True Fan: Follow the Process


Do you plan to be an Entertainment Fan or a True Fan?



Will you choose to be a “True Fan” who stands for the principles and practices that define the process to make the team great, in addition to following the season and cheering for team success, or will you only focus on Entertainment?

Entertainment Fans love to watch the games and follow the teams. I do, too.

True Fans also “walk the talk” of the team. True fans not only listen but also put into action lessons of favorite coaches, such as:

  • define the process to improve development that leads to success
  • write mission, vision, goals and plans
  • leadership sets standards and sets examples
  • develop capacity to stay strong and persevere to finish
  • __________ (you probably have another favorite you have heard or even cited).

In my home state of Alabama, we have many good schools, football teams, and athletes. The most famous are Alabama and Auburn because they have been national champions.

Our coaches are paid millions of dollars to be great planners, recruiters, teachers, leaders, motivators, and communicators. The investment is made because their leadership and processes make a difference and provide extra opportunity for great teams, even championships, instead of just good showings. Increased revenues to the universities pay high salaries and produce return on investment (ROI). The University of Alabama president told “60 Minutes” the multi-million dollar compensation to Coach Saban was one of the best investments the university ever made.

Their lessons often highlighted in media interviews, articles, videos, and books apply in football and most other endeavors. Their teachings make a big difference in player development and team successes. As true fans of the team, we can listen, take action, and benefit, too.

If you don’t focus on a target, you will likely “bat at the wind.”

Lou Vickery, former pro baseball player

Two Ways Many Fans Fail and How We Can Succeed Better

Here are just two key ways true fans can learn and succeed better applying what we hear:

1. Process–championship coaches preach having goals and plans, plus breaking down the actions needed to develop and implement. Even Entertainment Fans expect their teams to have such goals or they will call for a new coach to lead their teams.

Apply that principle to preparing young people to be prepared, such as in school, college, and career, and you will eventually conclude we should help our students write Plans for School and Life so they will have more focus and sense of purpose as well as invest time and energy as well as possible. It’s a best practice and is required if we educators and family members want to help students do their best. Everyone seems “to know this idea” though it appears 95% still don’t do it. We could improve get from 5% or less to near 100% by adding a school standard that students write plans. By doing so, especially if parents and teachers wrote their own, the students would have a useful tool and a process they can use for life when making decisions, seeking inspiration, and stating intent with others.

2. Recruiting–if you know anyone who has applied for a job, you know many institutions seem to still follow outdated Human Resource (HR) practices to require “jumping through hoops” (send letter, resume, transcripts from institutions attended, three letters from references, and more as part of an online application to re-state your resume and answer questions (all important for the final three though likely not so for the 100 who apply without being a top candidate). The mindset is “post positions available” then “screen applicants” and “fill positions.”

I asked an HR director what percentage of professionals his college hired came from recruiting versus screening applicants. He looked a bit uncomfortable and said, “We don’t recruit because we always have an applicant to fill the position.”

Coach Malzahn and Coach Saban would not want their recruiters to think this way–all we need to do is fill the position. The coach of this HR director, the president of the college, likely did not know he had a problem so fundamental that when they continue to get less than stellar results he will not even know why.

I encouraged this HR director to take the lead as recruiting the “human capital” the institution needs. And, I offered, this could change his professional title from director to vice president by operating at a higher level bringing senior leadership to the table needed by the president. Unfortunately, he seemed to feel little motivation for doing more than post positions and fill them. The key reason, when the president hired the HR director, he did not state his need for this process. So, the president didn’t even realize he had a problem and the gap continued. This happens when well-intentioned managers do what everyone else is doing without making processes better. If that college president becomes aware of what true fan means and buys in, the HR director will be educated and he will continue to do his job–though at a higher level–he does not know his beliefs are holding his institution back.

If our college coaches operated like this college administrator and stopped recruiting talent and attitude, relying only on reviewing applications and resumes, how long do you think it would take to lose the title of national champion? You probably agree, one to four years.

In employee and student-athlete development, the goal is not to “fill” the position but rather to attract and recruit the best persons we possibly can with a sense of purpose and ability to share and advance our mission. Recruitment is an act of leadership when a professional believes in the mission enough to call someone with potential to invite him to learn of the mission and explore joining it. Like with a star athlete, envision and communicate how he can contribute and how you can help her develop for success with your team.

Do you want the coach of your favorite team to recruit talent or wait for applications?

If you lead a school, college, corporation, or another organization that seeks to excel, learn the HR process your institution uses to hire talent and ask the team to outline the best process they recommend for helping you attract those with callings and character that match the mission. You likely will see gaps to improve.

This could lead to helping your team go to the next level and operate more like a champion. Some of the people you need may not apply for a position though may receive a call. We need a paradigm shift in this area of HR and once done, the staff will like it better and be proud of their results, in addition to alumni and other fans.

Opportunities for You as a True Fan

If a parent/grandparent, the next time you hear your coach speak of the importance of processes and goals, you can discuss applications with the child or friend watching with you. Offer an example of what you plan to do and ask what they can do to implement coach’s advice.

If a leader in an organization or mentor to young professionals or emerging leaders, connect the advice you hear with what you will do. Employees sometimes spend time “talking sports” at work though this way they will more likely discuss how we can implement the processes taught by their favorite coach that can boost plans and performance.

Your loved one likely has opportunities and challenges not yet spoken to you. If you inspire him or her to outline mission and vision, goals and actions, with options to problems, you will help your child or associate have a better chance at purpose, success, and joy.

If you are a leader in a school or college, community, or church who wants to discuss implementation of concepts introduced here, I welcome your contact because it is part of my calling to help you help students and true professionals get more of what they need sooner in life. or 205-422-6484. If you like reading writings like this, I invite you to subscribe to this journal on WordPress and follow Dr. David Dyson on Facebook.



See it, Plan it, Do it even when you Fear

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Positive Action

If you fear not being able to do something that could improve life for you and others, before you instinctively decide to wait, outline a plan for how you could succeed if you improved your capacities to “be, know, and do”–more often you will see that you could succeed if you took action and persisted with courage.


Compassion can be Developed

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama

Sample actions we could take to develop more compassion:

For the Social Area of Life, write a goal or vision statement for your best-self, such as,

When feeling disappointed in another, I pause, remember what I value in this person, and either give him “benefit of the doubt” or seek to understand what challenge has kept her from keeping a promise. If I offer empathy at a time she may feel pain, I can build trust instead of react to his reaction to pain creating a new situation for which I should ask forgiveness.


In cowboy terms, when my horse acts badly, there’s usually a horse fly or something else causing the problem–the action is not toward me, I am just in the way. Before I react, I should decide what’s the source of the problem and then help my horse with the horse fly or, if it is bad behavior, turn this into a training opportunity.


Shepherd and Sheep Dog: are you ready to be both?

Sheep Dogs Life Leaders.png

Highlights from the Life Leaders seminar on “Sheep, Shepherds, and Sheep Dogs–When and How to be all 3” led by Col. Stretch Dunn (USA Ret):

Most people are born as sheep. Far too many remain as sheep–productive when they need to be though often get themselves in trouble and often do not help fellow sheep. Sheep need shepherds to plan for them and protect them.

Shepherds need sheep dogs to help take care of the sheep.

Most of us will find times when we need to be sheep dogs to protect. It might be as military, first-responder, or a home invasion. It more likely will be providing emotional, spiritual, or financial protection when a predator is taking advantage.

The call to prepare to be shepherds and sheep dogs is a call to altruism–to care more about others instead of just be a sheep, or worse, a wolf in sheep’s clothing (preying on others).

We are called to be sheep dogs–and to mentor more sheep dogs–while remembering who is our Shepherd. The speaker and group agreed, “The Lord is my shepherd….”

We can develop as better shepherds and sheep dogs by thinking about the needs of those close to us, writing one or more ways we could be better or do better. We might need to listen better, encourage more, or take better care of ourselves physically and emotionally to set an example. Look in the mirror, you will see ways you want to improve and inwardly hear how you could watch out for others and be there when they need you.

Col. Dunn co-authored with me Professionalism Under Stress: 7 Lessons for Professionalism, Stress, and Gunfighting in Military and Civilian Life where some of the ways we can prepare for the call to serve are mentioned–

Professionalism Front Cover