On Feeling Wanted

Wednesday was NSD.  For those who don’t follow college football in the United States, NSD is “National Signing Day,”  the day in which high school football players make official their college choice.  For the year-round college football fan NSD is a big day.  Better football players signed in February will hopefully mean more victories in September.

Yesterday morning I read an article about Knoxville, TN, high school quarterback, Mike Wegzyn, who signed with the University of Massachusetts.  Not a football powerhouse, but certainly a high-quality educational institution.  In addition to playing football, he plans to study pre-med.  Smart kid.

Mike had offers from other institutions, some much closer to home.  So, why did he make the decision to leave the Southeast and head so far north?

Here is what he said,

“Coach Morris (the head coach) flew in all the way from UMass to my house just to see me and sit down and have a 3-4 hour conversation.  It’s definitely good to be wanted.”

“It’s definitely good to be wanted.” That’s a powerful statement.  How did Coach Morris make Mike feel wanted?

I’m sure throughout the recruiting process, Coach Morris called Mike, he tweeted with Mike, he emailed Mike, he texted Mike.  I feel sure he sent Mike letters and information about the football program and the pre-med program at UMass.  And all of that was helpful I’m sure.

But Mike didn’t connect feeling wanted with telephone calls, text messages, tweets, or glossy brochures.  Perhaps because all those forms of communications have become commodities. Everyone texts, emails, tweets, (blogs!), produces and sends brochures, etc.  It’s all easier, quicker, and cheaper than ever.  That sounds good but the more common something becomes the less valued it also becomes.

Instead, Mike connected feeling wanted with Coach Morris taking time to come and visit with him for 3-4 hours.  Mike’s quote reminds us that the sharing of our time and personal attention generates a visceral and positive response in humans.  Deep down, subconsciously, we know that our most valuable assets are our time and our attention.  When we give these assets to someone else, we are giving them our most valuable possessions.  The giving of these gifts moves people to action, like they moved Mike.  The giving of these gifts makes people feel wanted.

Coach Morris knew if he gave Mike his time and attention, he’d develop a different kind of response from Mike and have a better chance to get Mike to sign.  And, according to Mike, he was right.

The old saying is that you can’t do development work from behind a desk – I guess it’s the same for college football recruiting.


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