In Episode 9, Graham Roxburgh, Head Coach of Trinity Western University and Executive Director/Founder of TeamUp, talks with Phil about the importance of a humble and learning posture, servant leadership, how he studies himself and his players,...
In Episode 9, Graham Roxburgh, Head Coach of Trinity Western University and Executive Director/Founder of TeamUp, talks with Phil about the importance of a humble and learning posture, servant leadership, how he studies himself and his players, dealing with viruses on your team, key cultural and leadership principles from the book, Legacy, and how he uses the lessons he has learned in soccer in his life outside the game. Specifically, he discusses:
Resources and Links from this Episode
Phil: [00:00:00] Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Today I'm very excited to bring this interview to you. I have a good friend who also just happens to be my daughter's coach at university. He is Graham Roxburgh. And he is with Trinity Western. He's the women's head soccer coach there.
He also is the Founder and Executive Director of Team Up, which we're going to get to hear about today. But before we get to Graham, I just want to remind you to subscribe to this podcast if you haven't done so already. Just go and subscribe wherever you're listening to this, you can hit that subscribe button that way you won't miss any of the future episodes.
Also, if you haven't done so already, please rate and review the podcast. That gets it out there to more and more people. And if you want to get more involved in this conversation, you can go and join the Facebook group. Even if you're not on Facebook, just join Facebook so you can join. This group was we'd love to hear more from you and have deeper conversations with you about these important topics.
So without more from me on that, Graham, how are you?
Graham: [00:01:08] I'm doing very well this morning, Phil. Thanks for having me on as a guest.
Phil: [00:01:11] Yeah, absolutely. This is, this is something we've been wanting for a while and I am excited to get through some of these conversations that we've had in your kitchen. Some of these conversations we've been able to have on the phone.
And so now I'm glad that we're able to share them with, with the other folks out there. So before we get into kind of the meat of it, although I, I always think this is the meat as well. I love hearing stories. And so can you just share your story, particularly how you got to be head coach of Trinity Western, the executive director of team up and of course, husband, father lay, pastor club, coach, all these other titles that you hold as well, but let's focus on really the head coach and director of Team Up .
Graham: [00:01:47] A long story, but I'll make it really short. grew up overseas, grew up in England, just outside of London. So obviously soccer football is what we call that was a passion of mine. Also grew up in a family that was pretty dynamic in faith. And, dad was a pastor of a fairly large church in England and connected me to, some personalities that were both in sport and.
The Christian world and faith. And, I've got to be around sporting events, like Wimbledon, up close because of some of the people that came to our church. So I always had these seeds planted of, wow, you can actually integrate faith, which is important, but also. sport and high level sports and got to hear numerous, athletes share a little bit about how faith and spirituality impacted their lives.
So that planted seeds, it got me to Wheaton College, which was a really special time in my life and really special institution. Great place, great culture. I played on the men's soccer team there. and during that time I got exposed to the idea of doing soccer, sports service missions trips. And I really was touched deeply by that. And had a choice at the end of my university career.
Could I go back to England and. Probably try to make a go of it in, in non-league soccer or like semi-pro soccer, or do I get involved in doing something that touched my heart, which was sport ministry? Never really thought I'd do something sport ministry oriented for a long period of time but I dove in and started taking teams overseas and working with a number of different sports groups. Working with college athletes that wanted to make a difference using their sport.
So. that brought me to Vancouver, British Columbia. My family had relocated from Chicago out onto the West coast. Pretty beautiful spot to relocate. and then I got involved with, both thletes in Action at the time, and then helping my brother with a local church plant. And a local small Christian university down the road.
One of the only ones in Canada actually. They're, they're a dime a dozen in some ways in the U S but, Very unique, natured university here in, in, just outside of Vancouver called Trinity Western. So I came on as the men's assistant for a year or two, and then just Athletes in Action was taking me all over the world.
So it was hard to be an assistant. And when they started their women's program, there was a couple of years in, they identified me as somebody that might want to coach. And I said yes for a year that try it out and see how that would go. And here I am, 21 years later having been their head coach for that length of time.
So. it's just been a real privilege to kind of integrate faith in sport and high level soccer. Helping young athletes, aspiring student athletes. Not just, achieve success on the field, but also inspire them to, you know, what type of a difference can their lives make, whether they go on and become teachers or doctors or lawyers or, whatever they're doing, coaches.
So. Yeah, it's been a real joy and, combining the two loves of my life. so I got a few other loves of my life, but sport and faith and seeing how some long-term impact can take shape has been both in the university setting, coaching, but also in some of my international work. It's been really rewarding and a lot of fun.
I can't wait to see what comes next.
Phil: [00:05:00] I can't either 'cause I've, I've been very excited to see what's already been happening and we'll get into that in a minute. The one thing you didn't mention that I do want to say. Just because I want to show people out there that I, I am a bit of a bridge builder that, Graham is a lifelong Liverpool supporter as well.
And so that hasn't stopped me from inviting him to be on the show or to call him friend, quite frankly. So we've actually watched Liverpool matches at his home. Together, and there was no blows thrown or anything. So
Graham: [00:05:31] that was pretty amicable actually. And, just shows your intelligence, Phil, by, obviously not just surrounding yourself with one mindedness.
it's easy for me to say now that we're on the top of the perch, but, it's cyclical. Your team will be back one day and my team will be struggling again, but it's kind of fun while it lasts.
Phil: [00:05:48] Yeah. Yeah, no, I know you've been having a lot of fun with it. and I have not been having as much fun with it.
That's okay. That's okay. Because we can still have good conversations like this one today. So now, I do want to move into little bit more about Team Up, and really, if you look at the website, it talks about how you use the powerful tool of sports as the common language for building bridges and cultivating relationships with the purpose of impacting lives of those we connect with. What does that look like in reality? Can you just share about what TeamUp is doing around the world?
Graham: [00:06:21] Yeah. Maybe I can just give it a bit of context. First felt like, having done sports ministry and I think there's so many different modes of what that means, but using sport as a bridge builder and, you know, I've been all over the world.
I've now been in 80 countries, either helping establish some sport ministries or coming alongside sport ministries that needed, whether that's an injection of some energy or resources or leadership development. I just began as I, as I traveled around the world and seeing some of the great needs and then also having a deep, deep conviction and love that, uh, vibrant local churches, are really needing to be at the forefront of making a difference in the neighborhood, making a difference in the community.
And that's maybe something that I didn't always sense when I was working in some of the areas of sports ministry. So as I traveled to some of the different parts of the world that I saw a real need and real opportunity to help local organizations and predominantly local churches love their neighborhood tangibly and practically, and, and with, with physical needs being met and, resources that could spread out and love the neighborhood in practical ways. We just started this thing called Team Up, and the whole goal was never be about what we're doing in a country, but how do we come alongside and assist what some of the great heroes in my life that I've met people who just roll up their sleeves and give the shirt off their backs and do whatever they can to love their neighborhood with its needs. And we all know that needs go way beyond just the physical realm. And so we've been really excited to connect with four or five countries internationally.
And we started some projects domestically. Obviously COVID has had an influence on that of how do we say to these like-minded partners we want to help you? And sports is such a valuable tool. it can be a component or it can be catalytic, to coming alongside what you're doing, not to change what you're doing, but to add to what you're doing. And saying, Hey, sport can build a bridge.
It's the common language of the world. We know this. We've probably all. Tasted and experienced it. But maybe some people need some help and some coaching, or it needs some resources or need an injection of energy or need to be in regular dialogue with what Team Up's doing. So we started around our own organization a couple of years ago.
Felt like it was time after being part of a larger sports ministry to branch out and do things that were really on my heart and say, we're going to invest in some of these places for the long haul. And we might be there 10, 15, 20 years. But it's about developing the local leaders and about developing the local organizations to be impactful.
So if we weren't there, the work would continue and they would sense, Hey, this has been really strategic and instrumental in reaching the communities.
Phil: [00:09:13] So with the building bridges, cultivating relationships with others, as you're talking about with using sport, what are a few of the principles just, just examples, that you have taken directly from the game of soccer, and that you've used them in your ministry as far as just like, you talked about the assist for instance, you're not the scorer per se, you're more of the assist, and that, that may or may not get credit, it's, it's on the score sheet, but it may or may not be seen.
So what are some of the other, maybe, maybe you could talk about that one a little bit more, or,
Graham: [00:09:43] I mean, practical examples and I'll, I'll give you a little bit of what, what a typical TeamUp project or team up philosophy would be, but yeah. we, I used to go down with teams that would play a game and we'd talk a little bit about what's important to us in the spiritual realm and our faith and those things where we're awesome, but I'm not a hundred percent convinced without a long-term investment in the priorities of the local organization that we were making as big of an impact as we wanted to.
So. It, it clicked in with me. I mean, we've partnered now in Paraguay for many years, with a really cool organization. They're feeding kids. They're trying to educate kids. They're helping local leaders, local nonprofit organizations, local churches love their neighborhood. And I said to their key leader once, I said, do you, do you want us to keep coming?
Like we can bring teams. We can bring coaches. We can teach local people to coach in their neighborhood. His only comment to me was, "Graham, we love when you come. But let me tell you what we're actually about. And we're doing these things predominantly to help the local people in their neighborhoods build that bridge as you talked about."
So now we, we have totally shifted gears and that's probably some of the philosophical change that I made, which was how do I start with a blank piece of paper with these organizations? And ask them what they're trying to do. And if sport can be an assist to what they're trying to do, which in Paraguay, it became kind of our flagship partnership early on,
then it makes sense for us to keep going there. And it's been a wonderful story of watching local leaders grow up this organization. So if we never partnered in Paraguay now, Deporvita and our partner there would be fully established, structured and vibrant in what they're trying to do of reaching kids, underprivileged kids, providing opportunities for kids to belong and to grow and to have a nutritious meal and be connected to a local church. Practically though, so I can get to your original question, we would take a group of athletes that doesn't even have to be a group of athletes that come predominantly from a Christian background who want to make a difference using their sports and using maybe their manual labor using their heart to serve, and we would go and we would go really beyond the agenda of the local group hosting us. So we've done everything from we've helped build classrooms for a local school. That's trying to love its neighborhood in the afternoon. We'd put on soccer clinics and help the local school/church form their own soccer club, because some of these kids can't afford to get into the city and be in one of the soccer academies where people are making money and soforth.
So that would be one practical example. Another one is in Peru with our partnership, which we love. It's in a very, very tough environment on the outskirts of Lima. And this organization is saying, how do we love the community holistically? And how do we help them alleviate poverty and what poverty looks like for them.
So our athletes have gone down, we've played five aside tournaments in the evening to build bridges for that organization in the neighborhood. But during the day we've actually helped provide funding and build these gardens for moms, single moms, mainly who have kids coming to the Academy that we help them start.
But these moms have learned how to in a desert grow vegetables. And after going through an agricultural program, they have now graduated to have a garden built in their backyard. I mean, these yards are smaller than my office, but we provide a garden. And so it's service. It's connecting with people. It's providing an avenue to grow the relationships for our local partners. And if that can be done with a sports flavor, then TeamUp wants to be there to assist.
Phil: [00:13:33] One of the things that reminds me of is just in the work that, that my ministry does all around the world. I, I liken it to, if a player comes into your program and says, Hey, you know, that's great that you run a four, three, three, but I like playing in a four, four, two. So I'm, I'm going to play. Like I'm playing in a 4-4-2. I don't care what you play because I do it the way that I do it. Right. And if you go in to other countries with that mindset, it's not going to work. it's, it's going to cause a lot of destruction as it would in a, in a team.
And that's kind of what I hear you talking about there, particularly when we're going into cross-cultural, relationships cross-cultural ministry, right. It is so critical to learn. It is so critical to come in with that humble posture and same thing. When you're coming into a new team to come in and learn, and we'll come in with a humble posture or else you're gonna, you're either going to cause all kinds of problems or you're going to be out of that team pretty quick.
but it's, it's not gonna end well, if you come in with your agenda with you the way you do it and think that's for sure the way it's going to be, is that what I was hearing there?
Graham: [00:14:36] Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, the, the mindset behind Team Up came out of probably lots of experiences, both in, in being, the son of a pastor who, not your typical pastor, but was helping
a lot of church leaders rethink what a strategy and ministry look like. What is, what is the role even of the local church? So what we've tried to do, and maybe, without being critical of other groups that do it differently, we've tried to say, wait a second, we actually have lots to learn
from our local partners. And yeah, we have some gifts and resources and some capacity. And so whether that's some high level coaches that we take with us on some of our partner trips, whether that's a team, we just took, McGill university, actually, one of our Canadian rivals is really fun for me to watch this team that, were from a different part of the country.
go and serve and maybe be from a slightly different slants from a faith perspective, but I love their posture. And I think really what we're talking about, Phil, here is, is the posture. Of how do we in humility come alongside and not say, this is what we have to offer, but together, and our tagline is together
we assist, but together, wow. What, what could be done to impact this neighborhood? Using sport using education, using feeding programs, adult education and how it, all of that integrated really, make a difference. Long-term because really in the end we won't partner with somebody if it's a short-term solution.
We want to be in, in partnerships with people who are there for the long haul and, and whether we come or not are doing what they're doing. So it's been really interesting and yeah, I think posture is the word that you've, you've articulated there to describe our mindset, which is we want to assist.
We want to learn. We, we value what our partner has to offer us. Because so often in my first 20 years of sports ministry is this is what we have, and this is what we're bringing in. This is what we do. And if you like it, we're coming. A slightly different posture.
Phil: [00:16:39] Absolutely. And I, and I think as, as I talked about earlier, just that's something that is so important to, to know, and to really just embed in who you are, is to have that humble posture when you're coming into, whether it's a new team, whether it's a new job, whether it's going cross-cultural relationships. Whether it's going to meet new friends, Learning posture. And as they say, leaders are learners, and that's just so true and I have never seen it more true in these going into these countries. Totally. It's funny because when we don't know a language, we don't try to just fake it. We get an interpreter. But with culture, we tend to just try to fake it and kind of come in and go, Oh, we get it because it's going to be the same.
Graham: [00:17:21] Yeah, totally
Phil: [00:17:22] That's just funny to me. And so that's a good actually segue into the next thing I talk about really is you have used with your team, the Berkman, and it's similar to the DISC that I, that I use with, with the team that I coach as well as with some organizations, but really it's, it's a, it's a personality assessment.
It's, it's a model of human behavior and you use it to understand yourself, your players and your coaches better. but I want to know just really, why do you think it's so important to do that? And, and what are some real tangible results you've experienced and seen since you've implemented that tool at Trinity?
Graham: [00:17:55] Yeah. Well, really good question. And if I was being totally honest, it's a fairly recent thing in our program. Berkman's not recent. And I would recommend Berkman to anybody, whether you're leading a corporate team or a staff team at a church or staff team, even on a soccer staff at a university.
Good dear friend of mine, who is a Berkman trained consultant, knows how to interpret the data, knows how to explain. He approached me and said, would you ever consider doing this with your team? Because, and then he showed me the value of how it could guide me in specific coaching of individuals or specific coaching of trends and tendencies of the team. So I'll give you a couple of examples. First of all, I think it's highly important. And as a coach, that's been in the university scene for 20 years and has had teams go and play national teams. And then, obviously we've been successful and we want to continue that success.
I think coaching is as much X and O's. And it's important, but more so now about player player and personal management and relationship building with, within the team. So funny growing up in England, it used to all be a tactics and it used to all be style of play and it is, and those things are becoming even more sophisticated.
But if you go talk to a lot of the Premier League managers, it's about how well they play or manage and how they deal with personalities and different people's characteristics and different styles of people. So, how it's worked for us at Trinity Western is, obviously I've had my friend Mike come and he's done three or four different sessions with the team after they filled out their Berkman profile.
And what Berkman does is it gives you, an overview of people's usual behavior patterns in particular areas, but then it also then shows this is how they behave in a stressed environment. And here are some of the things that you need to look for that would help you, whether it's in motivating a player or challenging a player, learning on communication ways and even how to identify this is where they're at.
These are normal behavior patterns that they typically would demonstrate in moments of stress or in patterns of stress. So it's been really helpful. I'll give you, I'll give you two quick examples. One on a personal, so, the last few years, player's no longer in our program, but really butted heads a little bit personality with me.
I'm a strong-willed coach and this was a very strong-willed player. And whether she was particularly a little bit selfish or a little bit negative. That's not the point. The point is she had some of these tendencies. Well, actually what I was beginning to learn through my time with Mike, my friend who showed me her Berkman profile, those were all manifestations of some stress in her life.
And how did I as a coach work, not to coddle her, not to allow certain behaviors or attitudes to be okay, but maybe to combat those with a different tactic. And for her this player, it was not keep selling her the big picture and why her attitude had to be better this year. It was actually giving her small tasks, almost in two-week increments and checking in with that player to say, okay, here's where I've seen you make some progress. Here's a couple of things that you got to work on, which allowed her to focus in, because I think when she saw the big picture, not that, that was the stressful moment. There's other areas of stress in her life, whether that's from soccer or from life, being a student athlete is stressful. But it just enabled me to start to have different types of conversations with her and me to understand her more.
And I think she appreciated a little bit more of the accountability and the check-ins. And then the other illustration, which I think is even more helpful for me, both in recruiting, but then also in coaching a team. So Mike did the Berkman profile for our team in the last couple of years, and what we discovered is we don't have a lot of self-driven people. And so on the continuum of, here's two or three girls in my roster that I wouldn't even need to set a fitness goal for them. I wouldn't need to set a running program for them. I wouldn't need to because they are so self-motivated that they're off the charts and they're actually coming to me saying, coach, what else can I do? Coach, can we train more?
But then I got this, another group of players and it was a pretty strong group that were pretty passive. Delightful young ladies and very gifted and talented, but needed a different approach. And I couldn't figure why aren't you self-motivated? Well, that's not the question to be asking actually. Don't get frustrated with it.
Find now new mechanisms to set challenges for them. He used this illustration. He said, and he said it of himself. There are those people that if you said, I want you to win the race between here and some were 30 miles away, some people won't even start the race cause they're like, as too far, I can't be bothered.
But if you actually said, I want you to win this race 50 yards from here, they'd win it because it's a short term gain. And then go to them again, say, okay, why to reach or win the next race. And just make them run 600 races and you've achieved the same thing. And it was a really helpful illustration for me.
Now here's the best part for me because yeah, I was pulling what's left in my hair is pulling it out in the last few years of how do I get this whole group corporately to be more motivated, to be more internally driven and to get better? The Berkman consultant, Mike actually said this in front of the whole group.
He said, girls, if this is true of our team, then you either have to find ways as a team to pull some of you into that growing in your motivation, or this is actually telling your coaching staff you better recruit to counterbalance this and make it a little bit more. 'Cause sometimes external factors will pull some other players into that.
So it was really helpful dynamic for us in thinking about what, who are we adding and where do they fit in the Berkman? Cause do we need another one of these players who's like 70% or do we need a few others that are more in that driven road? So, those personality assessments and particularly the Berkman, have proved very, very helpful for me.
Phil: [00:24:28] Yeah, that's so great. Actually, when we train, we use an example of an oil company and it's a similar deal where there's one group in this oil company that has mostly outgoing, people in their organization, or in that, in that group.
And then the other group has mostly reserved people in that. In that group. And so what they found was the outgoing group got a ton done, but there were a ton of mistakes. And then the reserve group didn't get much done and there were no mistakes and they actually mix the groups together and then they had better productivity and fewer mistakes.
Graham: [00:25:00] Yeah. A hundred percent
Phil: [00:25:01] Similar concepts, similar idea. But that's the beauty of it. It does apply to everything because it is human behavior. And I love that example, the short term game. That's, that's more how I'm wired. It's that short-term game. Yeah. That's short term, give me that quick project. Don't give me this 10 year project that I have to sit in a cubicle and work all day on and not talk to people because I'd go nuts.
And, and so I think that that is absolutely the power of these assessments. The power of these models is that we can see how each of these players are wired. And like you said, it may be, it's, it's very unlikely you're really going to change the core of who people are, but they can work on these things they're weak in, but it also may be a recruiting thing.
And for bosses out there for organizations out there to, if you try to change your people, long-term into people who they are not, they're not going to be the best, most productive employees in they'll probably burn out. And the same goes for players too. If you try longterm to make them into people that are not, it's not going to work
Graham: [00:26:02] or, or you would know how to manage somebody with that particular style and behaviors so that they could become all that they're meant to be.
They just get there differently than what is typical, the ideal player in my mind, who I don't have to go tell to run during the summer. I don't, they're motivated. So yeah, it's really helpful conversation.
Phil: [00:26:24] Well, the ideal player for you is you. Right.
Graham: [00:26:28] Yeah. Sort of, no, I haven't
Phil: [00:26:30] not you, but you know what I mean?
Like, I think that's how we are. We are wired is we know, again, it goes back to the languages and the cultures. We're fluent in our own personality.
Graham: [00:26:39] That's true.
Phil: [00:26:40] And so we understand the people that are like us. And we typically click with the people who are like us. And we love coaching the people who are like us.
Totally. And, and they also sometimes frustrate us too. As I say, if you're a similar personality, the fireworks are either good or bad, it's either really good or really bad. but I do believe that, that also goes to understanding yourself, which is part of it. And is that, is that something also that he has talked about that you've seen is that understanding yourself
Graham: [00:27:07] a hundred percent
Phil: [00:27:08] of you to be able to connect with and coach these, these girls?
Graham: [00:27:12] Yeah. That would be the other, probably great takeaway and it's something I've got to keep growing in and learning. So, I mean, it's not like you. Oh, okay. I got the Berkman. So now I got it sorted out. Like you got to keep going back to this and saying, why is this, why am I feeling this way? Well, even just how I approach the player, coach relationships. How I approach a bigger perspective than just how I emotionally I'm feeling. If I'm tired from stressed, or if I've come from a staff meeting, where the department had some frustrating experiences and I bring some of that into the training environment. That's not going to be healthy for any of us. So it it's, I say it actually starts with me of learning, here's how I operate in my stress behaviors. How do I make sure that I'm operating in my normal behaviors because then players feel a little bit more safe and consistent of, of what they're going to get. And there's times, especially, I mean, we've had some deep playoff runs over the last number of years.
You get to the end of a playoff run. And yeah, you're tired. You're fatigued. You've had to think about the next game and the next challenge. And, and you've probably don't treat people always the way you hope that you'll treat people. So those, those are helpful things, self leading, probably a massive part of that.
Phil: [00:28:28] Absolutely. And Vince Lombardi, the other football again, he said only by knowing yourself, can you become an effective leader, Totally. Totally agree with that. So I think that this goes to the last two questions. Last two conversations we just had there, I think go to something that's really important, which is, it is super important to understand the other. Understand that the team that you're a part of. Understand the culture that you're going into. But it's also to understand how you're wired, how you're created, that you are created to do certain things really, really well.
And there's also things that you do need to work on to be able to build that side up. As you talked about to be able to become that complete person, that complete player. But, the other thing that I think that these, all these principles and really this, this podcast, gets into is the mentality that you really create and foster and cultivate at Trinity Western. It's something that I've seen since the first conversation I had with you when you were recruiting my daughter and I've seen it in the program and talking to the players and just watching you do what you do. But it's this idea of the more than soccer mentality.
Can you explain the mentality, what it looks like in your program, and, and really why it's the core of all you do?
Graham: [00:29:41] Yeah. I mean, it's, it's been a phrase that we kind of adopted a few years into me taking it and over the program. And some of that comes out of maybe my sports ministry background to realize that there's, there's a greater picture to be seen than just whether you win a trophy at the end of the season or raise a banner don't get me wrong, those things are pretty fun too. But I've always felt like sport, soccer in our case, is a tool. It's an opportunity to invest in developing people. So when I took over at Trinity, coming from the program I did at Wheaton, which probably set some pretty good foundation for me to see a bigger picture and how sport can be used to impact people's lives, I just had a desire. I said, I have two goals that I want to become an elite program within North America, and certainly within our context here in Canada and, and we've done that, in the competitive environment, but I want to be known for a school that does it differently, and that really invests in people.
And that doesn't mean some of our competitors don't invest in people, but where if you come and play at Trinity Western, you're probably saying at the end of your five years, it's the value addeds that really impacted my life, whether that's some of the service projects and missions trips, whether that's domestically, internationally. Whether that's the leadership development that, our staff have been very intentional on, in exposing leadership opportunities to literally every player on our team, because every player on our team has the capacity to be a leader.
Whether that's some of the spiritual development, I mean, I could sit here and I would warmly tell you stories and not also just dramatic conversion stories, but like if people who would say, coach don't even bring the faith factor in to five years later going, I can see that there's something to having a faith or a spiritual dimension to life.
So to watch some incremental growth in players, leadership wise, academically. One of the things that brings tears to my eyes, one of my best players ever almost dropped out after her first year. And, we had to go like crazy to get her into a couple of summer school classes. And I just said to her, I mean, I won't mention her name, but you know, my goal one day is to actually see you walk across the graduation stage. And to have that happen five years later, yeah, it tells me that our program and, and from a coaching perspective, I often say this Phil, I am afforded, and I'm probably one of the luckiest guys in the world because I get a front row seat to watch, from my perspective, God put his fingerprints on my athletes. Over that five years, we get five years of eligibility in Canada, which is really awesome. But also to watch these people make life decisions and to see some of the changes in their attitudes and in their mindset, whether that's to go from a player who has untapped potential, but just not really experiencing it because they haven't learned to get to the next level athletically.
What does athletic maturity look like? We had a kid from England a few years ago, who very special player, And I could see her potential. I could see her talent and she understood the game. It's not just because she she's from Liverpool. It probably had something to do with it. And she, she bleeds red.
But I kept saying to this young lady, like if you could take what you have in soccer knowledge in your brain and soccer intuition, and you see the game, the way it should be played, but you got to have another level of athleticism. And to watch that kid get there. It wasn't just about soccer success.
The kid went on to become Player of the Year in Canada, which was pretty special. But it was to see her be disciplined in, acquiring what it took, being disciplined to get that next level of athletic maturity, literally through hard work and blood, sweat, and toil. So leadership development, athletic development, academic, we have this philosophy at Trinity Western, it's called the Complete Champion approach. And lots of universities have development in other areas.
I really love Trinity because it affords me, not just the privilege, but the expectation of coaches, this is about developing your people for the longterm. And so that's what we've been about more than soccer. And we do lots of creative things to really say to those players, you're going to have the best five years of your life here.
Not because you might win a few championships. Hopefully we do that. But some of your life lessons you'll learn. Some of the experiences you've been exposed to. Some of the things you'll grow into. That's what makes us successful. That's what we count as success.
Phil: [00:34:12] And that's something that I just love. It just really for life. It's something that a lot of people go well, I'm going, I remember when I was in law school, there were people that said, this was just three years of my life.
I'm going to bear down. I'm just going to be in my book, my head in the book the whole time. And I'm just going to study, study, study because this is my, three years of my life. I said, well, that's your attitude now, that's going to be your attitude forever. Right. And then it's, what's the next thing that you're going to just put everything into so I played intramurals and I coached soccer and I worked at a church and I golfed a lot and I had fun with friends and I, and so, because it was three years of my life. It wasn't just law school.
And so I think that that idea, that concept and that you, but the thing is that if you don't foster that as the coach, it won't be the culture, right? It will be something that may or may not happen and that, it can be a motto. It can be a, it can be something that said, but you, as the leader of that program need to instill that into that, into that team.
Graham: [00:35:11] Yeah. I mean, that's a really helpful point. And obviously I believe that every team takes on large portions of their coaches. Not necessarily even personality, but what makes their coach tick? And, having grown up overseas, having been in so many different countries, having seen the power of sport to impact lives and open doors for access, to things that I have found amazing.
I want to share these experiences with the players that I get to coach. We share a common bond of the love of the game. Now, can we use some of my experiences, some of my upbringing, my networks, to expose them to a life that they probably never realized they were going to get when they signed up the play for me?
Phil: [00:35:53] And the other thing that I've seen with you and correct me if I'm wrong, but it's similar to how I'm wired to that. If I see someone not performing to the level that I know they can perform, it's not going to sit well with me and I'm going to push them on that. Is that how, how you're wired there too, as the coach of that program?
Graham: [00:36:08] Yeah. I mean, I think every coach is liked by a lot of players. Also, probably sometimes not like by a lot of players and some of that comes out of, I just don't ever want to lower the standards. And I think sometimes, and I'd be interested in getting into this in a little bit later. I know you've got one of the questions of what type of reading or, things that I've seen or listened to have impacted me, but I think sometimes when we just let our foot off the gas and lower our standards a little bit, it's a slippery slope, and that creates problems for your team corporately and individually. I think if people were honest, whether they appreciated my coach or not, they will probably say the one thing Graham did do beyond the more than soccer and the value add,
he didn't want to settle for mediocrity. He did not want to allow us to have every drill matters. Every I often say every touch matters and boy, do I love it. And I have had some of these. I have a couple of them right now in my program. I've had one that just graduated. Man, these young ladies, they have figured out what it takes to train the way that they would want to play and it's going to drive them. And they do that in soccer, they're going to do that in the life. And so, yeah, keeping your standards really high is very important to me.
Phil: [00:37:22] Yeah. You know, we joked early on in this, in the show that if you set your standards low enough, you'll hit them every time.
That's definitely not a leadership principle. it's the exact opposite, I forget which coach said it, but it's, if perfection is your goal, you just might hit excellence. Right. And, And that's really what I, I do see with you in the program. So, the next thing we're going to jump into is a book that you introduced me to when I was up there visiting and it's, it's a book called Legacy.
It's about the, the New Zealand All Blacks. One of the, well it's, perennially the best rugby team in the most respected any way around the world. They may not win every year, but they are the most respected. And if you haven't seen it already, folks, go check out the Amazon prime, just a bonus that's that's just bonus for the Amazon Prime all or nothing special on the All Blacks was phenomenal. But that this book Legacy really is a leadership
book. It's, it's about the All Blacks, but it's really about life and leading in life. And there's a couple of the, of the, principles in that book that I just want to talk to you about because you used it with your team and it's something that you said, Hey, read this book and I did. And I'm glad you gave it to me 'cause I used it with my high school team as well.
And we went through with the leadership team there. And, the first principle is actually what the book starts with. The first chapter is about character and the subtitle of the chapter is sweep the sheds: never be too big to do the small things that need to be done. The little quote they have there, which they have is the, the kumara or the sweet potato does not need to say how sweet he is.
And so can you just talk about really take it from the theory to practice. How, what this principle means to you and how you actually implement the principle in your teams?
Graham: [00:39:05] Yeah. I mean, the book is awesome. And probably because it's a few years old now, a lot of good coaches would be able to probably quote sections of the book.
So it's, it's, we're not talking about anything new. A lot of coaches will know about Legacy. ut what I really enjoyed about the book and I don't mean this arrogantly at all. I just remember reading, the first time I read I was going through the first few chapters, preparing for a leadership meeting with some of my core leaders on my team. And I was really excited because I went, wait a second, we do this, wait a second. We've done that for 15 years. And again, that's not to prop us up, but it was a reinforcement. I meant to me of Graham you're on the right road with a lot of the things that you've espoused to, or you've really endorsed over the last 10, 15 years as you've grown as a coach, the sweeping the sheds mentality.
I mean, There's other ways of saying it. Simon Sinek wrote a book called, Leaders Eat Last, has a similar mentality of nobody's too big to do the smallest grunt work. And when I first took over at Trinity and again, there's probably other coaches, I think some of this has to do with my faith perspective and following the person and, and the relationship with Jesus. Watching Jesus model humility and servant leadership and servant leadership doesn't mean weakness. It actually means strength. So to hear that, the leaders, the captains of the All-Blacks, the, the best stars of the All Blacks, each pulls their weight and takes their turn on sweeping the change room at the end of, we all can identify. We've all been in messy change rooms. We have all had grunt work to do. I was growing up in England, used to be that the apprentice players would polish the boots of the first team players in some of the clubs that I was connected to.
And everybody has to do it, but this mindset that says no, no, no. In our culture, it's not seniors that have the elevated status. They're respected, but also there's a lot to expect of them. So what we've done since I took over the program, lots of coaches will identify with this. Sometimes rookies come in and they're a little fearful of where do I fall in the pecking order.
And without making them feel like royalty, we have always taken an upside down approach, which says actually rookies are going to be the most cherished people because they're the latest edition of the Spartans. And so when we show up for our first day of pre-season, everybody lives on campus for the first three weeks.
It's my seniors that are welcoming them in the parking lot. And with their moms and dads, my seniors and my juniors are taking their luggage up to the dorms. And they're making that young rookie, who's probably peeing her pants, trying to figure out what did I just get into? And we make them feel like a million bucks.
And I've always, I always remember some of my rookies a few years ago saying coach, we can't believe that rookies eat first and every meal rookies eat first. And the reality is, and eventually, as the season goes on each year, that dissipates not because we don't value it anymore, but because everybody's learned to realize, doesn't matter whether you're a rookie or a senior, you're a leader and you've got some expectations to serve and to care for others. And you have an expectation to grow our culture. so whether it's this leaders eat last mentality, sweeping the sheds, it was really funny, last year and I won't go into all the reasons I was pretty annoyed cause I am a detailed person. And around our changing room complex, obviously the two teams men's and women's teams have probably, been banging their cleats and some mud slinging and so forth. And it didn't get swept the day of the game. And I was irate that this hadn't happened. And then I just stopped and went, wait a second. I'm here an hour early. I can sweep this.
And because if I'm going to endorse this mindset, I got to live it out as well. So there's nobody too big, no role. The other practical ones is this is cultural for us is, when we move our portable goals around, whether it's to play six V six or eight V eight or full field or whatever, if I asked for goals to be moved, it's not just one or two people that are quick to jump and say, Hey, let's go. It's everybody. Because that's an expectation of nobody's too big in this program to do the small things.
Phil: [00:43:43] Yeah, there were so many good little quotes in that, in that chapter too. And I remember they had quotes from John wooden and Bill Walsh and, and some of these other great coaches about the day.
And they were all basically about the idea that, it's character, that's going to win the win the games. It's it's it's. Much more important about talent, but the one quote that really stuck out to me, and I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. I know it's, it's a bit of an overstatement. Obviously the All Blacks, this is, you'll hear the quote, you'll know it's an overstatement, but I think the point is very clear.
And one of the All Blacks players legends said talent was irrelevant. We picked high work rate, strong body movers, guys that were unselfish, and had a sacrificial mindset. And you know how, when you're, when you're looking at players, when you see your team? When you watch, the young women coming into your program, and, obviously talent was irrelevant as is an overstatement because they had to be a certain bar. But I think once you get to that certain bar, above that, it's, you're going to pick those players. So how do you do that? And this is kind of going into the recruiting, but obviously some of it, is, is just dumb luck, but at the end of the day, how are you screening for that when you're recruiting, as you're developing culture on your team, how do you reinforce that culture so that the slacker so that the people who aren't going to have that work rate are, are seen as, this isn't part of our culture?
Graham: [00:45:08] Yeah, it really good question fel. I mean, there's lots that we could unpack, because one of them is, the, characteristic of whether they're a little lazy or lacking motivation, lacking hunger. That's one issue. The other one for me that I've had to wrestle with, and I don't know if I've always got it right of, talent wins over or character wins over talent. What do you do in one of your most talented, dangerous, forwards maybe is more selfish. And how do you, how do you have the fine line between actually embracing that selfishness, because that's what helped make that young lady be legitimately awesome, but also not have it affect the team.
And I haven't always made the right decisions on that. So it's an ongoing process. I think every situation is a bit unique, but, but generally I would say, and I'd say this more and more in recruiting, people often ask me now I've been on, particularly in the age of COVID so many zoom recruiting calls, whether that's to teams or to, individuals, they ask what's, what's the characteristics of the players you're looking for? Number one, before they could finish the sentence is hunger. And not to necessarily always quote books or, prop up things that I've read, cause I'm sure others have read some, some better stuff. But, Patrick Lensioni writes a book called, The Ideal Teammate, and I had to read that for my Master's program in leadership and very simple book, actually very easy to read.
Could read it in the afternoon. But he talks about humility. Basically emotional intelligence called smarts. And then the third characteristic is hunger. And you know what, some of the questions that some of the worksheets that come along with that book that articulate how you define hunger and how you can identify hunger.
If kids don't have hunger now, it's a long shot that we're going to recruit them. You could be less talented and have a desire to work, and we're going to bring you into our program because you will always desire to get better. And you're right. There's a threshold. You have to have a level of competency, a level of talent, but I want players who are not going to shy away from hard work.
They're going to embrace it. I want players who aren't going to be satisfied with just making the standard, they want to recreate the standards. And that's probably, what's helped us over the years. Have success in terms of championships and being in the elite programs in Canada or playing some good Div one schools down in the States and doing well.
The one that I've wrestled with, and this is really where I'd maybe go back and read that chapter is what do you do when you have four or five of your players who have helped you talent-wise get to that elite level, but maybe aren't helping you always consistently win because it's about them versus being about the team.
And those are wrestle and struggles that I've had to had to use. So Legacy was really helpful in setting me free sometimes of making some hard decisions. I wish sometimes I had made some other hard decisions because it's come back and now I can give you an example of where I didn't make the right decision that had I maybe gone with a player and more substance, less selfishness, maybe we went a playoff game that we should have so
Phil: [00:48:22] Well, I mean, it's hard to kick yourself too much though, because recruiting is a funny thing in that you can talk to coaches, you can watch video, you can go watch a game, but it's really hard to tell the, the character of that player, especially when they're away from home.
There's so many variables that go into it, but, but I do think that you've alluded to it in this lab in the last answer. The other chapter I want to talk about really is the chapter. It's got a different title in the book. You can go pick up the book, but for the sake of this family show, we're not going to use the actual title of this chapter, but it's really the "No "Viruses" chapter.
It's the "Follow the Spearhead," and you've alluded to that where these players can come in and they may or may not be intentionally doing it, but they, are a, are a virus in really the, the analogy that follow the spearhead is referring to birds flying the V-shape formation, is 70% more efficient when you're in that.
But if one of those birds jumps out of the, of the formation, or if you're using a bicycling analogy, if you're drafting and one of the bikes pulls out of that, then it affects everybody and it, and it actually drags on the whole rest of the group. So what does that look like? And, knowing that soccer is a weak link sport. Knowing that you are only as strong as your weakest link, as John Wooden said, a player who makes the team great is better than a great player, but the corollary, the opposite of that is the player who drags the team down is it is worse than a bad player.
So what, how do you address that when you have that in your team, what are some ways you addressed it well? And what are some ways that maybe you you know what, I wonder what would have happened if I would have done X, Y, or Z?
Graham: [00:49:58] Yeah. I mean, I'm living that over the last few years. If I had to be honest with you, Phil.
in reality, I mean, there's no right answer other than the principles that say be willing to make hard decisions for the sake of the team. And sometimes I've made the wrong decision what I thought was for the sake of the team, Because I was hoping, or I want to unpack a little bit of grace as well, wanting to be gracious to a kid that you hope will grow and hope will learn and hope will change behaviors or attitudes.
And so I think there is sometimes a willingness within reason to work with a player who maybe has an edge or has too much of a selfish mentality, too much of a negative attitude, because you want to see them reach their, for lack of a better term redemptive potential. and you want to see them thrive in the team and they're not a bad kid,
they just unfortunately have learned some bad behaviors. I will work with that player for a period of time. I have some more, more recent examples where I made the wrong decision and I kept a player in that core group who ridiculously talented, but when push come to shove and it became about the team, that's where, she probably stepped out of that spearhead mentality and it hurt us in a bit us in the butt.
The other side of things is there is a player in my past coaching years who I probably kept around for a couple of years longer than I think probably she would appreciate that she stayed and I appreciated that she stayed. Cause I really wanted to see this kid finish well, But at the same time, we had to make a hard decision, and we both said for the betterment of her sanity and for the betterment of our team culture, it's just not a good fit. And was I being, ungracious when I made that decision? I actually don't think so because the bigger picture is, who knows what now, lessons she will have learned from that and what lessons I will have learned from that.
So it's a, it's a delicate balance. I'm not telling coaches, anybody who's selfish on your team go get rid of, because sometimes selfishness channel in the right way can produce brilliant performances. But it can never be at the cost of your team.
Phil: [00:52:18] And like you said, I mean, particularly at the nine, particularly up top at the striker position, that's often what makes a great striker is that bit of arrogance. That bit of it's about me. And, but to channel that to a team where it's not about you, but you can and still get your stats.
Graham: [00:52:36] We talked earlier about some of the cultural things we've done. Coaches are good at this. You'll know if you have those characteristics in your team and what level you want to keep them. You certainly don't want the balance of your team to have that mentality or that good luck it's going to implode when it matters most. But we've done things, I mean, we had one of the most ridiculous individual talents in our program in the last five years. Player of the Year in Canada, set records. And I applauded some of her selfishness because she, that drove her to be that good. But we also worked really hard as a team to keep growing in terms of our team chemistry and team-building exercises off the field.
And even nights before playoff games or championship games. To continue to bring it back to what are we aspiring to achieve and what are we about? And, so I've had good examples of harnessing that in the right direction. Unfortunately, I've got some, some examples where I, in hindsight, wish I had made better decisions to protect the team culture.
Phil: [00:53:35] Yeah. And that's something that goes for soccer teams that goes for organizations that goes for, not families really. Cause you can't kick your kids out if I guess you could, but that's not, that's not what it is.
But I think that goes to your wanting to build into the players too. And if your kid's going sideways, you don't just say, well. Go and go somewhere else. It's like, no, this is I'm a steward over your life. And you are a steward over the lives of these, these women coming into your program.
But with that, how much of it is building that culture into the team so that they really self enforce this culture too. And they, if they see that, that they will go, Hey, this isn't who we are as Trinity Western. What does that look like as you're establishing the core leadership of your team and how important is that in what you do?
Graham: [00:54:21] Oh, it's massive. And I think it ebbs and flows. So there'll be moments. if I, if I wrote a book on the last 10 years of my program, we've had really sweet spots where the team is able to kind of police the attitudes and the behavior. And the police is not meant to be a negative word, but they don't need, head coach, bad cop to come in and lower the boom.
I've had to do that sometimes because maybe the leadership group is, is younger and, and trying to establish itself because they carry the right set of characteristics that you want your team to embody. So I think every coach has to assess where's my culture at. What it's, what's the leadership strength.
Can the leaders handle this? How do I help coach the leaders to? And if I had to do that, we transitioned from a, a servant leader as a captain to now two co-captains and they each lead differently, those three. Three phenomenal players. But I've had to almost say to my current co-captains I want to keep entrusting you to handle this one.
I want to keep developing you, and if you need my help, I'm here. But at the same time, I don't want you to be captain by name, but not have the ability to build in. And before you know it, good leadership is infectious and it's contagious, and I think now I have a sweet spot again, where, I have seven or eight girls that are willing to step up and say, Hey, you know what? That attitude doesn't fit here. It's okay. You can be upset you didn't play. It's okay, you can be upset things haven't gone your way. But how you channeling that to be better for all of us. Unfortunately in previous years, maybe we had a lot of strong-willed people who weren't always the most supportive or willing to stand up and say, no, no, no, no, we don't do that here. So every, every coach has to assess where they're at in their program, whether they take on that role or whether they can allow their leadership. And it sounds like from reading Legacy, they just had an ongoing culture of whether you're the captain or somebody who is a leader and responsible for the protection of the culture, willingness to stand up.
I think that's particularly harder in coaching females, where there's such a desire to be accepted and liked, and, and we have to keep fostering. I have five or six players who are not the captains who have leadership written all over them. They just need to be challenged, kicked, pushed, pulled, encouraged, because it's in them.
And now once they start to risk and have it come out of them, Holy cow, it's going to help our team culture, just go through the roof. And we're already a good team team culture, but now watching new leaders be willing to say no, no, no, this is what we want to uphold. Very important.
Phil: [00:56:59] Absolutely. And that's really the identity there too.
I mean, that's the challenge you have to it's in college as well. I mean, talk about identity formation. They're figuring out who they are. That's when you know, the insecurities are flying high. One of the last interviews I did was about insecurities and it's not just a, young child thing or a teen thing or a young adult thing. It's a human thing. And it's insecurities that we have and how they manifest. And I think that just kind of hits a fever pitch in, in high school and college is when you're developing who you are
Graham: [00:57:31] Totally.
Phil: [00:57:32] And that's such an important time, but it also is the challenge that you just talked about.
I think in organizations where you're able to do that when people are, have established their identity, who they are, they're a bit more confident in that, whether it's legitimate or not. I think it's easier to do that and have that policing, but, and I think the All Blacks is an example of that too.
They're older. They're more established. They've made the All Blacks. So it's, it's kind of a different situation than kids coming out of their homes into your program.
Graham: [00:58:00] I mean, and even, not to rehash old topics, but this is where the Berkman or those personality things can come in because I have a first year class and a second year class who are oozing with leadership. They just don't have the self-confidence yet to step out and lead. And so how can I, as a coach, put them in some settings and in some, some environments where, you know, if there are passive in their tendencies and in stress to just retreat and allow what happens happen. How do I counter that and put them in some situations where they'll begin to flourish, like a bird that learns to fly?
It takes a little bit of time. Once they do wow, watch out. So coach's responsibility is to cultivate that type of, leadership atmosphere and, Yeah, we don't always get it. Right. But it's certainly one of the great joys of my coaching to watch when players reach their potential, both as players, but then also as influencers.
Phil: [00:58:57] Right? Absolutely. Now, just to shift real quick, before we head into a couple of questions that we we'd like to finish with, how has, how have these same principles, how have you applied them in your, in your other life, so to speak, as the Executive Director of your organization, with your, with your team there and with your, with your staff, with the people that you're going on these trips with these different leadership skills, and also with the organizations that you're partnering with, how are these principles lived out in, in that regard, in that arena as well?
Graham: [00:59:28] Yeah, really, really good question. there's probably lots that we can unpack there, Phil. What comes to mind most is this mentality of servant leadership. And again, the posture, my two captains right now, nobody would refute they are two of the best players that ever played in my program.
And they're special young ladies. But yet they serve. And there's no air of, well, I've put my time in, so now it's my time to get what I deserve. There's no entitlement. There's just a sense of how do we keep giving for the program. So if you translate now over to team up, I think the whole organization's posture has said, we're not coming because we have, and you don't and we can give, and you can't. We're actually posturing alongside you, whether, because you have as much value to give and teach us and to learn from. And I'll tell you what we go to some of these places, whether it's in Paraguay or Peru or Albania, we've launched the new project in Malawi. Is so much to learn as North Americans. From some of my brothers and sisters in terms of how they even understand community and relationships. So I'd say posture and taking on the role of a servant is massive. My master's degree, big deal that I took my masters, but the content of servant leadership, transformational, servant leadership, I think
has been something that I've tried to adopt for our coaching and our program, but then as I've kind of set the culture within Team Up, how do we, how do we want to come alongside others and assist them to be better? How can we volunteer? How can we serve so that, and we've all, if you've been overseas and you're in sport, you go to a place where it's less developed,
oftentimes you're viewed as you're here, or you're the guy from out of town? Right? And you're the prestigious guest. We want to do the opposite. We want to actually tell our hosts. And we've done it. It's been really cool. One of the most favorite nights in my whole 25 years of .Traveling happened in Paraguay.
We are hosted by this church community, the school, the teachers, we had a big, massive dinner. This was pre COVID, so we weren't breaking any social distance rules. And we just got to share. There's 50 people in this room when we're sharing. And a few of my players from my team, I took my team on a Team Up trip, got to speak back into the lives of not the senior leader, not the principal of the school, not the pastor, but the moms who are in the kitchen making meals for us all week, or the people who would, be willing to go give the shirt off their back, even though, it's not a great shirt. And to have them hear that they're actually the heroes. They're, they're the ones that we are inspired by.
They're they're the people we want to learn from. So it's this upside down way of thinking, I think has translated from how I've learned to do some things in my coaching role to how I want to set up. So if you come on a Team Up trip or you get involved as a volunteer, you are every bit as much important as the people that get paid by Team Up.
Phil: [01:02:42] And that's something you can't fake. And I think as a coach, as an employer, as a boss, as a, as a dad, as a mom, as whatever you are, you can't fake that. You're as important as anybody else culture.
Graham: [01:02:56] People know if you're faking. People know if you're just saying the right buzzwords. People can suss you out pretty quickly.
But fortunately if it's, if it's authentic and it's holistic and it's genuine, it doesn't always mean it gets it right. People will also see that side of it and it'll speak volumes way more than words will speak.
Phil: [01:03:15] Absolutely. And it's super attractive as well when it, when it's actually real and there's that there, and you see the best players serving, or the best, employees, the best people, the best leaders going and doing.
Graham: [01:03:27] It's posture, Phil. I mean, to be honest with you, I am going to not quote a book, but tell you about a book and whether you're coming from a faith oriented perspective or not, there's, there's a guy at, I think he's in Denver now. His name's Hugh Halter. He wrote a book called, The Tangible Kingdom, and every person in Christian ministry should read it.
It's probably a 15 year old book now, but he has a whole chapter on posture. The world, isn't interested in me, preaching at them. The world is interested in my posture of coming alongside and journeying with people and his whole, you should just read the chapter on posture. It's so articulately put of how posture speaks volumes.
Phil: [01:04:10] Is that your book that you were going to reference later? Or is that a, is that bonus?
Graham: [01:04:13] that's a different one.
Phil: [01:04:14] Nice, nice. We get all kinds of bonus coverage here today. So, there's a lot of other stuff. We'll have to get you back on to talk about some of these other things that we have to talk about.
But the last thing before I get into, the question we just alluded to, it's something I like to ask our guests, which is similar to, and it's similar to what we discussed really with Team Up, but what principles from the game of soccer have you adapted and used in your marriage and parenting in your home?
Graham: [01:04:41] Janice and I have tried really hard to, just like we talked about coaches sometimes can be tempted to cater to whether it's the premadonnas or the talent or the ones that have their names in lights. That it's actually what you do behind the scenes that's the most important. And so we've tried to articulate that to our kids about a work ethic and about the motivation for why they're doing certain things. And again, it's this servant mentality of, even commitment. I think commitment is a massive word that, you know, if Janice and I were sit down to articulate to other people about what's been really important to us in, in planting in our kids, you sign up for something.
I know that my parents did this for me, and I have some embarrassing stories in my life as a result of it. The reality is, is we want our kids to follow through on what they signed up to do. And even if they're not the superstar or if they are the superstar that they are, they are going to have to act and behave and approach things with a motivation that says, no, no, no, no, no.
For us, it's, I'm a Spartan and there's expectations. And part of that is commitment. And if you don't, you're not just letting your team down, you're letting yourself down. And we want those life skills, whether it's in sport or in academics or in signing up for the musical that some of my kids have been in, like you're committed. You're going to do this with all your heart.
So that's been probably something that the soccer and the coaching, stuff that was embedded to me and passed down to me I've tried to implement. When I think about even how that relates to the relationships with my kids or with my spouse, I actually think it spills out into, just into relationships.
And is, can you put the other person above your own needs and your own wants. Like people have often said to me, and this is where I'm bragging a little bit, but it's not for the sake of bragging. We went through it eight year window, nine year window, where we, we won five national championships.
That's unheard of in our context, unless you're UNC in the States doing that pretty regularly. Like in, in Canada to win that much, that's a unique program and we've got two or three examples of that. But the other one for me was, to, to be in that many national finals in that short span of time, we didn't win every final.
So people would often say, well, you've got the best team. And I actually could tell you, there's lots of teams in those seasons that were more talented than us. There's more, more people that had better athletes than we did. But I think the culture of putting others' needs first, and some of my current players ask the alums that were notorious for winning championships.
Those alums would say, it's just cause we are willing to get in the trenches for each other. We were willing to do whatever it took for each other and, and the common phrase was "for each other." And so that's in your, your home life, in your family dynamic or in your relationships. In your, in your peer groups.
Holy cow, it's very attractive when you find people. Some of the people that I, nobody in the world knows them, you would never know their names, but I would tell you they're my heroes. Because they model the servant mentality, And those are the type of people that I wanna associate with.
So we've tried to embed that within our kids and in our family life. Those have been probably some things that servant leadership mentality.
Phil: [01:08:08] Definitely. All right. So the last question, and, you've kind of cheated a little bit during this interview. I'm not gonna lie that you have already talked about some books, but that's okay.
Cause you know, it's never a bad thing to have too much of good reading. But what have you read, watched or listened to recently that has impacted your thinking on how soccer explains life and leadership.
Graham: [01:08:30] I was probably like every other person in the first three months of COVID of signing up for every single webinar possible and getting on every coach's conference. And, I probably spent a lot of money on things that I never actually even then went on and attended just cause of busy-ness.
Some ones that are more recent, but they're not new books. Obviously you've mentioned Legacy. I just keep going back to that to reinforce some of the core principles of our program. I mentioned it, The Ideal Teammate. It's not a new book, but it's one that I've spent more time unpacking, especially in the area that characteristic of hunger.
the one that I read and I, I finished my masters in leadership probably four or five years ago. And I referenced this book more than any other book in my, my two and a half year degree. It's by a group of business guys, both from the States and in Oxford called, Uplifting Leadership. And every coach should read this book.
And if you're in business and you lead a staff team, you should read this book. If you're a pastor, you should read this book. And I've learned some pretty cool principles out of this. And particularly in the age of COVID. So often we create rivalries and we create maybe some unspoken tension between some, some competitors and some different programs.
And, I've had to learn the hard way sometimes that actually, without those competitors, you don't have what you have. and so the whole concept of "coopetition" is one of the chapters in that book. How do you actually work with your chief competitors to make each other better? And it's so funny, there's a school a little bit further West of us.
If you go that far West, you'd be in the ocean. So just before you get to the ocean, we're not particularly big fans of each other. There's a mutual respect there, but in this age of COVID where we have to be in a cohort to play, tell you what's the first school I wanted to be at a cohort with. And they probably would say the same thing about us.
So Uplifting Leadership, I would highly recommend it. Can't remember this there's like four authors, Hargreaves is one, Boyles another. But the book is called Uplifting Leadership. The other one that I think has been helpful for me, I teach a leadership class at Trinity Western on leading small groups in teams.
And I took it over from a professor and kind of adapted a few things based on being a sports coach. But one of the things that this professor had in his was watching the movie Invictus. And if you know that movie about the rugby, and the World Cup in South Africa and how that world cup in some ways was a catalytic event that helped shape the mindset of a new nation.
I've always loved the dynamic between Mandela and the captain, and how he had to deal with adversity and some of the different frustrations and the expectations, but he always had the big picture in mind. And I think that's helped me with this whole more than soccer and this mentality of, you can win, but winning is fleeting because it only lasts for a while,
cause the minute you won, you got to start doing it again. But when you have the bigger picture in mind and Mandela did a great job of casting vision, I can't remember the guy's name. obviously Matt Damon was the actor
Phil: [01:11:44] Morgan Freeman
Graham: [01:11:46] Morgan Freeman was, was Mandela. Damon was the, the captain Pienaar was his name, the captain of rugby South Africa.
And to see that dynamic of how they kept the vision of what they dreamt about and how the sport could help them achieve that vision. That's probably been one of the great leadership takeaways for me. So even though it's not a new film, I watch it every semester. Cause I have to, cause I watch it with my class and I just get little nuggets.
So those would be a few things. Everybody's got their favorite sports movie that can be a life principle. I think the other one, that has helped me is, is there's a spiritual book and you'll laugh at this, but there's a chapter in one of the books that was written Erwin McManus. and again, I wouldn't recommend soccer coaches go read the whole book.
It's a book about culture and a book about connecting to culture. It's called unstoppable force, but one of his great quotes in that book, in that chapter called the barbarian way. So if you want to grow a culture, raise your standards. And that one line has stayed with me for a long time now it was meant to be for church culture of, radical thinking.
Isn't actually radical. It's just biblical. but if you translate that into a sporting context or a leadership context, yeah, I want to raise my standards and I want my culture to grow as a result of it. And so that's always been in the back of my mind. Am I lowering my standards? Am I just maintaining my standards?
How are we raising our standards with the next generation that our players are coming in? And the other one, and I'll send this to you, Phil. This came out of my Master's Program as well. And I don't know the title of the article, but it is the best article I read in my two and a half year program. It came out of a Harvard, Harvard Business Review article, and it so fit my program because having won a lot and having been an elite program with a certain set of players that helped us climb the ladder to being one of the best. It, the article talks about a company that had similar success, went from ground zero to a multi-million dollars and, a hundred people on staff. And what did it take for them to get to that status?
And then there's turnover because executives were head hunted or, key leaders went on to something bigger and better, and how everybody wanted to work for this company. And it's similar to what I've faced at Trinity. There's a lot of players that now want to come and play at Trinity Western because of our past success.
And what I've had to learn as a leader is just because everybody wants to come, it doesn't mean that they have the DNA of the original people that helped grow that company success. And so leadership is, yeah, don't ride the wave of success, make sure you're constantly finding the people that have what it takes and understood what it took to be successful.
In order to maintain success. I'll I'll, I'll send you the, the title.
Phil: [01:14:35] Yeah. And that to me, because I can put it in the show notes for everyone to be able to check out.
Graham: [01:14:40] Fantastic. Very short read too. But the point is poignantly taken. Don't rely on your past success and don't just flirt with the people that want to be a part of something successful.
Make sure they have what it takes to be successful.
Phil: [01:14:53] That's right. And that goes to a lot of the principles we talked about today.
Graham: [01:14:55] Totally.
Phil: [01:14:56] So, yeah, we'll put that in the show notes. Howsoccerexplainsleadership.com. You can go check that out. /GrahamRoxburgh. We will have that, likely wherever you're listening to this podcast, you can click on the link there.
But you can, you can definitely, if you want to find that article, you can go to the show notes there and check it out. So, Graham. Thanks so much. This is so much fun. as I knew it would be. Hope folks out there. You, you got as much out of it as I did. So. Thanks. Thanks, Graham.
Graham: [01:15:23] Yeah, thanks for having me on Phil. Was a delight to have that conversation.
Phil: [01:15:27] Well, folks, another great conversation. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And, I also hope as always that you take what you're learning on this show and you use it to help you to help others to flourish in soccer, life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.