I learned through Facebook that a soccer coach and mentor of mine from middle school died last week. Although we had not been in touch for decades, I grieved when I heard of his death, which was described as “unexpected.” It caught me off guard that the news impacted me like it did.
When I texted my sister of his death, she texted back, “That so sad; he was a great man.” I agreed with her and wondered further about how we both concluded that despite our disconnection from him for such a long time. I concluded that our disconnection actually affirmed his greatness as the connection that was present decades ago had that kind of lasting impact.
Chuck Blische not only coached soccer, he invested in people. He connected on a personal level and gave himself away. At least that’s what he did for me. He gave me what he had; he gave me himself.
I also remember spending extensive time with him as he prepared me, trained me and worked with me as a soccer referee. I started to realize that the lessons he delivered via soccer have carried over into many other areas of my life.
I was a 14-year-old kid learning how to officiate soccer games on a small army post in Germany. Chuck taught me more than the rules, he taught me leadership. He taught me that the referee has to be in control of the game but the game can’t be about him. He taught me that authority did not equate to arrogance and respect for others would bring greater results than the whistle and a red card. He not only told me these things, but he modeled them and he released me to exercise and grow in them.
Greatness is determined by what we do with people. We will be remembered, or not, by the people we invested in or didn’t. No matter who or what you invested in three decades ago, there is somebody in your life today that needs what you have. Don’t just tell them; show them. Take time with them and let them try. When they try, cheer them on and when they are ready, release them to do without you. You aren’t only investing in them, you are investing in your legacy. Just like Chuck did.
Thanks, Chuck. I miss you more now than I did for the past three decades and I realize now more than ever what you have done for me.