Recruiting heart for optimal impact

170526 FeerlessCoachAs a way to get us started today, I am sharing excerpts from the terrific piece “An Open Letter to the Athlete We Must Stop Recruiting” written by , D-I NCAA Coach and Founder of The Fearless Coach.

So many lessons. So much wisdom shared.

Be sure to read the entire article HERE.

170526 FeerlessCoaching

Target audience: athletes, future athletes, parents, coaches, boosters, school administrators.


After observing only a few minutes of the team warm-up, I noted that you were clearly the most gifted on your squad. However, your talent was unfortunately overshadowed by the lack of energy and effort you displayed. 

In the second half, when you scored I noticed you waited for the other players to huddle around you and celebrate. In contrast, when a teammate scored, you retreated to your position without acknowledging or congratulating them.

You added much depth in the scoring category with some impressive runs but when you made mistakes you became vocal and eager to point out where your teammates needed to improve.

[P]lease bear in mind, none of this makes you a bad person only potentially, a bad teammate.

By choosing not to recruit you, I am saving my team culture.

Thank you Coach Carlson for such a brilliant and inspiring piece. And one that is so very relatable inside and outside of sports.

When I recruited for the basketball teams I coached, my bride would often note, “Tom, you always recruit for heart.” And she was right.

That said, did I have some extraordinary athletes on my teams? Absolutely. And each and every one of these talented young men had heart to match.

And both now and then, when my bride or my son Tommy and I scout or just watch a game, we continue this tradition. We seek out the heart in a player. And we assess the heart (character and culture) of the team.

Want to know who discovered former Boston Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis? You got it. We did … (I say only half kidding).  You see, when Youk was playing Double A ball for the Portland Sea Dogs we (in this case my bride and I, as Tommy was quite young at the time) took note. And his heart was as obvious as his talent.

Want to know who discovered Julian Edelman? Well, you get it. And yes, we saw his heart even when he was behind the great Wes Welker on the New England Patriots depth chart.

That said, as a coach and as a scout did I also make mistakes? Absolutely. Plenty.

NOTE: Coach Carlson believes the recruitment success rate to be 50/50.

And I know for me, more often than not, when I have made mistakes they were made when I too fell in love with talent over heart. (Yes, not listening to my own heart).

And you know what? This does not only apply to Athletic Coaches and Athletes.

As a healthcare leader, I also recruit for heart.

If an individual has heart, passion, and integrity (for me all three go hand-in-hand) and solid skills …there is greater potential to position him/her to provide great value to the team, the organization, the community, and all those we serve. And in doing so, together, the culture will remain strong. And together no mountain will not be climbed. No goal not achieved.

If an individual has extraordinary skills (talent) but lacks the heart, passion and integrity … there may be some short-term success, but in the long run the ROI associated with the investment in this individual will be negative, as will the impact on culture and thus team, organization, community, and all those they could have served. The same level of success will not be achieved. The mission will not be honored. And harm may even be caused.

Lesson learned: Talent is great. But only when HEART is equal or greater will we best lead and serve and love others … always and all ways. And isn’t that why we are here?

And again, if you have not done so yet, please read Coach Carlson’s full article HERE and be sure to relate her message to you, your team (athletic, work, other), your organization, your community, and all you serve.

170526 heart



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