Tag Archives: Bears

Jay Cutler and Wanting Something That’s Just Not There

So after last night’s debacle and the media and social media aftermath last night and today, I find it to be incredibly appropriate to re-post this on Jay Cutler and his affect on people.


So my wife after reading my blog post on Jay Cutler yesterday and after reading some of what’s out there online said the following line to me today, “It’s pretty evident that a lot of people really want something from him that he’s not able to give.”  She’s genius always, but really loved her assessment of what’s been blowing up in the sports world the last couple of days.

When I think about the most intense conflict situations on teams that I’ve been a part of or on teams that I’ve mediated, this same dynamic is almost always at work.  People are wanting something from some one and often what people are wanting is just not there to be experienced.   What someone is wanting is just not a part of the skill set or capacity of the person that it is wanted from.  This creates a tough dynamic and actually a more reactionary cycle.

Here’s how it goes.  There’s some type of legitimate need or desire.  It doesn’t get met or reciprocated.  The original desire transforms into a demand through lack of reflection and self-control amidst increasing anxiety.  Resistance increases in defensiveness and anxiety-in-kind.  Demands with more anxiety and lack of response or solution turn into demonization and everything becomes personal and so on and so on.

If one steps back from the Jay Cutler saga you see millions of people, fans, athletes all fairly strongly demanding certain types of behavior from Jay Cutler:  smile more, be more encouraging, be more involved, be nicer in public, be more passionate on the sidelines, be tougher, be more skilled, be more clutch, be more available, be more authentic…basically, be somebody else.

If you are in a anxious situation on your team or in your family or in your community, maybe somebody is doing this to you or maybe you’re doing this to someone else.  I’ve wanted things from people that they didn’t have it in them to give before.  Other people have wanted things from me before that I didn’t have it in me to give them.  So what do you do?  Talk louder?  Ask more clearly?  Demand stronger?

Communication can be a beautiful thing so healthy interactions always start with open and honest attempts at dialogue.  But sometimes you run into brick walls and limitations.  Sometimes people want things that just aren’t there to be given back to them.

My suggestion – after trying to communicate through it as adults and honestly expressing desires and preferences and if it’s still not working – just be sad about it and figure out what you need to do next to steward what you do have control of.  To keep demanding what’s not there is insane and only ends up fueling an increasingly toxic environment.  So learn to be sad and accept people’s limitations, while also learning how to own your own feelings and disappointments.

That is one of the top 2 or 3 leadership and life lessons that I’ve learned in the past 15 years of ministry and leadership.

The more people try to get Jay Cutler to be someone he is not or be at a certain level of maturity or relational capacity that he is not at yet, the more anxiety will build and result in more extreme reactions.  Certain people will sucked into Jay being scapegoated and become unabashed Jay supporters defending him from the world.  Others will be unable to see Jay’s humanity or give him the benefit of the doubt or see his positive attributes.  For systems fans, this would the be fusion / cut-off dynamic.

Differentiated people can critique Jay for what he does not do well (and there are several things here) and they can also maintain an open mind to see positives when they are there (and there are several positives).   They can be learners too.  It’s the same on teams, families, and whatever system you might be in.  Differentiated people can recognize limitations without demonizing and placing demands.  They can see a greater range of choices for themselves, while immature and anxious people typically feel bound to their situation and feel trapped without choices.

So think about a relationship that you might have that you are demanding something that just might not be there.  What are your choices?  What are the limitations?  How might you respond in a way that focuses on your own mature functioning rather than trying to change someone that might not have the capacity to change (or change fast enough for you)?

Scapegoating – 2011 Chicago Bears Style

I’m still recovering from the chaotic and roller coaster of a game that was the NFC championship yesterday between the Bears and Packers.As a third generation Bears Fan I really wanted that one bad for the Bears and it didn’t happen.  And now Chicago is in the middle of a Chernobyl-esque meltdown.

Bears fans on twitter have become a digital lynch mob looking to string up the quarterback who let them down through ineffectiveness and injury and the coaching staff who got burned by some foolish moves.Nevermind that I only heard ONE media person or fan at the beginning of the season even pick this team to have more than 5-7 wins.  It was shocking that the Bears were even in this position.

Here’s a quote I used in a older post called “Scapegoating: 1862 Style”, but it’s appropriate to use here.  It’s from Goodwin’s Team of Rivals documenting Abraham Lincoln’s selection and leadership of his cabinet through a critical point in history.  The quote itself refers to public reaction against Edwin Stanton,  but the last 24 hours it applies pretty well to what’s going in Chi-Town.

“The first necessity of every community after a disaster, is a scapegoat. It is an immense relief to find some one upon whom can be fastened all the sins of a whole people, and who can then be sent into the wilderness, to be heard of no more.” – New York Times, July 7, 1862 (on pg. 447 in Team of Rivals)

The addendum to this is that once a scapegoat is sent to the wilderness, another one must ultimately take his or her place because that’s the role of a scapegoat in an anxious community or social system – to give the community an excuse for not seeing and dealing with reality and taking personal responsibility to function maturely.The “Jay Cutler controversy” as it’s been dubbed is a fascinating test case of how social media can provide the kerosene to fan the flame to burn someone at the stake or provide the ropes to hang people from the trees.

One thing might be worse or more toxic than a mob mentality – and that’s an anonymous mob that is protected from consequences.  Maybe that’s why a lot of mob’s back in the day sported hoods.  It’s cowardice.  It’s dark in its nature.  It’s humanity at its worst.

I was utterly disappointed by the game.  I, along with the rest of Bears fans, threw up in my mouth a bit when Todd Collins the backup came in after his showing earlier in the season and began going through the stages of grief while still in the third quarter. It was a very bad way to end a season watching your 3rd string QB try to pull off a miracle against hated rivals for one of sports ultimate achievements.

But some of the darkness of scapegoating, which is on display now shows up in a couple ways.  First, there is an obvious effort to not just put the blame at Jay Cutler’s feet, but to punish him deeply even before all the facts are presented.   That’s where “venting” shifts from making people accountable to attacking them.   And secondly, there have been blatant demonstrates on twitter and elsewhere of people and players attacking Jay to build up their own self-perception as a tough guy or ultimate competitor.  Again, at the core it’s reinforcing your own desired image at the expense of another person.  The more cowardly or weak you make someone else, the stronger and more awesome you can believe yourself to be.

Jay needs to be held accountable for what he was unable to do when he was competing, but no person needs to be crucified by a mob – faceless or otherwise.People are disappointed (I am) and should be – but how we as people handle our disappointments reveals a lot about who we are as people.  Do we take our disappointments out on other people (or God) or do we deal with them like adult human beings?  There’s no shortage of people using God or other people in their lives as an excuse for their own immature or even caveman behavior in relationships and community.

Handling disappointment and learning to grieve maturely is a part of being a grown up.  But it doesn’t seem like there are too many grown ups in Chicago today…But look at the bright side, maybe Steve Bartman can come out of hiding and move back to Chi-town!

Answering Critics

It’s the 25th anniversary this season of the ’85 Chicago Bears Superbowl season.  I thought I would post a bit of leadership wisdom from a member of that illustrious team.Steve McMichael, nicknamed Mongo, was a defensive tackle for the Bears and until a couple weeks ago he held the franchise record for games played for the Bears.  He had close to 100 sacks as a defensive tackle which is pretty impressive.I heard him on a radio interview about six months ago and he provided this soundbite:

“When you answer your critics they matter.”

I don’t believe this to be 100% true all of the time.  There’s times where silence and ignoring the rise of dissension and opposition around you only leads to increased anxiety and increased fanaticism among critics.

That being said, when you spend your time reacting to critics you end up allowing them to dictate your leadership and how you are going to do your job.  Sometimes you should listen to the critics.  Sometimes you shouldn’t.  I can’t help thinking that what causes some leaders to stand out over others is that they can tell the difference between what they should listen to and what they shouldn’t.

McMichael is mostly referring to a select group of people that many in my generation and younger would best describe as “haters.”  The people that want to see you fail.  I don’t meet many of these in ministry (my profession), which is a good thing, but there is a ministry version of them.  It’s those that want to see you lose influence because they have a philosophical difference with how you see things or how you go about relationships or how you do your business.   And regarding these people, I agree with Mongo.  We can’t afford to lead in ways that makes these people matter more than they do.

Navigating critics takes character, emotional maturity, skill, and a philosophical framework of where the voice of the critic fits in your leadership paradigm. I hope this gets you thinking about where critics stand in your paradigm and where stand in your ability to navigate them maturely and wisely.

How do you walk the line of identifying voices of wisdom in the crowd and guarding yourself against the toxic wave of anxiety that comes from people that will seek to tear you down to build themselves up?

For other elements of wisdom from the ’85 Bears check out Mike Ditka’s insights on encouraging your people.

Help Me Name My Daughter!

We’re dragging on getting a name for our third child, our daughter who is on the way sometime in the next couple months.I like to integrate important areas of my life so I thought I might see how I can integrate my passion of Chicago sports teams with my new daughter’s name.Vote for the one you think is best.  I’m including a list below the poll of all who are referenced here if you’re not up to speed on Chicago sports lore.   But please vote for something!

Of course, my wife and probably my other daughter have full veto rights, but I’m hoping I can create a groundswell of momentum and shock the world 🙂  If you think of a different combination that works better, leave it in the comments section!Walter Payton, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, Jim McMahon, Mike Ditka, Dick Butkus, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, Wrigley Field, Addison St. (cross-street of Wrigley)

Sharing Some Thoughts On My Son

As a warning…I’m not going down the deep reflective path here.  However, since finding out baby #3 is a girl I’ve looked at Colin a bit differently knowing that he will be the only son.  I wanted to share a few things I enjoy about him followed by a few brief dialogues I’ve had with him recently that capture a little bit of the Father-Son Dynamic.  I think this is a post worth reading the whole way through, but of course I’m biased 🙂

  • I love Colin’s personality.  He’s a riot.  He’s extraverted, loves attention, has high inclusion needs, likes to entertain and be in the mix – pretty much in direct contrast to my nature.
  • I love that he loves people.  It took him 2 1/2 years of physical and social development to surpass my social ability and make more friends than me.  Some people have the “it” factor – Colin seems like he’s got the it factor.  I take him to Morgan’s preschool to get Morgan and he’s like Norm from Cheers.
  • I love that ever since he was able to stand, he and I do a NFL or NBA style chest bump every time after I change his diaper.  Not sure how it started, but it’s a tradition.
  • I love that any time any sports event is on tv, he starts cheering, “Go Cubbies!”
  • I love that his favorite song is “Go, Cubs, Go” and asks for me to put it on in the car every time I have to drive him somewhere.  Same song has also been known to completely calm and pacify him during middle of the night meltdowns.  At some point the Cubs are going to start keeping him up at night rather than soothing him to sleep, but that reality won’t set in for a while.
  • I love that every night since he was put in the crib pretty much he spends on average about 45 min to an hour just partying by himself in his bed – yelling, jumping, and talking.  Most common phrases heard by Colin at night are “Go, Cubs, Go!”, “Hey Chicago!”, “ALVIN!!!” (yelling it like in the Chipmunks movie), “Woo-Hoo!!”, and “It not working!”  (Meaning, he can’t fall asleep).
  • I love how he adores his sister and is a huge encouraging presence in her life.
  • I love how he always tries to get on my weight machine (for the last 9 mos) and bench press.  He at least as the hard core weigh-lifting face down!
  • I love how he’s so sweet with his new baby cousins.  He’s grieving the redirection of attention I’m sure, but he’s very cute to watch.

Here’s a few recent dialogues and quotes from Colin that give more insight into who he is:

  • During my sister’s pregnancy with twins this past year he picked up a phrase from her that he uses now on a daily basis.  In the morning or whenever he’s hungry he starts rubbing his stomach with both hands and says, “My babies are hungry!”  That’s now his way of expressing when he’s hungry.
  • Here’s a brief conversation between us a couple days ago.  I’m censoring out words so that the wrong people don’t come to this blog.  I’m sure you can figure it out if you have a basic understanding of male anatomy.  I have an arsenal of these stories, but not all need to be shared 🙂

    Colin:  “Dada, do you have a p—–?”Me:  “Yes.  We’re both boys.”Colin:  “Where is it?Me:  “It’s in the same place as yours.”Colin:  “Hi-five Dada!” (as he extends his arm for a hi-five)

  • At dinner a few days ago he asked me, “Dada, let’s go watch some Kobe!”   The playoffs were over, but he became a Kobe fan.
  • Colin is our official facilitator of family dinner conversation.  When we’re together he always asks all of us at the table, “How was your day?”  He’ll ask each person, Morgan and Mom about five times each.  He’s hysterical.
  • I woke him up a couple days ago and he’s usually happy in the mornings, but the first thing he says is “What’s that smell?  What’s that smell?” and eventually he puts his nose up to my mouth and points his finger at me.  Little man fully called me out for morning breath.

I’m going to leave it at that today, though there’s many more.  I also have a list of habits we need to work on with him.  He half-mooned me today while we were at a mall (thank the Lord he’s still in diapers and couldn’t totally pull it off), he sings “Shake your booty” while wiggling his backside at almost every public meal we have, and he spends a lot of time in his sister’s dress-up clothes (and proudly).To wrap this up I’ll include one of my favorite pictures of him properly edited.  One night I checked on him in the middle of the night and found him butt naked in his Bears jersey.  He had ripped off his shorts and diaper and thrown them to the other side of the room and passed out.

We love this little guy and I love that he’s my son!!

Looking Back in Honor of the Shuffle

So it is Super Bowl week and I just heard there is going to a remake or spoof of the “Super Bowl Shuffle” in one of this years Super Bowl commercials starring some of the old school ’85 Bears.  Mike Singletary and Jimmy Mac are in the mix.  Word is there’s also going to be a Maury Buford sighting as well as Steve Fuller so they were digging deep to find enough Bears that were willing to participate.Superbowl XX continues to be the greatest Super Bowl of all time and I will honor it by posting the Superbowl Shuffle here for your viewing in case your feeling nostalgic.  If you’ve never seen it, it’s become a classic piece of Sports history…and it’s awesome.Now, wasn’t that fun? (another reference to another well known piece of Bears Advertising lore – picture Jim McMahon with the shades).I’d rather watch Superbowl XX again this Sunday instead of this year’s version, but I doubt I could get anyone to watch it with me as a Superbowl alternative.

Singletary on Singletary

I just finished Mike Singletary’s book Singletary on Singletary. He was my favorite football player growing up. Some of it was because I knew he was a man of faith. Some of it was because he brought so much intensity to his trade and routinely blew people up on the football field.

I saw a copy of this book at my church in their “for free” section of the church’s bookstore and wanted to read it. It’s not quite an autobiography (he has other books that accomplish that purpose), but it is more of a reflection of the forces and experiences that shaped who he is. The book was written in ’91 while Mike was still playing so it was a long time ago, but it was still good.

I take away 2 things from this book besides more “Bear love”:

  1. Insight into both the power and pain of the redemption process. I did not know much about Mike’s personal journey of faith. He’s very honest in the book about significant moral and spiritual failures and about what was involved in experiencing restoration and forgiveness. It was a reminder that while there is often momentary pain involved in choosing to walk in the light, there is great abundance and fruitfulness that enters our lives through the grace of God.
  2. The rewards of personal discipline, strong work ethic, and determination. I have come away inspired to consider my own goals and dreams and reevaluate what kinds of things are required of me to achieve the things I want to achieve with the Lord’s help. I’m not a slacker by any means, but I see how greater personal discipline in a couple areas that is fueled by a vision and commitment to more would produce greater fruit in my life and ministry. I’m not talking about becoming a workaholic, but about injecting greater focus into my efforts and achievements in light of an overarching vision for the future.

In the book he speaks to a lot of current issues in society and represents his own thoughts on many things. He comes across at times old fashioned and even opinionated. However, those things aren’t bad when you also convey that you have paid the price of really thinking about and wrestling with the issues AND you convey compassion and gentleness. Singletary does both as he takes on a lot of today’s societal issues.

Mike is now a coach and his name has circled around as a candidate for coaching opportunities in the NFL. I hope he gets a shot to lead at that level.

Da Bears

I can’t tell you how happy I am that the Bears are in the Superbowl. Things have been so tough the last couple weeks that the Bears have really been a huge bright spot. I also can’t tell you how glad I am that there is 2 weeks between their last game and the Superbowl. That way my celebration can be 2 weeks even if the Bears lose in the Superbowl. To only have 1 week of bliss before losing in the Superbowl would not be worth the 21 year wait since the last time they were in the Superbowl. So I get 2 weeks of being able to lose myself in the Bears at least.

Do I think they can win? Sure. They’ll either win a close one or get blown out. I like Manning and the Colts so it would take some of the sting out of a loss, but I think the Bears have a decent shot even though they are 7 pt. underdogs.

I really hope they win. It would seriously take the edge off of everything else going on in my life. I haven’t yet stooped to the point of praying that they win yet since that takes me into theological waters too deep for me.

Go Bears.