Jan. 26, 2023

Are the Xs and Os Really That Important? with Steve Axtell, Cortland University Head Men’s Soccer Coach and Former Collegiate Goalkeeper

Are the Xs and Os Really That Important? with Steve Axtell, Cortland University Head Men’s Soccer Coach and Former Collegiate Goalkeeper

In Episode 111, Steven Axtell, Head Coach of Cortland University Men’s Soccer, former Cortland goalkeeper, husband, and father, talks with Phil and Paul about lessons learned from his playing and coaching career, leadership lessons gleaned from his...

In Episode 111, Steven Axtell, Head Coach of Cortland University Men’s Soccer, former Cortland goalkeeper, husband, and father, talks with Phil and Paul about lessons learned from his playing and coaching career, leadership lessons gleaned from his coaches, his thoughts on playing multiple sports, how he is using lessons from the game in his family, why he doesn’t think superior tactics and strategy are a critical part of a successful program, and how his leadership and culture development at Cortland has helped his players and program to flourish. Specifically, Steve discusses:

  • His personal story, how he developed her passion for soccer, leadership, and coaching and how he got to be where he is today (3:00)
  • His thoughts on the benefits and downside of specialization in one sport (7:20)
  • His personal why and life purpose and how he lives it out each day (13:07)
  • Some defining moments in his playing career and what he learned from them (17:31)
  • Key life and leadership lessons he learned from his soccer coaches over the course of his playing career (21:40)
  • His philosophy on leadership and culture, what he taught about it in his presentation at the USC Convention, and why it is important to us (28:00)
  • The importance of self-leadership, and how he is teaching it to his staff and players (34:21)
  • How to successfully nurture healthy culture over time (39:33)
  • How and why he has his players evaluate each other on character qualities (42:19)
  • How he has used lessons learned from the game in his parenting and marriage (45:55)
  • His book and podcast recommendations (54:31)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil: Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. I'm Phil Darke, your host, and with me as, as usual now. Like now it's not, I don't even need to say as usual anymore cuz it is just now the norm. We got Paul Jobson, my co-host and it's been, it's been a little bit since we, since we've recorded something, but since we've recorded also was at the United Soccer Coaches' Convention.

Unfortunately, Paul, you weren't able to be there, but Paul, how you doing, man? I'm doing

[00:00:26] Paul: well. It's as usual except for at the United Soccer Coaches' Convention, that was not as usual, so that's true. But yeah, no, it's been good, man. I'm, I missed a convention literally missed it physically and just, just missed it.

It was a, it's always a fun time, so I'm jealous of the interactions you got to have with everybody there and the fun people you got to meet. But obvious. My kids took priority and I, I spent the the time at a wrestling tournament. So that was fun too. And we can maybe talk about that another time.

But things are going well here, ramping up. By the time this broadcast is a broadcast or

[00:00:58] Phil: post, it just airs, airs, [00:01:00] releases, whatever we can, you know,

[00:01:02] Paul: when it comes out on cassette tape, by the time it comes down, I cassette tape. Yes. We would've been two and already back from Guatemala, so we're ramping up for that.

We leave tomorrow morning to visit our partners down there. So looking forward to that. And so things are just rolling along, man here in 2023, but I'm enjoying the as usual moments on how soccer explains leadership.

[00:01:20] Phil: Yeah, it's a blast. It's a blast. You know, and I, I'm, I was very bummed that you weren't able to join us, but I was able to say, Hey, you're, you're a man that's true to your word. And you, you retired from coaching so you could be more present with your kiddos and, and being able to do that. I was, I was glad you were able to do that with, with your son. And, and I'm sure he loved it as well. I'm sure. It was great. Great family time. So it was a blast. Blast.

Yeah. We will talk about that some other time. We, we now have my, my new friend, I did meet him at the convention, we got Steve Axtell, you know, he's a coach, he's a father, he's a husband. He does a lot of different things. We're gonna talk about that [00:02:00] today and just to hopefully we'll be able to, you know, learn more about leadership, about how we can incorporate different things into, into our game.

Steve was able to speak at the United Soccer Coach's Convention on Leadership and Culture because he's been able to develop that in his job at Cortland University. So, Steve, how you

[00:02:17] Steven: doing? Great. Thanks for having me.

[00:02:20] Phil: Well, as usual, and I, I keep saying that cuz it is something that we, we do, we do all the time now is, is we get to hear stories and, and it's something that in our stories are so many lessons, you know, and so we just like to start out each show with our guests just sharing their story.

Most people out there don't know who you are. I had the pleasure of, of having a nice conversation with you at the convention, but can you share that story with with our audience? Just, you know, really how you developed your passion for soccer, for coaching, for leadership in your life today.

[00:02:50] Steven: Yeah, certainly. I think that the question's funny all the time when, you know, tell us your story and instantly my brain goes to like, well, which one I've got 20. Yeah. You know, just depending on what context you're in. But [00:03:00] in terms of just passion for soccer, probably a very typical passion for soccer.

I had an older brother that played so at a young age, really looked up to him was chasing him around, you know, physically and mentally, and all the things that happens with, with the sibling dynamic. And so he was a soccer player, he was a goalkeeper. So it turned out to be, I was a soccer player and a goalkeeper probably right around like five, six, started in rec programs and getting involved in, and I did a lot of different sports when I was a kid.

I loved being active. But I never really saw my brother play a lot of different sports. We were 10 years apart, so by the time I really, you know, have memories of him, he was. Probably like picked and choose which ones he really, he really liked. And so I saw him playing soccer all the time. And so that kind of turned into my thing too.

We lived out in the middle of nowhere, so our nearest neighbor was like a mile away, so I didn't have like, neighborhood kids to play with. So part of falling in love with soccer was also just falling in love with the ball, just juggling, kicking it off walls around stumps and trees and things like that.

So, kind of had just this like, it was my [00:04:00] escape, right? Like, so when there was no friends to play with or, you know, if it was kind of a boring time, I would go outside and I could do that and that would get me occupied. So kind of fell in love with it, I guess, in a couple different ways. So that was really my start in the game.

[00:04:13] Phil: Yeah. And then, how'd you get into, just really being super passionate about leadership and training others on leadership?

[00:04:21] Steven: Yeah. It's hard to tell like when those exact moments are, I guess. You know, for a long time I was, I was really just selfish in my development as a player.

I just loved the game and I loved playing. So coaching wasn't really on the front of my mind until probably right around like the start of college when everybody starts asking you those questions, like, what do you wanna do for the rest of your life? But so I had probably a couple different pathways to falling in love with coaching.

So one, just from a, a parent standpoint my mother was a teacher, second grade teacher, so I kind of grew up in that teaching environment. You know, hearing the stories about her classes and what's going well and what's frustrating her and all of that type of stuff. I mean, even when you're not [00:05:00] listening, you're listening, right?

Like as a kid, your parents. And so definitely that was like a start of the, perhaps like a teaching path, you know, whether it was inuk or whatever that would be. So I actually started my freshman year in college in childhood ed. So that was going to be my path and just gonna kind of follow those footsteps.

I was kinda had an knack for, for younger kids. And like we were in a small town and so it was natural that all the younger kids kind of idolized the older kids, you know, certainly in sports and look up to 'em. So, I had coached at a lot of camps, helped at a lot of the, like the rec programs and things back or, or things and, and tried to give back so, you know, teaching was kind of natural and that was gonna be my path.

My father was in the military and so we, we had a very kind of strict and regimented and routine household which was also that kind of yin to the yang of my mother. And so those things, you know, I, it, I didn't have a soft approach, I would say, to teaching and all that, which is why I love the game.

and then finally [00:06:00] that third piece was probably this, a really strong mentor of mine that I remember the day that I learned you could coach full-time, like that could be a job. And instantly like my head exploded and it was like I opened world and that kind of really fit who I was, you know, that like drive to be competitive and drive to do what I wanted to do in the game.

And then now I kind of had this almost like sense of relief that, okay, when that's done, I can stay in the game and I can have all of these different things and I can be a teacher like I wanted to be. So, I would say those three things really is like, that was at the crux of coming up with that coaching passion.

[00:06:35] Phil: Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and one thing I I want to go back to real quick, and I, you know, this is becoming an as usual question as well, but you talked about playing multiple sports and you know, that's something that today is becoming less and less common. It used to be most people did it, almost everybody, you know, when we were kids.

What do you think is missing from the kids' lives now today? Both developing as, as [00:07:00]athletes, but also just in, in life, in, in, in, in their development as humans from not playing multiple sports and just kind of specializing so early.

[00:07:10] Steven: Yeah, I think I'm kind of right in the middle because I, I do think there's benefits.

to, you know, like if you look at international kids that aren't playing, you know, I mean the really top end ones turn out just fine. Maybe not well-rounded cause I don't know 'em personally, but you know, what we see from the outside looking in from a soccer side of things turns out fine. And, and I don't know about injury rates in other countries and things like that, so I don't wanna like totally just paint this really broad stroke over it.

But in our country, I do think the coaching that kids get at a really young age you know, I think our best coaches in this country go to the highest levels and work with the oldest players and that's kind of like a trend. Whereas perhaps in other countries you, they put best coaches with young ages that are still developing and maybe teaching 'em more movement patterns and things like that.

So there's a lot at play here, but [00:08:00] certainly, you know, you become more well-rounded. You know, hand-eye develops with foot eye and all of your coordination and, and movement patterns, so, kids miss that. You know, if you're only gonna do one thing, you probably get pretty good at one thing. But, you know, that's got a pretty distinct set of boundaries on it.

I think. It doesn't give kids the opportunity to fail in something else. And so, you know, if you're a soccer kid that ends up soccer as your sport and you turn out quite good at it, you've probably always been quite good at it. And, you know, that social dynamic on a team, you've always been towards the top of the team and so on.

And, and just so you know, that, that's pretty linear, you know, like that experience is probably the same, you know, if you're the, the top player on a team that probably looks and feels really similar all across the country, right? Just from a social standpoint. So if you put yourself in a, in a position where you're in sports that you're maybe not as good at, or you're middle of the roster or maybe even your bottom of the roster, you know, you're a sub, you have to come [00:09:00] off the bench.

I just think those lessons are great. It, it rounds out your perspective of what athletics is and so, you know, when you go to your team and you are the top kid now, you know how maybe the bottom of the roster feels and you're a little bit better leader and you treat 'em a little bit different and you have different connections there cuz, you know, kind of build your empathy right towards like the entire group of kids that you're, you're on a team.

So I definitely think we miss that. I mean, right now, you know, we're working on that with our oldest daughter, she's 13. You know, I think if you asked her, she would say she's a soccer kid, but right now she's playing volleyball and you know, all that comes with that. You know, she's learning it and there's been kids that have been playing it far longer than her.

And, you know, just that struggle of her being a sub, you know, her not starting and just kind of working through the mental stuff with her right now. It's difficult in the moment for her, but my god, I mean, we're thankful that that's happening because when she is 16, 17, 18, you know, goes off to college is in the real world.

Having that experience and empathy for kind [00:10:00] of understanding roster dynamics. It's just gonna serve her well. So I think we're missing that, you know, certainly just the dynamic of being good or not as good and having to work harder at certain things. In terms of just, you know, exact injury rates and all that.

I don't know you know, I don't know exactly how well we can like pinpoint, you know, which sports we should play and shouldn't play and, and how to exactly do it. But there's also just a, a sense of like play that I think we're missing, you know? And so some of it, you know, we just talk about kids having the opportunity to play multiple sports.

I don't know. I feel like when we grew up, you know, I was playing basketball and my friend's driveway and then we were playing roller hockey and then we were throwing a football around. And so I think just the sense of play you know, uninhibited, unstructured play, I think kids are missing too because, you know, we tend to just kind of fill their evenings with structured things and, you know, weekends are.

On the road, travel has gotten more, you know, so these, the club teams, you know, you're traveling two hours for [00:11:00] a game now, which I don't know, when I was growing up it was 20 minutes, you know, and so there's pros and cons, but I, I think we're missing the social piece, the empathy piece of just kind of understanding your teammates more, putting yourself in positions to fail, and then just that sense of play.

[00:11:17] Phil: Yeah. There's so much there. We could go for days and days, but we don't have that. So yeah, it could be a whole topic. .

[00:11:21] Steven: Yeah, there's a whole, there's a whole there's a whole

[00:11:23] Paul: show on that, but Steve, not to, not to just rush by it. I mean, I, I agree with you. I mean that just the idea of just getting out and playing, you know, something we deal with, with, with our own children is, Hey, I don't need to s script your day when it comes to your activities.

Just go, go figure something out. You know? There's plenty of stuff to do. Figure it out. You know, and I think to your point of team dynamic, . I also think that, you know, you've got your top 1%, that they're the best and they're always gonna be the best and they're gonna play as long as they can play. And, but the reality is, for the other 99% of us at some point, we're not the best.

As you continue to go up and, I mean, you see it, you, you coach college, there's the kid that's always been the [00:12:00] best, and they show up on your team and all of a sudden they might be the middle of the pack. If they haven't experienced that, maybe in another sport, they have no idea how to handle that. So your point is, I think right on with that.

If sometimes the other sports playing some things maybe they're not as good at, they understand those team dynamics. Not, not only for empathy for players on their team. When you're the best, now you understand, but at some point, maybe you're not the best and, and you're like, oh man, okay. I've sat the bench before.

It was sixth grade basketball. I remember what this is like, you know, so I think those are some important details that come with the, the multi-sport stuff. But you know, I, I love, I love hearing our guest stories. Everyone's so unique. It's so different. I love, at some point it would pile all everybody's stories and put together into the year, Phil, of like just the, the, the lead in stories of everybody and what, you know, how everybody got to where they're going.

But you know, there's always the path of like how we get where we are. And as you kind of define who you are as a coach, always also, also like to hear like, what is your why? Like what is your personal why in life and your purpose, and how are you living that

[00:12:57] Steven: out now? [00:13:00] Yeah, great question. So I probably have two distinct whys, and I think sometimes we all try and like make up whys.

Just really like gorgeous, you know, when we talk about 'em and, and well, we like

[00:13:15] Paul: gorgeous whys, Steve, gorgeous whys are great, but the real ones are, are better. So if you've got

[00:13:19] Steven: two really good ones, so some new ones is, you know, I, I, I do have an ego. I've unders, I've tried to understand my ego more as I get older.

You know, I had that like competitive drive when I was a player that would really boil over at times. And so that's part of maturing is just kind. really digging in and unpacking who you are and, and how to deal with that, you know, what you personally need to meditate on and things like that. So I would say that's evolved into just really striving towards excellence in everything, like being ultra-competitive.

You know, in my program here at Cortland, you know, we talk about winning everything, like absolutely everything. And it's not just games, but it's [00:14:00] moments, it's interactions, it's relationships, it's in the classroom. And, you know, I'm trying to get our guys to kind of assign like a one or a zero to all these small moments throughout the day, you know?

Did you, and as far as like, did you walk past a piece of trash, know that you should pick it up and didn't? Right. That's a zero. That's a loss. So I've, I've been able to like, kind of be pretty concrete in turning my competitive drive into everything in life. and understanding that that competitive drive doesn't have to have an intensity about it all the time, but it has to be really intentional.

 You have to be present, you know, like, so if you're gonna walk by that piece of trash, for instance, for example, you can't be on your phone, right? Because now you're not even seeing it. You know, and so I think I, I've just been able to really kind of bring everything a little bit more towards that nucleus of winning and competitive, but also that doesn't have to mean intense.

It [00:15:00] doesn't have to, you know, mean some of those harsher words. It can be empathy, right? It can be, you know, did some, did a kid come into my office with a problem and did I listen well enough, right? Instead of just wanting to give 'em the answers. So, you know, and then, and then when they leave, like really self-examining and say, you know what?

I, I probably needed to listen more there. You know, maybe that's a loss. So that's probably one, just striving for excellence, striving to win, kind of all the small moments in my day. And then two, I would just say like that impact, giving that to our players. You know, cuz I know when I was their age there's a lot of things that I do that, that didn't really map towards all of my aspirations, right?

Everything was, was really scattered and it was kind of away from the core. You know, some of the things and some things did map, but trying to get them to figure out that life is just so interconnected, right? And like, your success on the field is really driven by what you do off the field and how mentally clear you are and how clear your conscious is and, you know, [00:16:00] and all these different pieces are actually, you know, part of that recipe for performance.

So I'd say that that's definitely another one. It's just like giving that, you know, and trying to impact players that are in these, you know, moments of life, life altering kind of paths and decisions, big decisions that they need to make. Just kind of like putting that positive impact on them. Essentially trying to show them what I've learned 15 years earlier.

Right. And, and maybe saving some kids or helping them connect the dots. So,

[00:16:29] Phil: yeah, you know, we, we, we love, we always love asking that, you know, just to hear what, what makes people tick and how you're kind of. What's driving you, you know, and that, that helps us. I think it colors a lot of the rest of the conversations, and it also helps people understand why you do certain things too.

So hopefully your players understand that, know that that's what, that's what's driving you, and that's, that then helps them understand you better, you know? And, you know, those who know me know that I'm all about trying to understand myself better so that I can understand others [00:17:00] better and we can communicate better.

And, and that, that helps everybody. But one of the other things we want to wanna chat about a little bit is what, what was a defining moment, like just one of the, one of the key defining moments in your soccer career, and why was it so impactful? What did you learn from it? And, and again, how are you using that today as you, as you coach?

[00:17:21] Steven: Yeah. So from a coaching lens, certainly, there's probably two really big ones. One of 'em is, I think I was a U 16, U 17 player. and had gotten kind of more and more opportunities with the regional team, which, you know, back then there wasn't the MLS Academy. So this was like a big opportunity for me.

And this was, you know, something I was striving for and all that. And I, and I actually climbed high enough where I met a coach. You and you get to be around different coaches, right? And so that's one of the benefits too. But, so I met a coach that like just chewed me up and spit me out mentally. Player wise, I think I fit mentally.

I, it was a [00:18:00] disaster. Like, I, I couldn't survive in that environment, so it ended up not working out. And so I think that was kind of the moment that I knew I wasn't gonna be a pro and there was like a harshness to the game at upper levels because that's the only upper level I had seen. and it came with just this nasty bite to it from a coaching side.

So I equated those two things. And so that was kind of like the moment where I'm kinda like, okay, maybe I'm not mentally built for climbing to the very top, you know, regardless of what my physicality is gonna do. And so with that came, you know, lack of confidence and kind of questioning a lot of things.

But, so then I carried that moment into, you know, coaching, that coaching lesson is like, you know, you have to coach the individual, you know, not who you are. You have to coach how they're gonna receive it, right? And so, part of that is I always question, you know, what would've happened at upper levels Had I met a coach that was maybe just fit me better?

And so [00:19:00] then I kind of started really studying coaching when I got into, into the field and understood, there's a lot of different coaches and there's like really empathetic coaches at the top level, right? Like the top level didn't need to come with a harshness, right? Like those two things weren't tied together or married together.

So, that was pretty neat. Just that whole process of, you know, what I thought it was as a 16, 17 year old, what I learned that it could be, and it didn't have to be that. And then just kind of how I was gonna use that to coach on a very individual communicate really individually. And we can get in later, but and just like personality testing our players.

Like we do a lot of these just kind of like, you know, you had talked about Phil, like understanding yourself to then understand your environment better. I mean, we just pour over that type of stuff with our college guys. So that's probably one. Number two is, let's see, probably June, I think it was junior year of, of college.

I had knee reconstruction. I did a C L M C L, PCL kind, the whole thing. I mean, it was just a mess. So, you know, that was a, an entire year off, so I was on the [00:20:00] sideline. The coach at the time, you know, I was fortunate that I was part of a program that, you know, he wanted me around as much as possible, probably for the mental side of things.

So I went through the rehab, but I was also on the sideline all the time helping, you know, set cones, pick up cones and, you know, asking questions to the staff and just seeing the game through a different lens. But then when I was done, I got to go reuse those lessons as a player, which was pretty neat.

So it was almost like an atypical path of, I went from playing to coaching, quote unquote you could call it back to playing again. So that was really neat. That was a, an opportunity for, you know, taking what you're gonna learn through a different lens, but then you get to apply it again. So those are probably two really big moments in my coaching journey.


[00:20:44] Paul: kinda stay, let's stay in that vein of, you know, you're talking through some of the different coaches that were, were influences on you. Is there, is there one in particular and you, you mentioned, you know, the impact that maybe, I don't wanna say a, a bad coach, but, but one that was a little bit more brutal to [00:21:00] you and another one maybe that, well, a little bit more empathy to you.

Is there, is there one coach though, in your entire career, in any part of your career that really stands out as being what you consider to be your best coach and, and what set that coach apart from the rest? And, and what lessons have you brought into your own coaching? You know, I know I was coached by a lot of different people.

I had some bad coaches and I brought some great things into my coaching personality from them. And I had some great coaches that I wanted to get as much as I could from them as well. But I know I've got one that stands out for me. What, what about yourself?

[00:21:30] Steven: I think I've got a bunch for different facets, for different reasons.

You know, I, I have a mentor that got me into coaching. And, you know, he was one that really, like, that's who I needed at 18. Mm-hmm. , I was working summer camps and, you know, just to take it more serious and, you know, the level of care that you have to bring to the job, even though it's a really underpaid summer camp position.

You know, just that importance of like, working with children, right? Like, so that was one, you know, and just like his [00:22:00] attention to detail, you know, his mantra all the time was, you know, it's all about the kids. I, I just, I've probably heard that out of his mouth 10,000 times, you know? Not kidding. So that was one, just like the, the, like the how devoted you have to be to trying to be great for children, right?

Like, so that was one, he, he had that to a t my two goalkeeper coaches when I was a young kid, like when I started in 12, 12 years old. Just like the, their inspiration to like want more so like, helping me like really fall in love with the game. You know, not just loving it, but like this is now an identity and I want to go after that.

And so, you know, those two for that. My college coach he was just, he was a great person, right? So like if there was a human that you wanted to look up to this, that was him. Right? And so, yeah, I would say there's probably three or four like just amazing coaches that I can pull facets of them and say, yeah, tho those were [00:23:00] big time lessons to be learned.

Yeah. What's interesting is

[00:23:03] Paul: we, we asked that question quite a bit and I think I always come back to the fact that hardly Everett, does anybody reference the coach that taught them the most about the X's and O's as their biggest influence, even in coaching, when our job, you would think is, hey, know the game really, really well be able to disseminate that information to younger players so that they can be excellent in the craft.

That's never usually what a coach says about their greatest influence as a, as a young player or a coach. It's usually those personal things that make them fall in love with the game, make them fall in love with what it means to be a great mentor. Because I think in some realm, we're starting to lose the idea that coaching is about mentoring and it's just about coaching, and it's like, here's the x, here's the yo possess the ball, blah, blah, blah.

No, it's, it's, it's the kids come first. Right. And I, I, I love your perspective. I love the, the nuggets that we pull from all of our coaches, but I want the listeners to maybe rewind that and go back and listen again to the things that influenced you the most of [00:24:00] great coaches that are making you into a great coach.

Right. We just take bits and pieces from the good and bad of our experiences and not once did you say, this person just really taught me the X's and O's of the game. And that's why I, you know, I, I want to be a great coach and I think that's just a great perspective to, to kinda look at a little bit. I don't, you've got more to add

[00:24:17] Steven: to that.

I'd love to hear. No, for sure. I think you're totally right and I actually, like, if someone were to ask me what my weakness is as a coach, it's Xs and Os. Like it's the tactic. , I don't value it as much. To be fair you know, I can't tell you the last time I went and like sought that out from a mentor. Because on my list of priorities as a coach in my role here, even though we are highly competitive and we're winning all the time, I don't attribute the X's and o's and the whiteboard stuff to winning at all.

Mm-hmm. , like, I don't think it really matters. I think at the end of the day it's like, A pretty pragmatic approach to like, there's 11 of us and 11 of them, and we have to figure out together how we're gonna go do it. So like we don't have a formation here, we don't have like a style. We have just, you know, figure each game out as it comes together.

Figure each other [00:25:00] out, you know, like more, I guess like an environment coach rather than an X As and o's coach for sure. But I would also echo that I truly believe that you can find the negative in everyone, right? Or things that aren't working in their environment. And so, you know, I've got like three or four, like really big time facets that I look up to that I think were great, like positive influences, but I don't, I also don't have this belief that myself or anyone is perfect, right?

Like, no one is the exact replica of what you should try to do. And I think, you know, too often we think we're a finished product or, you know, the players want to emulate everything that you do, right? They're either like so enthralled with it, but you're kinda like, you have to figure out you first and then the pieces that you need to try and emulate, and then maybe the pieces that you already have.

So, yeah, I, I think coaching is a lot of like figuring yourself out, you know, from a, a grand scope and then taking small [00:26:00] pieces, right? Like instead of a broad stroke of that's exactly who I want to be and I'm gonna emulate everything that they do. Take the pieces that you need and then leave the pieces that you don't, and then you end up being more of yourself, I think, at the end of that process.

Yeah, I

[00:26:15] Paul: to totally agree with that. .

[00:26:17] Phil: Yeah. And I, I do as well. I mean, it's why we're doing this show, right? Is this idea of, you know, most of the training coaches get is the vast, vast majority, not even close is X's and O's. It's the practice plans. It's, you know, the, the field sessions, it's how to do this and where to put the cones and how to do the whatever things.

And, and, you know, obviously that's, that's necessary. But I'm, I'm with you where, you know, I go out to a practice and I'm thinking, how can I get the most out of these, these. Girls in my, you know, my case with the, the high school girls that I'm coaching and, and the people side is, is everything to, to me, and I, I think they perform better.

They know that, you know, at, at certain level, at the [00:27:00] levels that we're talking about, most of these kids are where they're gonna be as, as not where, I mean, they all obviously improve, but they're, they've, they've heard all this stuff, right? They know it. Are they doing it on their own? All those, that's gonna be driven by a lot of other things that, that go outside of the Xs and Os.

But with that, you know, you, you the United Soccer Coaches Convention, we mentioned this earlier, you had a talk that you kind of brought all of this together that we're talking about, and you put together a talk on leadership and culture. And you, I think you did a couple talks there, but one was on, on leadership and culture.

 can you just briefly share, obviously we don't have an hour right now for you to go through the whole presentation and do everything, but can you briefly share on what, what you talked about and then we just kind of, kind of go through it a little bit. Why is it important, what you talked about?

Why is it important for coaches and teams to, to understand it?

[00:27:50] Steven: Yeah, certainly. So I'll give you the quick spark notes of it. You know, essentially we wanna use our culture to help give a really kind of foundation for [00:28:00] our mindset, which is how we perceive the world. And, you know, you take your mindset and then you know, something happens and then you decide what that means to you.

And then you move back to your mindset in terms of, okay, now there's gonna be another action. And that process keeps going. But I, I think, and we've got a graphic here with my team, that culture also affects mindset. So it's not just presenting situation and what you feel about it, but there's just an underlying the stories that you tell yourself about yourself, right?

Like essentially is culture. So, that's why we want to use culture to get on, on a pretty ground floor foundational mindset page with everybody and just, you know, what does life mean and what's it gonna mean to us? And together we want to use culture to be high performing. So part of high performing is you know, for us, we're, our, our big pillars are kind of communication and interaction roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

And then I would just say kind of like, who you are when you're not in the group matters to us a lot too. And that, that's part of our [00:29:00] culture is not just who you are as a, you know, Cortland soccer player, but Everything that you do throughout the day, right? Those little wins and losses in the small moments are gonna add up to really like who we are and how we're perceived, which is then gonna change the story we tell ourselves.

So we want to try and cement all of those two. The ways that we do it, so the roles, responsibilities, and, and leadership development is we've got kind of four different focuses for each of our classes. So when freshmen come in, it's all about leading yourself. You don't need to worry about leading any other person.

You just have to lead yourself. You gotta make hard decisions throughout the day, et cetera. We break all of our lives into athletic, academic, and social here at the college, and we can kind of fit all the different decisions into one of those three pillars. We've got expectations for all those three pillars.

Sophomore year is all about leading individuals. And so now it is your responsibility to help another person on a one-on-one basis. You know, some of that is proactive. You know, and just in terms of, of what you're trying to give, some of it's reactive in terms of picking up on red flags and [00:30:00] you know, maintaining our expectations one-on-one.

Junior year, it's leading groups. So we give 'em kind of real world chances to lead smaller, bigger groups within the team. So, for instance, like an example of that would be a junior each month will be the director of community service on our team. And so we'll meet with them before, just, you know, what are your goals?

What are your aspirations? You know, what's important to you? How do you define impact? You know, what do you want to do in the community? Then they go do it for a month. We don't make any phone calls. We are totally hands off. You know, you're free to fail if you want. And then we meet at the end and just say, what went well?

What didn't, you know, what would you change? And then we meet with those two players together, you know, the, the one that just did it and then the next one to say, Hey, do you have any advice? What would you do different? How would you help this person in that role? then senior year is leading the team and it's really just kinda like managing our whole pyramid.

You know, helping guys with character development and just, you know, being humble and we call it like foster future leaders, you know, like wanting the young kids to be great. [00:31:00] So we have kind of like this saying in our program that like you just heard like you're free to fail. You know, like there is no safety net below you.

Because I think that goes into accountability and that's a good thing. But we certainly, there's a lot of hands above you, you know, if you wanna reach up and strive with your life, we want to have a lot of older guys with, you know, hands reaching down, ready to pull you towards better. And those are our seniors.

So that's our leadership development. Then we get into that interaction communication. We do personality testing. We do three different ones. Myers Briggs, true Colors in the Big Five. I would say the majority of pre-season when we're not on the field is done with the personality testing and just kind of who's who and learning about each other.

I mean, that is like 90% of what we're doing off the field for about a week and a half. And then the last one is our, our character development sheet. So we've got 19 character traits that about seven years ago the team came up with, with the staff to say, this is what's important to us. Here's what we want to critique each other on.

And essentially it's this rubric where you go and you critique [00:32:00] all your teammates. You give 'em a one or a zero, whether they have that trait or. . And we do that four times a year. So each kid, by the time they're done with us, will have 16 of those peer assessments and character traits. The expectation is that your numbers continue to get better, not worse.

We've actually cut kids that continue to get worse, which just for us means you're not buying in, right? Like, you're not trying to give those positive character traits to your teammates. And so those were kind of like the three pillars of the presentation, leadership interaction, communication, and then that character development, and then kind of how do we just tie it all together here?

So, yeah, that, that was the, those are the. Not short, but mid-range Spark notes for you, .

[00:32:36] Phil: Yeah. that was, that was great. I loved, I love how you do that now I had the, I had the benefit of being able to go through your presentation and, you know, and, and see it. And, and there's a lot of visuals. I mean, you see the pyramid and just that idea of, of you know, the different levels of leadership and, and those are all the things, you know, you've heard if you've, if you listen to this show, you hear about, as we talk about whether it's coaching the bigger game program and leading [00:33:00] yourself, leading the individual, leading the team those are all critical.

And can you speak to that a little bit more as far as. The fact that, you know, I always talk to people about you can't, you know, if you are as a coach, you know, from the coaching perspective, but also from the player perspective. But let's say from the coach perspective, we have a lot of coaches listening.

We also have a lot of leaders of, of organizations listening. And what I talk about is if you as a coach are toxic, then your team will be toxic. If you as the cu, if the individual, you know, if one, especially one that's very influential, it goes to you cutting players who are continually getting worse. If one is toxic, then the team will very likely be toxic and, and then obviously so, but, but we tend to start with the culture of the team, right?

Like we as a team, that's usually where we go to when we say we want to teach culture. First of all, do you agree with that? Secondly, how are you pouring into the individual as you're talking about the freshmen or [00:34:00] others too? You know, I can imagine it doesn't just stop as a freshman, but how are you teaching that self-leadership, which I think is so often neglected in our, in our coaching?

[00:34:11] Steven: Yeah, certainly. So a lot to unpack there. I think there's like a, a hierarchy of leadership within a group. Not that you have a lesser role, but you have a different role and it's very sequential. They're almost like pre-reqs. So if you can't lead yourself, right, how are you then going to influence one other person in the right direction?

Doesn't mean you're not gonna have influence, right? I mean, you get some mavericks on the team that just have natural in influence for sure. But if we're not catching them in terms of the direction that they're going, And now they're leading actually in the wrong way. And so then your culture just kind of self implodes.

And I think there's a guy Jordan Peterson, you know, has a podcast in, in psychology type of stuff. And, and I like, one of the things that I like from him is just that like, you know, clean your room, you know, and like, how are you gonna affect change in the world if you can't keep your room clean type of thing, you know?

And, and it, [00:35:00] not that my room is spotless all the time, but just talk about just that, you know, take care of yourself first, right? Figure yourself out before you, then just try and branch out and don't get ahead of yourself. So that's kind of like at the crux of, you know, just that hierarchy of leadership.

But we tell 'em like, you're all leaders right? On our team, and we want you to feel like you're leading. We want you to feel like you're having an impact as a freshman. You have to have an impact on yourself, right? Sophomores, you have to impact on one person. So, I think it also doesn't make leading the team this daunting task when you get there, right? Of like, oh my God, I've done nothing and now I'm being asked to do everything. So it's really sequential in the amount of responsibility that you have towards the group, right? You start with, you know, pretty much none. You start with yourself. You get a little bit, now we gotta give you some opportunities to lead a little bit larger groups and what works and what doesn't work.

And then that doesn't seem like a daunting task. And I actually created that in 2012 when I took over I was really young and so I'd have a lot of talks with [00:36:00] coaches of, you know, how do you run your program? And, and you know, just trying to soak all that up. And once in a while I'd hear coaches, you know, I just don't have great senior leadership this year.

I don't have great captains this year. It never made sense to me cuz. Devil's advocate brain always went to like, well, you've had 'em for three years, why not? Like, you know, what have you not done? And so I wanted to make sure that I was never in that position, you know, because if that's the way that my mind is gonna work, then let's create a system where we, I don't ever have to say that.

Right? Like, I'm proud of all of our seniors, no matter, you know, if they get there, man. I mean, that's a, that's an achievement in and of itself. So, yeah, I, and I forget, remind me the, there was a part two to this, but that's, I think the sequential hierarchy of it and why it works.

[00:36:38] Phil: Part two of the question,

[00:36:39] Steven: you mean?

Yeah, there was a two part, and I forget what it was.

[00:36:42] Phil: It was basically, you know, why it's important for the players self-leadership and then just the toxicity of teams that happens if we're not able to lead ourselves.

And then, but then the [00:37:00] teams tend to start with the, the culture, team culture, and they ignore that individual leadership side.

[00:37:06] Steven: Yeah, yeah, certainly. Yeah. So that, I think that just goes to like, you know, you're gonna end up with kids that are leading in the wrong direction. If you just start with the big picture, you know, it's why when I took over, I actually had to cut like four or five players that were teammates of mine, friends of mine, because they just, they weren't what the team needed.

And you know, if I just bowed down to kind of, well, we'll just let them kind of graduate through the program, well then I would've had 18 year old eyes on them thinking, okay, this is how things go here and this is the right answer. And then four years later they would've been the seniors doing the same thing.

So, yeah. You know, I think that's why turning a program around is, is a hard thing to do, you know, I think you've gotta let go of the ones that are intentionally pulling the rope in different directions. You know? I mean, I think, you know, when we took over, when I took over here, it was like, you know, look, you're welcome to stay.

We would love to have you stay, but here's the rope, here's the direction your hand is on it, [00:38:00]and you're pulling, and you know, there's not gonna be a moment when your hand is off this rope pulling in a different direction. You know, this is where we want to go, and this is what we're gonna do. If your hand comes off the rope, you know, see you later, rope's still moving, you know, we'll leave you behind.

So, I think that accountability piece towards your culture and that intentionality, it's not, it's never a finished product. I mean, you're just always working on it. You're always trying to make it better just to maintain it, you know? Because if you turn your eyes for a second, it's a, it's a whole different world.

You know, if you're all, if you're not expecting, if you're not inspecting and holding kids accountable for your expectations, you know, it'll go, it'll go sideways pretty quick. Yeah.

[00:38:43] Phil: You know, and I, and I, I, I remember about 109 episodes ago, there was a guy that looks a lot like Paul Jobson that I interviewed about culture.

And I remember Paul said in that interview that he basically [00:39:00] created the culture so that as it goes and goes, and goes and grows and, and they become, it becomes part of just who they are, that it becomes self-enforcing as well. That the players are the ones who are enforcing it, not, you know, the coaches can just not just sit back and do nothing but can just be there to, you know, make sure that nothing goes sideways.

But for the most part, the players are doing it. Is Have you found that as well?

[00:39:23] Steven: Yeah. That is tough though, because, you know, I think as the world changes for them, you know, they're on their phones more, which means they're communicating but not connecting as much. You know, the. They're not really not good at hard conversations face-to-face.

Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , you know, things that need to be said that they don't want to, cuz their fear, it's gonna ruin a relationship or, you know, just whatever that face-to-face interaction is gonna be. So yes, it's definitely able to be a sustaining model, but you have to make sure that you're continuing to keep up with your kids about the actions and daily habits that allow it to be continual.

[00:40:00] Right? Yeah. And so, yep. Not changing our expectations, not, you know, it's, it's never an overhaul, but it's, you know, hey, here's the daily habits that are gonna help us maintain it, you know, and it is calling out a teammate when they're not living up to what, you know, we stand for and things like that is, and that's face-to-face.

It's not via text message, it's not behind their back, you know, I mean, that's more damaging, but Right. You know, being that, that front facing, you know, Hey, I care about you so much that I'm gonna tell you you're not doing well. Right. And this isn't good enough. That's a level of care. But they don't get that.

They don't understand that until someone's driving that point home for four years straight. So yes, it definitely can be self-sustaining. We found that, that it's easier in the past maybe four years now that I'm 10, 11 years in. But it's definitely something that we have to keep, you know, hammering those harder habits, you know, and, and not letting them just be comfortable in how they want to interact with each other.

Right. Yeah.

[00:40:54] Paul: Well, Steve, you even hit it on the head when you said inspecting, right? Mm-hmm. , I mean, I think as you're, as [00:41:00] you're changing a culture, I mean there's things that you'll do or not do based on the culture that you're trying to set, and it's, as you've said it, and it kind of is self-propelling a little bit, you have to inspect, cuz as culture changes and as personalities within a team change. The dynamics change constantly. I mean, you're always players in, players out, so things are constantly changing. So I, I agree with the inspection piece. We always said, you know, we wanna get to the point where we just have, we've got guardrails and we're there to make sure that kids stay on that road.

They've got a road ahead of them. We've, we've, it's paved, it's ready to go, but we've gotta keep those guardrails up and make sure that we're, you use the word inspecting. I kind of think that's the same. Like, Hey, we gotta keep our, our, our finger on it to make sure that we're not losing sight. And one thing you mentioned earlier, you said with the, the points that you put together with your team, it was six or seven years ago, you guys came up with things that were important to your, your culture and to your team.

Over those six, seven years, have any of those things changed as as, as cultures have changed, so to speak? Or have you had to put more heavier emphasis on certain things? As you know, phones [00:42:00] have become more, more prominent as, you know, people not interacting face-to-face as much. How has that piece of that changed for you?

[00:42:09] Steven: The words that we use have not changed. And I haven't had any, any reason to change 'em. I think those have been consistent and pretty rock solid. And they're, they're not all in one category. There's a lot of different words there. So, yeah. And just like characteristics. I've seen it. I like,

[00:42:23] Paul: I like the list by the way.

I've seen it. It's good. It's good.

[00:42:26] Steven: Yeah. It's a variety of words. But what happens is each year in each different group, they'll ha, so when we rank order the kids, we also rank order the character traits, right? And so what's our team's worst character trait? What's our best character trait, right? So we can do that with the spreadsheet too.

You know, our best and worst character traits as a team, those change. Mm-hmm. certainly, you know, and then that gives us a really good idea, an inside look from a staff perspective of maybe things that we need to work a little bit harder on to try and like, help them, you know, give them tools, you know, like in the last couple of years since Covid actually like the [00:43:00] confidence level, interesting enough, has gone through the roof of like, they're just not good at confidence, right? And tho that's like self-inflicted, you know, they're, they're talking about that they're, you know, identifying teammates that are not confident. So that's our, been our team's highest character trait flaw for the last two years, which is interesting to note.

I don't have enough data and time to exactly pinpoint a why that is, but it is. And so it's a great little inside look from a staff. They're like, okay, well if that's our weakest trait, let's help 'em with that. You know, let's teach 'em more about confidence. Let's teach 'em how you get confidence, right?

And, and some of don't even know what it is. Some of them think it's this outward projection of yourself, you know? Hmm. You know, and so teaching 'em, you know, maybe you just need more repetition. Maybe you need more time spent, you know, maybe you think you should be confident, right, in this environment, when reality, you're just learning and it's part of the process. You know, maybe you're having some down days and you think that now your confidence is hit, maybe that's [00:44:00] normal. Right? Right. Maybe it's just all part of the process. Maybe you could just give yourself a little bit more grace and not act as if you're not confident.

Right. Because maybe those two things aren't linked. So anyways, yeah, I, it gives us a good look into who our team is and what we need to adjust. But the words themselves, no, those are pretty rock, rock steady. Yeah. That's good. And

[00:44:18] Paul: I think sometimes over time, you kinda mentioned a little bit, people as they're coming through, their definition of those words might change slightly.

And you're probably having to redefine what those things are. And we talked a lot about, with our group that your confidence is a tough thing to sometimes determine, right? I mean, kind as you were kind of mentioning. And we just say, you know, sometimes you just need to be determined, you know, and build kinda you said repetition of things and whatnot.

But I love, I love those insights. I, I would, I would encourage folks to, to get in and reach out to you to, to learn more about those things. I know as a. as a former coach. Those were things that were just classical great nuggets to have and learn from. And then even you said there's so many different things out there, like we were saying about mentors and coaches.

You wanna pull as much as you can from different people, figure out what [00:45:00] fits best into the culture you're trying to build and, and, and establish for sure. And you know, as we kind of, we're kind of getting to the end, I all these conversations can, going for hours and hours and hours. And Phil, I think every time we're like, man, let's do a part two and a part three with different guests.

Steve is one to maybe get on the list again for sure, to dive deeper. But as we kind of wrap up, Steve, and, and kind of go into the, the, the bottom of this we ask very similar questions, but as, as you've gone through through life and through soccer and through coaching what are the lessons that you've learned directly?

And we talk about family. , what are the lessons you've l learned through the sport that you put directly into, like your family, your marriage, raising kids? You mentioned you have a, at least a 13 year old daughter, maybe a couple other kids. How do the li the life lessons of, of soccer fit into your, your family life?

[00:45:45] Steven: Yeah, certainly. Uh, Two others, they're five and 10 three daughters. So, and my, and interesting enough, my wife is the women's soccer coach here at our school, so we actually have two coaches that are parenting together, which is interesting. And I'd say and try being on the, try being on

[00:45:58] Paul: the exact same staff for for a [00:46:00] number of

[00:46:00] Steven: years, that's what we did.

But that's, I love, I love, I love the, I love

[00:46:03] Paul: the family dynamic. That's

[00:46:04] Steven: awesome. Yeah. What's interesting, so, you know, we're, we're so wrapped up in it that it's hard to compartmentalize the difference between life and soccer, right? I just think it's just life is life and this is what we do, and so our kids can't get away from it.

Right? We can't get away from it. And so it's all kind of interconnected. I've become, I'm, I'm, the mentor that I had when I was working at a summer camp really helped me understand the importance of small moments with children, right? And like how easily you can break mindsets and confidence in their own self identities, right?

And, and how quickly you can change those and be inspirational. So, trying to be intentional in, you know, building confidence in our girls and our daughters. You know, giving them words that, you know, don't have to do with talent, but with hardworking and self-confidence and a lot of that type of stuff.

So that way they have growth mindsets and like, you know, a lot of like the coaching literature [00:47:00] with young kids. It's just, I mean, that is parenting too. And so definitely that, you know, trying to become a, a great parent by not. Being a bad coach, right. And like, I remember having sessions as a young coach where I'm like, man, if I could do that again, I would, because that sucked, right?

Like they deserved better. You know, just taking that and like analyzing life in the same way of like, you know, I should've listened more, I should've, whatever. So certainly taking that into the parenting, parenting realm my wife and I are, are kind of polar opposites in terms of personality. I'm super high energy and upbeat and just takes a lot to slow me down.

And so, but just like on a team, you know, you've got multiple things at play. And so when I'm trying to put our team together, it's trying to show them the best parts of themselves, right? And like how. Helps our group, right? And like everyone has a role and like our team wouldn't be the same without you, right?

And like, and here's why. You've got so many great facets and here's what you give to the team. My wife and I are no different.[00:48:00] You know, her strengths are my weaknesses. And I'd say my strengths are probably her weaknesses too. And so just like knowing that from a coaching lens, that we just bring that into our household.

And like, you know, there's sometimes when I am really tired in a long day you know, I am stressed out, but I'm kind of the energy one of the house and like, so I've gotta give that to the house, right? Like that's, that's my superpower, right? As a dad is maybe like some of the energy and, and all of that and upbeat culture that we bring to the house.

But then when that boils over, my wife is the one that kind of calms everyone back down and keeps us. It's that yin to the yang. And so, but I do think like treating your family like a, you know, everyone has their special traits that they bring and they really have to try and bring those all the time.

Then, you know, everybody also has a dark side to 'em, right. That the, you know, inner toxic that like you hopefully learn and mature out of, but like, it's still in there, right? Like a firm believer that, you know, good and evil runs right through the middle of everyone. You know, and it's about learning yourself and like [00:49:00] not putting certain things into the team at certain times.

So treating our family as a team, I think that's been, you know, the number one thing is, you know, sometimes we're leaders and sometimes, you know, we're the coach of our kids, but sometimes we're all five of us are on the same team and, you know, how we interact and letting our kids lead and letting them kind of have star of the show moments and all that.

So yeah, it's all interconnected for. as it was once

[00:49:28] Paul: said, football is

[00:49:29] Steven: life. Right. So that's , it's evident.

[00:49:32] Paul: Evident in, and of course all of our families, and I'm sure many of our listeners it's the same. And I I, I like that you kinda led with like, well, it's kind of all inter intertwined. I, I, I fully agree with that and I think the more people kind of dive into it, they realize that it really is, you know, it really is intertwined and how we, you know, how we are at work and personalities and all that.

It, it does overlap. We talk a lot in our family about team Jobson, you know, and I love, I love how you said, allowing our kids to lead at times. Like I think that's important, you know, kinda the example you gave with [00:50:00] your team of, there's not a safety net, but there's plenty of hands above you to, that you can reach up to.

And I think as parents we're that for our children, Hey, you're gonna lead this. You have the influence in this moment. Go fail, fail now, or succeed. We're here either way, but we're up here for you, not down below you, you know, waiting to catch you when you, when you fall, you know? So, Yeah, I just intertwined your entire interview together

[00:50:22] Steven: right there in that moment,

But I love, I love it. I love it. Yeah. And, and especially with like the, the sibling birth order dynamic, right? So like our youngest, you gotta give her times to make decisions for everybody, and then you gotta get the two oldest ones. It's like, look, it is not your time. You know? Like you're in the back seat right now.

Just because you're oldest doesn't mean you get to drive everything here. So, yeah, definitely. Like, same thing with teams, right? Like you just, you want everybody to feel special in their own way. You want 'em to feel like they're contributing, you know, you don't want just this like hierarchy of influence where it's just kinda like, my role is to just sit down and shut up for a couple years and like, I don't really have a big role here.

Like, all those type of things that you want to [00:51:00] try and squash in your team. It's the same with the family. You know, and just knowing that, you know, you have to have a partner that is a total teammate, right? Mm-hmm. . And so, . You know, one of my biggest things with my team is that hard conversations thing, right?

And like that one-on-one face-to-face when you screw up, you need a teammate that cares about you so much. That's gonna tell you my wife is out to a t, you know, and, and not in like a, a joking around male, female, oh, my wife is always on me type of thing, but like, like true actual moments of my life. Or even like, you know, things that I said in a game or like just she's like, you really screwed that one up.

Like, like she's just brutally honest. But it's good because I always know she's right. Yeah. You know, like it's never coming from a, a place of non love. It's coming from a place like she just cares so much that like, and has that belief in me. That's like you have to hold each other accountable. And so finding yourself a teammate that can hold you accountable when you do slip a little bit, I mean, that is just big.[00:52:00]

It's prices. You a hundred percent

[00:52:02] Paul: agree.

[00:52:02] Phil: Yep. Yeah. And you know, I, I've never met your wife, but I met Marci and I, and I know my wife. And you know, I, I just think that we all have that and it's very fortunate, very blessed in that, in that regard because you know, we talk about team, we have team meetings and we talk about our, you know, our team as well.

And what's cool is I'm kind of a little bit ahead of you guys as far as the kids, and to see that when they grasp that and when they really understand it, and now my oldest is, is on a, a. Youth with a mission trip. She's in Nepal, she's trekking Nepal doing some ministry stuff over there and, and to see how the younger siblings are part of her, right.

I just, they're with her and we're getting pictures. We're doing FaceTime calls. My son is, you know, is at college and, and to see how they're interacting and to see how the older ones are leading, the younger and the younger are, are pushing and encouraging and, and loving and what does that look like? And, and it's, it's not [00:53:00] perfect.

It's messy. It's really messy like any team. But to see that and to take these lessons, you know, of, of resilience, of overcoming adversary of, of being able to pour into each other to do the disc training that we do, you know, you talk about colors and all this, like be able to do that with our family.

It's, it's not perfect analogies, but it's something that if, if. Taking our, the things we're doing with our family to our coaching and vice versa. It'll make everything better. And, and you talk about it, I was laughing to myself when you're talking about your, your wife being brutally honest with you, I, I dissimilar in, in my wife and I, and I love it.

Like you said, she, she knows me almost as well as, and probably better than I know myself and in a lot of times. Cause sometimes I'm delusional and you know, before setting, Post on social media as simple as seeing least trivial as that. She's like, eh, that's what you're writing. But what you're actually saying to them is this, and that's what they're hearing and receiving.

And I'm like, oh my gosh, I never even thought about, you know? So it's so, so important for us to have that humility too, [00:54:00] and, and to have people that, that love us enough to tell us the things that are the really hard things to hear. So, love that. Love that. All right, man. Well, you know, all good things have to come to an end.

So, what, what the last question we have, what have you watched read or listened to that has most impacted your thinking on, on how soccer explains life and leadership?

[00:54:21] Steven: Ooh, really good. Okay. A couple different facets again from a book standpoint, I love the book Anti-Fragile, and it's a book, it's a heavy read, so don't get into it if you're trying to crush it in a week. Really heavy read. I had to go through like three pages and then read those three pages again, . But it's about this notion that we, we don't have a word for anti-fragile, right?

We have a word for fragile. It breaks under stress. We have a word for resilience. You know, resilience is, it stays the same under stress, but we don't actually have a word in common language about we get stronger when we have stress. And it's the same notion of weightlifting, right? Like [00:55:00] you, you put more weight on, right?

And that's a stress to your body, and then your body adapts and eventually that becomes easier and you, you know, you get to that level and there's plateaus of that. But, you know, certainly adding stress is not a bad thing. So I. in modern day. I think at the word stress has a really negative connotation and I don't think it should.

I think it's probably one of the reasons why we don't deal with stress well now. And it, you know, people have this mental story about stress that they shouldn't have stress. So that's my number one. You know, it's just about like, stress is good, stress is really good. There can be too much stress, you know, you can break, but stress in the right environments and the right dosage is, I mean, it's just necessary, right?

I mean, that is life. And getting stronger under stress. Like just knowing that, and that's part of growth mindset is that I can handle this and actually this moment's gonna make me stronger and it's gonna suck right now. You know, just like running, you know, long races or lift, you know, whatever task you're to do, those are stresses and.

They're [00:56:00] gonna callous your mind and callous your body and, and all these different things. And so they're gonna make you stronger. So that's my number one book. It's called Anti-Fragile that I tell my team about it all the time. That's like kind of one of the things that we talk about all the time.

It's anti-fragile. In terms of other like maybe podcasts are like little sound bites. I really love Jocko Willin. I, I just think a lot of his like discipline type stuff is great. I also think the world needs a lot of discipline right now. I grew up in a disciplined house, so I really like, I I, I look at that as kind of like a North star.

You know, I, I like what my father brought to my life picture was just incredible from like a discipline and structure standpoint. And I think we, we get a. We're in a world where we make a lot of, everybody makes a lot of emotional decisions and everything is meant to feel good. And it's, you know, it's gone really soft.

But the discipline of life, you know, it's not always gonna feel good. It's not always gonna be great, right? You're not always gonna have motivation, but here's the things that you need to do and should do regardless of how you're feeling, I think is also a powerful message. So some of his podcasts, some of [00:57:00] his like little sound bites his books that he has are incredible.

Those would be my two that if I were gonna give to people anti-fragile and then, you know, a lot of the stuff that Jocko's putting

[00:57:08] Phil: out. Yeah. Nah, it's great. Awesome. I appreciate his stuff as well. All right, well, hey, thanks Steve. Appreciate you, appreciate you being a part of the conversation and just keep, keep doing it, man.

Keep, keep at it and keep encouraging and, and raising up the, the next leaders. So, appreci. ,

[00:57:25] Steven: thank you guys. Yeah, and I, I listen to you guys like on repeat now in my drive to and from work. So thank you guys for having all different types of people on, cuz I'm probably learning 10 times more than I'm giving, so thank you guys.

Wow. I appreciate that. I appreciate

[00:57:40] Paul: that. We appreciate Yeah, we are too. We're learning. We're learning definitely way more than we're giving on this too. And that's the selfish piece of doing the, the podcast, right Phil? Is the, what we're getting outta this. I almost, almost feel bad how much we're, I'm getting out of this, but I love it and I appreciate the things you have to say, Steve,

[00:57:55] Phil: for.

Yeah, it seems like we're getting master classes all the time and just from these great leaders [00:58:00] doing great things and, and very, very grateful that we get to interview guys like you. So thanks a lot, ma'am. Thank you. All right folks. Well, thanks again for being a part of the conversation. Thank you for just.

You know, taking the time to listen because it means that you're learning as well. You get to learn from these great people as well. And hopefully you're taking, taking it and using it in your life. And, and, you know, on that note, we have, you know, continually, you can go check out Warrior Way Soccer and what Paul and Marci are doing there.

As he said, he's going down to Guatemala to continue the partnership there and then to, to grow those relationships. So check that out warrior way soccer.com. Coaching the bigger game. We've been talking about it. We actually met with a few people at the convention and we're gonna be kicking off a cohort in the next month or so.

So if you're interested in that, go to coaching the bigger game. You can sign up there and you'll get a demo and then we'll reach out to you and hopefully you can, you can join in on that in the next month or so. And you know, if you're interested [00:59:00] in DISC training, I was able to speak on that at the convention too.

And reach out to me there. My email is in the show notes, all of this information, including the book. And we'll get Jocko's podcast as well on there. So you can go there and just click on those links. Just keep it simple for you. And as always, hope that you're taking what you're learning from this show.

And you're using it to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better friend, a better leader in all that you do. And you continually remind yourself that soccer does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great couple weeks.