The Finches were on the green grass at soccer practice, probably mid-season, when I introduced the idea of strategy.

“The two most important parts of your body to play soccer with are…your feet and your eyes,” I told the eight little boys.

“You have to think about where there are holes on the field, opportunities to kick the ball between players or past them,” I said. “That’s called strategy. We have to think about where to place the ball, not just give it a big kick.”

I could see the wheels turning. I could see them catching on to this concept. 

We repeated the word strategy over and over again, explaining it every time, and then we put it into practice, again and again, on the field, in practice and during games. We taught them the term, the wing of the field, that space between center and sideline, where they can get a clean straight shot toward the other team’s goal. “Kick it down the wing!” I’d yell, and they felt important and strategic knowing this technical term.

Everything is about strategy, if you think about it. Personal, professional, spiritual, everything. The key is thinking before acting, weighing and measuring potential outcomes and impacts, and making educated decisions based on real assessments of the situation.

How often do you employ strategy, truly? Don’t blush. Most people jump right in to whatever the circumstance, without planning it out or looking down the road at the potential car crash.

I read an article in my favorite magazine, Vogue, recently (the May 2012 issue) about Katie Beirne, a Washington D.C. strategist, who for her career has built a reputation on thinking things through. Some key ideas from that article:

“These days, winning is all about messaging.”

“The human impact of what we’re doing in Washington.”

“Down-to-earth warmth is just one source of her influence.”

“Her power comes from resisting the limelight.”

All of these ideas form a foundation of thinking for the true essence of making a difference today. I can’t say it enough: if you’re not striving for some higher purpose in everything you do, it will eventually crumble.

It can’t be about fame or notoriety. You can’t want the spotlight. The minute you desire to be known, it’s over.

I host a public access TV show called CYF Spotlight – a Farmington/Farmington Hills endeavor sponsored by the Children, Youth & Families Commission. I do it because it’s fun, it gets important issues out there, we educate parents and enhance families. I do it not for where it will take me.

Everything we do must be grounded in a desire to make the world better. Short of that, it just doesn’t matter. Time is too precious, life too short. You know what I mean?

I coach soccer to give myself the gift of an hour or two a week in the bright sun and wind with my children. I coach soccer to give my son my undivided attention and presence. I don’t do it to make star athletes out of our players (although we have quite a few). I don’t do it for glamour or attention or recognition. I do it because it makes life better for all involved.

That’s what I’m talking about. Every single minute, infused with meaning. There is just no other way.

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