Friday, December 14, 2012

United We're Strong - Episode 2

In 2012, United Way of Peel Region embarked on a community engagement project through the creation of a 4 part television series entitled, "United We're Strong".

Its a television show produced for Rogers Television (Cable 10 Mississauga) that inspires people to come together and improve the quality of life in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.

As a long time supporter of the United Way, I was honored when they asked me to host the series.  Here's a link to episode #2 in which I speak to Sharon Douglas (United Way of Peel Region), Sandy Milakovic (Canadian Mental Health Association/Peel Branch), Karen Anslow (Nexus Youth Services & PCC) and Dan Dimitroff (Peel Regional Police) about issues concerning youth and mental health issues in Peel.

Check it out!

United We're Strong - Episode 2 from United Way of Peel Region on Vimeo.

See you on the court! Follow me on Twitter @TheAudman

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

37 Keys To Happiness And A Happier Life

The phrase “Don’t worry be happy” just have been expounded.  Happiness is officially defined as a state of well-being brought about by enjoying, showing, or marked by contentment, pleasure, satisfaction or joy. There are some keys that will help us  get to a state of feeling happiness and it really isn’t rocket science. 

1. Be here, now – Living in the present is the only minute that we can control. The past is gone and the future isn’t here yet.
2. Remain aware – While living in the moment, be aware of everything that is making that moment possible.
3. Gratitude – Appreciation for everything big and small is a vital key to happiness.
4. Accept that it isn’t easy – We are all different, but there is for sure one thing that is the same; life is often difficult and filled with adversity. If we accept this truth, the painful times are a little easier to bear.
5. Let your body lead you – Our physical body will let us know what it needs, (rest, sleep, fun, food, water, shelter, warmth) so listen and accommodate it.
6. Be comfortable in your skin – You have beauty of the body and the soul. If you don’t believe it, ask someone that loves you and they will agree with me.
7. Let go of fear – Happiness is strangled and suffocated by fear. Face your fears, see them as they really are (the product of memory, which dwells in the past) and overcome them. You can’t improve the past with actions in the present. Accept it and move on fearlessly into the future.
8. Become resilient – You know yourself best, so learn techniques that will guide you to bouncing back resiliently during and after difficult experiences.
9. Friendly relationships – We are all social beings and cultivating strong relationships reinforces our positive self-image.
10. You are smart enough – People with the highest IQ’s are not capable of any more happiness than those with the lowest IQ’s. Why? Often, people who are smarter also have higher expectations of themselves and life which keeps their state of happiness equal to everyone else’s level.
11. Accept change – Sure! Just hand me all your dimes, nickles and quarters. What? Oh, not that kind of change? Alright, change is not easy to accept, but I am trying to do it with a semblance of grace. Change happens every day to every one, so the sooner you can find peace with the whole concept of change, the more happiness you will find in your life.
12. Peace, be still – Meditating and remaining in touch with our inner dialogue is a vital key to finding, being and remaining in a state of happiness.
13. Enjoy the journey – Nurturing and attaining goals is great, but as I always say, “Stop and smell the roses” or in other words, enjoy the journey.
14. You’re all you need – Other people can influence your happiness in a positive or negative way, but they are not needed in order for you to have happiness in your life. Love yourself.
15. Manage stress – If you don’t manage stress, it will manage you and take your straight to an early grave. Stress causes so many problems in the body that it literally will kill you. I don’t know a better reason to learn to manage your stress than that, so having control of this part of life is definitely a key to having happiness.
16. Let it be – Over analyzing every little aspect of life, our thoughts and feelings is unnecessary. Take the time to just enjoy, observe and give up trying to figure everything out. Women could take a lesson from men with this key to happiness.
17. Marriage – Although marriage is not all white lace and roses, it is still a scientifically proven fact that people who are married, live longer and are happier. Just for clarification, cohabiting does not have the same positive effect as marriage. Obviously, the piece of paper and gold band have a magical happiness power that some speculate as a great proof of commitment and love.
18. Approval by one – Relinquish your need for external approval because the only opinion that really counts is your own. Have an unconditional self-acceptance and self-love.
19. To thine own self be true – Learn who you are and what makes you tick. Become empowered with a clarity of your authentic self.
20. Focus – Older people have it all going on and can teach us all a very valuable lesson about an important key to happiness. As we age, it seems natural to focus on the things that make us happy and ignore or banish all the things that negatively impact our happiness. Think about it, when you’re 95 years old, every experience is a little richer because it could be the last time you get to live it.
21. Be satisfied – Keeping up with the neighbors does not bring happiness. If you want what you have, you’ll have what you want along with the happiness associated with the feeling of being satisfied.
22. More is not necessarily better – Studies have shown that once your basic needs are met, money only seems to add to your happiness if you already feel happy. It doesn’t bring you permanent happiness.
23. Faith – Whether you believe in God, a Higher Power or something else, exhibiting faith in something greater than our self creates security and gives us a purpose in life. Feeling an ultimate direction for our existence leads to happiness.
24. You’re not alone – In case you didn’t know it, there are billions of other human beings inhabiting the planet. We are all connected in many ways, so no matter what you’re going through, someone else is going through the same thing. Remember the movie “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks? As he carried on conversations with the volleyball named Wilson, I was very aware of how important it is that we are all in this experience of life together.
25. Let go of anger – Anger stifles forgiveness and the unforgiving spirit finds happiness to be elusive. Face the circumstance with a greater understanding and anger will subside as you learn to cope. A key point to remember is that just because you forgive, it doesn’t mean that what happened wasn’t wrong. It just means that you aren’t going to let that emotion or the circumstance control you or your future.
26. Listen – Communication is such a major key to having solid relationships. When I had my manly communication epiphany, I started to watch how men and women relate with each other on a daily basis. It is totally fascinating! In our conversations with both genders, it is important to truly listen and to ensure the atmosphere is conducive to great communication.
27. Don’t sleep with dogs – Growing up I remember my mother saying, “If you sleep with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.” Well, I eventually understood the message. If you are surrounded by negative people filled with hate, their attitude will greatly influence you. The inner you is reflected by what you do, where you go and who you choose to spend time with on a daily basis. If you wake up with fleas, happiness is usually very far away.
28. Give unselfishly – An unselfish heart and charitable spirit, gives much, but receives more. Happiness can always be found in giving unselfishly of our money, time and talents. Be generous with yourself…often.
29. Strengths, not weaknesses – No one is perfect. Don’t expect perfection of others or yourself and I guarantee that happiness will be much easier. It is great to want to improve, but understand that you won’t ever be able to fix everything.
30. Smile – It is said often, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of putting a smile on your face every day.Happiness smiles.
31. You’re the boss – You are in control of all your actions, so don’t set yourself up with predestined unhappiness.
32. Judge not – Not only shouldn’t you judge others, but don’t judge yourself. Happiness gets bogged down when consumed with a judgmental mindset.
33. Give up the bad stuff – If this comes across as bossy or preachy, I’m sorry, but give up the toxic things that are bad for your body and soul. You know the normal things like drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, but even things like tanning, over eating and abusive relationships are things that can drag every bit of happiness into the toilet.
34. Courage – I know that it is not easy to be courageous in the face of tribulation and fear. Courage, however, is one of the most important keys to obtaining happiness.
35. Persevere – People who give up don’t succeed. People who keep going, not only succeed, but they are also much happier.
36. All or nothing – Be in your life, activities and relationships, all the way, one hundred and fifty percent.
37. Be like a cow – Have you ever watched how a cow roams around the pasture totally content with eating grass, mooing and relaxing? Be content with yourself. After all, you are an original.


See you on the court! Follow me on Twitter @TheAudman

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Here's Why I Support The United Way...

We all have reasons why we're motivated to give, support or stand up for a cause.  In my case, I've been a long time supporter of the work of the United Way and its member agencies for almost 15 years because  I think the work they do to build the capacity of our communities is so important to the growth and strengthening of our overall society. So when they approached me and gave me a chance to tell my own personal story as to why I give them my time, energy and money year after year, I jumped at the opportunity.

Check out the video below:

Audley's story from United Way of Peel Region on Vimeo.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Engagement: The Jean Luc--Picard Way!

Many would remember the character Jean-Luc Picard played by Patrick Stewart from the popular television show, "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

Picard was that self-assured, confident and reliable 24th Century Starfleet captain who guided his crew of the USS Enterprise across the endless reaches of space basically moving from one adventure to the next.  Whether it was doing battle with Klingons or resisting the Borg, Picard could always be counted on to be that fearless leader who his team could rely on.

I loved the show a lot and was really drawn to the cast of compelling characters from Data the android to first officer William Riker.  The occasional Whoopi Goldberg sighting was quite enjoyable as well. Overall, all the characters were great but by far, Jean-Luc was always the most appealing one to me.

He had a confidence and assertiveness to him that came across loud and clear and there was never a doubt that he was unsure or uncertain of what he was saying or what he wanted from others.  For example, look at the signature phrase he used to order for the Enterprise to blast off onto the next mission.  

It merely consisted of one word, "Engage!" 

That's it! No extended speech, no rant or no diatribe.

But the best part about it was that the entire crew got it and knew what exactly needed to be done.

The irony with Picard's one word command and hand gesture is that the actual process of engagement between leaders, coaches or star fleet captains is that it goes beyond just saying one word.

Effective leaders recognize that a key component of a healthy thriving organization is a well thought out and even better executed engagement strategy.  They also know that a foundational piece of a sustainable engagement is the strength of our relationships with others that include trust, respect and transparency.

So bearing that in mind, here are a few suggestions on some great ways leaders can engage those around them:
  • Play your position - Allowing team members do or be a part of things they enjoy will increase the likelihood of maintaining their level of interest and connection to the organization;
  • Stick to the clipboard - Clear messages that don't contradict previous directions will help ensure that you can be followed and your destination is clear;  

  • High five - Appropriate recognition or praise tells others that their efforts are appreciated and valued;

  • Keep the scoreboard running - Ideally any person on the team or in the organization should be able to clearly articulate where the organization is going; 

  • Step up your game - Be supportive of team member's individual growth development;
  • Be a point guard - Empower others so they can freely make their own decisions, this will likely increase their accountability because they have ownership of the decisions made.

If the organization or culture demonstrates that it cares about its followers then they'll be more apt to do things like stay late to finish a project, put in extra practice time to improve their game or stand up to the Borg for the sake of the universe.

So my messages to leaders and coaches is quite simple: Make It So!

See you on the court! Follow me on Twitter @TheAudman

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Pug That Everybody Loved!

I've never really considered myself much of a dog lover but much to my surprise a short, wrinkled faced Pug  recently put that belief to the test.  It was a warm day in the middle of September and I was sitting at an outdoor patio having lunch with my friend Nancy.  As we were enjoying the weather in a shaded area away from the blazing sun, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a white coated Pug who was having its leash secured to a fence by its owner.  She apparently was about to do a bit of shopping at the grocery store and intended on leaving her dog outside.

There was a slight breeze that would reveal itself from time to time but if you didn't have the protection of the shade, the intensity of the sun made sitting outside a bit uncomfortable.  As the owner gave her dog a rub behind the ears and headed into the grocery store, you could almost immediately tell that she was going to be sorrowly missed.  The Pug started off with a mild whimper that slowly grew in both volume and duration, while at the same time stretching its head up in the air and rotating it in a telescope like fashion as it searched for its owner.  The little Pug definitely got our attention but soon we weren't the only ones. 

Perhaps it was my own ignorance as a non-dog guy but I have to admit that I was caught off guard at the number of passerbys who took a moment to pause from whatever it is they were doing to show concern for the little Pug.  Because Nancy and I were the only ones in the vicinity, we were asked numerous times, "Is that your dog?" or "Do you know where his owner is?"

At one point, a group of about a half of dozen people walked by and each and every one of them stopped to acknowledge the dog in some way.  Including a young lady who went so far as getting a plastic container filled with cold water for the Pug to drink.

By this time, the little Pug was soaking up all the attention (literally) and acts of kindness and was clearly loving it. The one that probably floored me the most had to be the guy who stopped and gave the dog a drink out of his own metal water bottle!

I'm not kidding!

After reflecting on that experience a couple days later and replaying the image of a happy little Pug bouncing up and down because of all the attention he was getting, I spent some time thinking about how much of an impact we can have if we stopped and took the time to notice others?  What kind of difference can we make to someone's day if we sacrificed a little bit of our own? The possibilities are truly endless and the ability to do so lies in our hands.

I've written numerous times about the fact that leadership isn't defined by title or position, it has much more to do with the difference and impact we can make.  The situation will always determine what that looks like so don't count on the approach always being the same.  In the case of the Pug, a rub behind the ears was sufficient but I'm guessing that the people in your world will most likely need a bit more.

See you on the court! Follow me on Twitter @TheAudman


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ACTIVATE Youth Leadership Conference

This past week I had the honor and privilege of conducting a leadership development seminar to a group of volunteer leaders that were delegates of the ACTIVATE Youth Leadership Forum. 

ACTIVATE is a national youth leadership program that aims to inspire and support the youth-led development and delivery of sport and active recreational programs in communities across Canada, while facilitating youth engagement and leadership in the process.

The program takes an innovative approach to fulfilling Motivate Canada’s Youth-Driven Development framework by creating a constantly expanding network of youth leaders that can spread their knowledge and empowerment to other youth.  I found the group to be personally inspiring and I immensely enjoyed my time hearing about the programs and ideas they were looking at instituting in their respective communities all across Ontario. 

 ACTIVATE Ontario 2012 Conference 

Given the nature of the program and the magnitude of the initiatives they were about to undertake, I felt that the topic of CHANGE was an appropriate one to discuss with the group.  Since leaders are the ones who help drive change, it only made sense that we broke down its six key components and discuss some of the things they could do as leaders to support the change process. 

They were a wonderful group to present to with a lot of good energy but more importantly, they all were highly motivated to give back to their communities through the development of programs and projects that would have an impact and make a difference on the next generation of leaders after them.

As they individually shared what they intended on doing when they returned to their respective homes, I couldn't help but be in awe of what I was listening to.  Their drive, sense of responsibility and passion for wanting to bring about change brought a sense of comfort over me on the drive back home.  Knowing that these youth would be the next wave of leaders responsible for moving our society forward left me feeling excited about what the future has in store.

Congratulations to all of you! 

See you on the court! 
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Friday, August 10, 2012

The World Doesn’t Stop When Bad Things Happen So Why Should You?

As a lifelong follower of basketball and avid hoops fan, I've come to appreciate the important life lessons the game has to offer. When I was a teenager, I religiously followed the on court exploits of players like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson not realizing that the benefits would be more than just entertainment.

The life lessons of persevering through adversity, determination and hope were glaringly obvious when my eldest daughter, Vanessa became involved with organized basketball.  It provided me with a great opportunity to teach what I learned.  She was about nine years old when she started and played until her mid teens. As a “basketball dad”, I naturally was excited that she gravitated to a game that I loved. Despite this, I made a point of making it clear that the decision to start or stop was always hers to make.

During the practices, I used to sit on the sidelines and observe with the other parents as her coaches ran through various drills and plays. Despite knowing the game well enough to coach, I didn’t interfere with whatever instruction given by her coaches. I played a support role and left the “real coaching” for the car rides to and from practices and games. I remember one instance when Vanessa wasn’t feeling particularly well and experienced severe cramping just before practice started. I gave her the option of skipping out and taking a break but she insisted on going.

She got to about the half way mark when the pain of the cramping intensified and I noticed Vanessa really started to struggle and was moving significantly slower than her teammates.

Her inability to keep up slowed down the practice considerably and I could sense the agitation level in her coach rising. He perceived it as “lack of effort” or not trying on her part. My natural instinct as a parent was jump in pull her out of the situation and take her home but I held back and decided it would be best to let the situation play itself out.

At one point, Vanessa gingerly jogged by me during one of the drills with tears in her eyes. As I offered her water, I gave her the option of calling it quits. She declined and pushed on.

Her coach became infuriated and abruptly ended practice citing lack of effort by a "particular individual" as the reason. Vanessa was pretty upset during the “car ride” home and the tears flowed profusely the moment the door slammed shut. I have to admit that as I was consoling her, I was extremely curious about why she insisted on continuing forward with practice despite the obvious pain so I asked. She responded by simply saying, “I didn’t want to quit”.

Vanessa learned a very important lesson that day in perseverance and as a parent I couldn’t be any more thrilled. You see, the ability to fight the tough times is a skill that all children will need as they progress through their personal journey into adulthood and the earlier they’re equipped and understand its importance, the better.

One of the hard realities of life is that there will be days when things won’t go our way and you're going to want to quit.  Take heart in the fact that persevering through adversity and demonstrating resiliency will be the difference maker between you reaching your goals or not.  

I recently had an opportunity to listen to the incredible story of Kevin Rempel who's a member of Sledge Team Canada. You see, it was Kevin's dream to be a pro dirt bike racer but after an accident in 2002 that saw him fall from a height of nearly 30 feet, he became a paraplegic.

Despite being told by the doctors that he too would never walk again, Kevin wasn’t willing to take that answer. After months of intense therapy, he got back out of the wheelchair and back on his bike. In just one year, he kicked it over and went riding again.

His sledge hockey team has their eyes on  a gold medal from the next Paralympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014!  

Congratulations Kevin!

You can read more about Kevin's inspiring story by visiting his website.

Being resilient means bouncing back despite the number of times you've been pushed down and believe me, you will get pushed but at the end of the day you have the final call as to how far you'll end up because  nothing is truly over unless you believe it is.

The world doesn’t stop when bad things happen so why should you?

See you on the court!

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Friday, July 27, 2012

"Gifts From Others" Music Video

Here's a video that we put together about "Gifts From Others" I hooked up with good friend and local Toronto rapper, Mic Boogie to make this happen.

Check out the official video for "Gifts From Others" and Prepare to be Inspired!

See you on the court!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mentorship & "Gifts From Others"

I recently was a guest on Daytime Peel TV and I was given the opportunity to discuss the importance of mentorship, who some of my mentors were and what it takes to be a good mentor.

Plus I also spent some time chatting about "Gifts From Others"

See you on the court!

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Comedian/actor Rodney Perry on Motivational Book, "Gifts From Others"

Comedian, actor and former co-host of The Mo'Nique Show, Rodney Perry took the time out of his very busy schedule to shares his thoughts on "Gifts From Others".

The former United States Navy member turned funny man knows exactly what it means to serve as an inspiration to others and I'm appreciative that he took a moment to talk about the book.  If you'd like to learn more about Rodney, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

See you on the court!

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Don Yaeger on "Gifts From Others"

NewYork Times Best-Selling Author and longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, Don Yaeger provides his thoughts on "Gifts From Others"

“Gifts from Others”  is a powerful collection of important life lessons presented in the form of over 500 quotes, expressions and thoughts meant to aid our personal growth and development.  These gifts also provide a framework that we can use to advance and encourage others.

Don is a great guy and I'm glad that he was kind enough to write the foreword of the book.

Thanks pal!

See you on the court!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

My Mom Talks "Gifts From Others"

It was the world renowned business investor Warren Buffett who once said, "Tell me your heroes and I'll tell you how your life will end up".

It's a great quote with lots of truth to it and I think we all can admit to having heroes in our lives that we've looked up to and admired at some point.  It could have been a specific trait they possessed you valued, perhaps it was their approach to living that struck a chord with you? Or maybe they simply performed some remarkable feat that you admired.  I can say for myself that I've had people in my world who've displayed qualities I thought were worth emulating but they didn't quite make the cut as far as being a hero in my books.

That spot has always been exclusively reserved for my mother who was the real hero in my world.  When I look at the example she laid out through her daily living, it doesn't come as a surprise that I'm doing the work I do or that I've written a book like "Gifts From Others"

Winnie Marshall originally immigrated to Canada in the early 70's from Kingston, Jamaica in the West Indies  with a dream in hand of creating a better life for her four children.  After a variety of jobs, she eventually found employment at a seniors nursing home in he heart of downtown Toronto called, St Thomas House.  She worked as the head cook and was there for over 20 years until the home eventually closed down.

She took her cooking skills, good nature and distinctive laugh to the local Salvation Army church our family attended to help start up a community outreach program almost 25 years ago.  The program is still going strong today and my mother can be found at the helm preparing and serving meals to 400-500 people every Thursday on a weekly basis.

It's estimated that during her time with outreach program, she's joyfully served over 450,000 meals to hungry people from all over Toronto and her compassion for people has never wavered.

She recognizes the kind of impact we can have on one another through the process of giving to others and she looks to do so continually.  I remember her humbly telling me once after her efforts were publicly acknowledged that, "These hungry people are coming with needs and I'm doing my part in my own little way to help"

I had to correct her by letting her know that what she's doing is not little.

She's had quite a run with the outreach program and I'm constantly inspired by her dedication, perseverance and commitment to people despite times when she was tired or not feeling well.  Much of who I am and what I've done can be attributed to my mother so after giving her a copy of   "Gifts From Others" I decided to call one morning and get her thoughts on a book she helped influence to write.

Listen to internet radio with HCL Radio on Blog Talk Radio

See you on the court!

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gifts from Others Theme Music!

Check out the official theme song for my book, "Gifts From Others"

Special shout out to my man Mic Boogie for doing a great job by putting together a very cool sounding track and providing his lyrical skills on the vocals!

Click here to listen to the song!

Be on the look out for the official video!

See you on the court!

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

7 Reasons Why Exceptional Leaders Are Like Smart Phones!

If you've ever had to look for a new cell phone in the last little while then you could probably attest to the fact that there's no shortage of choices, features and options at our disposal.  Before you even determine what you're looking for, you've got to decide if you're in the market for a conventional cell phone or go the smart phone route.

Within each of those options, there's a bevy of styles and colours for you to choose from.  At the end of day, both phones perform the same basic function of making and receiving calls, however the additional options the smart phone offers makes it much more attractive and is considered the better of the two.  (This of course depends on who you speak with and what preferences they value.)

Smart phones offers a multitude of features and uses that go beyond just talking to people.  The ability to access the internet through any available wi-fi signal and download applications (or apps) broaden your horizon and make the experience of owning a smart phone much more practical.  For example,  you can use UrbanSpoon to help you decide what restaurant to go to, Tripit Travel Organizer to look after your travel plans or download WeatherBug to stay up on the latest weather forecasts plus so much more.

Owning a smart phone is the equivalent of having a mini computer in your back pocket.

So here's where the leadership comparison comes in.

As I see it, anyone can pretty much step into the role of leader and "do the job".  They might even able to produce results and even get others to follow them too.  That to me is a pretty basic function and is the equivalent to dialing out and making a telephone call.

An exceptional leader is much more like a smart phone.  They have a positive impact on the people around them and offer lots of options to make things easier to get the job done - they go beyond just making a simple call.  Their emphasis as a leader is more on "how" part of what they do instead of the "what" part.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Here are seven things exceptional leaders do to make themselves more like smart phones:

Communicate Instead of Direct
We too often forget that communication is a two sided street and listening is a big part of what makes the whole thing work. Exceptional leaders don't make a living barking directions or telling people what to do, they obtain information and understanding by listening and learning from the people around them.  Communication shouldn't be viewed as an extra task, it should be considered to be a necessary function.

Collaborate Instead of Control
Collaboration can best be described as a group of people coming together to achieve something collectively that they couldn't do individually.  Exceptional leaders recognize that the key to effective team work is giving people an opportunity to contribute their unique skills for the greater good of the team.

Proactive Instead of Reactive
The exceptional leader is always thinking three steps ahead. Working to master his/her own environment with the goal of avoiding problems before they arise. A reactive approach is dealing with fires as they happen while a proactive approach prevents them from occurring. 

Inspires Confidence Instead of Being Unsure
It was the 6th president of the United States, John Quincy Adams who once said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." The starting point in being able to do this is understanding that it's impossible to inspire others to do anything if you're not confident yourself. To put it bluntly, if you're not doing anything that inspires those around, then you're not doing your job as a leader. 

Open Minded Instead of Opinionated
It's not outside of the realm of possibility for one to be open minded and opinionated at the exact same time.  People who open-minded are willing to listen to and consider the another person's point of view but still can be very opinionated on certain matters.  The key is that there has to be a willingness to let go of their own bias opinions and viewpoints.  Otherwise opinionated leaders risk not progressing themselves or their people. 

Empowers Instead of Delegates  
Empowering others requires much more effort, energy and time for exceptional leaders however, the end result in the long run leads to a more effective and productive group of followers that feel trusted.  By empowering their people, exceptional leaders are displaying both faith and confidence while constant delegation sends a clear message that they may not exist. 

Inclusive Instead of Egocentric
Being an exceptional leader solely can't be about yourself and your hopes, wishes and desires.  Including others in the decision making process where at all possible helps to strengthen the relationship and build cohesion with those around you.  When its all said and done, people want to know that they're thoughts and feelings were taken into consideration and not left out of the equation whether purposely or not.


The Main Po!nt
It's not impossible to lead people by taking the old traditional approach of leadership of direct and command and still get results however, the exceptional leaders who stand out are the ones that offer more, give more and continually ask of themselves, do I want to make a difference or am I content with just making a call?

See you on the court!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

What I Learned From Coach Wooden

Anyone who's followed me for even a short time would know that I'm a big time fan and supporter of the lifetime work of the former UCLA coach, John Wooden.  His on court achievements of coaching milestones and records will probably never be reached by anyone ever again, let alone broken.  He was heralded as "The Wizard of Westwood" and while his remarkable accomplishments still leave many in awe until this day, I'm a much bigger fan of  his work off the court and the things he did to help grow the basketball players charged in his care into responsible high character individuals.

Coach Wooden was a wonderful writer who shared his life's work through the written word and had authored several books in relation to coaching, leadership and character development.  While I can't profess to have read all of his books, his very last one written just before he passed away in 2012 was probably the most impactful to me.  The book was dedicated to the art of mentoring and entitled, "A Game Plan for Life".  It spoke to me so much that it ended up being the inspiration and central theme for my own motivational quote book, "Gifts From Others".

"A Game Plan For Life" highlighted an important point in relation to the words and actions of others. You see, Coach Wooden spoke fondly of quotations from people like Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa and others who's words served as an inspiration to himself.  Essentially proving that a mentor can be anyone who's words of encouragement or message of hope inspire you to be better. Quite simply, the words they've left behind are precious gifts to be cherished.

While I never had the opportunity to meet "The Wizard of Westwood" myself, I feel fortunate to have interacted with individuals like Don Yaeger, Steve Jamison, Pat Williams and Andy Hill.  All of them have had personal and dealings and connections to Coach Wooden and continue to keep his legacy alive through their own work.  On that note I thought that it was fitting that I share a collection of 16 lessons I learned from my mentor, Coach Wooden:

1) Self improving never stops and can span our entire lifetime;
2) There's much power and influence in the written word;
3) Our daily lives can serve as motivation to others;
4) You don't have to have physical contact to touch people;
5) Wholesome knowledge doesn't have an expiry date;
6) Never discount the value of putting in a good effort;
7) Take responsibilty for those charged in your care;
8) Character character character;
9) The final score is the least important part of the game;
10) Anyone in life can serve as your mentor;
11) True love never dies;
12) Good character is at the heart of a good person;
13)Your approach to life remains constant;
14) Learning never stops regardless of your age;
15) Never ignore the fine details;

16) Always take responsibility for your actions.

See you on the court!

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Building Future Leaders Starting With My Own!

As I was thinking through this blog post and laying out how I wanted it to look, the popular expression "charity begins at home" immediately came to mind.  It's one of those practical truthful phrases that just makes sense and no matter how long its been around and I thought it was an appropriate fit given the topic.

As a parent, I feel that one of my main responsibilities is to create positive memories that my children can fondly reflect back on when they become adults.  Much of our learnings and behaviour can be traced back to our childhood so starting with a firm foundation is a great first step to leading a life full of greatness.  In addition, I also feel parents should be equipping their children with the necessary skills needed to be the personal leaders they're capable of being.

It's my sincere desire, hope and wish that my own children are able to use their innate talents and abilities to positively impact other people as a way of making their personal imprint on society.  Through the process, they're not only demonstrating leadership skills but also taking one step closer to their serving their individual purpose.

I take the job of a parent very seriously and that's one of the main reasons why I wrote my motivational quote book, "Gifts From Others".  I wanted to give Vanessa, Jahleesa and AJ something tangible with substance that can provide some form of guidance as they continue to grow and develop into the personal leaders they're individually destined to be.

To that end, I thought I'd pass along 11 quick important points in no particular order that I'd like my children and other future leaders to bear in mind as they embark on the journey of life:
1. Treat People With Respect & Dignity
Your ability to progress in life has a lot to do with how you treat others and the respect you show towards them, you're setting yourself up to reach new heights when you do and say the things that demonstrate both respect and dignity to those around you.  We all want to be treated this way and made to feel that we're valuable and of importance so extend to others and you'll see the returns.

2. Don't Forget The Sandbox Lessons
We were taught the importance of playing in the sandbox as kids but for whatever reason, we grew into adults and those skills got lost along the way.  Because our lives weren't meant to be lived in isolation, the ability to work cooperatively with others is an valuable skill to have.  Our minds will never be big enough to hold all the answers so somewhere along the road we're going to have to look to others for help through an obstacle or problem.

3. Give To Get 
The law of reciprocity says that every single action has an equal and opposite reaction. Smile at another person, and they'll most likely smile back at you. Be critical of others and they'll most likely have something negative to say about you.  Much of what we get from life is based on what we give to others but let's bear in mind that this only happens if we do so from a place of genuineness and sincerity and not because we want something in return.
4. Be Positive
A positive attitude is contagious and enough can't be said about the importance of maintaining a happy outlook on life for yourself and others.  A point that's oftentimes overlooked is that people tend to like being around others who help make them feel good about themselves and positively influence the enviornment. So while everyone has bad days, do everything in your power to limit those days to moments.

5. Keep Your Word
Establishing a reputation as someone who keeps their word will get you much further ahead in life then someone who is unreliable and untrustworthy.  Through the process, you'll also develop an attitude of accountability where you'll accept 100% responsibility for your actions, keep your promises and mean the things you say instead of pointing fingers, laying blame or falsely accusing others.  The quickest way to have people lose their faith in you is to demonstrate a lack of accountability for your own actions.  Remember, we don't only look to leaders for answers, they also turn to them for inspiration and support.

6. Eyes Wide Open
No matter how much insight and knowledge we amass, there's always more to be learned about ourselves and the people around us.  Life is always offering tons of learning opportunities and it's our job to be ready for the lesson when it comes our way even during our perceived mistakes and failures.  You see, the only time we truly make a mistake or fail is when we walk away from an experience without learning the lesson.

7. The Power of a Good Deed
I'm a firm believer that the true measure of success is tied into the number of people we're able to positively impact over the course of our lifetime. As a result, I would encourage you to never take for granted or underestimate how much of a difference our actions can have on others.  As the saying goes, even a single candle can light an entire dark room.

8. Be Truthful & Honest With Yourself
The importance of being truthful and honest to yourself can't be overstated because if you're unable to be truthful and honest with yourself, how can you possibly expect to do so with others?

9. Take Others Along For The Ride
Having a general idea which direction you want to go in life is important but the journey takes on an entirely new meaning when you can take others along for the ride with you.  The psychology behind it is that by helping to create positive experiences for others in the present, you're also contributing to their future outlook where its only natural to expect the best from life.  These positive expectations can lead to a healthy state of mind that makes the ride that much more enjoyable for all.

10. Be Satisfied With Your Efforts
I've always felt that it's far more important to tie our happiness and satisfaction into our level of effort as opposed to the end result.  Unfortunately, the end result doesn't always come out in our favor and at the end of the day we have to know that we tried our absolute best and be satisfied that we did as much as possible to achieve what we were after.  The results will come eventually and our level of satisfaction will serve as the bridge to keep us motivated to push ahead.

11. Find The Things That Bring You Joy and Stick By Them
This is very similar to the expression that reminds us to do the things we love and we'll never have to feel like we're working ever again.  Take the time to figure out the things that drives you to stay up late at night, motivates you to see a task through to its completion and excites to the point that its always on your mind.  Once you figured what they are, keep them close by your side at all times.  They'll serve as a reminder of the great things life has to offer and help build up your resiliency particularly when things don't go your way.

See you on the court!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Janet King of Kids Now

Kids Now is a youth mentoring organization based out of Toronto that equips youth with essential life-success skills that enable them to make positive choices, increase their self-awareness, confidence and communication skills. With the right skills and dedicated mentors youth have the power to reach their full potential.

Created by a Canadian educator, Janet King, who saw a need to complement the existing school curriculum with life skills development, has a proud tradition of helping youth, their families and communities.  Since 1999, has empowered more than 11,000 youth across Canada, in more than 1,000 free after school in-school group mentoring programs.  Mentoring-based programs like are widely recognized as contributing to strong, safe and healthy communities.

Janet joins HCL Radio to discuss the program and the impact that its had on today's youth.

Kids Now is aimed at grades 7 and 8, the ideal window of opportunity to teach youth key life skills they need NOW, before problems start to arise, to avoid dropping out of high school or getting into trouble and endangering their future income and employability.

As a past volunteer of the program, I recognize its value and impact on our young people which is why I'm donating a portion of the proceeds raised from the sale of my latest book, "Gifts From Others" to Kids Now.

Click here for more information.

To learn more about the program or find out how you can become involved, please visit

HCL Radio - Where developing leaders is more then just a game!

See you on the court!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012


TORONTO, June 12, 2012 – Audley Stephenson, Toronto native and professional speaker releases his second book, Gifts From Others a motivational quote book with portions of the proceeds going towards local youth mentorship organization, Kids Now.  

Gifts From Others is a powerful collection of over 500 important life lessons presented in the form of quotes, expressions and thoughts designed to aid in personal growth and development.  Readers can expect to enjoy an emotional and thought-provoking book that derives from Stephenson’s personal experiences and strong belief in empowering youth and setting positive examples, presented in an easy and fun read.

“My goal was to create something that people could not only relate to but find it of use in their own personal lives, and the feedback I’ve received is a clear indication that I’ve done just that.” says Stephenson. “When I became a Kids Now volunteer a few years back, I fell in love because of the alignment of the organization’s mission with my own of helping youth distinguish between good choices and better ones. This is why I want to give back to Kids Now."

$1 from every sale of Gifts From Others will benefit Kids Now, a Canadian youth charity that delivers free after school group mentoring programs to grade 7 and 8 students “We need more people like Audley as they are incredible assests to the positive development of a healthy community by mentoring profound life-lessons that make a difference in our youth,” says Janet King, President and Founder, Kids Now. “We are hounoured that he has chosen Kids Now to benefit from this wonderful initiative.”

Don Yaeger, New York Times Bestselling author and motivational speaker, provides the foreword to Stephenson’s latest work. Yaeger said, “Gifts From Others is motivational and practical read that leaves readers inspired and encouraged.”

To order a paperback or e-book copy, be sure to visit "Gifts From Others". For more information about Audley Stephenson, please visit

About Audley Stephenson

Audley Stephenson is a Toronto born native with cultural roots in Jamaica, West Indies. He’s an avid podcaster, basketball junkie and founder of two successful on-line programs.  Hard Court Lessons (HCL) Radio is a leadership development show that connects with experts on a variety of leadership topics who openly share their insights and thoughts.  He also is the co-producer/co-host of the popular NBA podcast, “The Breakdown with Dave & Audley”.  This basketball talk show has featured over 200 interviews with a variety of athletes and celebrities who share their insights about NBA hoops.

About Kids Now

Kids Now is a national youth charity that provides free after school in-school group mentoring programs to students in grades 7 and 8. Kids Now empowers youth to believe in themselves, to make positive choices and help them reach their full potential.

Created by a Canadian educator, Janet King, who saw a need to complement the existing school curriculum with life-success skills, Kids Now has a proud tradition of helping youth, their families and communities.  Since 1999, Kids Now has empowered more than 11,000 youth across Canada, in more than 1,000 free after school in-school group mentoring programs. 
For more information please visit
Media Contact: 
Jessica Sanchez 
Phone: 4169929743
Click here to view press release 

See you on the court!

Follow me on Twitter @TheAudman

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