By: Laura C. Johnson, MDS Director of Institutional Advancement // MDS Musings Blog
When the Israelites were liberated from Egypt, they stood at edge of Canaan, God’s Promised Land, planning their next move. At God’s direction Moses sent 12 scouts to size up the competition. All but two came back in fear with ominous tales of “giants” that made the Israelites look like “grasshoppers.” Only Joshua and Caleb believed the Israelites could prevail; they trusted God’s power and promise. The naysayers won out, and the Israelites did not enter the Promised Land for another 40 years.
Dr. Kevin Elko uses this Biblical story as an example of an important premise in building a winning culture: you won’t make it until you know who you are. Joshua and Caleb knew who they were—God’s chosen people—and they were willing to move forward with purpose.
Dr. Elko is a nationally acclaimed motivational coach who has helped college and professional teams win 21 championships. He is the performance consultant for Alabama, UGA, LSU, and Florida State football programs. Dr. Elko also works with the 2018 Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles and MVP Nick Foles.
Last spring, Dr. Elko visited Mount de Sales through a partnership with State Farm, and the students and parents who heard him speak were captivated. His stories and messages are simple, yet powerful, and punctuated with catch phrases like “be a blessing,” “keep the main thing, the main thing,” and “see a little, see a lot—see a lot, see nothing.”
Dr. Elko has supported championship teams by guiding coaches to create a partnership between themselves, players, and parents in order to act as one unit. In fact, unity over self is an important concept in this program. As an example Dr. Elko references biblical scripture from Deuteronomy—“one can chase 1,000, two can chase 10,000”—to illustrate the impact of unity.
Applying Dr. Elko’s Principles
Athletic director Keith Hatcher saw the potential for Elko’s approach to help the Cavalier athletic program reach its goals. This year, all MDS coaches are working through Elko’s Coaching on Demand program with plans of integrating the philosophy and language throughout their teams.
Identity, also referred to as a collective personality, is an important concept in the coaching program and is built, according to Elko, on three primary character traits: ownership, grit, and accountability. Coaches and athletes must take ownership of every problem that comes into their life with the attitude of “so what, now what.” They must also have true grit that unshakeable determination that will not let one quit no matter what happens, which Elko considers the primary factor in success. Finally, accountability ensures that anything that is started, is finished.
“I can honestly say that I feel completely recharged as a coach and as a human being after going through Dr. Elko’s training,” said Iain Jones, Associate Athletic Director and Head Boys Soccer Coach. “Dr. Elko struck a nerve in me that has transformed how I look at my life personally and how I can better serve my student-athletes both on and off the field.”
Coach Jones says that it is easy to get stuck in a negative mindset, but with the help of this training he has learned how he can better serve his players. “Each session I have watched I have found something new that I know will greatly improve me as an individual but more importantly as a teacher and a coach.”
Cavaliers have a long history of winning championships—we know who we are. We are moving forward unified and on purpose. Our vision is for a winning future for our teams and the strength of character that prepares our student-athletes to persevere through life.
*Dr. Kevin Elko is returning on February 27 to speak to the MDS community.
Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, which is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.