Feb. 25, 2021

Head, Heart, and Hands with Rob Burns, Founder/Int'l Director of Missional Links-Wales

Head, Heart, and Hands with Rob Burns, Founder/Int'l Director of Missional Links-Wales

In Episode 18, Rob Burns, Founder/Int’l Director of Missional Links-Wales, former youth player at Wolves, and former youth coach, talks with Phil about the effect of a toxic coach on the team, his “head, heart, hands”...

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In Episode 18, Rob Burns, Founder/Int’l Director of Missional Links-Wales, former youth academy player for Wolverhampton Wanderers, and former youth coach, talks with Phil about the effect of a toxic coach on the team, his “head, heart, hands” philosophy, how he applies soccer in his marriage and parenting, the importance of supporters in your life, the importance of a learning posture, and living lives of integrity and humility. Specifically, Rob discusses:

  • His story and how he developed his passion for soccer and leadership (1:51)
  • How a toxic team environment caused by his coach led to him losing a love for the game, and how he got the love back (5:33)
  • What we need to make sure we’re doing as coaches to avoid toxic environments (7:28)
  • The “Head, Heart, Hands” philosophy, and how it plays out in soccer and other areas of life (10:04)
  • Principles from the beautiful game that he used in his parenting (18:20)
  • The importance of supporters in our lives and the disappearance of home-field advantage during COVID (24:04)
  • Raising young adults and adults to live lives of integrity, and how it differs from raising younger children (26:19)
  • Creating an environment where there is a freedom to fail and, simultaneously, a culture of taking responsibility for your actions (35:26)
  • The importance of teamwork (37:47)
  • His love story with his bride and how he uses lessons learned from soccer in his marriage and other areas of life (39:23)
  • Giving leaders time to develop and implement their culture (47:04)
  • Rob’s video and book recommendations (49:24)

Resources and Links from this Episode

  • Missional Links-Wales website -- https://www.missionallinkswales.org.uk
  • Uncut Video of the Episode –https://youtu.be/Lr3u4BKJ6Ks
  • HSEL Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/howsoccerexplainsleadership
  • Phil on Clubhouse -- @phildarke
  • How Soccer Explains the World, by Franklin Foer
  • A Matter of Life and Death: The History of Football in 100 Quotes, by Jim White
  • Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success (Netflix)
  • All or Nothing: Manchester City (Amazon Prime)
  • All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur (Amazon Prime)
  • Sunderland ‘Til I Die (Netflix)
  • Leeds: Take Us Home (Amazon Prime)

[00:00:00] Phil:[00:00:00] Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Again, thanks for the download. Very excited again for our show today. Today we have a new friend of mine. His name is Rob Burns. He's the Founder/ International Director of Missional Links Wales. he's going to talk about that in a little bit.

He also played for Wolverhampton Wanderers or Wolves as many of you know him and the NASL in his youth. He's done a lot in between. He's a lifelong learner, he recently earned a postgraduate certificate in coaching for leadership, and recently finished his masters in missional leadership. In short, he's an experienced, he's a seasoned leader who has a ton of wisdom to share with us.

And I'm excited to get to him in a minute here before I do, if you've listened you know, I neglected to introduce myself. I'm Phil Darke. I'm your host. And if you've listened to, you've known that I've invited you to subscribe to the show so that you don't miss any episodes. if you go to wherever you're listening to this and you just click that subscribe button, that way you won't miss any future episodes.

Also, if you could rate and review the [00:01:00] show, we greatly appreciate that. That helps get it out to other people. without more from that today, I want to get to our interview with Rob Burns. Rob, how are you doing this morning or this afternoon or evening in your parts of the world

Rob:[00:01:12] I'm doing well. It's pretty cold and wet here.

I bet it's more sunny where

Phil:[00:01:16] you are today. It has been cold and wet here out in Northern California as well, but it's not as typical here as it is where you're at. But that's something that there's pros and cons with all of it. I have no doubt, but. I know you because we've been able to have a good conversation.

a lot of our audience does not know you.  so can you just briefly share your story? particularly how you developed your passion for soccer and leadership and how you got to be where you are today.

 Rob:[00:01:41] in short I grew up in an academics home who was a wonderful teacher, my dad if something went wrong in the house, it was the phone.

you just pick up the phone and it's passed onto me. I'm terrible practically, but my father would sit with us for hours teaching about concepts, teaching about principles, teaching about life and [00:02:00] culture and just how the world works. so I'm really pleased for that. You know, I grew up in that kind of home think he wanted me to be an academic as well, but early teenage years developed a gift for soccer.

And I want it to be a soccer player. So I think he wanted another route, but at the same time, he was pretty supportive. So at 16, I was there at an early age at Wolves. But really from 12 and then sign in at 16 and then through 18, 19-ish was at Wolves. My dad wanted me to continue my education all the way through, but, I was certain, I wanted to be a footballer at 19 that came to a crashing end when they let me go.

And I was so disappointed that I stopped playing for about 18 months. It's a long story. I don't want say the coach treated us very well. Don't think he was a leader that I'd want to follow into the long. And I learned a lot about how not to do it, to be honest, but didn't play for a while, then got back into it, played in the national league.

Then went to Houston. To play for Houston [00:03:00] dyno most for a very short time. And then went into professional soccer coaching, youth coaching. We set up two or three clubs in Houston and was there for six years, then went to seminary and Jim Spence, you know, Took that ministry. That's what we call it a ministry because it's Christian principles through the game of soccer, took that on as you've done a great job over the years, it's still there today.

I left in 1996 and he's still doing that in Houston today and doing a wonderful job, but I went off to seminary 400 miles North to Dallas, went to Southwestern. Baptist theological seminary got a master's in divinity, became an ordained minister and then was sent by the international mission board of the Southern Baptist convention to Wales as a missionary.

And so I came over by that time I'd had about seven surgeries due for two more back surgeries to come quite quickly and knew that. the coaching and certainly heavy involvement in sport wasn't really on anymore, but had this [00:04:00] massive passion for training people, making reproducing leaders, leaders who multiplied themselves.

And so we set up a school and Academy and we still do that today on the missional links, Wales, our internships. If you go under that, you'll see the kinds of things that we do. I've been doing it for 20 years, more than 200 young people have been through that. An intensive one year where they go away and a better person that they came.

If they come with a sports gift, we teach them sports ministry. If it's music, music, ministry, if it's creative arts, creative arts ministry, whatever they come with, we try to hone it in and through the local churches, give them opportunities to practice it and then go ahead and do it. So that's where we are today.

Phil:[00:04:41] Yeah, I love that. I love that you're taking what they have in you're developing it rather than trying to fit everyone into a box. You know, I think that's a great soccer lesson, a great leadership lesson, a great, that's just a great lesson all around that we can absolutely learn from we'll get into that.

I'm sure in a little bit here, but I want to just. dive into a little bit, little bit deeper [00:05:00] into something you just talked about, which was when you were 18 or 19 or so playing for wolves. And there was a coach who was, as you described it to me in our previous conversation, it was somewhat of a toxic environment and it really caused you to.

Lose a love for the game. Can you just go into that a bit more and what we can learn from it, both in the soccer arena as well as in our leadership in other arenas? Well,

Rob:[00:05:23] I think in my lifetime, we've come on a long way in the field of coaching learning. The way that we do education is very different to the way that I grew up.

And I think the idea of a football coach, certainly in Britain at that time was somebody who'd played before at a good level. Somebody who had authority and someone who could intimidate the players into doing what they wanted. I think that was the modus operandi. If you like. The idea of coaching licenses was rarely ever talked about, the idea of coaching science was rarely talked about, we're talking now from 76 to 83, And certainly this coach didn't have that high intimidation was [00:06:00] his style.

If I scare you enough, you'll do what I say. If I sheltered you enough, you'll, you'll do what I say. that was his style and we were petrified of him. And so it wasn't really, until I began coaching myself and it was, it's an interesting journey into it. As a player, we had to go to our first coaching license.

We went kicking and screaming, by the way.  we didn't go and enjoy our first coaching license. It was just beginning to happen. It was just something that probably the clubs got free from the FA. And so they'd send their young people. And so we go kicking and screaming, but you know what? I went, and after that first session, I thought to myself, I like this.

I could be a coach. I thought I could do this. And I remember we were going back session after session, week after week. It was about a three, four month course. And I got to know that teacher, our coach teacher, if you like. And he started to give me chances of coaching even while I was playing.

And I thought this is so different to what we're receiving. [00:07:00] Maybe there's a new day for coaching. maybe there's going to be a better future.

Phil:[00:07:03] Yeah. One of those things, if you go back to that coach, he could talk to him or you could just kind of evaluate it and go, these are the things that we got to take out.

And these are the things that we need to make sure if we're not doing this, we're failing as coaches. We're a fan of those leaders, quite frankly,

Rob:[00:07:18] more planning of the sessions so that we knew what we were doing. We were being shouted at before we understood what we were supposed to do. So there was no way of rectifying that  or we have to read his mind to know what he was trying to do so we wouldn't get shouted at.

And of course you can never read anyone's mind, more planning, more patients, more breakdown of the skill involved, starting it, easy, starting it. Any coaching manual will tell, you know, start static. Move to no pressure, make it dynamic, add pressure, add increased pressure, go from goal to goal. You know, this is all been learned now, but we didn't get any of that.

So more planning, greatest science, [00:08:00] knowing what the personalities of your players are. Some will respond and went on to have long stellar careers, by the way. With the shouting, they were able to do it somehow switch off. I wasn't, I was more sensitive. I made it longer than some others did, but it was demoralizing me.

Cause I didn't know how to achieve I need a clear if I wasn't doing it right. I needed to know how to do it. Right. So I can move towards that. Those kinds of things I think would, would have really helped education really for that coach would have been a great thing.

Phil:[00:08:36] so much there, we could pick into each of those and talk for hours about any of those.

Those are probably be a semester long course for us, but as you talked about one of the things that really sticks out to me that I absolutely agree with all that you said, but the one is really that clarity, that, that clarity of message of this is what my expectations are. This is what we're doing.

This is why we're doing it. This will help you understand X, Y, Z. [00:09:00] And We're not just doing this rote because I want to run you well, sometimes they do that and that's unhealthy and toxic as well. But yeah, if there is a method behind the madness, let them see behind the curtain. Yeah. Keep it as a secret.

Rob:[00:09:13] We did not know how to achieve, how to gain success. How can you move forward with

Phil:[00:09:19] that? again, that's something that we could talk a lot longer about, but I think you get the point out there. Hopefully you do. If you don't then send me an email and we'll have a conversation about it, but one of the things that you currently use in your ministry and you've developed over the years, presumably is these three H is really the head, the learning.

The hands, the practice in the heart to love and teach somebody else. Can you just discuss what that looks like and how that plays out in practice and how your experiences in soccer have informed the ongoing lifelong process that you're talking about there? Well,

Rob:[00:09:54] I think sometimes you fall on things by accident and I would say in Houston more in Dallas, but [00:10:00] in Houston, I really didn't know what I was doing, but I think I was doing it.

sometimes you do that. Don't we, it was kind of beginning to work and I was beginning to do something that I couldn't put words to, and I couldn't explain, but in Dallas/Fort Worth, of course you have to in a master's in divinity, begin to look at why you're doing it. You have to look at your own practice because we'd set up something similar.

But this time through a large mega church in Dallas, I'm now reflecting on practice. And I'm thinking how to make players who are human beings into better human beings while they're playing. and I came across this idea or began to think through this idea of, of what it was that made us learn. I think we learn with our head, we learn with our hands and we learn with that heart.

Or more specifically, we learn with our head, we practice with our hands and we reflect with our heart. I think we've all come across. Haven't we people who are superb academics, [00:11:00] my father was a super academic and they read and read, understand, and understand, learn, and learn and learn and learn. But sometimes when you put them into a practice situation where they have to actually play and go about the business, this is why you sometimes see great trainers and then you stick them onto the field and you realize, ah, They're practice day players.

Some people can do the drills, but they can't transfer it into the game. Some people can learn where very well with books, but they can't put it into life. Well, of course that's not enough, but there are also people who are very good at doing it. Better players, who, who are surprising when they get on the field, that's shareable trainers.

And then they just turn on when the games begin. But long term, they're going to lose their fitness because they not do any day by day. They're not doing the rudimentary thing. Let's join the team. I mean, a long-term career and in whatever that might be, whether it's in the music [00:12:00] business or in the creative arts or whether it's in, church ministry, whatever it is, it's the learning with the head, call it training day.

It's the practice with the hands actual game day. But also there's another element to it. And that is how did I do what I just did sometimes, an instinctive player, you know, I saw a goal the other day where the big balls crossed it. I mean, we took like a 40 yard ball cross then. And it goes over the top of the defender and the guy with his right foot, flicks it over the top, back over the top of the defender and strikes it in with his right foot.

I'd love to stop him, get him aside and say, how did you do that? I hope he'll be able to tell me, well, what I did is I position my body on the side on and I, when it came to my right foot, I just loosed off a little bit. So it would just. Labile of reset a little bit. And then as I turned, I swivel, then I struck it with the laces, but a lot of people will say, I don't know how I did that.

The [00:13:00] problem with that is you'll never do it again. And so if you reflect, if you take some time to reflect, you can do it again. And not only can you do it again, you can teach somebody else to do it. So we began to do that in Houston. We definitely did it in Dallas. Helping players to understand what the drill was about, understand what the skill was about in their heads.

Then put it into practice and then reflect on it so they could do it again. And if one day they became a coach, they could do it with somebody else. We now do that on a big scale in terms of teaching leaders. So we've always got people in books. We were always giving classroom sessions. We're always looking at new theories.

But we then say in how are coming now, take that theory away, put it into practice, but then come back and reflect on it. So everybody learns to create multiplayer leaders. You have to learn with your head practice with your hands and reflect with your heart in an ever going cycle. That way you [00:14:00] multiply yourself because you know what to do, you can do it and you can describe it to somebody else because you know what you did.

Phil:[00:14:08] That's so fantastic. And I'm just thinking about coaches, if you didn't hear and listen and really engage in that, rewind this right now, go back and listen to that and really think about how it can play out In your teams, leaders, same thing. How can it play out in your teams, in your organizations?

Because here's the thing. If we're just telling people what to do and they're not actually practicing it or if we're not helping them to learn it. also though, If they're not teaching it themselves, if they're not internalizing and then processing and putting it out there again, anybody who has taught anything knows that the time you learn things the most is when you teach them yourself.

So coaches have your players involved in the teaching and the training at some level, have your leaders being able to do that in teaching and they can teach each other, as you said, describe that thing that you did because when you [00:15:00] describe it, it will internalize, it will help it become that muscle memory that you're able to do that more and more and better and better

Rob:[00:15:05] right.

Leaders, right? And if you want to learn that if any of any coach wants to see that on a more, in a more general way outside of soccer, it's because they're principles that transfer into everything. They go on missional links, Wales and on internships. They'll they can see how we pad out and flesh out the head hands, heart principle, and they can go on some videos to hear some testimonies of some 18 through 25 year olds.

Who've been through that program and they're able to do it in whatever field they find themselves in.

Phil:[00:15:37] Yeah, that's great. And I strongly encourage that. We'll have that link on the show notes. So if you, didn't grab it there or you're having trouble finding it online go ahead and go to the show notes for this episode and you'll be able to find it there and it'll direct you right to that internship page.

So you can learn, more about it, but I just want to make sure that that point of making sure the people that you want. To be leaders, the people that are on your team, [00:16:00] that you want to be them to be the best, they can be, help them to give them opportunities, to be able to teach what they're learning and what they're practicing, rather than just having them continue doing the same thing, which, you know, that develops muscle memory at some point, but you won't fully understand the, why and the what and the how and how you can do it better.

And then it also breeds and leads to innovation because these different people who are wired differently, we'll come up with things that we never would've thought of. That's right. So that's where it gets. Awesome. I mean, think about all the moves now that exist in the game that never existed. When we played back in the day, my kids are learning stuff and they're coming to me and saying, Hey dad, do you know all these moves?

I said, I had one move. When I played, when I played strike or my move was kicking the ball, pass the guy and see if I can beat him. now they're like, well, you didn't know this and that. And the other thing I go, those guys weren't even alive when I was working and some of them as they're making moves now.

So anyway, those are things that I love. Absolutely love, love that. And so I would, I would strongly encourage you folks to go to that. Learn more about that. If it's [00:17:00] not something that's resonating with you and that you're already doing, then learn about it and make sure you incorporate it into what you're doing.

At every area of leadership and that goes to parenting and marriage and everything else that we're doing too, is to be able to, encourage and build each other up as well. on that note, to segue into the next thing I want to talk to you about, you've told me, as we talked about that you'd love to write a book someday about.

How you have used principles learned through soccer to raise your kids. Those are you who listened to this show? Regular, you know, this is a question that I love to ask my guests is how they use these principles in their families. This is something that you, you brought up without me even asking.

And so it was something that was kinda cool. So I'd love to just. talk about some of those principles with you. Just have little conversation here about what were those principles? Maybe this will be the impetus for you to start that book. We can go back a quarter and put this down into writing, and then we can get it going.

But what are some of those principles that you did use with your boys growing up and, and to raise your kids, to help them to grow into the [00:18:00] men that they are just boys, right. If I'm, if I remember, yeah. Three boys, three boys. Yeah. So to help them grow into the men they are. And how can that help us as well?

Rob:[00:18:10] Yeah. I mean on the book, it's why it's ominous is that they're pushing me and you know what it is, it's one thing for us to have a motivation to write a book, but when your kids are on you, the pressure is on isn't it. Cause you don't want to let them down, but all the way through my wife it just time she despaired at other times, she just, when she tells people, you can see this joy in her heart because.

She knows I've got through to those guys, but it's like, Oh no, he's talking about football again. I beg to differ. I wonder whether I'm talking about football or am I talking about leadership or am I talking about life, lesson, life wisdom, when we're doing it, I cannot help the fact that I didn't have a little Dolly or a little bear.

I had a soccer ball to go to sleep with, this is deep in me. I've been to school, I've got an, a license, I studied the game, I've been in and [00:19:00] around it, we talked for six hours a day for six hours a week for 11 years. That's a lot of hours, you know, plus I just love it.

Just like the people who are listening today, you know? So it didn't take much of a jump to that. When you see your boys loving soccer. And we gave him lots of choices in whatever they wanted to play at a very good swimmer as well, swam nationally, they've all loved their soccer. what a teaching moment, you've asked me to talk about, to weave in some principles.

So I've broken a few, like in, into early years, teenage years. An adult cause we still do it now, you raising your kids, you want to teach them good life lessons, but we go wrong when we do it on our time. And in our way, we have to do it in the way that they want to hear it. We have to find the teaching moments when that is open and their minds are focused.

And so. The great part about soccer [00:20:00] is it's so emotional. Everything lives in 90 minutes, doesn't it. Every Flynn that you can possibly imagine, elation and sadness and teamwork and lack of integrity and integrity and incredible physical ability and failure and everything exists in there. So in the younger ones, I don't know about you, but we came across very, very early.

This idea of winning and losing my boys, especially one of them took losing very much to heart. Maybe it's just in his DNA, maybe the way it is, but they all did. So that moment when you've just lost, when the world is all wrong and it's everyone else's fault is a great time to look at integrity.

It's a great time to look at the fact that a player, most of all is someone who goes out there and plays something that's bigger than [00:21:00] themselves, where there's got to be a winner and there's gotta be a loser and losing is a great teacher. And so therefore at that point of losing, it would be.

Why do you think we lost today? Oh, it's everyone else's fault. Goodness. What do you think you could have done better today? So you're coming home in the car and you're teaching these leadership principles. All we want today, everything is fantastic. And you can say, so last week we lost. How did that make you feel?

How has it made you feel to win? Have, you know, have you noticed that there's always a winner and there's always a loser. And we have to have integrity in both ways. We're a good winner, but we're also a good loser. So when you lost last week and you didn't shake hands with anyone and you came off in a half, what do you think that said about your integrity this week?

He couldn't wait to shake hands with everyone, you to shaking hands with a dog walking by. [00:22:00] you'd have given everybody a hug when you win. But can you keep it together and be the same man, whether you win or whether you lose, great little lessons, in those early years, learning how to win a low now to lose.

And then they get into their teenage years. Of course, now relationships. And important. Now at the beginning to say, he said this, he said, this ref said, this coach said this. Now these relationship issues are beginning to work in their minds, whether they be good or bad. And this is that time when the one that's scoring the goals.

Suddenly becomes a little bit of a poster child, you know what I'm talking about, scores of five yard, a wheels away points to the name on the back of their shirt, and you're coming home and you say let's break down that goal that you scored today.

What do you think, what part do you think the goalkeeper had to save that really good shot, but he didn't carry it. He caught it. And in catching it, he was able to roll it out to the [00:23:00] fallback really quickly. And when the fallback got it, instead of nailing it up the field 40 yards, he played it into the midfielder who turned and didn't lose it, but, but played it weighed again.

And then did you notice when the Stryker, well, when the winger had the ball, he played it to the strikers, rightful, not as weak for it, but he played it to his right foot and then he put it in from six yards. Who scored that goal today? Striker or the team. So these are the lessons we learn when we're talking about good relationships, how it took everyone to score that goal.

Didn't it, it took all sorts of decisions, good decisions until finally somebody can put it in for six yards, but now it turns he runs to the court and a flag and he's pointing at his own name. That's know how to build team and in order to play well, it's gotta be team.

Phil:[00:23:54] Absolutely. I want to just pause real quick there.

Cause I want to say something too that we've seen a lot of and I would go [00:24:00] back to the winning and losing and how they're connected to that. I see. But I also want to just point out right now that we're seeing now the impact, we've always known at some level the, crowd, the fans. The impact they have on a game.

And so the supporters who now, yeah, there's no one to run to. There's no one to, to cheer with. There's no one to cheer on. There's no one to build up. There's no one to encourage. There's no one to all these things that a crowd can do. Also the negative side of it too, if they're booing or if they're doing this or that, those are all things that are life lessons as well, that you're going to have haters in your life.

You're going to have people who encourage you and cheer you on. You need those people to cheer you on in life. And how do you deal with those issues when those people are booing at you and don't want you to succeed and actually want you to fail, how do you respond to that? You can either respond by crumbling or you can respond by going, no, I'm just going to put that ball in the net, And so those are all life lessons that we're seeing now without the fans. But I've talked about [00:25:00] that with people all the time. There are people who are praying for you. There are people who are buying your product in organizations. There are people that are, that are cheering you on and are paying for tickets so that you can have The team, you know, all of these things are part of that team and all go into scoring that goal. In addition to all that you just talked about there on the pitch. Right? So anyway, that's something that I've talked with people about and just, I'm very passionate about. And I think this year it's really interesting.

Never did we think we would have a year where we had actually a case study in what happens when fans go away. Home field advantage has basically gone away. Look at that. And we're now recording this the day after Liverpool just lost four to one at home after

Rob:[00:25:41] three games on the run. Yes. Losing

Phil:[00:25:43] to two teams.

They absolutely should

Rob:[00:25:45] not have lost much time since the 1960s.

Phil:[00:25:48] Unbelievable to see that. Right. But that is because, Anfield without fans is a cavernous hole and they're reminded all the time. They don't have fans. Yeah. Other teams coming in and [00:26:00] they're still playing at Anfield. That's it. So it's just this anyway, so many lessons there, but anyway, I'll go on.

And now you're with the adults. I just wanted to point that little part out. He had thoughts on that too, while we're talking.

Rob:[00:26:09] Good point. You know, so if you like in the early years, lots of integrity, winning, losing, winning, losing, winning, losing in the teenage year. It's more about, relationships, obviously you're teaching all sorts of principles, aren't you, but relationships suddenly what others.

Saying about you becomes really important and the idea of team and why didn't we win when we have the best players are because the other team played like a team and you didn't a team. How does that work? You know? And so, but when it gets, I think to the adult years, because now they're playing good soccer, you know, my middle one my oldest and my middle one played in the national league.

my middle one is playing in the national league now of Wales. My other one is playing one league below, so the playing good, football. Lots of pressure to win. Yep. lots of pressure. I think, to, to live like the world, you know, we're Christians in our family, we love the Lord Jesus [00:27:00] Christ, and we want to play his way, but that strong idea or that strong concept that you see in the world and in sport is it's only wrong.

If the referee sees it, that's, anything is only wrong. Any aspect of the game is only wrong. The referee sees it and calls it. The referee doesn't call it. It's not wrong. And of course, if that's the case, then it's what we're really saying is if I still at bracelet is only wrong. If the police catch me.

Yep. That's where it goes. And eventually, it's not wrong to cheat on my wife, unless she catches me. It goes everywhere. It will go right through your life if that's what you live by. And so, you know, we teach the boys, there is that God sees it and you saw it, you know, that ball went out and it was a throw into the other team.

Yep. You know, that. Yeah. And so therefore we, we [00:28:00] really then begin to emphasize that idea of character playing to the, if you like the beat of a different drum, putting in the tackles, doing everything you need to do, sweating like everyone else, given everything, you've got playing to the beat of a different drum because your character is something different.

And then people will see there's something different about you.

Phil:[00:28:22] Yeah, all those things love it. Absolutely love it. And those are the cool thing about it. As you talked about is these are life lessons we want, like, if you go to people and you, say to them exactly what you just talked about character, and you say, wouldn't, you want this in your kit to do the right thing, to do the next right thing.

Whether it's somebody watching or not watching, they're doing the right thing. You'd be hard pressed to find a parent who actually is a decent parent. That would say, no, I don't want that. I don't want, I just, honestly, I care. I just care if they get good grades, that's all I care about. You'd be hard pressed to find that right.

But in soccer, for whatever [00:29:00] reason we teach. If you get caught, then it's a foul. If you don't get caught, anything goes, yeah. Why is that now with VAR in the highest levels, obviously that doesn't happen anymore. So they're having to now kind of unlearn some of that stuff, but that's something that even, you know, it's easy to slip into that you just clip the heels, just do this, just do that, and not to say, go play hard, go do this, you know, be aggressive, but the cheap stuff, the stuff that is, you know, is just wrong. I had a couple episodes ago. Lee Baker, who you actually know from your time in Houston, talked about this, where as a coach, you see the ball go over the line whether it's in the goal or out of bounds, if it's a two man system or something or one ref in the middle and they're needing help and.

That integrity of it went out, your kids know it went out, you know, it went out, are you going to say it went out or it went in the goal and you know, it's a tie game and it's something that you're going to lose that game. If you say it went in, are you going to say it? When is [00:30:00] this game that important to you that you will lose your integrity over it and you'll lose respect from your players, or you'll teach them things that then they'll take into life.

And they'll take into that game too, and go, well, coach, you didn't say anything. How is this any different? And so in our parenting and all this other stuff is if those little things go by and our kids watch us do those things, it's that same thing where they go, well, dad, you didn't, you didn't do anything.

You didn't, you, you know, if they learn about, well, you didn't claim all that money on your taxes. You went and did this and you didn't report it. Why is it, you know, so that, all those little things that it's against the law.

Technically you could get away with it because no one would ever know, but, you know, God knows and you know what, it's just not right. So, absolutely. Any thoughts on that? Is it just kind of laid all that out?

Rob:[00:30:52] I think what you do in the game, You will do in life and they, they go backwards and forwards.

You know, [00:31:00] what you do in life, you do in the game, so we have an opportunity. Don't we with children and teenagers and even young college students to be still reminding them that good relationships, integrity, and character still matter. Yep. You didn't hear me say, don't make your tackle. That's right.

You didn't hear me say don't give a hundred percent on the field. You didn't hear me say don't try to win,  but you did hear me say, you can still have character. You can still have integrity and you can still build good relationships inside your team. Yeah.

Phil:[00:31:34] The other thing that all those things make me think of is just responsibility.

So you have a responsibility to have character to make that right decision, to learn from losses, to have the character and integrity when you lose to shake the hands. It's a responsibility. It's also a privilege and an honor to it's, it's something that we have a privilege to play the game. You know, the fact that we have this privilege to play the game, it's [00:32:00] also comes with this responsibility.

The fact that we're able to do this comes with a responsibility to do these other things on the team. When you're playing, talk about the fans, talking about owners, talking about coat, you have a responsibility to play at your best because there's other people that are counting on you.

Yeah. If you see it as team. and then that, that character side, I think you have a responsibility to do that just as, as a human, who is to be flourished, to be at your best, you will play that because otherwise you're going to live with this regret. You're going to live with this. Did I, you know, it's, it's that guilt.

If you don't have a guilt, then that's just the core of. human being, I wouldn't want to be. And, but anyway, so what are your thoughts on that? As far as that idea of responsibility and just as we are taking on these different things to take responsibility for what we did wrong as well.

Cause we, how often, like you said, the idea of, well, it was his fault. It was his fault. I think of my nine-year-old and I think of myself at nine years old, for that matter, [00:33:00] if I lost it was because somebody cheated or somebody did something wrong. It couldn't have been me. Right. So that idea of take responsibility for what's yours.

Rob:[00:33:08] Yeah. I think soccer though, we love it is a game, but life is for real. Yep. And how we learn the game of soccer and the things that we learned from it are going to go into our life just as our life goes into that game. We can learn some incredible things about integrity and character and good relationships.

We can learn a lot about that and take it into our lives because out there it's, for real, we have responsibilities for ourselves and how we live as a citizen. We have responsibility for our families and how we lead them. what kind of man, I show my wife, someone to be proud of or someone who cheated the slightest opportunity, you know, what do I show my children?

What do I show? The people that I work with? we've had [00:34:00] interns every year for 20 years. What are they seeing? They're certainly hearing, hearing me talk too about integrity. And good relationships and character. They're hearing me say that, but is it something I say, or is it something I do? My responsibility is to do what I'm saying.

Otherwise it's empty. Yup.

Phil:[00:34:18] And it's also to take responsibility for things you do wrong because they know you do wrong. They know your faults our kids know our faults. They know our weaknesses if we don't own up to them, if we don't say, sorry, if we don't say, you know, I blew it and you know what, I'm struggling with this too, when I'm hungry, when I'm tired, when I'm not in word, when I'm not doing what I need to be doing, I'm not the dad I need to be.

And I'm sorry for that. When they see that, that vulnerability that speaks volumes to them when a coach does that, when a leader does that, because something I heard early on in my leadership was look, your people know your weaknesses when you actually share with them that you're aware with them too, you gain their [00:35:00] respect and you create an environment where.

Failure is okay. As long as you're taking that next step to remedy that failure. And so, and to learn from it. So, have you seen that in your parenting? Have you seen that in your coaching? I assume you have, but I want to just hear what you'd want to say about that,

Rob:[00:35:16] you know, taking responsibility, like you say, is massively important.

And  I've learned to vulnerable. And that's not how can I put that? If you're always saying, look at my mistakes, look at my mistakes, look at my mistakes. Look them at mistake, two things happen is when are you going to remedy them? When are you going to stop working on them?

Right. And the other one is, is like, you're trying to charm me here. You're trying to charm me. You're telling me too much. It's false humility. Yeah. You know, it's gotta be insightful. where the person can see that you've discovered this about yourself and you're not happy about it and you want to work on it, but it is something you willing to admit.

So I just think sometimes you do see, [00:36:00] you know, Christians, if you like, you might call it society because we're all very vulnerable now, aren't we, you know, we're all very, very open. When you say you're poor at something and you're not. It's false humility. Absolutely. So insightful admission of mistakes, and then doing something to remedy it, and people seeing that you're doing that.

The people that you lead, that's powerful. Yeah.

Phil:[00:36:24] I love that. You said that I love these because I think that's so important too, to not have that self-deprecation to not have that. Oh, I'm just a terrible person. It's not that it's when you blow it. Yeah, exactly. But when you blow it own it. Yeah, right. And don't say, Oh my bad.

No, we're done now. Just like I blew it. I blew it. And here's why now here's how I'm going to take that next step to remedy it and to make it right. And that's the critical thing because, and it also, I think it's good on that. Other, on that flip side, go into what you just said to know that we do have a greatness within us to know that we [00:37:00] do do certain things really, really well.

And to be able to share that, like, these are the things we do really, really well. And we're going to surround ourselves with people who do those other things that we don't do super well. And they do everything better than us. They're, they're smarter than us in a lot of areas. We're going to surround ourselves with them because it will challenge us to be better and we can challenge them to be better in the things that we do well.

So I think that's something that is really important. That's something that, as you talked about that teamwork, As we're raising up our boys, as we're raising up our girls, that we can go here is this teamwork and teamwork. Isn't just about them making you better. It's about you making them better. And then together you make each other better.

And this team can do things that none of you could have done on your own.

Rob:[00:37:37] And that's why the team wins. But the set of individuals, the 11 individuals don't necessarily win. That's right. It's an interesting thing to learn. You don't really learn that until you kind of teenage soccer. How a team of collectively less quality individuals can beat a group of individuals who are more, highly talented in [00:38:00] that ability that team of the lesser skilled can beat the team with the higher level individuals because they play as a team, know you hit that at about in teenage years and it's a shocker.

Absolutely. You always think the best players always win. They don't.

Phil:[00:38:15] Yep. And that's why I love the lessons of FA cup or the Carabao Cup or these other league cups and other country. You see these teams, I mean, this year we saw Crawley come out of nowhere and win some games in the FA Cup, but it's in your root and for them, because that is.

What we love to see, is that not? Why do we love the underdog story? Because it gives us hope that we can take these teams and we can take things and we can over-perform and we can do things that are amazing. And that's, that's what this game can teach us. So, absolutely well let's, let's kinda, you've alluded to your marriage and these lessons and taking it into there.

And this is what we, finish our shows typically with a couple of questions that this one is, one of them is. These principles that you're learning, how have you directly in anything that you haven't talked about yet? Let's talk about something else. [00:39:00] Cause I know you got a whole lot more in that head of yours.

But the principles that you've taken directly from the game that you used in your marriage or in your ministry or organization that we can learn as, husbands, as wives out there as, as leaders of organizations.

Rob:[00:39:13] Yeah. A little bit about my wife. I think that would actually help me answer that.

So I met my wife at university when I wasn't a Christian and she was I always thought the Christians were like lowest standard, poor athletes uncool. And so therefore I wouldn't want to be that, but then I meet a girl who sails for Great Britain can beat most men at the university of tennis.

An athlete can play for the rugby team. So she's strong, to Christian. And it, it rocked my world. I'm thinking there is this beautiful girl  who is every bit the sportsperson. I cannot pull the, Oh, you're an uncool and sporty person. I can't pull that card because you probably a [00:40:00] higher level than me.

Cause I didn't do anything like national level I'm thinking. Ah, and then when I got to know her Had this not perfect in any way, but had this just sense of rightness and purpose about herself. She knew what her standards were and she kept them, she knew she was on a journey. She knew she'd got a long way to go, but she kept answering me with these pieces of wisdom.

And I'm beginning to say, where are you getting this from? Yeah. She began to share with me from the Bible. And the coffees turned into meals and turned into walks and turned into time together where I'd come with my worldly philosophy and she'd come with the Bible and slowly but surely then started taking me to church slowly but surely it was like, as if I didn't have enough faith, not to believe it was so obvious.

And I May 18th, 1987. I became a Christian. So we were friends. she was very, very much the person that led me to the Lord and that's all we were, we were friends. And then, to cut a long story short, we met later on, she came to America to visit. I was in Houston at the time. And you know, when the [00:41:00] light bulb goes on, you know, new eyes to see and realize that this was the woman for me.

So you can imagine, then my discipler is my wife. So what I feel like that's a wonderful gift. Yes. The person that led me to the Lord and discipled me is my wife. she knew me at my worst and still loved me, but like, Jesus, you know, she's shown me Jesus. So that needed to be said. as you can see very high regard, but I cherish my time playing soccer. I cherish my time coaching soccer, because it helps me to be a better husband. the thing about sport, we'll kind of turn it in soccer, but I think sport does it generally think about sport is instead of coming to you incrementally and slowly like life brings it all comes in that 90 minutes.

I said earlier, the choices of whether to tell the truth or not, the choices have changed something that's not going, right. It's not going right. We're not, keeping the ball. We need to add a midfield player, do it now. you have weeks to think of that in [00:42:00] life. So change-making truth telling dealing with people, dealing with different personalities.

All of these things have really helped me in my marriage. I'm not perfect in any way, but I think the fact that my wife's a sports person. She actually appreciates sports illustrations. He actually appreciates all of that. So we often, it's a funny, old thing. If you could put a little, but if you were a fly on the wall and we were going for a walk, you'd love our conversations because it's always like, we talk about a relationship thing and she's like, well, it's like in tennis when this happens.

Well, it's like in soccer. So it's all, it's all that kind of stuff, you know? And it's wonderful to have her. But huge lessons. And I think it's because of the pressure of soccer all happening in that short space of time. Like I say, all of the lessons, the integrity is the honesty, the teamwork, the reading of human beings, the telling of the truth that the sweating with everyone there's no, the combi, any [00:43:00] spectators, you got to get stuck in all of those things.

What marriage is about.

Phil:[00:43:04] Yeah. you hit it on the head there. I think a lot of this stuff that you've talked about in this episode, just as far as when you talked about coaching and everything that you just talked about, knowing the personalities, if you don't know the personality of your wife, it's going to cause a lot of conflict.

They don't know your personality then. Cause you just, you project things and you assume they're just like you and, and they're not. Right. Yeah. I mean, they're, they're not at all. Even if they're the same personality, they're not at all like you, cause they're a totally different person. And so that's something absolutely.

Yeah, encouraged by that encouraged by the story. It's we have our next conversation. It's funny. My story with my wife. She didn't. Wasn't my discipler, but it was a similar in that that light bulb went on. We were friends for about five years. she was a division one soccer player as well.

And, so we have this connection that we're able to shortcut a lot of conversations because we can use soccer, analogies, although she, she kind of rolls her eyes, as you said, your wife does as well. And I, when I [00:44:00] use them, sometimes she's like really another one. Okay. What, you know, but she also knows it works.

And so, she doesn't tell me to stop doing it, which is good.

Rob:[00:44:07] Well, Chapman does, you know, that did the love languages that we were all kind of quite familiar with now. And I think if only that coach way back when. And if, kind of like dared to look at the fact that we all had different personalities, some respond to being shouted at yeah.

Others respond to an arm on the shoulder, others respond to talking to directly others. Indirectly and being listened to, and they'll point out later on their own faults, they'll point out their own mistakes that don't need you to hammer them, you know? And it's the same with, my wife, my love language is touch and words.

early on, it was all about giving you a hug and telling you you're great. And she'd be like, Wash up, you know, cause she's like she's acts of service. And so, take the garbage out, show me that you love me. Stop telling me, and asking cap players are like that.

We need to study our players, [00:45:00] work out who they are. We'll get the best out of them. it's not effeminate or it's not kind of weak to know how to talk to your players to study that your players' personalities. It's just clever. Yeah, it's smart. You'll get more out of him.

Phil:[00:45:15] I swear. I think it sounds like you're describing my marriage.

that sounds exactly like what my, she typically says, do the dishes, or,  asks me to, of course, That's really that's solid stuff. There's so much, again, there's so much there that I'd love to dive into. Maybe get you on another time to talk about some of these other things or just you and I can have conversations afterward.

But yeah, those are things that, again, if you're not incorporating these things, if you're not, I love what you said about, it's not weak. It's not a feminine, it's not something that, if words of affirmation are your love language, then words of destruction. Are going to tear you down even more.

And coaches need to know that because you could have the best player in the world. And if you don't connect with them, [00:46:00] you're not going to get the best out of them. Nope. and on the flip side, if you have a player who is good, a really good player, and you connect with them and you pour into them as they could, as they receive it, the only way you know, that is by studying them, then they can, you can take them to levels.

They never could have achieved before. And that's why you see players for certain managers, certain coaches performing incredibly well. And then they go to a different team and they fall off or vice versa. Exactly. and teams as well. I mean, you see teams that take on the persona of their managers and if they're toxic, the team's going to be toxic.

If they're healthy, the team will be healthy. It just will be, it might take some time, but that's why this whole culture of be curious to hear your thoughts on this, this culture of sacking managers after six months or, less than a year. It takes time to develop your culture. Do you, I mean, do you agree with that?

How would you, speak into that?

Rob:[00:46:54] Yeah, I, I think there are certain teams that do that. Yeah. without naming them, [00:47:00] Chelsea, he just buys it now. Yeah. I pay for players, which expends a fortune. I will get you the players, but you need to do it now, if you don't do it now, I'll find somebody else.

I don't think every team is like that. I think who else had lost now in the, in the premier league? Done at a very, very similar record to Frank Lampard and a cook. Well, I'll give you an example. My team. my team Wolves, they haven't been doing so well.

Right. lots of draws, quite a few losses that, you know, they lost their main striker to a concussion Jimenez yep. There's no talk about sacking Nuno Espiritu Santos. It's taken us all the way up to, seventh in the premier league. There's no talk of second him just because he hasn't done so well in the last 10 games.

Lampard had like seven bad games. Right. And he's gone. I don't think all teams do that, but I do. I think it's increasingly often. But like you [00:48:00] say time is important to build cultures, I think. Wasn't Alex Ferguson's and I mentioned them a little later, if on the things that have been read Ferguson.

I think his season, it was a real, it was like 19th in the premier league. One point in the first year

Phil:[00:48:16] or two, he had three underperforming. Three years,

Rob:[00:48:21] but they believed in what he was doing,

Phil:[00:48:24] seeing that now too, with Solskaer. And I got to believe that Ferguson is speaking into that because I think he would've been gone about three or four times if it were up to some of those other people.

But he, again, it's culture and it takes time to develop a healthy culture. It's just, it just does. I mean, because, and again, no one could come, it was impossible to come after Ferguson. Yeah. Because you're not Ferguson. Nobody

Rob:[00:48:45] is the next one in was, was it scapegoat personally?

Phil:[00:48:48] Absolutely

Rob:[00:48:49] poor David Moyes and he's proven to be a very good manager.

Phil:[00:48:52] Absolutely. And look what he's doing right now. Yeah. So, all right. So you, you almost took over the interview there and started going into the next question, [00:49:00] but no, no, no, no, no need to apologize. I love it. I love it. It means we're having a good conversation, so what have you read watched you of gave a little preview.

Foreshadowing read, watch or listen to that has informed your thinking on how soccer explains life and leadership. Sure.

Rob:[00:49:14] I would recommend kind of, a book on globalization. You know, that's a big deal in, in culture today, but there's a wonderful book written by a Sociologist is an American, how soccer explains the world.

It's Franklin Foer. Yup. It's, it's a wonderful book. It's it'll really get you thinking. It's not going to explain X's and O's and drills or whatever. It's about the social and kind of cultural understanding of how soccer has been played its part in the globalization of the world.

That's been excellent. A matter of life and death, the history of football in a hundred quotes by Jim white amusing. But also very insightful written from a reporter stroke, a journalist point of [00:50:00] view. Good, good to get the history of it and some really interesting stuff in there. I think a lot of people will have watched this, but I think it's on Netflix, Alex Ferguson on leadership.

It's like a story of, since he finished, obviously it gives you the history of, where he took man United, but there's a good portion of it, of what he's done since is a world-class leader. There's no, there's no doubt about that. I like, and I'm sure you get them on your prime all or nothing.

Have you ever seen those? I have. They're fantastic. My favorite one yet is the Manchester city one, but closely followed by the Sunderland one Now Sunderland is a place in the Northeast. It's it's a poor area, incredible support. the people really get behind the club. It's been a wonderful club in the past and of course that all or nothing covers them as they go down.

And of course, lot of leadership, mistakes, loaded leadership kind of lessons to be learned on the other side. But of course, [00:51:00] Pep Guardiola, outstanding leader. The Manchester city. One's outstanding, but there's a, there's others aren't there. There's Tottenham Mourinho and then Juventus. Yep. No, this very corporate kind of it's embedded in the city, isn't it?

You know of, of Turin so they are good. that's really what I watch and what I listen, but I pick up anything, any kind of biography. I've read Dalglish Kevin Keegan. I've got Gareth Southgate in my library. I'm going to, I got that for Christmas. all sorts. Yeah. I'll have a read of anything.

Phil:[00:51:34] Absolutely. leaders are readers, right? Leaders are learners and it's really something that comes out in just the conversation comes out in, What you're learning and what you're able to share. It goes back to the head hands, heart. And that's, basically what you're talking about here is to read it, to understand it, to then go and apply it and, and then teach it and share with others.

And, and I, I love those all or nothing specials as well, too, because you do see how they're. [00:52:00] Living it out. You do see, you know, they go a bit more into it. I love that Sunderland till I die as believable is I believe what that one's called, how they went into the backstory of the city to a lot more, because that's what we find.

And, you know, you're in England and it's something that I've just known secondhand and learned by reading and by watching stuff and talking to people. But you really, the team's take on the culture of their city as well. You look at leads and it's just a work in man. You know, town and they're and they, they bring in this manager and again, that's another manager.

They didn't sack after they had that, that, you know, drop off at the end of the season premiere league. And, but he's this just guy who's just going to get it done and he's quiet and he's just this quiet leader and the city is kind of that way. And it's the fourth largest city in England, but it's just this quiet city that you don't hear a lot from until.

they come back and they do this amazing story. But that comes from just people staying there to see Calvin Phillips, stay there, to see these other things happen. And, you know, we have another show on that. If you, if you [00:53:00] didn't catch that with with Mark Pease on the Bielsa way is what we called it.

But just talking about the leadership of Marco Bielsa in that city and. He is a Leeds supporter and it was a lot of fun, but it was also getting a lot of insight into that, but learning from these leaders and what's, what's amazing is to now what part of the reason we're doing the show obviously is just these lessons that come out of it.

But to see now, Alex Ferguson, not just writing books, not just talking about this, but he's teaching at Harvard business school for crying out loud. And these it's just, that's amazing to think about that. They would say. They see that connection. They being the, you know, the, even the elite of the elites, the ivory towers of the world, seeing that the lessons we can learn from this game, just go to everything.

They literally permeate into everything. And if we see that we are such a leg up and if we can teach our players that what an amazing thing for them to be able to go in the, after there, you know, at some point [00:54:00] the game of football will be over in your life. you can keep coaching and so on and so forth, but you're going to have marriage.

You're going to have kids. You're going to have things outside the game. And if you don't know how to, I mean, we have this opportunity, again, responsibility as coaches and an opportunity. To teach up and train up our kids that are in our in an, as parents as well. So anyway, with that, any last words as we, as we close up this episode,

Rob:[00:54:23] I think there's a reason why it's called the beautiful game.

there's a reason why, what is it? Two and a half billion people watch the world cup final. We're involved in something way bigger than us. And it's not only a wonderful game to play. It's a great, great life teacher and certainly a great vehicle for leadership. there are other areas, there are some wonderful things that teach us about leadership, but I think For us, this is what the Lord is, has given us.

We understand it deeply. We love it so much. And so the Lord meets us where we are and he says, I'm going to get, I'm going to teach you through this game and I'm going to allow you to teach others [00:55:00] through it. And I think it's a joy that the Lord is using me. I have to say it that way. And so many of us.

Phil:[00:55:07] I agree with that, Rob and I want to thank you. And I'm glad the Lord is leading you and using you that way as well, as well as what you're doing with the Missional Links Wales. Thanks again for taking the time to be a part of this. Thank for sharing your wisdom with us. And again, I look forward to continuing this conversation with you in the future, hopefully soon in the future.

Rob:[00:55:26] God bless you.

Phil:[00:55:28] So folks, thanks again for this download. As I said at the beginning of the show, if you haven't rated and review the show, go ahead and do that very much. Appreciate that it helps us get this out to others. If you haven't joined the Facebook group already, please do so that's, that's where we're really continuing the conversation that we're starting here on the podcast.

So if you haven't done that, go ahead and do that. And there's other opportunities to go deeper with us. Other than that, I just want to thank you for, engaging the conversation. Thank you for being a part of this. And I just hope and pray that you do take what you're learning in this show and you use it to help [00:56:00] you to be a better leader, to be a better parent, a better spouse, a just a better leader in your community.

and ultimately from this show, hopefully you're learning how this beautiful game does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.