My three teenage sons call me "the funsucker."
Their unconnected frontal lobes keep them blissfully in the moment, where they attribute dark motives to my probing, cautionary style of parenting and my constant concern for their futures.
Sure, I'm concerned that they might be living in our basement in their thirties, but just as much I am trying to keep them safe from themselves until their brains are fully-developed, or as my wife likes to say, "Alive Until They're 25."
Someone has to worry. And the truth is, I believe in the value of worry - not a paralyzing fear of the unknown - but rather a daily, pro-active, searching, strategic identification of threats. That which is worried about is usually prevented.
Worrying about your account, your region, or your business is healthy. It checks complacency, aids sound execution, and prevents unpleasant surprises and drama. Show me a business that lives in the moment, worry-free, and I'll show you a business where the drama of industry unfolds daily.
I hate drama.
So I am our de facto Chief Worry Officer at YES. Along with "Bloke Who Makes Payroll."
Am I also our funsucker?
I don't want to be. I empathize with Michael Scott, Andy Bernard, and all the managers out there who feel a duty to be the source of fun at their companies - the source of color, even. Like a one-man YES Party Planning Committee, I invested this spring in "White Powder" fleet cars, "Collegiate Navy" Coaches' kit, and "Tangerine Tango" wristbands for summer camps.
But even as I attempt to bring some color - and, hopefully, fun - to our spring season, I am simultaneously preaching Safety First to our full-time YES team and our incoming 2012 coaches: safe driving, discretion in social media, and the critical role of child protection. That which is worried about is usually prevented.
Safety is neither colorful nor fun, but for YES it is fundamental. As a parent and as a business owner, I believe that the absolute safety of the kids we serve, and the safety of the YES coaches that come to the U.S. to coach those kids, are of first importance.
We're committed to living up to the trust that the parents and the clubs we serve have placed in us. YES has updated and strengthened our protective policies for 2012, and I will keep working - and worrying - weekly to make sure that those policies are being emphasized and enforced.
And that's a healthy division of labor to me: I worry about what's next so that our talented team at YES can worry about what's happening now: delivering our fresh approach to engaging players, parents and parent-coaches in a community effort to develop skillful, creative soccer players...
Soccer players who can play with a smile on their face, while we worry.
H.B. Mertz has four kids and three Pittsburgh-based small businesses, including Youth Elite Soccer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @YESPres
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