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Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Gift That Keeps on Giving: The Gift of Encouragement

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Today we celebrate one of my favorite holidays of the year – Christmas! This day tends to embody the spirit of giving across the world between family and loved ones. More importantly, families will receive an opportunity to share good times with those they rarely get a chance to see on a consistent basis. I, myself, will receive the chance to interact with my own loved ones and catch up on the current events in their lives. I certainly look forward to the familiar faces and the loving hugs and kisses that the holidays bring. To share time and love with family and friends is one of God’s greatest gifts that He has given to the world.

Another one of God’s great gifts is the gift of encouragement. The wonderful thing about this gift is you can share a nice and gentle word of praise at any time of the year. Words of encouragement doesn’t just serve the purpose of helping an individual through their toughest times, but it also has the ability to serve for a lifetime far beyond current problems and situations. Words of kindness are like planting seeds into fertile ground.

Although they may take time to bear witness the fruits of your labor, with a little time and patience, your words could pay handsome dividends in the future.
Growing up, my father was the most influential person in my life. He always believed in my abilities and talents, particularly in athletics, even before I ever had any idea of what my greatest gifts were. . I recall my father taking long drives into my hometown with my brother and me. He would use this time to impart his great wisdom and knowledge into the young and impressionable minds of me and my brother. In this particular instance, I was about 10 years old. My dad was never hesitant about sharing his thoughts and what he believed his vision for his children’s’ lives should be. On this particular day he was sharing with me his thoughts about how he envisioned my career as a football player. His words were “You are big, fast, and strong. You have the tools to be as good as you want to be. There is no excuse when it is all said and done that you can’t be an All-American if you work hard.” At ten years of age it was extremely difficult to understand the level of expectation that was just laid before me in that conversation. I hadn’t even played one single game of organized football yet and I was already an All- American in the eyes of my father.

The most incredible thing to me at that point in time and presently is that my father believed in me before I knew to believe in myself. That’s what strong words of encouragement can provide to any individual. My father provided me with an exact direction for my life according to the ability that he observed in me. The seeds were, indeed, planted and with time and patience the fruits of my father’s words would surely reap the harvest that he envisioned. I definitely encountered struggles in my quest to pursue my All- American status, especially in my adolescent and teenage years, but my father’s words always remained prevalent in my mind. As it was important for me to not deviate from the path that I felt was placed before me. Those words helped me through every single tough and challenging situation that I would face along the way.

One day during my senior year of college my head coach called me into his office. That was never a good sign, but
I always maintained a good reputation and worked my hardest to keep my nose clean and stay out of trouble, so I was confident that it had nothing to do with any disciplinary action. As I entered his office, he wore a half smile on his face. He was a tough; no non-sense type of coach, so the fact that he had an inkling of a smile on his face meant that he was well over joyed and proud of something. His first words were “Congratulations.” He then showed me the All- American selections that regularly came out right before each season began. As I begin to hear the words of my father replay in my mind, there it was my name in bold print “Aaron DeBerry 2003 Sporting News FCS All- American Team Honorable Mention.” The shock and amazement that roared within me was probably the most overwhelming experience that I had ever felt since playing the game of football. My father passed away long before he and I had a chance to celebrate the joy and happiness of his very words 11 years prior. I, wholeheartedly, feel it only happened because he spoke those words of encouragement and greatness into my life.

If I had to a chose a crucial time or period in which I made a conscious decision to be great, it would have to be during that conversation with my father at ten years old. He planted a seed in my heart that made me believe that I could achieve all that he thought I could achieve. The craziest part of it all was that I was silly enough to attempt to live up to his words with no clear idea of what would happen or where it would take me in the end. I also had no idea of the disappointments and heart breaks I would suffer along the way either, but it didn’t matter. Regardless of the obstacle that was placed in front of me, I still had important business to take care of. My father gave me specific instructions and getting them accomplished was the only thing that mattered, simply because he told me I could do it.

When you speak life into another person’s dreams, ambitions, and goals you never know the impact of your very words. Sometimes, all it takes is a few words of thoughtfulness from an influential person in your life to jump start your journey. We all need and should welcome words of encouragement to follow our dreams. Although my father served as the pioneer of setting the standard for my dreams, he wasn’t the only individual to assist me along the way. Once the course of your success is set, you must stay the course. That certainly takes many individuals along the way to keep you focused and determined to see your goals fulfilled.

My career as a player is certainly over. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would be able to take advantage of some the opportunities that I have had a chance to experience in my life thus far. Currently, my sole purpose is to pour that same level of encouragement and focus into the players that I come in contact with now. More than just being a football coach, my number one purpose on this earth is to inspire, influence, nurture, and empower the dreams of others in the same fashion that my father provided to me. The greatest feeling for me at the conclusion of every school year is knowing that I was given the opportunity to share a moment in time by offering encouragement and guidance to another maturing young man. As they get older there will come a moment in time in which they will then be responsible to pass on the same words of encouragement and guidance to a younger generation – the same way that I and others before me have had an opportunity to give to them. Thus, the gift that keeps on giving. The great thing about providing encouraging words is that you don’t need to be a coach, like myself or a in a position of leadership. Kind words can simple but powerful. They breathe life to failing dreams and strength into stagnant ambitions. Decide in your heart today to be the reason for someone dreams by offering strong words of encouragement. Your deeds will continue to bless those far beyond your reach. May God bless you and your family today, and I hope have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

Written by Coach DeBerry

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The Elements of Foresight – Piecing Together your Puzzle of Ultimate Success

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One of my favorite past times as a child was putting together puzzles. I vividly remember my mother and I taking trips to purchase these puzzles. It was during the ride back home, I waited with high anticipation to arrive and start putting them together. The greatest part of putting together each puzzle is that we already knew what the completed puzzle would look like before we even started because of the eye catching picture glazed on the front of the box. The next step involved me collecting my pieces to the puzzle and carefully arranging them correctly to create the perfect picture.
Those puzzles back then can now be compared to the path of success OR life, itself! In contrast, the actual puzzles weren’t as hard. Piecing together the puzzles of ultimate success is easier said than done. Thinking back to my childhood days, there were countless times I picked up the puzzle pieces and attempted to place them, but they did not fit. As expected, I became frustrated. In turn, that frustration would manifest itself in me trying to force the wrong piece into an incorrect position. I can say the same about my life as well. In the attempting to completion of my goals I have been guilty of trying to force pieces of my goals together that definitely don’t fit hoping and wishing that things would somehow workout. In a haste to complete my goals, I have been guilty of trying to force the pieces of my path together – hoping things would, somehow, work out in my favor. I can also admit to being guilty of not knowing what to do with certain pieces of my aspirations, ultimately deeming them as undesirable and placing them to the side for later, when, they were key ingredients to my success. In my maturity, I learned to temporarily take a step back from some situations and analyze what is actually being offered to me as it deals with the completion of my goals and how it will assist me in building that picture I saw on the puzzle box. I call this the gift of foresight. In this week’s blog I will discuss how to apply the gift of foresight to build your puzzle to completion without delay or destruction of your overall goals.
My life has been filled with many different goals that I have achieved. I refer to my goals as puzzles because every goal that I have been blessed to accomplish all came in pieces. In reflecting back, I can truly say that not all of my goals were easily achieved, provided a straight path to success, or even just fell into my lap. While some of my puzzles were quick and easy to build, most were rather challenging, tough to complete, had a lesson to be learned, and sometimes involved a very influential person who proved to be crucial to the completion of my puzzle. But just like building an actual puzzle, no directions or instructions are ever included. There was just the picture on the box to refer to, which made the completion of my goal that much more rewarding in the end.
In every goal that I have achieved, I’ve been able to perfectly envision what it looked and felt like before it was ever completed. Some may call this a vision. Another person may say it is mere intuition, but I most definitely view this gift as having a very strong sense of foresight. Foresight is defined as the ability to predict or the action of predicting what will happen or be needed in the future.
As I previously stated, I have had experience in dealing with pieces of my goal that were initially undesirable, mainly because I had no idea how they fit into the reaching of my overall goal. Let’s take a look at a recent event that occurred in my life. I was contacted by a head coach that originally recruited me out of high school. We have always kept in touch through the years. He invited me for a meeting with him to discuss the details of a job offer. I agreed and met with him and overall the meeting went well. However, he didn’t offer me the kind of salary I knew I deserved. I’m sure most of you have gone into an interview with a preconceived notion about how things would go, and if your reality/expectation didn’t match up with that offer, we instantly threw a wall up and voided out the rest of the interview. Well, that’s what happened to me, except I continued to listen attentively to the rest of the terms of the job offer this time. Initially, I was shocked that he wasn’t offering me anywhere in the neighborhood of what I thought I should be earning. I must admit I had to gain back my composure. I was caught off guard! Once I gathered my thoughts, I refocused and begin to see the bigger picture and how it all would prove to be one of the perfect puzzle pieces to my overall success plan. He understood that he wasn’t offering much money in the first place, so he offered me the freedom in the summer to work at other football camps around the country on the major college football level to earn more money. In addition, he also offered me a chance to create my own camp, something I have always wanted to do, but I never had the money, resources, or as of recently, the time. Because I applied the foresight to see the bigger picture of the plan, I now have this chance that will allow more amazing opportunities to come my way and apply my actual know how to create a successful football camp. The most important piece of the puzzle that he offered was a vital contact that can assist me with my future goal of becoming a head coach one day. You see the coach that was I met with is a very well connected man in the football industry. But there is one very important person that he is great friends with that I foresee will be of great importance to my future transition of becoming a head football soon. I have a very strong conviction that one day I will cross paths with this gentleman and we will form a great rapport that will enable me to complete my puzzle of becoming a head coach. Although, nothing is guaranteed and anything can happen, I’m willing to bet that my foresight about this particular move is pretty accurate. Without the proper foresight, this opportunity which proved to be a crucial piece of the puzzle, that I would have been passed up due to my need for immediate gain and satisfaction, instead of the ultimate success that I will have in the future.
You have to remember that foresight is, indeed, a gift, and we all have the ability to apply it. When tackling my goals, I am a very attentive to the details and heavily focused about how everything can and will turn out. But that’s what it takes when attempting to accomplish your major life goals. You can’t afford mistakes in your judgment and decision making when getting goals completed. Ultimately, without the gift of foresight you are blindly leading yourself down a path that is not only uncertain, but also uncalculated. Sure, things will pop up that you didn’t envision happening along the way. Don’t be deterred as that’s just part of your test of persevering through the adverse moments. In closing, remember that the greatest thing about applying your foresight to a goal is that you already know how your hard work and endurance through tough times will work out. All you have to do is see it through to the end. Trust me, it will be all worth it.

Written by Coach Aaron DeBerry