Falling Behind … Lessons I’m learning

“I’m so sorry. I’m behind.”

“I’ll get caught up as soon as …. ”

These are phrases that I’ve not only heard several times recently, but I’ve also used myself more than once.

We all live such incredibly busy lives. We are involved in so many things. This is often why we are successful, but it also sometimes means that we fall behind in our volunteer roles. After all, it’s a volunteer role, it naturally takes second fiddle to family, work, and the immediate commitments staring us in the face.

I do not feel good when I’m late on a commitment. I actually find myself rehearsing telling people my “reasons” in my head – not because they need to hear them, but because it somehow makes me feel better .. and yet, it doesn’t make me feel any better. And then it gets worse because I don’t want to deal with the fact that I’m behind, so I put it off more,and … you get the idea

So, I’ve been thinking about how I can avoid this happening. I’ve had a few thoughts, and I’d like to share them with you.

  • “Flush it”, and then set a new goal and deadline. One of the things I’ve found is that once I miss a deadline or goal, then I don’t want to deal with it because it just reminds me that I’ve already missed the deadline. There is no longer success – just wrapping up failure, so I ignore it  – which, of course, just makes it worse.

When I’m coaching tennis or basketball, and one of my students makes a mistake, I often use the phrase “flush it”, and even encourage them to make an actual flushing motion. Dwelling on the mistake does not help (neither does completely ignoring it – but that’s for another discussion). I also constantly set up mini-goals to give them an opportunity to demonstrate competence.

Do the same for yourself. Flush that you missed the deadline, and set up a new one that you can now achieve.

  • Stop the “I’ll get caught up when”… game. I use this all the time. Recently, it was “as soon as I get a job” (so that my travel/interview schedule slows down), then it was “as soon as I finish my dissertation”, then “as soon as I finish this big presentation” … you get the idea.

There is always going to be something else. Yes, workflow and responsibilities  do ebb and flow, but I find those “ebbs” are never as often as I think they will be. Embrace the now, and live it. Don’t allow yourself to be baited into thinking that there will be some magical moment when the to list will be clear. Simply accept the reality, and work in the now.

  • Thank yourself. Thank others. Remember why you are doing what you do.

When I’m behind on volunteer roles, I don’t feel good about it. And then I forget that it is something good that I’m doing, and that I’m doing it because I care deeply about the cause. The problem is, when I forget to celebrate my own accomplishments then I also forget to relish in the reason of why I volunteer – and that is the real motivator. Thank yourself for everything you have already done and allow yourself to be inspired by the mission of what is yet to be done.

With that, I’ll close with a quote that Katrina (I believe) shared at a recent meeting. Stan Warinka has this tattooed on hir arms, although it’s actually a Samuel Beckett quote.



Two Weeks Later …

As we’ve worked on the design of the volunteer orientation, we’ve often used the phrase “find yourself in the family” as a guiding principle. This phrase rings true for me. When I was first introduced to USTA National, my friend and mentor, Scott Hanover, told me that the USTA had become his second family. I couldn’t agree more, and I always feel this most strongly during meetings.

I also find myself inspired by meetings. I’m reminded of the opportunity we have to involve other people in this sport and this family and to grow a game that can play such an important part of people’s lives. And it makes me want go home and do more.

boca1Our role in L&LD is a bit different that most national volunteers- our function is not directly related to growing tennis, but rather to growing, developing, and nurturing volunteers who give so much to the sport. It’s a different role, but also a role that positions us as a committee that can make a huge impact on a broader scale. It’s exciting, and I am excited to be a part of it.

The flip side to the excitement of the annual meeting is the post meeting exhaustion. There is often a scramble to get things done right before the meeting, and I (and I think many people) sometimes feel the need for a break after the meeting. Throw on top of that, that I defended (successfully, yeah!) my PhD dissertation the same week of the meeting, and I know I felt a mixture of excitement and exhaustion.

The good news is we laid the groundwork on the meeting to move forward. The orientation team started to frame out some key items and are meeting this week to to continue that process.  We also talked a lot about competencies. Our primary purpose was to establish familiarity and comfort with competencies, but we also had some productive conversations about moving those forward. Karen, Camille, and I are setting a time to chat soon and the competencies team will be meeting the first week of May to continue to move that forward.

In terms of our supplementary projects – product adoption, national meeting electives and “social media” communication, we had three separate idea generating activities. In all of three of those activities, however, I am seeing a common theme – a need for multi-channel communications to help educate our volunteers. For me, this may be the linchpin of our work – communicating with volunteers about competencies, orientation details, volunteer life cycle and more. I’m going to be working on a plan to pull all of this together, and will soon send that out for comment.

So that’s it for now. It was great to see everyone in Boca and I am thrilled to be working with each of you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. boca2

Teams, Competencies, Dissertations, and a Move

Sometimes I wait too long for inspiration before writing here. It’s been a crazy month – what’s new, I suppose – but, perhaps even crazier than normal … more on the personal side of that below. First, let’s get some L&LD updates.

I’ve spoken (e-mailed) everyone at this point about a team (or teams) assignment. Our three basic teams right now are a competencies team, an orientation team, and a social media team. Given the complexities of the competencies team, everyone will be involved in that at same point, but I did want to have a few individuals who were specifically devoted to that. We may at some also have a team with a focus on product adoption (board orientation and life cycle of a volunteer)

In previous committees I have been involved on, there was always 3-4 teams and everyone was assigned to two teams. That has a certain simplicity to it that makes organizing easy, but I’ve never been a big fan. Personally, it always seemed to me that it created unbalanced workload (given that some projects were bigger than others), thus leaving folks either bored or overwhelmed. In addition, often those projects could be broken down in to smaller pieces allowing team members to work on different projects throughout the term.

crazyThus, we are going to move forward with teams that are a bit more fluid. I just have one caveat – I reserve the right to completely change my mind at any time :-). If this gets too messy and completely confusing, we’ll regroup and go to a more traditional system, but for now, I think it’s worth a try … and hey, that’s how we learn, right!?

In case you are curious, here are some updates on the teams:

Competencies – Camille is going to lead this team and she, Karen, and I are conference calling March 19 to discuss. After that, we should have further details for you. For now, please familiarize yourself with competencies and complete the self-assessment (as descried in the e-mail)

Orientation – there has been an ongoing team working on orientation since last September and we are moving now towards transitioning that to new folks. That team is conference calling this Friday. I will start as the lead on that team, and then turn it over to Kim.

Social Media – just a few of us for this team. We’ll do most of our work electronically (as we should!), but will be having a conference call soon … one of those things on my to do list!

Also, a special thank you in order here to Ruth, Jeffrey, Kim, Camille, and David who are finishing up a podcast orientation to the annual meeting, which will be part of the next orientation module.

Finally, I think blog posts are not particularly interesting unless they also are a bit personal. So.. as many of you know I am in the midst of completing my PhD. Right now, I am in dissertation home stretch. I am scheduled to defend my dissertation on April 6th – a few days before Boca. I’ve been crazy going through final drafts .. and more drafts, and more drafts, and … you get the idea, but the end is in sight. Of course, this means when we are in Boca, I could be any of the following :1)Exhausted 2)Depressed 3)Ecstatic – hopefully, it’s just #3!

sparkyAlso, just this past week I accepted a position as a professor of youth and community development at Arizona State University. That position will start in the fall, so we will be moving. I am,  incredibly excited about this opportunity!

And, finally (for real this time), shameless plug – for my East Coast friends, registration for programs for the CTA I founded in D.C.  (Tennis on the Hill) open tomorrow (Monday). Check us out at www.tennisonthehill.org or https://www.facebook.com/tennisonthehillCopy of ToTh Logo_super small

It Takes a Village

Tteam2his wasn’t my originally planned post, but I had some thoughts today, and I wanted to share them as both some general background and also to provide some insight and information as to how I see our team working. I confess – I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately. Part of that relates to being a new committee chair and part of that relates to the normal craziness of life. Also, for those of you who were on the committee last year, or just know Richard, following in his footsteps is kind of like trying to follow in the footsteps of Roger Federer – it’s an honor, but also incredibly intimidating! However, as I was working on our committee orientation today, I had a realization and some insights. Realization – we did our committee orientation last term near the end of February. We are not behind as I felt like we were. Whew! Insight: I don’t do a good job asking for help. In fact, I’m always the person who says “I can do it”, and then sometimes regrets that decision later. I am, however, fortunate in this position to have an amazing committee team including volunteers and staff partners. My pledge to you then is to rely on you more! team3For example, Ruth, Kim, Jeffrey, Camille, and David just took on a quick turnaround project to put together the Annual Meeting orientation. And Karen has been immensely helpful in putting together the presentation for our committee orientation on Wednesday (it’s somewhat frightening how many e-mails we’ve exchanged on a Sunday!) So, let me give a gigantic thank you to all of who are helping already! As I reflect on our larger committee goals, I see a lot of opportunities for teams working on specific and time bound projects. Although we will likely have team leads for each of the three goals (to make sure we stay on track :-)), I envision several project teams that work on sub-projects that have specific time frames. This will not only allow us to  divide up the work, but will also allow everyone a chance to make meaningful contributions, and multiple people chances to lead teams. The work of our committee lends itself nicely to these kind of project teams, and I think it is an exciting and fun way to work. I look forward to working with each of you! Thank you for being part of this “village”. Talk to you soon! team4

Leadership Meeting Vs The Flu


with Karen at the cross-cultural dexterity training

As a new committee chair, I was excited for my first leadership meeting. I was also involved in some of the planning so I had a good idea of what to expect – time spent working with Karen to plan committee work, hearing about Katrina’s vision, learning from other committee chairs, council chairs, and board members, and getting tips on lots of best practices. Throw in a beautiful location and warm weather, and I was super excited for a great and productive weekend!

I also knew I had a busy week. I flew to Virginia Beach on Tuesday, then an early flight to Newport beach Thursday morning. I was literally going coast to coast. I arrived in Newport Beach Thursday afternoon, hung out a bit and caught up with some friends while I waited for my room to be ready, took a brief nap, and then headed to the opening dinner. Dinner gave me a chance to chat a bit with Karen and with Mary Conaway (past chair of LLD and past council chair) – it was mostly brainstorming and general tips, but definitely got the ideas flowing. I was also excited to have a few minutes to talk to Todd Martin (who is a USTA Board member in addition to just being Todd Martin) and was geekily excited that he remembered meeting me at an Intermountain event last year :-). I returned to my room and found myself with a bit of a cough. I kept thinking it was just exhaustion and sleep deprecation (I’d been up since 3 AM PST and around 20 consecutive hours by that point); however, by the next morning, I knew it just wasn’t fatigue – the cold/flu bug had hit me. Ugh! What bad timing!

love this! - Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Love this! – Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

love this! – Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.Friday was full of lots of great stuff – we heard from Katrina and some of her vision for the next two years. You’ll be hearing more about the ABCs (Accountability, Behavior, and Communication) at the annual meeting as well as some updates on U.S. Open construction and Lake Nona; Karen co-facilitated a great session on cross-cultural dexterity; we discussed team team building and managing and measuring work. Lots of good stuff – I jacked myself up on cold medicine and kept a cough drop in my month, but unfortunately, I felt like a zombie through most of it. After the formal part, I left the informal working time to go back to bed. Fortunately, we have a great staff team and lots of experienced committee members, so you’ll help me through all the information that I could have learned better at the annual meeting!

On Saturday we talked about our communication plan (I mentioned my blog idea), some Robert’s Rules or order stuff (interesting, but rarely relevant for us), and a bit about our communication within a council.

I had planned an extra day to enjoy Southern California following the meeting, but unfortunately Saturday afternoon found me asleep most of the day again :-(. On Sunday, Bobbie and I had a nice breakfast on the beach (the picture looks great, but I felt like crap) before heading home.

with Bobbie - beautiful setting - if only I didn't feel like crap!

with Bobbie – beautiful setting – if only I didn’t feel like crap!

In sum, the meeting gave me an opportunity to have some great conversations with Karen, learn a lot from other committee and council chairs, and hear some of Katrina’s vision.  I also left with this handy leadership training reference guide. I wish I had been more alert and able to make better use of the time, but it was still incredibly valuable and I am super excited about our term.

Unfortunately, when I got home, I was still fighting this cold/flu, so I am crazy behind on everything right now – but I’m feeling better (if I could just get rid of this cough) and we’ll get caught up one step at a time.

Stay tuned for the next post of LLD Spin, tentatively titled “What the heck are we doing?”

Welcome to the Learning & Leadership Development Committee Blog

Hi everyone!

935245_10151695722776151_1215768238_n - CopyI am so excited to be the chair of the Learning and Leadership Committee this term. We’ve got a superstar team in place with both returning and new folks, and some exciting projects on our plate – one of which (the committee orientation), you have hopefully already had some exposure to.

This will my fourth term on a national committee, second on L&LD, and first term as chair. As a committee member, one of the things I’ve found that can be occasionally frustrating is that it seems like there is a lot that goes on “behind the scenes” that I didn’t know about. I don’t think that’s always true, and I don’t think there is any ill intent to that  – we just all get super busy and communicating becomes challenging. So … I thought a fun way to address that would be to keep a blog.

So, that’s what this is … and will be. A simple, fun, informal way to communicate what is going on.  If the term “blog” for you falls right in there with things like “Snapchat”, “Tumblr”, “Instagram”, and other mysterious tools of social media, don’t worry, I’ll always e-mail out links to blog updates and will communicate important stuff in multiple ways. This will just be one fun way to stay in touch.

I just returned from the leadership meeting where we heard from Katrina about her vision, went through some great sessions, and had a chance to chat with Karen as well as other committee chairs and organizational leaders about the upcoming term. I’ll post another blog about that meeting in the next week, but for now, I thought an introduction might be in order. So ….

I am currently in Salt Lake City, Utah at the University of Utah where I teach and am finishing up my PhD in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. My research focus in on sense of community in recreational sports leagues, and part of my dissertation revolves around league tennis. If all goes well, I will be finished in late March, and by the time we met in April, you can call me “Dr. Eric” …I’m only half-kidding. I don’t really care for titles, but at that point, I’ll probably appreciate hearing it :-).

_dsc7181I have lived most of my adult life in Washington, DC, and in fact I still run a CTA that I founded there (Tennis on the Hill). I’m also involved in the Intermountain Section (chair of Awards last term, and I believe chair of Diversity and Inclusion this term), and on the board for Utah Tennis … lots of tennis in my life. I am married to my wonderful and beautiful wife Bobbie and we have one dog (Ginger). We love to hike and generally enjoy all the wonderful outdoor opportunities that Utah affords us.

That’s my two second introduction – over the next two years, I’m sure we’ll get to know each other even more. For instance, I have an unusual interest in Russian literature (not that I get to read much these days!)

I look forward to working with each of you. If you ever have any questions, or are ever not sure of anything, please feel free to reach out to me at ericlegg@gmail.com

Thank you for all that you do to help grow tennis!