Carl Mays: “It’s about the relationship”

Feb. 06, 2014 @ 11:06 PM

An article titled “The ripple effect” appeared in The Dallas Morning News this week, written in correlation with the Feb. 5 National Signing Day for college football, the day when high school graduates show just how truly “committed” they are to the colleges to which they previously “committed.” The article is about how head coaches and assistant coaches moving from one college to another make an impact in regards to the teams with whom the players eventually sign scholarship papers.

Written by journalist David Just, the article chronicles how some athletes follow a coach to a new school while others stick with their earlier commitments regardless of the staff changes. It also points out how a player, in a worst-case scenario, can lose his scholarship altogether because a new coach doesn’t want him. But the thing in the article that popped out to me is the emphasis placed on “relationships.”

As I write this column, former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has apparently taken with him five players previously committed to Vanderbilt as he becomes Penn State’s coach. Franklin said on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio and TV show, “...I’ve been sitting in living rooms with young men and their families and selling them on a dream and selling them on a vision and our relationship. I think a lot of people say they should commit to a school, not a coach, but the reality is they do commit to coaches... It’s about the relationship.”

Of course, there is no “one commitment style fits all.” Every individual situation is different. Sometimes it’s the relationship the student athletes have with the schools, or the opportunities to play in certain conferences, or at certain venues. Or, decisions could be based on players wanting to stay close to their families at home – or get away from their families at home. But, as Coach James Franklin said, “It’s about the relationship.” This holds true in college football and just about everything else. Throughout life, it is through relationships that we make various kinds of decisions.

I’ve had people tell me they could increase their incomes working somewhere else, but they like their managers or co-workers or environments or corporate cultures. You and I both know we do business with certain stores, financial institutions, service providers and other organizations because of relationships. Same thing with seeing certain doctors, dentists, salespeople, etc. Stephen Covey said, “You cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.”

I like Zig Ziglar’s thought on relationships: “People who have good relationships at home are more effective in the marketplace.” I believe Zig’s emphasis is right on target. Relationships between two people in love, between husband and wife, mother and father, parents and children – these are the things that help us develop meaningful relationships throughout life.

But the road to developing strong, long-lasting relationships is not always a smooth one. Sometimes it is a downright bumpy road. As British politician Patricia Hewitt said, “People are not perfect... very often the relationships that are strongest are those where people have worked through big crises...”

Several years ago I saw a sign that simply read: “Relationships last long not because they are destined to last long. Relationships last long because two brave people made a choice to work for it, to fight for it, to keep it.”

Establish your relationships carefully and cherish them forever.

© 2014 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author of over a dozen books. E-mail or visit