I like to think I drop knowledge to whoever is willing to listen daily, last night while talking to my son I was dropping bomb after bomb of straight facts ( at least in my head).

He was complaining about people calling him a ball hog and I knew this was going to be one of those never ending stories. As a parent its easy to let our kids ramble on about things we think are meaningless and then just hit them with a quick bullshit answer. I try not and operate like that, If he has a story I will stop what I am doing or finishing what I am doing and lock into what he is saying. Then try my best to provide feedback and 11 year old can understand. It’s not always easy, actually its never easy, but its always worth it.

His story basically was in gym class and recess he is usually the one scoring and when he does pass teammates rush to 3 point line or stand there and jack 3s (I blame Steph Curry) rarely making them and frustrating me son who just wants to win. So he decides to stop giving them the ball and get to the basket for layups. Teammates get mad and start the ball hog talk. At 11 he probably is being a ball hop because they all suck and he hasn’t earned the right or develop the skills yet to be the focal point of his pick up hoops games. However, as a former ball hog turned leader I knew exactly where he was coming from.

If you are a basketball fan you would consider Micheal Jordan,Kobe Bryant, Lebron James as some of the best leaders to ever play the game. If you aren’t a basketball fan you would most likely consider them a ball hog. Let me explain…

A ball hog (Jerk) is someone who doesn’t work to get teammates involved and takes a lot of bad shots. Now some of those shots might go in and he may even win a few games but the majority of the time they’ll lose . When things don’t go their way they tend to blame teammates and take no accountability for why team is struggling. No one wants to play with them.

Now a scorer (leader) isn’t always the top scorer but the majority of the time they are simply because to win you need to score more than the other team. The scorer knows the team success depends heavily on their performance and isn’t afraid to hold teammates accountable in order to reach the goal. They will be heavily critical of a teammates play, but what makes them a leader is they help the teammates understand the reasoning of the criticism. Helping the player develop, which in turn helps the team get better.

OK back to my story… I explained to him that rather than letting the frustration get to him this was his opportunity to start developing his skills as a leader. If he wants them to respect and listen to him, he needs to be sure he has the skill set to take the shots hes taking rather than passing. Be willing to make the passes that will put the team in the best position to score regardless of who that person is. Out hustle everyone, that label try hard that kids try to make fun of is a title you want to have, so be the try hard and earn the respect.

Communicate with team to why he thinks passing out to them for 3s is a bad idea, and explain to them what they should do when they see him driving to the basket. In basketball and every other sport you have to communicate but also make sure your team is comprehending. Talking is pointless if they don’t understand what you are saying.

Be patient with them and if they are willing to listen and work, never give up on them. We all learn at different paces, a jerk will tell you once and send you on your way, a leader is going to stick with you throughout the process.

Know your strengths and surround yourself with teammates whose strengths are your weakness. It takes a powerful person to admit when they aren’t good at something. Most people will make excuses and try and cover up for their short comings. A leader is going to own it, find someone who can do it or find someone who does it better and learn from them.

I don’t think leaders and jerks are born, I think they are carved out over time. Based on what they are exposed to and how they learn to handle it. As parents, coaches, community members we all have an opportunity to help guide others in through path to becoming a leader or a jerk. We just have to be willing to listen to understand not just to respond.

Its impossible to tell if my son is going to be a leader of a jerk, I am pushing 40 and I am still trying to figure out which one I am. But something I can say with confidence about myself and my kids they are themselves. You don’t need a line of people behind you to be a leader. It takes accountability, honesty, empathy, self love, communication, patience, and if you stick to your morals others will join you. Just be careful how you treat them a leader is a few mistreated people away from a jerk at all times.

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