National Leader of the Month for December 2007
LeaderNetwork.org has provided two mediums for you to experience the leadership insights of National Leader of the Month Bill Glass: read them below and listen to excerpts from a conversation on leadership between Brian McCormick and Bill Glass. To listen to the podcast, copy and paste the following RSS link into your preferred podcast software: http://www.leadernetwork.org/leadership_podcast.rss. In order to begin playing the audio in a separate window, click here to play part I; click here to play part II, click here to play part III.
Honoring Bill Glass
Millions dream of one day becoming a professional athlete. By the time he retired from the National Football League in 1969 having been a four-time pro-bowler and member of the world champion 1964 Cleveland Browns, Bill Glass had already achieved that dream. But a stalwart professional football career would not be the end of the tale of Bill Glass. Rather, it was just the beginning of his remarkable story. Back in his days as a professional athlete, Bill Glass began visiting prisons to speak with the inmates. Following his professional football career, he systematically began a large-scale effort of ministering to inmates in prison. He founded his nonprofit organization, Bill Glass Champions for Life, and has spent the past 35 years sharing his wisdom and guidance with prisoners, kids in trouble with the law, and kids in schools. Though his focus has been on changing the lives of convicts, he has also imparted his positive leadership and wisdom to the thousands of team members who volunteer for his organization. He has authored many books, including The Power of a Father's Blessing. For the remarkable impact his leadership has made on the lives of so many, Bill Glass is the National Leader of the Month for December 2007.
About Bill Glass
President and Founder of Bill Glass Champions for Life, Author & Retired Professional Football Pro-Bowler
Place he calls home: Waxahachie, Texas, USA
Bio: lives near Dallas, Texas; born 8/16/35; married to Mavis; three grown children (Billy, Bobby and Mindy); eight grandchildren
Favorite quote: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.” –Matthew 25:40
Favorite book: The Bible is my favorite because it is the inspired word of God.
Bill Glass's Prison Ministry
What compelled you to select prison ministry
as the area that you've really dedicated [your life to]? Can you talk a little bit about that?
There was a man by the name of Gordon Heffern. He was on my board, and I was conducting my City-Wide Crusades much like Billy Graham. I was playing for the Browns and in the off-season conducting Crusades across the country. After I retired I continued to do it on a full-time basis...In 1972 I had a strong departure from [what I was doing when] Gordon Heffern said, "You really should try this in prisons. That's where it is really needed." The reason he did that is because he was doing a social action ministry in the Akron/Cleveland area…They had secured jobs from Goodyear and Goodridge and all the tire and rubber companies in many other places. They got over 5000 jobs over a five-year period for inmates [when the inmates got out of prison]. In those days, they thought that if you'd get a job for an inmate, that would pretty well solve all of his problems. [Later], we discovered that it didn't…really had very few success cases where a guy would get a job and continue to progressively do a good job and stay out of prison. Heffern said to me, "You know, we've got to give these people [in prison] some moral and spiritual fiber if when they get out, [we don’t want them to] go back again." [He said that] because in many cases they were just moving through a revolving door, going in and out of prison. They didn't really have much success to look at. We said, "We've got to do something to give these people more stability morally and spiritually."
So Gordon Heffern challenged me to do in prisons what I was doing at City-Wides. I took in Roger Staubach, Tom Landry, Mean Joe Greene and even had Michael Jordan go with us. On many occasions we would have 80-90% of the prison coming to the prison weekends that we were conducting. [In actuality], I really didn't want to [get involved with our prison ministry at first], because I really felt that I hadn't gotten in trouble with the law and grew up kind of a “square kid.” I was sort of the All American Boy, and I never got in trouble with the law. I really thought that a person who would lead a prison ministry would have a little bit more of a criminal background. I was really afraid that…I wouldn't be able to relate to the inmates as well as I should…[Gordon would challenge me and say], “If you say you believe what you believe, then you ought to try it where it is really tough: in prisons.” In essence he would call me "gutless." When you say that to a football player, his competitive juices start flowing.
I avoided it for about a year or two, but finally I decided to accept his challenge. So, I took with me Jim Houston, who was our big middle linebacker. I had just retired from the [NFL’s Cleveland] Browns, and I had all these contacts, so I took Cliff Ray, a [famous] basketball player, and Paul Anderson, one of the world’s strongest men at the time. Paul would pick up a platform loaded with inmates, and he would drive a nail through a 2 X 6 board with his bare hands: He executed all kinds of feats of strength. We had a karate expert, baseball players, football players, and athletes that represented every sport. What we discovered was that the inmates would come out to see these sports figures, but many would not go into the chapel. I decided very early that a lot of the people that went to the chapel really weren't the inmates who needed it most. We wanted to go for the people who never went to the chapel: the people who were the real hardcore-type inmates. They could come to one of our programs because they were going to see Roger Staubach, Tom Landry, the world's strongest man, a karate expert, [or someone else of distinction]. They weren't going to the church. We wanted to make it very appealing to the inmates because the inmates are people who don’t want to sacrifice their manhood by going to this "sissy, little Christian service," so to speak. The inmates are willing to go to an athletic clinic, and we tried to make it as interesting as possible. We talked football: We didn't talk religion. We talked about our particular sport, and then we’d share our faith in a very, non-hard-sell, relaxed way. Then we'd say: “If you want to talk to anyone more about this, talk with one of our teammates.” We had 50 businessmen with us on our first weekend, and they sort of became the one-on-one counselors to the inmates. We would just say, “Talk to one of our counselors.” [It was] not the come forward-type invitation that Billy Graham [would use], but just [a simple]: “Talk to one of our Teammates.” We discovered that the inmates stayed in great numbers to talk to the counselors. We saw that our program was having a tremendous impact. We had most of the inmates [in the prisons we served] coming out for the programs. I immediately began to get invitations from all over the country because there is a network within the prisons. The word spread quickly all over the country. I was fortunate because the warden of that prison that I first visited was Pete Perini who had been the middle linebacker for the Browns before my day (he was playing maybe 5 years before I played). [Pete and I] related to each other very well, and he said, “What do you want to do?” I said, "We’d like to bring in athletes, and go out onto the baseball field, have our meals with the inmates, and be on the inmates’ level." [Pete Perini] gave me everything that I wanted.
Within weeks, I had hundreds of invitations. Governors of states would call me and say, "Come to all of our prison." Commissioners of prisons would say, "Come to our prison." I really didn't want to do anymore [prisons]: the first prison I visited was the only prison I was going to do. At least, that's what I was thinking at first. But then I got more invitations than I could take, so I had to continue. That also happened with the business people. They said, “When are we going to do another one? We loved that.” So I was getting pressure from our constituency as well as [pressure] from the opportunities that prisons were offering. I began to see that this was really an extremely effective way to reach inmates. The Bible says: "The way you treat the least [fortunate] is the way you treat the Lord." So, it was realizing that if you really love Him, then you'll love the less fortunate. I think you can tell a lot about a man's character and spirituality by how he treats those at the lower end of the sociological scale. The Lord said, “Here's a man who is hungry, or a woman who is a widow, or an orphan, or someone who is hungry or cold.” And he added, “The way you treat those who are imprisoned is the way you treat me.” So, I really did realize that I had to go and do [the prison ministry], and I was given invitations from everywhere. It just all fell together in a beautiful way. You have to say that…[it was due to the] leadership of God. Now, we do 400 prisons per year. We are also working with kids who are in trouble with the law. We get mentors for those kids, and we also go to schools. The same athletes who go to prisons also go to visit schools and the kids who are in trouble. So, we really have a three-pronged ministry: kids who are in trouble with the law, kids in schools, and inmates in prisons.
We've been ministering in prisons now for 35 years…We setup up at a hotel locally and have [approximately] 30-40 platform guests and several hundred “teammates,” (counselors) that go with us. We have a lot of bikers that go with us. They do a great job. Inmates love to see the motorcycles come in. I think probably the greatest impact we've had has been with the teammates themselves. We've had over 37,000 different teammates going with us at one time or another to serve as counselors in prison, and they have continued to say, “I went in to help inmates, but I ended up helping myself more than anybody else.” When you give yourself to serving those who are less fortunate, it always blesses you more than the one you try to minister to. That might be the most significant thing we've done is to help Christians see how important it is to reach out to those in our prisons. They can really make a difference.
Have you been able to discern any leadership lessons in the prisons from some of the inmates? One of our most effective staff members, Jack “Murf the Surf” Murphy, spent 21 years in Florida prisons. He has a genius IQ and was the original cat burglar. He's been out now for 15, 16, 17 years, and he's been on our staff all that time. He's probably one of the most articulate people you'll ever meet...He goes with us, and a lot of people say, “Is this [rehabilitation] a lasting thing?” I think one of the answers is to get [prisoners] involved, it sends a message, “You can do great when you get out!” I tell them: “I'm not so interested in getting you to say ‘I'm going to quit doing something wrong.’ You need to say: ‘I'm going to do something worthwhile with my life.’” If your purpose is to stay out of trouble, you'll probably get back in trouble. If you reach out to others and help others be productive citizens, then you don't have time to get in trouble. That is how important it is to have a productive life as opposed to a non-productive life.
Could you describe why you identify prison as the place you most like to visit? I don't think that most people are happy. Life is too short not to have joy, isn’t it? You have to keep repeating that to yourself. Life is too short not to have joy and happiness, and you don't find happiness or joy selfishly. There have been times when I bought the lie. The lie is [something like] I would like to go and sit on the beach and dig my toes in the sand and do nothing because my life is such a whirlwind. But you know that really doesn't bring you joy. What really brings you joy is doing something that is unselfish and is helping other people. Really happy people, or really joyous people, are people that are giving themselves to helping others. If you're just thinking about yourself,…you become depressed. But if you reach out to helping others, you become happy. The fun thing about the game of football is that after the game is over you're worn out, but you feel like you gave it your best shot. I think I've been happiest in prison because I feel like I have really helped more people.
One of the reasons... is that the inmates are in crisis. You find very few adult men and women who make a vital change in their life, except as a result of crisis. [In fact], I know of virtually no one who has really made a life-changing decision of any kind, except as a result of crisis. Everybody in prison is in crisis, so they're all open to change. Most men you see on the street don’t want a change. It's the Lance Armstrongs [of the world (e.g. cancer survivors who have faced adversity to become great bicyclers)]...You see that Lance ultimately discovered his purpose in life and discovered what was important by going on and letting that actually motivate him to accomplish greater things. In prison, you see people who are really ready to change. You have to realize that they are open to the message--open to the change--and they do change. That gives you great fulfillment and great joy.
Bill Glass and Leadership
Advice to aspiring leaders: Follow the greatest teacher who ever lived!
Best training facility that exists for leaders: Soderquist Center
Books recommended for aspiring leaders: Live, Learn, Lead to Make a Difference by Don Soderquist; The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason; Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Could you talk a little bit about Live, Learn, Lead to Make a Difference and the other books you recommend? Why do you think they are good books for aspiring leaders? Live, Learn, Lead to Make a Difference is just a really great book…Soderquist was CEO of Wal-Mart and evidently made a lot of money and built a place called the Soderquist Center in Rogers [Siloam Springs], Arkansas. It is a huge, beautiful place. They bring in people and teach them leadership…The other book that I just read again (in the last two or three days) is called The Richest Man In Babylon. That's a classic, and I know very few real leaders that don't read The Richest Man In Babylon. It's a great book. Many of the books that are in print today are really just a rehashing of that book. It's probably the classic in the field. Of course, I've read all of [the classic inspirational and motivational books] like Think and Grow Rich. When I was playing pro ball, I was into positive thinking and mind control. Whatever you put into your mind will come back in your life. Whatever you put in your mind will come back in your play as a football player. I realized that. [Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich] doesn't say, "Rich and go think." He says, "Think and grow rich." You have to think, first, and then you grow rich. You have to think right if you want to be a productive football player. I think that there is all kinds of motivational stuff, and [I’ve read most of it]. I constantly listen to the tapes, and I really believe that Zig Ziglar is one of the great motivators in the country today. He is a great leader. Jim McEachern and I wrote a book called Plan to Win which came out a number of years ago.…It's really true that leaders are readers. I think you have to read a great deal to [understand] the thinking of other people. Too many times we don't really read enough. One of my great influences was a guy named Fred Smith. Fred…read between four and five hours per day, and he lived until he was 92…Fred inspired me; he was my mentor. Actually, he was like a father to me. My father died when I was 14, and I was looking for a substitute father. For the last 50 years, [that father has] been Fred. He inspired me to read, recommended books for me, and told me about the importance of reading. I think we live in a day when very few people read. They basically watch television or work on computers. I don't think it's good. You can learn some things from computers and television, but you'll learn more quickly from books. Charles Tremendous Jones influenced me a great deal on that. [Charlie] says, “Except for the people you meet and the books you read, you’ll be the same person five years from now that you are right now.” That's true. Charlie, of course, was a great reader and has probably sent out more books across the country than anybody I know. He either gives books away or sells them cheap just because he wants people to read.
The best book I’ve read in the last ten years on leadership is one called, Know Can Do! How to put your know-how into action, written by Ken Blanchard, Paul Meyer, and Dick Ruhe. It’s a must-read for all leaders.
Most admired leaders: Mother Theresa and Billy Graham. Can you talk a little about why you selected them? I think Mother Teresa was a woman who lost herself in service of those who were less fortunate. [People asked her], "What if you don't have a Calcutta where you go to serve others?" She responded, "There's a Calcutta everywhere. Find your own Calcutta." There are so many problems in the world that you will find your Calcutta just by looking out the window like she did. She had gone into a monastery or a nunnery in order to seek a deeper relationship with God. She looked out of the window after being there for some time without much fulfillment. [Looking out the window], she saw the needs of Calcutta. She went out there, and she found the very fulfillment [that she sought] in helping those less fortunate in the streets of Calcutta. Billy Graham was a man unto himself. I went and gave my testimony at many of his crusades for years both when I was playing pro ball and after I retired from the NFL. He had a sort of geographical presence of God around him. He was very much a mystic. No man I've ever met had that [presence] like he did. When you came within ten feet of Billy, you could sense the presence of God. He was a chosen saint of God for our age.
Traits most important in a leader:
consistency and perseverance. Can you talk a little bit about why [you
selected] consistency and perseverance? A leader can't lead haphazardly: he
must lead consistently. He's got to be predictable and dependable in his morals,
in his ethics, and in his honesty. You’re never justified in lying. It's like the
parents who tell the kids: “Tell them we're not here.” Well, they're lying, and
they teach the kids to lie. Most of the time when the employees lie, it is
because the management lies to the [employees]. I don't think you are ever
justified in lying to your kids, to your employees, or to people you lead.
You've got to be very consistent. If I say a thing, it's got to be something
that they can know is the truth.
Is there an important piece of advice that you could share that you've been given? I've had so many things. I've been mentored by the very best. My coaches were just men of great integrity and great blesser-type people. They've always stretched me and made me reach for greater things. Of course, Fred Smith was certainly that way. He was my prime leader (mentor). There were multitudinous things that he taught me. He was not at all reticent to give me great advice all along the way. He was very practical. He was a very spiritual person, but a very practical person, too. He always kind of kept me off balance. If I approached something from a very spiritual point of view, he would always say something to make me go more practical. If I was practical, he would say, “Don’t cut God out.”
As a leader, what do you do with somebody who is not moving in the right direction? Can you offer any advice on what sort of tactics you would utilize to bring that person around? You've got to be honest with the person: You've got to tell him his strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with him about how he is progressing, but I don't think you can be negative. I think you've got to be positive most of the time, and you can't keep the blessings just out of reach…If you say something nice, don’t tie it with something negative. For example, you've got to say, “You did a good job there today in this particular way,” and you can’t also say, “but if you would have only done this it would've been better,” because that is just saying that you did not make it. I think it's a very tricky thing to do. You've got to [understand the] person very carefully, so you know what motivates him. Most of the time people don't respond too well to negative motivation. My sons both played for head coaches in college who were very, very positive. There were some assistant coaches, though, who were negative. They always got along better with the positive coaches than the negative coaches. I think that the negative coaches can cause a player to play better on occasion through intimidation and fear but not on a very consistent basis. I agree with you completely. It just surprises me that some people seem to still cling to that notion that through fear and intimidation you can be successful in leading. Why do you think that is? I really don't think you can [effectively lead] very consistently [in that manner]. I think there are certain leaders who can get away with it, but I think it's short-lived. I find I do better at leading when I am just positive, point[ing] out the strengths and ignor[ing] the weaknesses. However, at some point you've got to honestly say, “These are the things you've got to do, and I think you're doing a good job in this particular way.” There are times with employees when you've got to say, "You've got to work on this, and this, and this.” I think you've got to separate the person from the problem. [For example, you could say], “You're a great person, and a great person like you should not make this mistake.” The mistake is something exterior to the person: the person is who is important. “A great person like you should not make this mistake. You're a great person and you don't make this mistake.” But on the other hand, sometimes you've got to change the person or change the person. In other words, it's firing or changing. It is not an easy thing to fire someone. But on the other hand, sometimes it's the best thing to do for that person. It's really the most compassionate thing. If you can't change the person by firing him, you change his outlook. You usually do that best by positive reinforcement. When you get past a certain point [as a grown man or woman], you don't change much. I think the really dynamic leaders are people who still have wonderment and still can ask the question “why?” [They are able to do that] because they are continuing to grow. Children develop most between the ages of three and six. After that, they don't grow very much. They quit asking the question "why?" because they think someone will think they don't know. Then we see mature people--mature human beings--who very seldom ask the question "why?" because they don't want you to know what they don't know. Here you are and neither one of you know, but yet you're playing like you do; you are much better off to say, “I don't know.” I often have to say to people: “I really don't know what that word means. Explain to me what that word means.” I've never had someone say, “Well, you ought to be more intelligent than that.” But, I think, you have to be humble enough to be willing to ask "why?" and be fascinated by it. [You should] not be satisfied just by saying, "It works," but you should say, "Why does it work?" Ask the question "why?" concerning everything, so you're not always trying to protect yourself from appearing “not to know.”…One of the great things That Jim McEachern did early in his business career was say, “Would you tell me the secrets of your great success? What did you do?” Jim did that over and over again to people. He'd say: "Give me the secret of your success? How have you been so successful?" People loved telling the answer to that question. I think that's one of the secrets to Jim's success is that he asked that question to so many people that he has grown himself. He has continued to be a growing person instead of just stagnating [like some people do] because they are afraid to ask that question.
Bill Glass Connects His Story with Our Societal Need for Fathers
Metaphor, story, or analogy for leadership: air and acid. Please explain. Encouragement is like air to the soul, and discouragement is like acid: it will eat you alive. My father was a blesser. He would sit on my bedside at night telling me what a fine boy I was and how much he loved me. He rubbed my back and kissed me on the mouth, but he was very much a man. He was a pro baseball player like I was a pro football player. He was not a sissy at all. He was a great encourager. I never heard him saying anything negative—ever—to me or anyone else. He was very much a blesser. He died when I was fourteen, and I thought I would just die because it left a big hole in my heart. But I had a coach, and this coach was a guy whose name was Stages. Every day after work he would stay out and work with me on how to play defense [in football]. He would yell at me, “Keep your head up and your back flat.” He'd work for at least an hour with me every day. I was the smallest, clumsiest, slowest kid on the team. I never knew why it was me [he worked with] until I realized that he knew that I had no father, and he kind of stepped into my father's position. Every day he’d work out with me and at noon we would lift weights, just the two of us together. Then, he would work with me after the practice was over. I got to where I couldn't be blocked [on the football field]. The reason is that I had great techniques. It didn't hurt that I gained 60 pounds and 6 inches in one year, but I had great technical skills. I played for 22 years (10 as an amateur and 12 as a professional). During those 12 years as a professional, I played for guys like [Don] Shula, who was a great coach at Miami, and Paul Brown. But that high school coach taught me more than all those other guys put together because he was like a dad to me. Then when he died, I met Fred Smith, and he became my substitute father. I've always had that substitute father image there.
Describe your story: Well, I gave you the story that's most characteristic of me (the story about my dad and my coach)....My dad would dream with me every night about how I was going to grow up and do great things. Then, when he died I had a terrible hole in my heart, and I had that hole filled by my coach. Then, when I went into prison, I saw a group of men in prison who didn't have this. I saw the tremendous vacuum in their hearts because they had no fathers bless them. I was on death row in Mississippi several years ago. There were 44 men on death row there at the time. I went from cell to cell and asked every man the same question. I said, “How did you and your dad get along?” All 44 out of 44 hated their fathers. They all hated their fathers. [Discussion of their fathers] triggered within them a tremendous hatred. It is amazing to see in a prison, especially among violent criminals, how often they have a father problem in their past. Of the 17 shooters in the school shootings that happened from the late 1990s to now, there was only one consistency among the shooters: They all had a father problem. [Another illustration is from New Orleans.] In the tremendous flood down there, [there was a void of fathers in the ghettos]. They said only 1 in 20 families in the ghetto—where there was the worst devastation—had a father who lived in the home. When there is no father living in the home it creates a ghetto. If a man takes care of his children—loves and supports them—they’ll build a strong family, strong neighborhood, and a strong country. When there is no father present, the result is a ghetto or the result is violent criminality. I've seen such a tremendous contrast [between my story of] having a great father and losing him, and having a great coach [to help fill the void], and the contrast [faced by many prisoners] of no father, or father who deserted, or father who was abusive. A woman in prison told me: "My dad beat me. He didn't want to bless me; instead, he beat me, and he raped me." You say, "What kind of father would do things like that?" The answer is a lot of them. Horrible, deserting, abusive, or absentee fathers are the cause of much of the criminality in my opinion…
What else can we do as a society to try to curb this trend [of criminal behavior and incarcerations]? One of the other things I say to the inmates in prison is this: "You've got to bless your kids." Blessing is a very ancient tradition started by Jews in ancient Israel where they would bless their children. To this day in the Bar Mitzvah they bless their kids. There still are not many Jews in prison to this day, fortunately. I think [a key reason is the] Bar Mitzvah. They bless their kids and make the kids feel [special]. Blessing means freedom to prosper. [It takes place] when your father grabs you, looks you in the eye, hugs you, and tells you he thinks you are terrific. [In other words, when he says,] “I love you. I bless you. And I think you are terrific,” he's freeing you to prosper. When a father doesn’t do that, the child is always hamstrung. It's amazing when a father does bless his children, how much freer they are to prosper. When he doesn't do it, it creates terrific, unbelievable problems. You bless your child in several ways. You do it with a hug, and you bless your child. You can’t do this at arm's length. You do it out loud. Too many fathers think this is understood, but it is not understood. It needs to be stated. I know one father who said to his 50-year-old daughter: "You know I love you, don't you?" She said, "No, you never told me! If you really loved me, once in about 50 years you should have said it out loud." When he was able to do it, they both cried for an hour. It was like a big dam break. It was a catharsis because they were able to say it out loud. A lot of men have a problem with that. They just can't say it. You communicate three things with this blessing: love, value, and belonging. Why belonging? The reason kids get in gangs is because they don't really feel they belong. The father needs to say, “You're mine, and I am proud you are.” You give a kid a sense of belonging. Mother can't do that by herself; she needs dad’s help for that (to make the kid feel he or she belongs).
All of those kids on death row love their mama. It’s the daddy they have the problem with. The father has to step in and make the kid feel he or she belongs. When kids get in the gangs they are really looking for a father's blessing in the gang. It's sort of a substitute family. They say things like, “I've got your back. I love you, bro.” The truth is that they don't have their back. The first time they get in trouble, the gang will split in every direction, and the gang never visits their gang members in prison. What you've got to say is that it's a substitute family, and it’s not a very good family at all. You say, “I love you, I think you're terrific, I bless you,” and “you're mine.” That's love, value, and belonging. You communicate love, value, and belonging in different ways, but what I say is, “I Love you. You're terrific,” and “you're mine.” It's kind of a little formula, but it's got to be believable.
I'll show you how [blessing] worked out with me and my family. One of my boys said, “Dad, you were playing football, and you were dragging us back and forth between Texas and Ohio. For twelve years you played pro ball, and I moved 27 times in the 12 years. I never had any feeling that I belonged anywhere. I’d get behind at school, and I really had a tough time reading. I wet my bed, and I felt like it was your fault. I thought you were selfish in causing me to move back and forth.” I replied, "I want you to forgive me because I was wrong. I should not have made you go back and forth that much." He said, "Okay, I'll [forgive you]." I said, “I admit, I’m not altogether sorry that I did that because you turned out to be such a fantastic person. If I hadn't have made that mistake you wouldn't be as sensitive and as feeling as you are. You might not have been as fine a person as you are. So, I am glad that I made that mistake. I admit that I made a mistake, and I was wrong, but you turned out just like I wanted you to.” That totally disarmed him. At first he said, "What do you mean? You said you were sorry?" I said, “No. I mean you turned out so great. I couldn't have possibly asked for a better human being than you are. As a result, it disarmed him because I even used this negative to bless him.” I think as you go along and continue to grow, everybody's looking for that. There are elements of that in business. Even some coaches are so successful because they are really substitute fathers. Very few players had good fathers, and so they need a substitute father as a coach. The people who I probably lead the best in my ministry are people who really need fathers. A lot of people who come to us to serve as volunteers look at me like a father, and I know that. Also, it occurs to them to seek out “father substitutes” for themselves as I talk about how I do that. I've always done that. I think part of the problem is kind of inherent in business, in sports, and in almost every area. One of the keys to leadership, in my opinion, is to understand that most people have a “father wound.” They have a father wound? Yes, they're wounded by their fathers. They don't feel that they are really fulfilled like they should be…You know, I encourage people to have Bar Mitzvah even if they are not Jewish. Oh, really? Yes. I was at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and I saw kids getting their Bar Mitzvah. In their faces, I saw this tremendous sense of release and power by having their father blessing them. It really is true: Kids are looking for that [blessing] … I think you've got to do that in a very sensitive way, because you can't just attack a child and bless him (or he might think you're crazy). However, children want [blessing] so badly that you can even botch it, and yet they still appreciate it.
What's next for you? You have achieved so much, and you continue to achieve to this day....What are your aspirations? I call my big, hairy audacious goal my BHAG, and I read a great book about bold goals titled Built to Last. [An example of setting a big, hairy audacious goal] is President Kennedy presenting his goal of going to the moon and coming back again in 10 years, and he achieved it. Even though he died within two years of the time he set the goal, [his stated goal] still carried people to [the moon, even] after his death. Sam Walton had a goal to be the biggest reseller in the world, and he ultimately [achieved] that. It is the biggest corporation in the world now. They had BHAGs: big, hairy audacious goals. Sometimes a big, hairy audacious goal carries your organization far beyond what you could have ever done in and of yourself. I have set the goal in our organization of franchising our ministry around the world. I think of everything we are doing in prisons and in schools, and with kids at risk, and it works anywhere in the world. We've done a lot of that already. We've been in many foreign countries. [We have not yet achieved the goal], but it's on the drawing boards. We've already achieved it to a degree as we have been in Brazil, Mexico, England, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. We've done the same things everywhere, and it works equally well with other countries. We would like to do it all over the world, and we've done it already to some lesser or greater degree. [But we have not yet done it like] I'd like to see us do it in the future.
For More About Bill Glass
Visit the website for Bill Glass Champions for Life by clicking here.
Read Bill's books, including his recently-released book, The Power of a Father's Blessing.