Skip to main content

It’s On Us

Whatever your political alignment, religious beliefs, race, creed, or demographic, most Americans today feel like “it“ is broken or in the process of breaking. A Pew survey found that 76% of us have a low confidence in the wisdom of the American people when it comes to making political decisions, yet 78% of Americans say that knowledgeable voters are very important to the US.

Further, Pew reports 68% of people say made up news from social media and bitterly partisan news outlets have a major impact on our institutions and, even more alarming, each other.

These statistics are really interesting considering the fact that from the primetime hours of 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM, Fox, CNN, and MSNBC have a combined 5 million viewers nightly – in just those three hours.

Those numbers don’t even account for all the other 21 viewing hours in the day, social media content, radio shows, and all the other media outlets in our country. When one considers the constant inflow of information and the research that shows that although we stay glued to that flow, we don’t really trust it or those that listen to a different viewpoint, it isn’t hard to understand why we feel “it” is broken.

Even more telling, congressional approval ratings are currently at 19%, the presidential approval rating is at 39%, and for the first time in our history, even the Supreme Court’s approval rating is at only 40%.

We don’t approve and we don’t trust, yet we inundate ourselves with the content that perpetuates the distrust and disapproval.

I believe there is a better path that sidesteps our divisions. That path is normal people. Normal people like Anne Mahlum. Anne a struggling young adult dealing with addiction in her family and a personal identity crisis. Her “cheap therapy” was running. She ran by this one homeless shelter hundreds of times and told me “frankly, I did not give a crap about those guys.”

But in spite of being bulimic at the time and still wrestling with her own demons, it came to Anne one day that she should start a running club with the homeless. Although the shelter’s director told her that homeless people don’t run, 9 guys showed up the first day. 

Today, the nonprofit she founded Back on My Feet is in 15 cities across the country and has helped over 7,500 homeless Americans get jobs and independent housing. If you can wake up and run at 6 am, you have the discipline and perseverance to do almost anything. 

Anne and an army of 150,000 runners, volunteers and donors, whose political beliefs are irrelevant, have helped solve the problem of homelessness more than a myriad of infinitely better- funded government programs ever have. 

I call this solution, “An Army of Normal Folks”. 

It came from noticing how there’s streets all over our country that are so filled with crime, despair, disenfranchisement, and hopelessness where people pass by and think it’s the last place on earth that they would want their car to break down, but also how they hope someone does something about areas like these one day, as if the sentiment matters. But it doesn’t and it changes nothing. 

My suggestion is that we all tilt the rear-view mirror about 15 degrees and say ‘I, ought to do something about it.’

My premise is that our country’s problems will never be solved by all of these fancy people in nice suits talking big words on CNN and Fox, or by the bitterly divided partisans that we clearly don’t trust or approve of, but by An Army of Normal Folks just deciding ‘hey, I can help.’ 

That’s all I did coaching football in a neighborhood where young men are 3 times more likely to be dead or in jail than to have a job or be in college by their 21st birthday. Yet, 31 out of the 32 seniors in my final two seasons went to college.

For some of us it might be coaching or running with the homeless, or you might be a kid mowing lawns for 50 people in need as 4,000 kids have done with Raising Men and Women Lawn Service. 

Whatever you feel called to, imagine if each of us just does what we can, how different our country could be?

Imagine what an Army of Normal Folks could do working together, learning together, learning about one another, and finding common ground in the effort to better or fellow man and the communities in which we live.

No matter what nonsense happens in DC or is pounded into us by all forms of the media, most of our problems can be solved by An army of Normal Folks. And we together can fix “it.”

The Power of Dreams…Within Reason

Chapter 7 of my book, Against the Grain, is called “The Power of Dreams.” I state, “Every great thing that has been accomplished and is yet to be accomplished starts with a dream.” This is true, but how do we temper our dreams?

When I was at Manassas one of the hardest things I had to do was manage my support for my players’ dreams and goals. I wanted all my players to reach their wildest dreams, achieve their most lofty goals, and be the one who breaks the chain of mediocrity. But not all of them could possibly achieve every dream they had, even if they put their mind to it. Isn’t that hard to say…

Dreams must be organized, achievable, and they must be realistic. And to achieve your dreams, you must work tirelessly at them. Even if you don’t reach your ultimate goal, you have not failed because failure is not trying at all.

The first way to increase the chances of success is to break down one large dream into a series of small steps – each, in a sense, its own dream.

Now, let me explain the biggest fault of dreaming: dreaming out of reach. One’s dreams must be practical and attainable. Realistic dreams are so important because consistently falling short can be irreparable to your self-esteem and to achieving goals.

There is a fine line between naysayers and realists. A realist urges you to chase your dreams, as long as they fall within the bounds of reason while naysayers are filled with so much negativity that they don’t think any dream can be fulfilled.

The second way to increase the chances of success is to be a realist. There is nothing worse than someone encouraging you to fail. If I told you that at age forty-five I planned to compete in the 100-meter dash in the Olympics, I would be offended if you said, “Go for it, Bill. I know you can do it!”

The truth is that a 5’10” 245 lb offensive guard who is a great player in high school is never going to play on the offensive line for an SEC football team. He could, however, possibly play for a much smaller college. Or, maybe he could go to Alabama as a graduate assistant or manager for the football team. By encouraging that 5’10” 245 lb player to try to play offensive line in the SEC, I would have been contributing to his ultimate failure. In retrospect, having honest conversations about attainable goals that align with his dream, you can become an effective mentor.

Remember though, as a leader, it is not your job to figure out others’ dreams.

It is your job to figure out your own, and it is your job to encourage those you love to achieve their dreams within reason.

Dreamers paved the way for our country, for progress, and will continue to pave the way for our future.

Dreamers bring health and life to communities, and they drive progress to make the world a better place. But all who accomplish their dreams set standards, timelines, and boundaries within which to achieve them.

“Dreams are essential to our psychic well-being. Without them, our soul withers away.” -Page 97, Against the Grain


Standing on a Firm Foundation

When I speak in public, one of my favorite things to do is illustrate the importance of standing on a firm foundation. How I do it? I choose a random person from the crowd, give him or her a football, and say “Now, go ahead and stand on it.”

Puzzled, the person always looks at me and says something of the sort, “You can’t stand on a football.”

This is correct. You cannot stand on a football. Similarly, if I stacked up $100 bills that total $1 million in cash, you cannot stand on that either. You also cannot stand on your trophies, your plaques, your medals, your fame, or your fortune.

I have seen too often in my professional and coaching life the destruction from the lack of a firm foundation.

Our social and political climate is intoxicating. Our access to information, people, and cheap satisfaction distorts our reality. Our role models and leaders perform theatrics in short scenes for money and fame – and our society has wholly adopted these trends as “progress” or “action.”

I find myself confused. What happened to the value of being genuine? Where are our leaders that represent what we believe? Do we know, or have we forgotten, that the only thing this world cannot take from you is your character?

In the Gospel according to Luke, Chapter 12, Verse 48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who was been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

To live in this Country, to have people we call friends and mentors, to have family, to be healthy, to know right from wrong, to see a new day – these are immeasurable blessings. Be you a faithful man or not, our blessings are coupled with the duty to share wisdom and knowledge on an honest and consistent basis.

Throughout our lives, especially in the climate we find ourselves in now, it is of the utmost importance to know what we believe, portray our beliefs, and uphold our duty to stand firm in our beliefs.

Just as it’s physically impossible to stand on a football, fame, fortune, accolades, plaques, or the like, it is impossible to do so in your life as well.

Fame is fleeting, accolades are forgotten, money comes and goes – but a proper foundation will remain forever.

If we are firm, we can pass along an honest, committed, respectful, and civil society with integrity and a heart for service.


Understanding Personal Responsibility

Personal Responsibility is your acceptance of and adherence to society’s established moral and ethical code of conduct and a willingness to abide by these standards even when no one is there to hold you accountable but yourself.

Personal responsibility is owning your failures, assuming the duty of task completion, and committing to the subscriptions of your life. It is caring for your own well-being, handling the needs of those who depend on you, and serving those who are underserved. It is also employing your inherent gifts and talents to advance that which you are able to advance. Personal responsibility is the fundamental essence of human character, of a free society, and of a free world. Without it we have chaos. There will never be enough rules, laws, and enforcement to hold every person accountable. Our society depends on the vast majority of us exhibiting personal responsibility.

Teddy Roosevelt’s speech, Citizenship in a Republic, which he offered in 1910, gives one of the best explanations for the importance of PR to a society. They are as follows: “…In the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average woman, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional crises which call for the heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore, it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.” These inspirational and prophetic words were not only to remind his generation of their obligation to PR, but also served as a warning.

In these last few years, I have noticed two very interesting things about PR, and these things have happened consequentially. The first is that accountability to society’s standards has severely diminished – particularly among our leaders. The second, which is more apparent now than ever, is that it has become increasingly less popular to even believe that one has a duty to society’s standards.

In addition to government and organizational decisions such as decriminalizing “petty” crimes, an onslaught of abrasive and disrespectful rhetoric from both sides of the aisle, using influence and power for the advancement of oneself, and phenomenal levels of hypocrisy as it pertains to policy making and media reporting, we simply have an abject loss of commitment to Right vs. Wrong. Because we are creatures with a conscience, we are born knowing right from wrong – even before someone tells you. So, my question is this: What has changed that made it O.K. to run from obligations, disrespect and harm people, ignore one’s duty to help those who need it, and ALWAYS decide what side of an issue you are on based on who suggested it rather than on the merits of the argument? We were forewarned by Teddy Roosevelt that when our leaders abandoned a commitment to personal responsibility, then so too should we expect our citizenry to follow.

Second. The rejection of one’s duty to society is parasitical in nature. This preposterous post-modern groupthink scenario perpetuates the lie that we are OWED something by our existence. Here is some breaking news: this world, including those who live in it, do not owe you anything other than an unfettered, equal pursuit of happiness: a happy life is EARNED. Each of us has a personal responsibility to handle ourselves first, so that we can then be a productive, contributing member of society. Once on a solid foundation, we then have a responsibility to use our influence, power, wealth, and abilities to make a better world for every member of our republic. This growing belief, however, that we are not responsible for ourselves, but rather we have a right to be taken care of is destructive and unsustainable. Again, Teddy Roosevelt warned us, “The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed”, and “In the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average woman, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life”. Remember, JFK famously exclaimed, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

I fear the lack of personal responsibility I see in our leaders, our media, our entertainment, our social media, and many of our large corporations. But, we can’t call out those if we ourselves are not exhibiting our own personal responsibility. Teddy Roosevelt has warned us if we are only willing to listen. Force yourself to handle today’s duties. This is the essence of human character. Our free society and free world depend on it.


Cancel Popular Politics

I remember becoming interested in politics, along with the reality that politics is a full contact sport, in Junior-High School when Ronald Reagan was president.

I loved Ronald Reagan because he was Pro-American, Pro-Small Business, Pro-State’s Rights, and he had astounding charisma and sense of humor. America loved him because he did not simply use the Presidency to guide the American people – among other things, he let the American people guide his Presidency.

As a republican, Reagan was President when Tip O’Neill, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was Speaker of the House of Representatives. They battled on policy as is required of politicians, but they never saw each other as enemies or adversaries.

Reagan and O’Neill both loved America first, and both compromised and worked out issues for the good of the country. Were either of them perfect? Certainly, they weren’t. But, were their intentions sound and their civility a good example for the citizenry? You bet!

During this time when I was figuring out what politics is, how it works, and what it does (… I still don’t think the Govt. knows what it does most of the time!) I noticed that the more I learned about politics, the more I realized how so few in the electorate cared to inform themselves.

Ronald Reagan was a great President in my opinion. Many people loved his attitude, his spirit, and his willingness to lead. But the best part about him was that, beyond policy, he encouraged people to focus on their state and local government, not the federal government — herein lies what I think has become a very modern issue.

Ever since Reagan, the Presidency has become more and more popular. Popular Politics is centralized and hyper-focused on by the media. Often that focus is fueled by scandal, perversion of truth, and misinformation which sells advertisements, polarizes us, and generates massive activity on social media. None of this is good for us, though.

As I have four kids of my own, ages 22-25, I am encouraged to see them engage with their friends in political discourse. I am encouraged to see them interested in policies that affect their future and find leaders that they want to support. I love that my four kids, all raised the same way, have differing political views. I love that our younger generations are becoming more engaged.

However, my fear is that these younger generations are so caught up in the popularity of national politics and receive much of their information in sound bites that they lack depth of policy understanding and are moving away from what our founders intended in strong local and state government.

Local politics don’t sell ads!

I long to see the day where we can return our focus to what matters: those immediately around us. The President of the United States, no matter how great or how powerful, cannot save you. Your United States Senator cannot save you. Your U.S. Congressperson (though they can help immensely more) cannot save you either. Your family, your community, your town, your city, your brothers and sisters, and your community leaders are the ones that help create REAL change in a world where it is so desperately needed.

Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

We certainly need a strong central government for defense, fiscal policy, international relations and hosts of other reasons. We also need great leaders to run that government. But, when those civil servants become celebrities, when our media hyper-focuses on their every utterance, and when our electorate gets their political beliefs from soundbites and tweets, we get what we have today.

When we forget that politics is local, forget that our founders intended strong local governments, forget the media is not supposed to be entertainment or biased, and forget that honest and civil face-to-face discourse can never be replaced by 124 characters spun out behind a smartphone’s keyboard, then we get what we have today.

There is plenty of blame to go around – all ages, races, and political parties have culpability. Politicians are not meant to be rockstars – they are to be servants. The federal government isn’t meant to make everything perfect for everybody; it’s meant to provide a safe place for local communities to have an opportunity to serve their neighbors for the common good.

The popularity of national politics, the popularity of the people in national politics, and the never-ending feed of incomplete and often inaccurate soundbites that fuel the frenzy are just bad for all of our lives.

Let’s #MakePoliticsUnpopularAgain #letstalkshopcoachbill

Voting: A Responsibility, Not a Convenient Option

Before America’s Independence from Great Britain in 1776, there were only 3 other established democratic republics in the world: the Netherlands, Switzerland, and England. Of these three, only Switzerland remains a true Republic, while England and the Netherlands became constitutional monarchies.

While flaws persist and advancements are necessary, the United States of America is the longest-standing, most free, just, opportune, and equal state in the history of the world. As Americans, our Constitutional birthrights are far more advanced than those of any other established nation.

One of these birthrights is the RIGHT TO VOTE.

It is damning to me that Americans have the ability to influence politics and the landscape of our country but many choose not to. In 2016, only 137.5 million of our 250 million voting-age-population voted; that is a mere 55%.

I am one to be under the impression that if you do not vote and are not willing to contribute to one of the most powerful birthrights of any population in the world, you have no basis or authority in which to complain or gripe about politics. Further, if you do not support or like either candidate, you still have a responsibility to write-in a top-ballot choice and vote down-ballot.

In an age when our lives feel like an un-consented social experiment as dogmas, ideals, and “being on the right side” of the questions move at an astounding pace, we should be more committed to practicing our birthright by casting a vote to fight for those ideals in which we believe.

Always remember – in the year 2000, GOP Presidential Candidate George W. Bush defeated DNC Presidential Candidate Al Gore by a margin of 0.009%, or 537 votes. If you do not think that your vote can change the outcome of an election, you are wrong.

We are now 6 days away from the 2020 presidential election. I urge you to locate your voting precinct and carry your spouse, sister, brother, father, mother, daughter, son, friends, and patriots to…


Continuity in Your Fundamental Beliefs

When your actions and decisions are consistent regardless of the setting, you become validated as an authentic person. Whether you are on a football field, in the office, with your family, or otherwise, making the right decisions and upholding your foundational beliefs allow people to see authenticity.

As such, be mindful that others tend to see your decisions, your commitment, and your motives in a uniform fashion. By doing so, you allow yourself to develop a firm and tangible leadership style, along with the accompanying traits that make a great leader.

This is important to understand because the same values that carry a successful business will carry a successful football team, a successful friendship, a successful relationship, and all other joint-ventures in your life.

Remain committed to truth, humility, integrity, civility, hard work and open ears and you will see all facets of your life flourish.