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Sunday at the Post

NCAA hoops, Sister Fleming, Tim Tebow and overtime rules. Michael Lombardi

Print This March 21, 2010, 08:09 AM EST

QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK...

“Sister Fleming played a big role. She's probably been the most important person to me here at Xavier University to make sure I get the proper education. She basically runs the program.” -- Terrell Hollow, sophomore guard

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is fun to watch, fun if you have an office pool and fun to learn about the coaches and players from schools we’d otherwise never know. This year, I learned about Sister Rose Ann Fleming, who handles the academic programs at Xavier University. I’ve read numerous stories about Sister Fleming, from her dedication to the basketball program and her willingness to help and challenge the players to her work ethic and, most of all, her faith. She’s a very remarkable woman.

From the New York Times:

“Our alumni over the years have told me that they’re so proud of the graduation rates,” Fleming said over a post-Mass coffee at Starbucks last week during the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament in Atlantic City. “They don’t want to hear about Xavier, or any university, using students athletically and then dumping them without a degree.”

“While they give so much of their lives to Xavier in terms of their sports, we in return can make sure they have an opportunity to earn their degree. That has been a constant interest of mine, to make sure that each athlete ends up with a degree that they've worked for.” -- Sister Fleming

May we all do our jobs as well as Sister Rose Ann.

THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN THE NFL LAST WEEK

“And in the end it is not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years.” -- Abraham Lincoln

1. Redskins to visit Gators QB Tim Tebow in Gainesville on Saturday

Source: AOL FanHouse

The Washington Redskins will arrive Saturday for an extended visit with University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. A three-man evaluation team of coach Mike Shanahan, general manager Bruce Allen and director of player personnel Scott Campbell is scheduled to put the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion through a private workout on the UF campus.

Tebow will hold many private workouts between now and the draft, which will clarify his draft status. All these workouts will be team-specific, allowing organizations to tailor workouts to what they need to see from him. As I’ve written many times, Tebow is not for every team, but he’s a fit for certain ones. Every team that’s interested in working him out clearly feels it can modify its offense around Tebow.

2. Titans coach Jeff Fisher supports playoff overtime proposal

Source: NFL.com

As co-chairman of the NFL competition committee, Titans coach Jeff Fisher not only is in favor of changes to playoff overtime rules, he's one of the key minds behind the proposal that owners are scheduled to vote on at next week's annual meetings. This is Fisher’s rationale for the change from "sudden death" to a format that tries to give each team the ball at least once: “What we don't want to have happen in the playoffs is a kickoff return, and then a penalty and a field goal, and have the game be over,” he said. “What we're proposing has sudden-death qualities throughout it, even at the beginning. Bottom line is that each team will have an opportunity to possess -- doesn't guarantee a possession.”

The overtime rules are a lightning rod for discussion as evidenced by many fans’ view on what they would like to see happen. This week, owners will vote on a proposal presented by the competition committee. In the past, when the competition committee recommended a rules change, it could convince the majority of owners to agree. But I don’t expect that to happen with the overtime proposal. There seems to be too much debate, too many different views, too many different ideas for a three-fourths approval, which is needed in the NFL.

THINGS I HEARD AROUND THE NFL...

“Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” -- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

1. The no-trade clause the Eagles placed in the Mike Bell deal is not why the Saints probably won’t match. The Saints have placed more importance on re-signing Pierre Thomas than keeping Bell. Based on what I heard last week, the Eagles will have a new part-time runner.

2. The Terrell Owens watch has died down completely, and it now appears he will have to wait until after the draft to find an interested team. Teams that are unable to find a receiver in the draft might take a look.

3. Clyde Christensen has been promoted to offensive coordinator of the Colts, with former coordinator Tom Moore staying in a reduced role. This is a great career move for Christensen, but the reality is that there’s only one offensive coordinator in Indy, and he plays quarterback.

4. From what I hear, the top of the draft is yet to be determined until Sam Bradford works out at the end of the month. As much as the Rams need to pick a quarterback, they can’t confirm it until they know Bradford is healthy and can throw.

5. Pacman Jones is in the news again? Are you serious? Why would any team want to meet with him? At some point, someone needs to tell me what tape to watch of Jones covering a wide receiver. Why waste the money?

LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA...

“Intelligence plus character -- that is the goal of true education.” -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Now is the time for spring vacations, and I thought this blog from Peter Bregman might help anyone going away for a few days. Bregman speaks, writes and consults on leadership. He’s the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., a global management consulting firm, and the author of “Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change.”

Peter Bregman On: Managing Yourself, Leadership Development Communication. The Mostly Unplugged Vacation

I'm going on vacation with my family in a few weeks, and I'm anxious. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore my family and the time we spend together. And that includes stuff like changing diapers and putting groggy kids back to bed at 4 a.m. Fun or not, I treasure it. Still, vacation makes me anxious because I know I'll feel torn. When I'm not working, I'll feel like I should be, and when I am, I'll feel like I shouldn't be. Some will accuse me of being a workaholic. But it's not just that, and it's not just me. We live in a world in which we're expected to be available all the time for almost any reason.

Worse, we expect it from ourselves. Leashed to our technology, we find it harder to spend an unadulterated moment doing anything. Forget about vacation. How about a short break in conversation? We quickly check our email. A walk from one office to another? Check voicemail. Bathroom break? I hate to say it, but it's rare to walk into a men's room and not see a man at a urinal with one hand on his BlackBerry (the other hand, well, I'm not looking).

Sure, we might say we have no choice. But while non-stop work might feel overwhelming, it's also reassuring. It makes us feel busy. Valuable. Indispensable. Unfortunately there's a downside to feeling indispensable. And going on vacation brings that downside up. You can't get away. Or you won't. Because getting away — truly not being needed for a week or two — brings up all sorts of insecurities. Two years ago, after ten years of running my company, I took a month off and went to France with my family. As I prepared to leave, I spoke with each of my clients, letting them know I'd be away. One client, Marc, the CEO of a small company and also a good friend, smiled at me, his eyes twinkling. "It'll be OK," he said, "Just know that three things will happen. We'll regress. We'll forget you. And we'll find someone else to do what you do for us." Then he laughed. Ha ha. I laughed too and then quickly added, "Of course, you know, I'll be reachable if you need me." Ah, there's the rub. Reachable if needed. And since we all like to be needed...

There are two reasonable ways to deal with this problem without ruining a vacation by staying plugged in 24/7.

Completely unplug.

I've done this a few times when I was literally unreachable — for example when I spent a week camping and kayaking down the Grand Canyon. And while I find this close to impossible to do unless I am forced, it was a wonderful break. When I returned to civilization — and a phone — I had over 50 messages. But here's what I found most interesting: The first half of the messages all raised problems that needed to be resolved and the second half were the same people telling me not to worry about the first half because they had resolved the problems on their own. It turns out that unplugging created an opportunity for my team to grow, develop and exercise their own judgment. Still, for some of us, unplugging completely might not be realistic. Which brings us to option two:

Schedule Plug-Ins.

Choose a specified time — and timeframe — each evening when you will be reachable. A few minutes at the end of each day (or, if you can manage, every few days) to answer emails and make phone calls. Of course, before you schedule the time, you need to admit to yourself that you will work during the vacation. But by setting aside some time to work, it means you're setting aside the rest of the time to not work. And that just might save your vacation. This strategy is a good one even when you're not on vacation, though the plug-ins will be more frequent. Scheduling specific time to take care of emails and phone calls each day avoids the technology creep that takes over so much of our lives. And it allows us to concentrate on a single thing for longer without getting interrupted. Last week, in “The Cardinal Rule of Rules,” I wrote about how to avoid being interrupted. It's important when you make a rule to stick to it. If you tell people you can't be interrupted — or reachable — and you want them to take you seriously, then you can't allow yourself to break your rule.

Sometimes it's impossible or inappropriate to wall yourself off completely. When you need to respond, you need a different rule. Scheduling time sets clear expectations — for you, for the other people on your vacation and for the people reaching you. Everyone will be relieved. Thankfully, when I came back from my month away, Marc's company had not regressed.

They didn't forget me, and they didn't replace me. This time, when I leave for vacation in a few weeks, I'm sure I'll bring my laptop. I still want to be reachable if someone needs me. But only for half an hour a day.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK...

“I drink to make other people more interesting.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Author Michael Lewis on Charley Rose

ARTICLES YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT AREN’T WORTH MISSING...

“Never memorize something that you can look up.” -- Albert Einstein

Three Good Hires, or One Great One?

The Power of Questions

Can a military mind whip the Pirates into shape?

STORIES TO SHARE....

“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” -- Allan K. Chalmers

Keep Your Dream

Author: Unknown

I have a friend named Monty Roberts who owns a horse ranch in San Ysidro. He has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs.

The last time I was there, he introduced me by saying, “I want to tell you why I let Jack use my house. It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, the boy’s high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up.

“That night, he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of some day owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. Then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch.

“He put a great deal of his heart into the project, and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. Two days later, he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note that read, ‘See me after class.’

“The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, ‘Why did I receive an F?’

“The teacher said, ‘This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. You have no money. You come from an itinerant family. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you’ll have to pay large stud fees. There’s no way you could ever do it.’ Then the teacher added, ‘If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade.’

“The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do. His father said, ‘Look, son, you have to make up your own mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.’

“Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all. He stated, ‘You can keep the F and I’ll keep my dream.’”

Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, “I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace.”

He added, “The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week.”

When the teacher was leaving, he said, “Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids’ dreams. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours.”

Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. Follow your heart, no matter what.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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