect us, whether it's on the soccer field or in life, in, in leadership, in following, whatever it is.

So can you talk a little bit about that? How insecurity is do affect us on soccer field, how we can, work to. I don't think you'll ever get rid of all of them, but how can you work to, overcome them in your day to day and work, to hopefully help you to not have them affect you as much?

Eric:[00:12:26] Yeah. I like you said, insecurities plague all human beings because at the end of the day, I think we're all questioning whether we have what it takes, whether we're enough. this starts at such a young age, especially when we grew up in the context of any culture. Where people are competing with one another and we're, we're comparing ourselves with other people.

And in some ways that's a good thing because we can be inspired by other people who have gone a little bit ahead of us with people who have achieved greater things. we can learn from other people on their journeys, but oftentimes it actually has the reverse effect. It causes us to compare ourselves.

We begin to see where we're lacking, what we don't have, and it could be any physical attribute, any skill. It can be a personality issue. And before, you know it, we're now beginning to diminish and undervalue what we bring to the table. Rather than to, to develop what I call a sober assessment of who we are and what we have to bring to any situation.

So going back to my youngest years, as you know, Phil, I mean, I was a pretty good soccer player. but what most people don't know is that I was dealing with really deep insecurities. I was deeply afraid to not have what it takes. I was deeply afraid, to lose my status, as, as in terms of my reputation for what I was known for on the soccer field.

And those insecurities began to drive, began to drive me and they drive other people to want to hide. And so when we're working with leaders in any context, what we tell people is at the beginning of the journey of emotional. Intelligence or we might talk about emotional maturity is the journey into self-awareness.

Is learning to become aware of what's happening internally. And to remember that more often than not, we're allowing our external environment to shape who we are internally to define who we are internally. And that's just not the way we're hardwired in the best moments. Our parents, our friends, our coaches the leaders in our life, in their best moments.

They are shaping the positive side of who we are. But the reality is our environment is also shaping the worst parts of who we are. telling us we're not enough telling us that we should do more, we should achieve something better. So at the beginning of emotional maturity or intelligence is practicing self-awareness is learning to practice honesty and brutal honesty.

What's going on inside of me. What do I have and what do I not have to bring to the table for better, for worse. We talk about learning the skill of humility, which is what I call holding the gold in the dirt. together, you know, some of us, we just want to focus on the gold of our life and things that we do well, our strengths, there's been a huge movement.

And even in the leadership culture, around the StrengthsFinder mindset, which is, you know, forget about your weaknesses, not worth dealing with them. It's a waste of time, just focus on the gold in your life. But the problem is that the way that we discover more gold is by digging through dirt. It's just a helpful metaphor that I've developed to help us understand that we're going to have to deal with the dirt, the things that are not working well.

the behaviors, the attitudes, the values that are actually undermining our ability to perform at higher levels. And so we tell leaders, Hey, we've got to learn. I don't need to be brutally honest with the gold and the dirt. It does us no favors to highlight one at the cost of the other. But then to learn, to embrace both of them to understand this is who we are in this point in our life, which leads us to the third skill of self-awareness, which is self-love.

Which is a very difficult skill to develop. It is a skill I'm absolutely convinced. It's a skill. Some people think it's a warm and fuzzy feeling. Some people just have self confidence, some people don't, but actually self-love is choosing to embrace the gold and the dirt of who we are and believe in self love is believing.

It's the bridge that carries us from where we are today into the future, into tomorrow, where we can become different people. That we are as human beings, we are hardwired to evolve, to grow, to mature, to be transformed, but if we're not a willing to practice or able to practice those three key skills, it actually creates us, in, in us, this sense of I've got to hide, I've got to deflect, I've got to protect against the exposure of these diamond, these elements for fear.

That nobody's going to let me grow when actually it is an opportunity for all of us to choose, to learn, to take this pathway of saying I can become somebody better. It is a journey, and I'm going to love myself enough to believe in a better version of me in the future.

Phil:[00:16:59] Wow. There's a lot there. and, and I will say the one thing I want to ask, so there's a few things I want to follow up on there, but the first is, Self-love could be misinterpreted as narcissism.

Right. so what's the difference. I know that's not what you're talking about. So we haven't even talked about this, but I know that's not what you're talking about, but what is the difference between self love and narcissism? Because a lot of people say, I don't, I don't want to seem like I'm just loving myself and in love with myself.

That's not what you're saying. So what are you saying with that self love? What do you mean by that? And how is it different from narcissism?

Eric:[00:17:31] Yeah. So I'll just say two quick things. First of all, the reason that children grow and develop for the most part is because there are parents in that child's life who loved them into the better version of who they are.

So when a child is learning to walk and they stumble and fumble, parents don't smack the kid over the back of the head and say, are you kidding me? Why didn't you get this? You should have already been walking by now. What, what do we do instead? We applaud even the attempt at walking, even though they failed, even though they failed technically.

To walk we celebrate the fact that they tried, we pick them up, we encourage them and we help them continue that journey that, that is love from a parent or a leader or a coach to their child or to the team member or, or to who their colleague. To say, I believe that you can become this better version of yourself.

That's the reason why, kids, learn how to wipe their own reruns. They learn how to feed their themselves. They learn how to, you know, change their clothes to shower. Because as parents, we understand that our job is to help these children mature into these different skills.

And it's actually a practical expression of love. Love, I believe is not a sentiment. It's not an emotion. It's an action. And parents reveal this love toward their children. Well, that's a leadership principle, but here's here's let me just, bring in the fact that I also lead a church with my wife here in sunny, San Diego, California.

And one of my favorite Bible verses is when they asked Jesus, Hey, what are the greatest commandments? And Jesus sums it up and says, love, God, love your neighbor as yourself. And what we believe about leadership is you can only give to others what you first cultivate in yourself. In other words, in order to love others in our life, the way that our parents loved us to help other people grow and develop has to be based on the same principle of how we love ourselves.

We have to learn how to love ourself for that same behavior to say, Hey, Eric, you're going to stumble and Bumble and fumble your way into any area of growth and maturity and success. And so I need to learn to practically love myself, to remind myself that it's okay, that I failed forward. I'm going to pick myself up and I'm going to encourage myself to stay on the journey.

So that's not narcissism. Narcissism is being wrapped up in yourself where you become consumed with yourself for your sake. Love is actually something you do for yourself for the sake of everybody around you.

Phil:[00:19:59] Yeah. I love the distinction, with, the next thing I want to talk about on that idea of the insecurities and that process that you talk about to get to self-love when you don't go through that talk a little bit.

We talked to the other day about, Just how you, because you were insecure, as you talked about during that time, the feelings that you had, the insecurities of, are you good enough? Are you going to be that, that player that you're going to get to the next, whatever it is that you were insecure about?

How did that impact you? With your teammates with the way you handled failure. and how does that relate to probably how you would have done it? And maybe you did do it in your jobs, in the ways that, and how you've seen others handle it when they aren't healthy in their emotional yeah. Intelligence.

Eric:[00:20:46] I think early on in my life, I was radically, emotionally unintelligent. If that's even a phrase. I did not know how to practice the skills of self-awareness and self-leadership so let me just let me hone in on one particular skill. It's learning how to fail forward.

that's not a phrase that I developed that somebody else mentioned that somewhere in a book I read, I love that phrase failing. Forward, it's giving ourselves permission to fail because failure is a part of growth and development. Just as we took the example of a child learning to walk. When I was young, I never learned and developed permission for failure.

failure might mean that I was taken off the field failure meant that I made, we didn't start the next game failure meant that maybe I wasn't good enough to play at a higher level So failure represented a road, a stumbling block, a roadblock rather than what I call stepping stone and opportunity.

And so. Quite honestly Phil, I don't know that I ever developed permission for failing. I don't think I ever understood the role that failure, the very important role in place that failure has in our growth and development. And I think that really crippled me emotionally through my entire soccer career.

and it wasn't till later when I, when I learned of this, The value of failure and how to embrace failure as a part of the journey that I began to give myself permission. And that's part of the coaching that we provide for leaders is training leaders to give themselves permission, to give people around them permission.

And it not, not just to fail for failure sake, but understanding that any. Growth journey requires that we are going to fail. And we're either going to see failure as something to be circumvented, scooted under the rug to be hidden, or we're going to see failure or as an obstacle, or we say seeing failure as an opportunity to actually press through and grow and develop.

Phil:[00:22:42] And I remember you talking about you hide behind excuses, you'd blame others. You'd like, that's the, kind of the manifestation of what we've been talking about right now. And I'll also say,  I want to be clear, You're not alone in being radically, emotionally unintelligent when it comes to teen years.

I think that that's a pretty safe bet nowadays.  I've seen some healthy, emotionally intelligent teenagers out there, but I think most are probably either they're there on the. Unintelligent side of the equation most of the time, when it comes to the emotions and how to deal with them and the, and the confidence and the self-love side of things.

And so I just want to, I really want to speak to parents right now and to players who might be listening and maybe a parent's going, Oh, I gotta Have my player listened to this to say, what are the manifestations of emotional? Unintelligence basically in the, whether it's on the soccer field or in, relationships that could be misinterpreted.

as just how someone is. Right. You know what I'm saying? you, you understand the question there?

Eric:[00:23:44] Yes. It's a great question. I'm raising two teenagers right now and, I tell my kids all the time. I really wish I had known this when I was younger. because emotional intelligence, you know, nowadays, statistically they're saying that emotionally intelligence is actually three times.

More likely to determine the success of a person in any context of their life than IQ. so the manifestations that the signs or indicators of a lack of emotional intelligence, are usually really simple, first of all, People have a really hard time taking personal responsibility. So when they're confronted with a mistake of failure, somewhere where they've messed up more often than not, they will look for a scapegoat.

They will deflect or project responsibility onto the people around them. And it doesn't matter how old we are. I work with high-level leaders and major corporations who are in their fifties and sixties who are still really struggling because it was a skill set they'd never developed. And so what happens is they begin to take on this mindset that if only the world around me could change.

So in my younger years in soccer, if only my coach had a different coaching style, if only he ran practices or she ran practices differently, if only I had a different team, if only my, my other players around me were better. If they only understood the style of soccer that we should be playing, you'd be better if only if only the team mom brought.

Snickers bars and Coca-Cola's at halftime rather than orange.

You don't think that victim mentality of only the world around us, it conform to our expectations. Then we would be happy. Then we would feel, we find satisfaction, joy, fulfillment. Then we would be more successful. Those are some of the key indicators of a lack of emotional intelligence. It's simply a lack of an ability to take a hundred percent.

Personal responsibility for our part in the equation.

Phil:[00:25:45] And we see that. I mean, you just watch any premier league game on a Saturday, Sunday, or I guess we're recording this on a Friday. There happens to be a game today. you see a goal scored. And you can tell the healthy ones and the unhealthy ones that you know, and obviously in the midst of games, I understand you get, but that's just it.

it's not like you're healthy, boom, check the box. You don't have to worry about, this is something you have to work on all the time, but you see these players that are yelling at each other and blaming other people around them. I actually had a conversation with my son the other day about this with the dishes.

he's nine, so I'm gonna cut him some Slack. Right. But, but he said, you guys gotta do this. She says, well, this is my part I'm done. I said, no, no, no, you guys are a team doing it together. I've asked you guys to do it together. if someone scores a goal and you're playing striker, you just explain the goalie and you blame the.

Defense and the answer is yes, a lot of the time. That's what they do. I know that you did that. And as I've told you, and I reminded you your keeper in high school, for those, you don't know that happened to be me. Never really, it was never his fault. So I'm just giving you that heads up. So, and if you ever hear it, folks, if you're hearing anything different about that in, in your life,

Eric:[00:26:48] If only those trackers scored more goals, it wouldn't matter if I got scored.

Phil:[00:26:52] That's exactly right. That's exactly right. so at least you're, at least we're clear on that. So, but, anyway, so yeah, I want to move on from this, but I think you guys, it's such an important point. It's such a critical asset. Something that I think ruined so many careers. It ruins so many teams. It's something that I think just causes people to struggle and go into depression and have so many issues that this is such a critical aspect that I see every day when I'm coaching.

And I see it in leadership. I see it in organizations. Yeah. Eric,

Eric:[00:27:26] I raised my hand because I got it. I got to just throw this one little thing in, for years now. We've talked or in culture, there's this popular conversation around the entitlement associated with these emerging generations of the millennials and gen Z years and whatnot.

And here's what I would encourage people to understand. Entitlement has been alive and well in every generation of emerging human beings. It's just a part of our emotional developmental process. And it might manifest in different ways in different generations, but I guarantee you, the builders, the boomers, the gen X-ers, the millennials, the gen, whatever, we've all dealt with it because.

In, in our late teens, early twenties, early thirties, it is a part of the natural process of maturity. And entitlement is simply a way of describing a lack of emotional maturity.

Phil:[00:28:15] Wow. Well, we're gonna, we're gonna have time to unpack all that. So, but I think that that's something that, we absolutely, I agree with.

And we're going to move on to  the next segment here, which is really this idea of the growth process, the journey of growth, really the phases of development, of us as healthy. People and  I want you to talk about that first, talk about how it relates to soccer and then really expand on that to outside the game.

Eric:[00:28:43] So the process of what I've learned over the years and, most sociologists leadership experts would agree, and you might be familiar with the work of Ken Blanchard in situational leadership. He does a great job of explaining that there are four phases of development. In whatever area of life we're trying to grow in any new skill in any area.

It doesn't matter whether it's a child learning to brush their own teeth. Doesn't matter if it's a college student or high school student learning to write with their fingers on the home keys of a keyboard. If it's learning to write an essay, if it's learning to ride a bike, but it's learning to be married, learning to resolve conflict, make decisions well, you know, increase our physical fitness.

Every growth journey is going to take us on this, this kind of four-phase process that Kim Blanchard outlines, the first phase is the honeymoon phase. It's the excitement and the vision of I'm going to learn something new. I'm going to do something new. I'm excited about this new journey. And that, part of that leg of the journey is usually the shortest, but it's so important because it's the excitement that gives us the energy to step into something that we've not learned yet or not done yet into the, into the unknown.

But we very quickly run into the second phase, which I call the, Oh no. Or if I was on a different podcast, I might use some more colorful language, but it's the, Oh no, what happened? Phase it's where, where we run into where we become conscious of our incompetence. It's where we run face to face into our own inadequacy.

So growing up as a young person, as a soccer player, you know, thankfully at a young age, ESPN started showing. some of the premier league games, at like four in the morning, on a Saturday morning and I would get up and watch them. And then, with the advent of internet  and videos that were coming over from Europe, I was able to see these different skills and techniques and drills  that people  were using another countries that were lightning years

ahead of where we were in the States at the time. So of course I want to start learning all these new skills. So for example, I want to learn how to juggle consecutively with just using one foot or both feet, or my switching between my feet, my thighs, and then my head. And then you add the shoulders in, and then you add juggling while you're sitting down on the ground, but just your feet and your head and all these different skills.

It would always begin the same way. Excitement. I saw a picture of what that looked like. Somebody else did it honeymoon phase, which would then quickly be mapped by the fact that I don't know how to do this. And I can't do it in frustration. Anger would set in the desire to quit. I think that's where I

Phil:[00:31:05] stopped with juggling.

I got stopped

Eric:[00:31:08] at number two. Well, here's the truth. This is where most people stop in any area of their life. Yeah. It's when we hit that, when I call the pit of despair. Where we become convinced internally that we're not going to get this. We're not going to figure this out. It's too much. I don't have what it takes.

And in the midst of that discouragement, we generally run into three temptations either, just flat out quit. We look for greener grass. Maybe I'm better at doing something else. And we, so we switched to a different skillset, or we just resigned that, you know what? This is, as far as I'm going to get to go.

Nothing's going to grow or mature progress past this point. But if people are able to stay in persevere through that second leg, it's so important because that's where character is developed. That's where our integrity, our perseverance, our sticktuitiveness is shaped. Also some skill begins to develop.

And if we persevere, we eventually end up in the third phase, which we call that. I think I'm getting this phase. And we call this the conscious competence. In other words, we're having to work at it, but we're figuring it out. And I remembered juggling going from juggling once or twice consecutively to suddenly getting 25 in a row.

And you think, Oh my gosh, I can do 25. I could probably do 50. If I can do 50, I can do a hundred. And you know, before you know it, I dunno like eight or nine years old. I know it sounds crazy, but I'm juggling a thousand times consecutively and people are just like, I don't even know how it's possible.

Well, It's only because of this journey, through these four phases. But the third phase is an interesting place because you've got some conscious competence. You think you're wrapping your head around it, and if you continue, here's what happens? You move into the fourth phase. The fourth phase is that unconscious competence where you do something without any real brain power involved.

It's it becomes part of your subconscious mechanism. It's like I drove to work today. I don't even remember how I got here because I've been driving so much on the same pathway. That I was no longer using a lot of mentor, emotional or physical energy to achieve something. It becomes like second nature.

Phil:[00:33:08] really that's like that muscle memory. Right. that's really just that idea of, and I've seen it, I've watched it, I've watched it with players. I watched it with my kids where they're like, I don't want to juggle, I don't want to juggle and I get it because it's frustrating. It just ticks you off.

, I think it's just like I, I'm not, I'm never going to get this and that's really, that pays too. Right. And like you said, that's often a really, really long phase and. There's reasons there's a lot of,  Bible verses written on it. There's a lot of, you know, those posters with the cool mountains, with the fog coming up on the posters that say persevere, and there's like some cool quote underneath.

 there's a reason for that because you don't see a lot of, I have muscle memory on this posters. Right? You don't see a lot of these things because it's not as. you don't need as much inspiration in the, in that you don't need inspiration in the honeymoon phase, you don't need inspiration really?

In the numbers in phase three or phase four, all the inspirational phases . There's industries around a phase two. Right. and what I've seen is, and I, I use juggling as an example, because I think it's such an easy, obvious one. Right. but it's any skill is like that, but it's monotonous, it's tedious.

It's boring for certain personnel. It's like a nightmare. So I go to the driving range, right? Like some people love going to the driving range, just hitting the ball over and over and over again, I hit like five balls. I'm like, all right, can I get on the course? Because that's just the reality of it.

But it's that. That consider it pure joy. My brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, and then that is what's going to lead to the perseverance. And all those words you were using are biblical terms, right? For a reason, because those are the things that, whatever that is, whatever your goal is, consider a pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because that's, what's going to lead you to whatever you want to get to.

Eric:[00:34:45] Right. Yeah.

Phil:[00:34:46] That's what's going to lead to the good stuff.

Eric:[00:34:48] Yes. Right. What's interesting. What's interesting is that most people now, I'm not saying all people, but I've heard a lot of people actually interpret that verse. It's in James, correct? James one, James one, right? Yeah. So, okay. Well I'm a pastor. I got one.

Phil:[00:35:02] That's good. You

Eric:[00:35:04] win the prize. I've only memorized most of the Bible. Not all. Just two through five. So people oftentimes translate that to me, almost in a form of martyr martyrdom, like I'm going to face all these trials. And that's what gives me my badge of honor that I've suffered difficult things of life.

And now I'm worthy to be called a Saint or a Christian or go to heaven. Here's why I think James is actually talking about exactly what you're saying is the trials of failure, the stumbling, fumbling bumbling our way toward. Greater maturity. I think there needs to be more, more posters that say, Hey, you suck now, but you can be better tomorrow now, but you can be better tomorrow.

I mean, I've had to remind myself that in my marriage, as I'm learning new skills to grow and develop my marriage as a parent, Oh my gosh. Then the amount of stumbling, fumbling and bumbling my way into greater parenting. but what I love is growing up, playing soccer. That was that that became a part of my personal culture.

And my wife to this day says, Eric, no matter how much of a mess you were when you were younger, you learned some core values and develop some skills and a mindset that have made you incredibly persevering. And I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that, and every skill, you know, people think I'm just going to bend it like Beckham.

I'm going to wake up in the morning and I'm going to, I'm going to be Chris Johno, Rinaldo. If I watch enough soccer, if I, if I, if I watch enough videos, if I know, but no, actually though we don't understand how much time and energy those players spend doing simple little things over and over ad nauseum until it just becomes the way to do it.

So that when they're in the game, the vast majority of the skills that they are, they are performing. They're not even thinking consciously about them. It's become secondhand. I remember

Phil:[00:36:56] reading Michelle Akers book. And she talked about when she was like 10 or 11. I don't know exactly the number, but she'd go to the park by herself and hit a thousand shots.

Like the thought of that just gives me the shakes. Right?

Eric:[00:37:10] Hold on. Can you remember, there was a park in orange County where we would all go with Colin's Barsky I don't even know why I remember him and my brother. And you would jump in goal all the times and we would literally just pound shots at you for hours,

Phil:[00:37:26] but that's what people, right.

I'm just talking. She would

Eric:[00:37:29] go by herself and like

Phil:[00:37:30] she knew. That. Yeah. And we would have fun doing that. Right. And that is fun, but like just overnight. And she would miss a lot more than she'd make and then, but it became, and that's why when that time comes, she's at the world cup, she's at these other places at these big games, she steps up for direct kick and she's done this a million times and she just hits that ball in the park to wherever she placed it.

Right. I remember Joe max Moore, we were training and he was getting ready to go to Barcelona for the Olympics. He was like, where do you want to get beat? I was in goal and unfortunately he hit it where he wanted to hit it. Right. And I'm like, yeah, you're not going to do it on this cocky. They'll do training for college.

And he hit because he'd hit it over and over and over again. And he knew what he was doing by the way. That's a dude that he's what, five, 10. He had one of the hardest shots I've ever had to face in my life because he practiced it over and over and over again. Right. So those are the things that we're talking about.

And, and what I love about it is it's not just. if you fail, you can move for it. You will fail. And that's part of being great, that is a part, a necessary part of that next level. It's not an option. It's not like, Oh, you might go through it. It's not considered for joy. If you fail to face trials, it's when you face trial.

It is when you fail when you have these issues. So, anyway, any thoughts on that to kind of button up this segment here.

Eric:[00:38:52] The only, other thing I would say Phil is, for those coaches, those leaders that are listening right now, creating a culture within your sporting team environment, in your household, with your children, with your spouse, with your friends, with your coworkers, learning to create a culture that celebrates healthy failure is absolutely critical.

To give other people in that environment, permission to grow. If we don't know how to create that culture, other people will not feel permission to fail, which means you will create a culture that is stuck, that actually begins to stop growing. And so for all the leaders, coaches, people out there, parents, it's an incredibly valuable skill to develop a way of leading and creating a culture that will actually empower people rather than cause them to shrink.

Phil:[00:39:44] Absolutely. And I'll just add one thing to that too, that I just thought of, which is as coaches, leaders of organizations, this is where you've heard it. If you've heard any leadership talks or things about the vulnerability of a leader, this is where it's critical for you to be so open about your failures and how you weren't just a great player or a great coach or a great whatever. And maybe you aren't even at this point to say, look, you know, I struggle. I fail and that's not only okay, it's going to happen. It's expected. And it's something that we're going to work through together. And we're going to be a team that's going to be be much, much better because we know that we aren't perfect.

And we know that we're going to be struggling together and be in great together. All right. Let's move on to this next, question about conflict resolution. So really the idea of, what does soccer teach us about conflict resolution and how we can work through conflict together in a healthy way.

Eric:[00:40:35] Yeah. So, you know, I said this in our, in our previous conversation that I'm convinced that to achieve any great thing in life is going to require that we learn to work collaboratively, to partner with other people, whether it's to build a family with our spouse, to build an organization with our business partners, our, our team, and all the way into the sporting context and working with other people is so difficult.

Because other people have different perspectives than we do. And that's such a good thing except when they disagree with us. And when there's a disagreement or a different perspective, or we're seeing things from two different angles that creates conflict and conflict is one of those. It's become like a four-letter word.

People are just terrified of it. And a lot of it is because we all have these kind of terrible track records. Where conflict has not been engaged well by our parents, by our siblings, by our environment we've been in. And because conflict becomes a win lose situation, somebody's got to win their perspective, their way it has to adjust to triumph, which means the other party loses.

If we can flip the script on conflict, and if we can show people that conflict becomes, it can become a win-win opportunity where we actually benefit from the diverse perspectives and opinions. And obviously I do this all day with leaders and teams and organizations, because if we can't learn to see conflict as an opportunity, As a win-win opportunity, then we will either avoid it.

We will try to impose ourselves into it to win, or we will become passive or passive aggressive in that context. But when we see conflict as an opportunity to learn from the diverse perspectives and together to ask the question, what can we learn together so that we can move forward together? I'd tell people that becomes the doorway into incredible breakthroughs, incredible successes, because conflict is just an opportunity for us to say, Hey, we're not quite sure what to do in this moment.

We're not quite sure how to move forward. We're not sure what the solution or the answer is, and if we can back up and rather than trying to impose our solution, our answer take stock of the other. Elements that are available. Then we have a better chance of success, which I told you before as a player growing up, that was not a strength of mine.

I wanted to impose my perspective. I even wanted to impose my perspective on coaches and there's a lot of coaches out there that probably grieved the day that they met me because I was arrogant and cocky. And I just thought I had all the answers. But then you get to a point in your life where you realize, you know what, this isn't working, this isn't going well.

Like I'm losing friendships. I don't know how to maintain significant relationships with other, with women. you know, first three to five years of my marriage was a train wreck because at that conflict was a war to be won. Rather than an opportunity to learn.

Phil:[00:43:25] Yeah. And I, I've seen two with conflict resolution, the idea of, really when you have that common goal, when you start with what you agree on, when you, when you remind yourself that you're on the same team, that you're have the same mission, which requires having the same mission and having clarity on that as a team, which goes back to a different thing that we're not going to talk about today, but we will talk about on this show, which is really the importance of.

Soccer teams, organizations, whoever you are to have that clear mission and vision. And if you have that, the conflict resolution, especially as what you're talking about, that, you know, it's not imposing your will. It's not, Hey, I'm getting my way. I remember in communications course in my college and back to the university days, and this is this.

Had an impression, obviously, because it was a real, like the fact that I can still remember it it's like crazy. but, but it was this idea of these two sisters fighting over an orange and they were yelling at mom, mom, mom, Sally won't let me have the orange. and, the mom comes down and says, fine, I'm just going to cut it in half and give it to you.

The split, the baby from Solomon, right. And the one sister proceeds to peel the orange and throw away the peel. And eat the meat or the orange, the other sister proceeds to scrape off the peel into a frosting mix. And it turns out that if they actually would have talked about it and said, what are our goals?

What's our individual mission. We can actually realize that this is a win-win situation here, but instead we're both losing. And, that's just really this idea again of that healthiness to say, okay, let's take a step back. Not imposing my well, not saying I'm wanting what I want, but to say, what do we want?

And maybe there's a solution here that we can together, get both of what we want, you know? And, it's just an amazing, there's the simplicity of it. Sometimes too. One of my good friends does a mediation in the middle East and he says, I said, how in the world do you do that? And he goes, we just start with what we agree on.

Eric:[00:45:16] Yeah,

Phil:[00:45:16] that's all I start with and it goes from there.

Eric:[00:45:18] yeah. Well, and that ties back to emotional intelligence because so often we're not aware of how easily we are threatened by different perspectives and paradigms and our ability to kind of step back and say, Hey, I'm feeling threatened. There's some strong emotions that I'm experiencing in this conversation.

I need permission to step back too. Practice honesty, humility, self love to say, Hey, I have what I bring to the table. And then in the press on this self leadership, which we talk about through the lens of composure and flexibility and learning, and people's ability to identify what they're experiencing and again, not to become reactive.

But to choose a different posture is, and again, that's what we do with leaders all day long is help them understand, Hey, there are going to be moments when you're going to have an experience that is going to give you an opportunity. You're either going to go down a default track where you're going to become defensive, protective.

You're going to begin to blame everybody around you, or you're going to take a different track, which is this track of opportunity to say, Hey, how can we bring the best of all that we have to the table and find an even better solution.

Phil:[00:46:24] Yeah, that's great. That is, Oh, I'm, I'm loving this man. This is so much fun.

This is way more fun than, than playing with the punk kid that you keep talking about back in high school. all right. So. I want to talk now just about real practical, how are you using what soccer lessons that you've learned playing, or, you know, you didn't coach, but just playing or watching or whatever.

Do you, how have you incorporated those lessons into your marriage? Like, are there any principles that are pure soccer principles? Like I, I used in my house, the principle of the retaliate or gets the red, that's the example I've used.  So what are some of those principles or just one of the one or two of those principles that you guys use, if at all?

And if not, just say nothing and, we'll edit it out.  

Eric:[00:47:04] So one of the principles I learned in soccer, I'm not sure how well I practiced it, but I did. I did, I did understand it. And I did appreciate it, which was, understand that as a team. We all have a different role and responsibility. We may have the same common goal of scoring more goals or letting them fewer goals and winning a match.

But we had it, we had a shared goal, but we also had to understand that everybody had to play their part to the best of their abilities so that we could achieve whatever we were gonna achieve. So like you said, we were going to get scored on and I was a striker. So, you know, I had, I was either going to choose it.

My only responsibility and role was to score goals or I could choose to see myself as the first defender. So in our household, , we have two teenagers, my wife and I talk a lot about how in our home we want to win. So we establish what does it mean to win? how do we talk about winning in our home?

Whether it's achieving cleanliness in the household? There are chores that need to get done. We have a dog that we have to figure out. We now have three chickens. Believe it or not in our backyard that we're caring for, that are going to feed us. Hopefully at some point we're going to eat the chickens, just the eggs, just the

Phil:[00:48:16] lovers out there.

Eric:[00:48:17] Unfortunately.

Phil:[00:48:19] Yeah, you brought back kind of crying inside right now.

Eric:[00:48:24] So, but keep going, keep

Phil:[00:48:25] going. I'm gonna, I'll recover. I'll recover by the end of your answer. So

Eric:[00:48:28] we're okay. I'll send you some X buddy. So w w even in the context of, when we are hosting, cause we host a lot of gatherings parties in our home.

we understand that we are a team. That there are things that we want to achieve as a family and then being able to identify and we each have different roles and responsibilities. So for example, when we're going to go out to dinner, my role is I pay for the dinner for my wife and I paid for the dinner.

We drove the family in to the restaurant. It was a true story. We were out to dinner the other night and my son who's 15 and just kind of going through some different mood swings. He's an amazing kid, amazing young man, but he's going through some different, you know, physiological changes and he's having some moody moody times.

And so at the dinner table, he was just kind of being a little bit, a little bit bratty toward mom. And so I just. Excuse myself from the table. I said, Sam, why don't we go use the restroom? I don't need to use the restroom. I'm like, you do need to use the restroom. So we go to the restroom and I just pulled him aside and said, cause I didn't want to embarrass them in front of the family or other people and say, Hey, listen, remember this is a, this is a team game.

Dad's done this and this and this and this tonight to try and make this a great experience. Mom's done this and this, your sister has done this, this list, but what are you doing? What's your role and responsibility. Can you pay for the meal tonight? No. Can you drive the car? No. Did you put clothes on our backs?

No. Did you pick the restaurant now? Did you make the reservation? No. What can you contribute to help make this a winning? He already knew where I was going. He said that I could have a better attitude and I'm like, that's exactly it. Cause we want to have a great time. And winning as a family means we have great attitudes.

We have a great experience. It doesn't mean hiding all the difficulties we're going through, but it means that we choose to engage positively and Kylie and compassionately. And he was just immediately like, yeah, I know. I'm so sorry. I am not playing well on the team tonight. It's like, no problem. So then I said, you think you can do this?

Or why? And I told him, I said, you're 15. If you're having one of those moments where you just cannot engage, you can sit on the sideline. That's okay. You can, we can go sit in the car and we'll catch up with you. If you just need a few minutes to collect yourself, he said, no, dad, I'm ready. I said, let's get back in.

Because the goal isn't to pull our kids or us out of the game, like in soccer it's to help us operate more effectively in that environment. He got it. We jumped back in, had an incredible rest of our evening. That's that's an example of taking what I learned on the soccer field and applying it to family.

Phil:[00:50:59] Yeah, I love that. I think that's fantastic. And th the part of the reason I'm asking these questions, I think it really will help the audience. The other part is I want to be a better dad and husband, and I think that, that I've already learned so many things. And just the first few episodes here, just from these examples, I'm like, I'm gonna incorporate all these into my, to my family.

So I encourage you folks out there to, if you don't do something like this, that was just encouragement to me. I know. the old adage of leadership to praise in public and criticize in private, I think was came out in there as well. which is, which is so important and something that I try to do, but I fail a lot of the time, clearly in stage two on that one still.

but, yeah, I that's fantastic. I love that. I love that. I'm also encouraged that you've been doing a good enough job with your 15 year old, that he knew the answer to the test before you finished, which was good. so the last question, which we're, asking our guests is, what, what have you read watched or listened to really that has acted  your thinking on leadership soccer, or ideally the intersection of soccer and leadership.

Eric:[00:51:59] to be honest, I've not read a lot, but I can't point at one book that my sister-in-law Ryan's wife encouraged me to read. It's called Das Reboot does DAS reboot and it's by Raphael Stein. Yeah, you nailed that.

Phil:[00:52:17] I'm sure you nailed that.

Eric:[00:52:19] I was in Germany. Yeah, but it's spelled H O N I G S T E I N.

And then the subtitle is how German soccer reinvented itself in conquered the world. Hmm. And, the, the person there's a lot of characters in, but, someone whose name we would all recognize that plays a significant feature in the book is Jurgen Klopp, who is currently the coach of Liverpool, who was the coach of Dortmund in Germany, who was the coach of the German national team for awhile, or at least helped out with the team.

I can't remember exactly his role. But you're getting took on a philosophy in a lot of different areas that was new to the German context. He understood going into the German international side, he needed to update or upgrade or change the culture of the German soccer world, how they trained, how they operated, how they developed team.

And one of the things I think we all know about Jurgen is when you're watching him on the sideline. And how he interacts with his players. What, what you feel is like, He's like a dad to these guys. He's hugging them, kissing them, giving them an attaboy on the beehive. He's just, he, he is emotional. We mentally physically engaged in both the battles and the breakthroughs of the people on his team.

And I just love the fact that when you read that book, you get a picture of somebody who understands his role is not primarily to win games. It's to develop players, a team, a culture where people want to collaborate. People who want to lay their life down for each other to achieve great things. if you set out to achieve great things, you, you unlikely will, will meet that goal.

If you set out to create a culture where people get to become the best version of themselves, and they are willing to give themselves for the greater good, then you're likely to achieve far more than you set out.

Phil:[00:54:17] Well, I'll tell you what, it's always hard for this Manchester United fan to get excited about Liverpool success.

And I'm not necessarily excited about Liverpool success, but I am excited about what you're going to clubs doing with that team, because you're exactly right. That is what I just wish he would have come to United, but he didn't. And

Eric:[00:54:36] so I have my friend and his,

Phil:[00:54:38] his, his success at Liverpool is a Testament.

Exactly what you just said. Because that's what he's done and you see it every time they step on the field and even just reading the, I don't know if you've read since  Virgil van Dyk went down with his, it's just an awful injury, in that Everton game, Which that's a whole different conversation about all that stuff, but to see the players on that team, their tweets, their encouragement, the letter that went out from Van Duyk, it just it's.

You can tell that as a team, that's not just playing soccer together on a field they're brothers in arms. and from what I've heard, it's top to bottom in the organization as well, which is really, it's just as a leader, you got to love it. and people might take away my man, you card there, but, that's just the truth and that's leadership.

And so that's what we're about here. I just want to thank you for this time too. This was fantastic. I loved this time. Loved just the conversation. Just super encouraged by you. I'm super encouraged by your humility, super encouraged by your awareness and just what you have to offer.

So, thanks again,

Eric:[00:55:43] man. Yeah, thanks for having me. It's always a great privilege to reconnect with people from my past, because life is about change and transformation. And so, like you said, I'm a far cry from where I was as a young teenager, cocky and arrogant and full of myself. but the reality is that my journey is actually, I think.

The proof in the pudding, in the hope for any person in any part of their journey, wherever you feel stuck, the good news of the gospel as Christians, we believe that nobody's beyond help. And, it's at the very core of my coaching business and philosophy, which is nobody's too far lost to be found and to be helped and to be empowered, to become the best version of themselves.

Phil:[00:56:24] Well, thanks a lot, Eric again, and, folks out there I really hope that you learned a lot today. I know I did. and I just hope that you're using, what you learned today in your life and your leadership. and so as you finish this episode, thanks again for the download here.

If you have a chance, to go take time, to review the show, to rate it so you can help others to understand why they might want to listen to this, share it with your friends. That's the number one way this episodes are going to get out there as you sharing. person to person as, Stacy, referred a book to Eric and that's why he read it.

that's how people are going to get this podcast into their heads, subscribe to it. So you don't miss the episodes. And most importantly for me, this is why I do it. I'm just hoping that you take what you're learning. And you'll help it to help you to flourish.

You'll help it to help you to understand how you can be a better leader, how you can love better and how you can learn from the beautiful game and use it in every area of your life. thanks a lot. Have a great week.