Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reflecting with Baby A

I am writing this post with one arm happily wrapped around a growing baby A. The Christmas tree is lit up in front of us with 'naners' in our belly.

As we get excited like old times for Audrey's first Christmas, we have been thinking how fast she has grown these past 6 months. Here is a short compilation of videos and pictures we thrown together.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New milestones

We just got back from a great Thanksgiving up at Tracey's dad's place in northwest Iowa. These past couple of weeks have been incredible as far as all the nuances that Audrey has picked up. She loves to fake cough and blow 'raspberries', as Tracey calls it (I'll upload a video soon to show the world what that means).

Did I mention that Audrey loves that I am sporting the No-shave November? 

Here is Baby A learning to drink earlier today.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy 30th to my amazing wife!

It's been a while since I've unleashed a video/photo montage. Here is a salute to Tracey's last 10 years.

Love you babe.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Laugh

I was explaining the concept of emotional contagions today in my Organizational Behavior classes. Luckily I had this video of Audrey to help prove my point.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Audrey's Days of Summer

As this cooler weather has been making Iowa even more enjoyable this summer, it is a reminder that summer is passing, fall (and football season!) are approaching and for students and teachers out there, that the time to buckle down is only a week or two away. For Tracey and I the 'end' means that we have to leave Audrey at daycare for 8-10 hours a day.

Typically this thought of the last days of summer cause way more anguish than the actual end of it. In reality it is not an end at all. I really enjoy the school year, even if I'm not looking forward to forgoing the luxury of spending my days with 'Little A'. My guess is that this slipping feeling is engrained into me from grade school years.

Even though Audrey is partly the root cause of this finite feeling, she is helping to change that. We've been able to spend great time together the last couple of days, enough for her to let me know she's numero uno  and teaching me a thing or two.

  • Enjoy the little things... and pretty much everything is a little thing. Passing gas is apparently one of the funniest things in the world. I've forgotten that, until now.  

  • Getting up early with a smile on your face is the best way to greet the day.  Plus it totally warrants a good nap later!

  • Speak and sing as often as you please. 

  • Positive energy is contagious. 

Enjoy the day,

Coach Campbell

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Man Up

This phrase has filled our lexicon for the past 15 years. What does it really mean? When I was growing up and getting in trouble with my friends, it usually was followed by "... and tell the truth." In sports it was usually an encouraging phrase for someone to step forward and take on the tough task, whatever it may have been. More recently I've heard it used as a forceful backhanded comment, or often a command. "Man up and do it." Where the "it" is usually something that the person delivering the message wouldn't be willing to do himself.

It is this most recent harsh use of the phrase that had me hesitate to use it for the project, no, movement that I will tell you about later. In a well needed, boot-to-the-pants, get-your-head-on-straight pep talk from one of my coaches, I realized that I was pulling my punches in an attempt to make everyone happy and not turn people off. In actuality I was pandering to the bleak middle and not really resonating well with anyone in particular. Now, I know I haven't fully described what this Man Up movement is all about. That will come soon enough. What is important right now is being strong in your convictions and, as the country song by Aaron Tippin (which coincidentally I heard twice this morning as I was landscaping our backyard) puts it "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.".

I'm not suggesting a stubbornness so blind that you turn 'compromise' into a four letter word. I am suggesting, just as much to you as myself (and Audrey when she gets around to reading this), to take notice of what you passionately believe in and what you do well (don't sell yourself short either). How can you take that combination and change this world for the better. (Lord knows it won't be coming anytime soon from the government! :)  Not all changes have to be earth-shattering. In fact all ideas start small. You never know what ripple effect you may have.

Let me interject a bit of inspiration I recently took from one of my players. She is a very small town gal, who is attending a small private college. This summer she took the huge jump to an internship for the nonprofit World Vision in downtown Chicago where she is working on publications and marketing for a huge fundraiser and running a half marathon this fall. All this from a gal who never voluntarily ran a mile in small town Iowa just a couple years ago.

Many may ask "Why me?" or "Why should I care?" The change in perspective Audrey has brought to Tracey and my's life has been indescribable (for all the parents out there, perhaps you can relate to the instant change of feeling you felt when your children were born. It was a big wow factor!).  I have been focusing more internally by spending time with her at home, yet at the same time so much more externally about how I can shape the world so that she has the best future possible.

I am serious about the charge I made earlier about changing your world.  Of the people I have been blessed to grow up with, to meet at school, to work with, to coach and many that choose to read my blog I have been impressed with the different types of great potential in most all of them (you).  I don't doubt the huge significant betterment our communities would see if we would "Man Up" and be the change we wish to see in the world.  If you are so inclined, I would like to hear, in the comment section or via email, what change you would like to see in this world".

Man Up.

Coach Campbell

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shoot the gaps!

After a short blog hiatus and much loved family vacation (pictures below) I have compiled so many thoughts that I'm bursting to share.  One fire was initially sparked by a great run/talk that my sister, Leah, and I had across and up the sand dunes in Michigan, and she reminded me today with a forward from Martha Beck, a particularly dynamic coach of hers.

"Shoot the gaps" - it is all too familiar to me from my days on the defensive line for the Rockford Warriors football team. Coach would line us up and "Strong side cross" would be called.  Now, you have to understand that as an underclassman I was an especially 'lean' high school boy trying desperately to pack on the pounds (you could say 'lanky' or even the cruel 'skinny', but I preferred 'lean') My task was to take my tall and 'lean' 150 pound frame and cut through the thick 220+ pound senior offensive end and tackles as my defense tackle buddy crossed behind me. 

While this is from my 8th grade year, I know what you are thinking.  "How can someone so tough and fearsome looking have trouble tearing up the offensive line?" I often wondered the same thing. 

"Campbell. What the hell! Why didn't you get through the gap!" To me it sure sounded like he asked me a question. I replied that I simply couldn't fit. 

As I was subsequently running laps around the field I suppose he either didn't want a reply or maybe he saw a gap that I didn't. Maybe it was both. I continued to run, which wasn't helping my 'lanky' predicament.

Maybe Coach did see a gap. I sure didn't, but then again, I was focusing on the daunting figures of Koeningsfeld and Larson across from me. Looking back, I now know that I was my problem. I wasn't looking at the gap, I was looking at the two big reasons why I didn't have a cricket's chance in a chicken coop to make it through. 

Now here is the lesson for all my ballers out there. Next time you play pick-up, whether it's 1-on-1, 21, or a full blown 5-on-5, drive, but don't focus on your opponent. After you glance at their feet to see which is the best way to drive them (attack the front foot!), look to the gap just beyond their hip. That is where you want, scratch that, where you need to be. You won't get there by looking at and speculating about how big, talented or quick your opponent is. 

"Energy flows where attention goes"

Same goes for everyone, baller or not.  Focus on the reasons why you are qualified, the best candidate or have an idea that can be turned into a success. You'll never get off the ground if you look elsewhere. Remember what Gretzky said about missing 100% of the shots you never take.  

It also never hurts to have a great friend/coach/mentor/partner to remind you of all this along the way when the offensive lineman of the world seem a bit too daunting. Thanks big sis!

Our smiles have started to turn into laughs. Completely contagious laughs.

Not only are their pouts similar, they sleep the same too.

Yep. Naps have been a big part of our summer. 

If you haven't noticed, everyone loves taking naps with Baby Audrey. 
Here is a video from our family vacation. 



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teaching Failure and Imperfection

In the fall semester I will have the opportunity to teach a unique class intent on bridging the gap for high schoolers entering a liberal arts college. This class, Intersections (listen closely and you may hear the collective sigh from my players who have begrudgingly taken this class), is a writing intensive exploration into human nature.  Granted, how many college freshman get their thrills by reading authors who don't have current status updates and even worse, writing thoughts deeper and longer than 140 characters?  I'll address my player's universal question of why they have to take this class later... perhaps in the fall during workouts. For now, I would like to share thoughts from a reading my class will soon be absorbing and why it not only matters for them, but for all of us, Audrey included.

The reading is an excerpt from Paul Loeb's "Soul of a Citizen".  While Loeb focuses on developing conviction to create positive social change, I couldn't help but wander off (I may have ADD). His points were spot on for developing conviction that creates change about anything. Personal events both now and in my past quickly came to mind. Loeb writes that significant change and the heros that create it are born out of persevering commitment, abundant failures and imperfection. So obviously he was referring to basketball.

Audrey's first bball shoes compared to me and my 8th grade compadres below. 

Okay, perhaps there are more correlations that just basketball, but I'm running with this one since I don't have a picture of Audrey with a softball to match my Rudd Little League pic.

It now just struck me that there shouldn't be snow in the background.  It didn't matter. Look at us. We were a bunch of tough guys. 
Okay, so commitment, failures and imperfections...

The more committed a player is to practice, the better she becomes. No argument there.

My younger sister, Bissy, was visiting this weekend to help us with Audrey, and undoubtedly to also get her baby fix. After going to the gym to workout, we headed to the court to shoot around for a bit.  Biss is a baller. She has had a very successful high school and college career, so I often go to her to bounce basketball ideas off of. We both agreed that our best level of play came after organized team ball. Why? Because failures became abundant. Gone were the scenarios of being punished for attempting the risky pass, or move that "you shouldn't do".   Once you are free to fail, you find that when you do so, you tend to "fail forward".

Ahh holy hell. I am going to digress for a bit because I (and many of you) need to take a good swipe at our mortal enemy.  I would be surprised if there were any more than a handful of young adults in this country that didn't suffer from this disease in some form or another. Have you ever wanted to do something yet didn't act because you felt you weren't ready enough, you didn't have enough knowledge about the situation, or perhaps the scenario wasn't exactly right?  Loeb calls it the "perfect standard".  The people we see as a success have been idolized and their achievements glorified.  We feel with certainly that we cannot achieve the lofty accomplishments that the "greats" have because we have these faults, and according to what we see and hear, the successful "greats" have none. They succeeded because they were different, special, flawless. This perfect standard paralyzes us through our imperfection. I won't shovel through the troves of stories that Loeb presents about our perfect heros' mass amounts of baggage. You'll either have to pick up his book or take my word for it. The bigger question that concerns me is why are so many of us infected with perfectionism, and most importantly to me right now, how can I not pass it on to Audrey?  While I don't have a scientific answer, I am willing to bet that our own good role-model intentions have something to do with it. My younger brother, Will, and I have a great relationship.
Day 1 of the Campbell brothers' epic Iowa Road Trip of '06. More about this later.
Yet it wasn't until the last couple of years when he started owning his education did he allude to something that caught me off guard.  He was under the impression that he wasn't as smart as myself when I was his age. He had no idea that his GPA was well above what mine was. Throughout our relationship growing up I chose to only show him my successes and always put my best face forward. Did I do him a disservice by not exposing my faults? This would have shown him that, while not perfect, one can still preserver and reach their goals.

I've gone on enough about the relevancy of these problems. Now, what do we do about them (and how can I shamelessly incorporate a few more pics of the baby)? How do we develop greater conviction and more change as a result? How can I raise Audrey so she has commitment, not afraid of failure and avoids the paralysis of perfectionism? If we can free ourselves from these burdens, we will sing, dance, play, win and laugh wearing a duck towel way more often.

I have three suggestions.

First: If you have a mentor or person whose path you idolize, break them down. Talk to them about their failures. If they are too far removed for a conversation, read an unbiased autobiography.  Also, be sure to be open about the challenging path you have gone through when interacting with others who look up to you.

Second: Practice your shooting against the wall. In coaching, I always want my players practicing their shooting form off the court, away from a basket. In the absence of a basket, the shooter doesn't get discouraged that her shot isn't going in (perfection). Instead she can focus on learning and enjoying the fundamentals that will make her a better player.  Focus on enjoying the process. If you are all about the end goal, then perhaps this particular game is not for you.  By enjoying the process, you will learn and adapt along the way and become quite well at your style. The result?  The shot you take may not be perfect  and swish every time, but your endurance, adaptability and passion for the game will more than make up for the "perfect you" who would still be sitting on the sidelines afraid to take another shot.

Thrice: Remember the magic! This gets back to my duck towel comment earlier, and to those of you who were at Tracey and my wedding, this may sound familiar. In fact, both of us just watched our wedding video for our anniversary last week.  The message is simple and the story is wonderfully written (Thank you Leah). Here is an excerpt.
"Remember the magic. Those words, that day, that promise, have come to mean a great deal to me. They are an instruction in the practice of being fully open to receive the magic, the sacred potential, available in every moment, regardless of whether it is what you wanted or expected, and regardless of the outcome. It is a reminder that what counts is that you bring your best, noble self to whatever you choose to do." (Badertscher, Leah; Genius Hour 1, 2011)

So play for the sake of playing. Enjoy what each moment brings, whether it is during a grueling workout, the middle of the day at the office, or a chance to climb in a tree house and watch the clouds pass with someone special.

Don't hesitate to be your own best self. I'll leave you with a quote that Loeb borrowed from the 18th century Hasidic rabbi Susya.

"God will not ask me why I was not Moses. He will ask me why I was not Susya."


Friday, June 3, 2011

Taking time to slow time

WOW, what a heat wave!  Ordinarily I wouldn't be found inside on a day like today, but a certain little gal is being very persuasive with her cuddling time.

This past week Tracey and I have been blessed with notes, comments, visits, food!, and a plethora of advice.  The most common being:

"Enjoy all your time with her now. The first year goes by too fast."

Why is that? Our year is made up of ~ 31 million seconds, just like Audrey's.  I'm sure you've noticed, and likely cringed at this fact. As we rack up the years, each season seems to pass more and more quickly. My young summers growing up in Rudd seemed to last forever. 

I have already vowed not to complain about the sleepless nights. In fact, so far, I look forward to my seemingly drunken stumble into her room at 2 AM and peering over her crib to see her beautiful, elusive, dark blue eyes. I am making the most of my time with her... how do I make more of it?

There have been times that I can remember where time has seemingly and graciously braked to let me take my sweet time.

Nestled against a straw bale, watching the clouds pass with Dad as we break from some good ole' fashion farm work. 

Kayaking in Tom Sawyer country on the mighty Mississip. (the rougher the water, the slower time passed! Don't worry Mom, I was wearing a life jacket.)

Road-tripping with my brother in the summers. 

Backpacking through France after undergrad or Tracey and my's trip to Greece a few years ago. 

The morning of our wedding. 

And like I mentioned earlier... my young years up at Rudd. The younger, the longer. 

A commonality that I have found with my 'slow time' is new and enjoyable experiences. It only makes sense that as we pass through life, which some view as cyclical, we repeat activities, we see the same things, "We've done it all".  Some seek to escape this spiral by being thrill-seekers, others have their own Flow activities (basketball and cross-training does it for me).  Well how about breaking this cycle without relying on an external stimulus?

If we cease to label and pre-judge everything we see, won't we be seeing everything again for the first time? The next time you pass by that pasture of cows, don't dismiss it as a just another pasture with cows. See it, enjoy it, all without judging it. Neither good, nor bad... just experience it.

My situation has given me a wonderful opportunity.  Now that I have countless hours at all times of the day where I will be holding, swinging and watching this amazing little girl, I have no excuse not to take that time to practice my "just experience it".  No thought, just a time of mental peace and silence. Pray. Meditate. Pure experience enjoyment.

Now, since you have been so patient in reading my blog, here is a bit of our experience from this past week. Enjoy!

For a more tacit update, Audrey and her mom are doing well. Audrey had a bit of jaundice so she and I spent a little time sunbathing on our deck. Her weight dropped a bit after birth, but has started to rebound and she is on track to gain it all back within a week. Right now she is sitting beside me on Couch (yes, our couch is its own specific entity and deserves to be capitalized) periodically checking on me to make sure I am still close enough to deliver the pacifier. 

Just experience it!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Going home!

Audrey makes the trek home today to meet both Grandmas and be introduced to pets. I have to give the hospital staff here at Methodist Hospital a shout out. The nurses have been especially wonderful. Tracey and I joked around that besides our picturesque view of the third floor parking ramp, this stay has really felt like a B&B weekend... with an 'challenging race' to kick it all off.

While here the hospital took these baby pictures for us. If you'd like any of these, or to see more, just throw a comment below and I'll email them to you. (we bought the rights to the whole lot).

As I look over these pics and the last few days, a quote from a Mary Oliver poem seems wonderfully appropriate. 

"What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Introducing Audrey

Yesterday Tracey and I welcomed Audrey Elizabeth to the Campbell starting line up. Tracey and baby are both doing well. There are many thoughts and learning moments that I wish to share about the entire experience, but for now I'm going to hold, sing and dance with my baby girl.  Here are a couple pictures to tide you over. Stay posted for new pics as we take them.
She has a very easy going, fun loving demeanor, despite her  'tough guy' looking swollen eye. 

Mom and baby a few minutes after her intro.

Very proud pappy

Long and lean.  Definitely got my hands and feet. Hopefully she got her mom's sharp wit!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

'Tigger' Immersion

This past week has been a whirlwind of family, friends and weddings. Sometimes seeming so stressful to try to fit everything, and everyone in, although I am truly happy to have seen so many great friends. Saturday, Tracey and I left our house, which was full of her mother, sister and nephew to go to the first of two weddings that day.  The peaceful outdoor wedding of one of my great college friends was a welcome oasis in our helter-skelter whirlwind of a weekend.

I first have a confession to make. I was paying little attention to the ceremony and way more attention to the birds, the scent of the recent rain mixed with nearby lilac bushes and warm sunshine. That is until the pastor, now into his sermon, spoke of “one of the great gifts of marriage”.  I zoned in, well-knowing that Tracey may be quizzing me once we were driving to the next wedding.  The pastor’s message was simply that marriage allows the couple to take risks that they would not have been able to otherwise. Point taken.  Cue the birds, fragrant flowers and sun… I floated off on my own thoughts.

The love and support are there as a safety net, yes, and also as a slingshot! Because of this synergistic union one can go further. This has been extremely important in our marriage. I am lucky and grateful I have Tracey. She has been there for me along our journey, allowing me to take many chances. I’d like to believe that I have provided equally as much support, although I know there is always room for more.   As the clouds blocked out the sun and the vows were exchanged, I realized that this is not necessarily exclusive to marriage. It has been present in every great team I have been involved with.

Our success (defined however you see fit at this point) is largely determined by who we surround ourselves with.  As a coach and professor I cannot tell you how many times I have heard;

“I want _________ __________ as my teammate. They are so  _________ .(fill in the blank with competitive, hard working, dedicated…)

Conversely, for every time I’ve heard the prior statement, this next one easily trumps it.

“Our group would be so much better if _______ ________ would carry their own weight.”

Do you have certain people that inspire you? They add energy to your ideas sometime merely with their attentive presence? A great friend of mine refers to these energy sources as “Tiggers”.  Do you know a Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy (I apologize to all the uplifting Debbies and Nancies out there) or energy vampire?  Their demeanor becomes an energy sink. These are the “Eeyores”.

The challenge will be to limit your time with Eeyores. Realize that these energy sinks may not be your type of person.  Not everyone is made for each other.

By loosening your leash on them they may find someone else who is their type. This will allow them a better chance at success.  Now, if you find yourself sporting a pinned-on “woe is me” tail, that’s a whole new ball game that I we should talk about.

So why not fill our time with Tiggers?  If we are truly a product of our surroundings then one of the easiest choices on our journey should be to gravitate to those energy sources.  Connect with these people on Facebook or LinkedIn today. If we are not already connected, feel free to seek me out on LinkedIn.  If there is not already have an existing relationship with someone you want pair up with, ask them to grab a cup of coffee or lunch. Once you recognize these energy sources and connect with them, start selflessly pumping in your own energy. If you’ve developed your mastermind group well, the energy you put in will pale in comparison to what you eventually receive… much like marriage.

It was very fitting that I was pondering these thoughts as we pulled up to our second wedding of the day. One that was absolutely brimming with bouncing Tiggers. 

To your success,


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Perception is reality.

Today the thermometer in Iowa topped out around 90 degrees... in early May!  In my opinion this is wonderful, despite the sweaty shirt and sticky air. Others may despise this unseasonal heat. The funny thing is, it is still 90 degrees. Like it or not, the temp, like many other things, is not going to change.

As I gave my final exam in marketing research, I looked across the room of students who I've known now for three years. "Perception is reality when you are a marketer." I would tell them over and over. This past weekend it occurred to me that I have been forgetting, or at least ignoring, that fact.  While out at a restaurant to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this past week, a previous graduate came up, sat at our table and after small chit-chat, she turned to my wife. She matter of factly stated that I had a big impact on her and that she still uses what I taught her years ago. Now I don't think that I am special in this regard, but what is special is the impact that we can and do have on others. What I taught her was important. Yet, more significantly, her perception of me and how/what I taught impacted her in a positive way. That is very important.

This is wild and scary. Scary because we don't realize the full impact we have on others. Wild because we just found out the full impact we can have on others! 

I know that I am toeing a line here. We are taught (rightfully so) to not worry about what others think of you. I whole-heartedly agree. Don't worry, but be aware of the impact you have, or can have.  I am not suggesting to create a false identity of yourself to others. In fact I triple-dog dare you to try and keep up a facade without losing your mind.  What I am suggesting is to let your true self flow and know that you are a model for others. If you are 'Midwestern Modest' it will be easier to flow when you realize that others' perception of you is most likely higher than your perception of yourself. Coming full circle, people's perception of you will be higher when you are flowing.  Here is a simple case-in-point. I had the honor of coaching a wonderful young freshman basketball player who was the epitome of modest and humble. She often wouldn't play up to her potential because of this. One day in practice I inserted a 1-on-1 competition. She hit an early shot over an upperclassman, and she slowly became a different person. She drove hard, attempted and completed difficult turn around jump shots over much more veteran players. Every possession was more impressive than the last. She dominated! This young gal at this moment forgot who she thought she was supposed to be, and became her true self.  She let it flow. Everyone around her became better because she found her zone, and she obviously benefited as well.

I realize some may read this with hesitancy. If they let it all hang out, they are at risk. They are open to ridicule or alienating some people around them. Here is what I say to that: There may be others who are not your people, but guess what, not everyone is your people.  If you cater to everyone, your impact will be marginalized. You'll be coaching to the bottom of the class and your results will be marginal. Coach to the top and you will hit your zone, flow, be at the top of your game and make the biggest impact on those around you.

So here is my advice to all my players out there, my future lil' player (who is now 4 weeks out!) and anyone else interested in making a positive impact in your world. Confidently put your best foot forward, do it with gusto, and do it now. The people in the world you are meant to lead will perceive it like you mean it and your impact on them will be great.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Become the Cornerstone

I will keep this brief. Today I started doing "the small things" that are required to bring about great change. One of those small items is to pray and meditate daily.  I decided to focus on today's reading from Church. It hit home, hard. 

Here is an interpretation of a portion of Psalm 118. 

18 The LORD has chastened me severely,
   but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
   I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD
   through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
   you have become my salvation.
 22 The stone the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone;
23 the LORD has done this,
   and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The LORD has done it this very day;
   let us rejoice today and be glad.

I realize each person takes something different away from each experience, so I am not trying to tell you that my perception is the correct perception. I believe faith is individually, wonderfully unique. 

What I have come to realize after reflecting on this passage is that I have just been chastised. After my most recent set-back, I feel like the stone that has been rejected. Now the choice what I do from here is mine (as it always has been, it's just difficult to realize it). Do I react naturally and recede  quietly in the shadows. Should I become bitter and jaded towards an unfriendly world?  Do I roll-over in self-pity over what has happened to me? Or rather, do I reflect, grow, be glad, fight on and be thankful for this lesson that I chose to take.

This episode has been an incredibly challenging life lesson. The more challenging something is, the better it is, the more value it has. Right? That's the way I view my drills in basketball practice. 

To roll over and be filled with anger and self-pity is easy and natural.  The challenge is to grow from this so to become the cornerstone. Rejoice today and be glad. 


Coach Campbell

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Clearing

Nothing like a 70 degree Friday afternoon to head outside and clear the thoughts. After a early morning of basketball, classes and grading I headed out to my oasis.

In the woods behind our house there is a small, thin opening among the thick underbrush. This crack leads you to a winding path that is quickly becoming more and more concealed with the spring growth. While the path is enjoyable (intentionally), the opposite end of the crack is beautiful. The path opens up into a large grassy clearing that is surrounded by thick trees on all sides. This is my oasis.

For the past year I've been opening up this natural clearing of invasive thorns and saplings. To be able to go outside with a small ax in one hand, a machete (my man-knife) in the other is refreshing. There is a simple project in front of you, clear the brush. The harder you work to achieve it, the faster it gets done.  No thinking. No worrying. Just being in the moment. Me and my man-knife.

There is definitely something to be learned here. I am currently trying to figure out what in the world I should do now that my ideal, planned-out life is not so planned-out. As I go on my quest, this seems too important to ignore.

Here are my reflections from playing in the woods:

Pay attention to what you love doing. When do you work through a task and time stands still or passes without noticing? If you've played ball you've probably hit the "Zone", or "Flow" as Csikszentmihalyi coined it. Look for this in a job. For me, here is where I Flow: playing ball, problem solving, working outside on a project, coaching, teaching, counseling students in their life's path, working out, exploring...

So now that I've noticed what I love to do, I suppose it's just a matter of picking the 'right' path. Well, if I knew the answer and how to find it I would continue writing. 

Next time you hear from me I plan on telling you that I've picked up my man-knife and started cutting my own path.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

What just happened?

I've always grown up believing that I am in complete control of my destiny... "Eat the sandwich you make". We are incredible because we are self-malleable.  Outside the small Iowa town where I was raised, I did good things and reaped the benefits. I made some pretty big mistakes and paid for them. When I chose to attend the University of Iowa, I picked one of the more difficult majors thinking... "I can tackle anything". Doesn't every young guy go through that invincibility phase?

I took on the identity of a chemical engineer and started to forge my own blade. Through all the hard work and plenty of social experiments I felt well-prepped for the real world, and secured a great job.  I had a lot of success in my job, but was left wanting more. A bigger challenge and purpose was calling, so I took my tools back to college for a master's degree. I decided to leave the high paying jobs behind and follow a personal passion, coaching basketball. "What's the worst that could happen" I asked myself. It's not like you are going to get eaten. Right?

I got on the staff at Iowa as a graduate assistant, experienced a Big Ten championship season, graduated with an MBA (I know... a pricey way to get into a very low paying job).  Around the time of graduation, I married my long-time girlfriend and received a job offer all within 24 hours. We were headed to a promising assistant coaching position at a private college. My wife easily found a great paying job and we settled in picturesque town. Life was good.

We loved it there. Sure we had little bumps in the road that come along with new home ownership or challenges in new jobs, but all-in-all, we were happily on our way. I worked my tail off for the next three years building a program that would be ready to take off and make powerful, positive changes in the lives of the student/athletes in my program. One year from the expected transition to become head coach, the powers that be at the college and myself agreed on a contract that I would assume the duties of head coach at the end of the following season. My wife and I were pumped! We could now deepen our roots. We decided to start a family (thus the 'babies' portion of this blog). We refinanced our house and built on. All still within our means, but knowing that we had at least a few years there for everything to pay off.

Now, let me note that our seasons did not pan out like I would have wanted them too.  One of the hardest things about being an assistant coach is that your number one job is loyalty and providing the head coach with support. The direction that he was taking the program was not one that fit my philosophy, but he was also very set in his ways and not an open communicator. I admit that here I felt very ineffective. Coaching was only 25% of my assignment and the other 75% was a significant teaching responsibility on campus (not fundamentals of 'fill in the blank').  I spent most of my coaching time with project management, recruiting and character and profession development with the team. I felt, and still feel that collegiate athletics doesn't do enough to prepare our youth for a full and successful life. What I was doing was overcoming that shortfall and providing my players with a competive advantage

With four games left in the season the athletic director pulled me in his office and notified me that he was not going to honor the contract and was going to perform a search for new head coach. From this point on I always felt that I had more than a fighting chance because I was, and still am, convinced I am the best person for the job. The process drug on and eventually I found out that I was not the top choice, but kept in the process because I was a strong 'back-up plan'. 

What just happened? The past few weeks have been full of thoughts of remorse, anger, self-pity, vindication, regret, animosity and a total lack of energy. These feelings are new to me. How do you react when you get your first real rejection? In terms of coaching and my life situation, this is a big one. We can't move with our family and financial situation and if I take a year off from coaching it will be almost impossible to get my foot back in the door somewhere.  So this brings me to now and this blog...

My 'former' blade-wielding, invincible, can't-be-beaten-down self was covered with a big nasty smelling blanket. Like I mentioned, this was a first for me. I didn't know how to respond. Did I just let my family down? I'm not necessarily proud of it, but up to this point I've always been one to seek approval from others I care about. I spent five years and incurred a fair amount of debt to chase this coaching dream. To top it off, I love coaching and developing people, and am pretty damn good at it too.

This has been my journey. I am at the tipping point. I am not going to give you a rousing success-only story, largely because I don't know what the future holds. What I can tell you is that if I cannot use the basketball court to develop our young leaders of tomorrow, THIS will be my new court.  I will provide an introspective look into my journey as I become a father and a new... something (although you will quickly find out that I despise identities or titles).  

I look forward to seeing you at the next practice (which I promise will be much more to the point with added drill work!)

Own the moment you are in.

Coach Campbell