Emergency Hugs is a concept exclusive to Leadership and Main. I would like to tell you that I drafted this one just for World Kindness Day, but I can’t. What I can tell you is that between a crazy week at the office, some work-related travel, and the kid’s extra-curricular activities, this week necessitated a remastering of a previous post.
Of the 149 posts to date, post number 34 was one of my favorites, Emergency Hugs. I hope you enjoy version 2.0 of it.
The Emergency Hugs Concept
I remember it like it was just yesterday. It was a brisk, Fall evening in 2019 during a youth football practice where Emergency Hugs came into existence. We were wrapping up football practice with our traditional routine of conditioning.
The kids were struggling a tad with the concept of following instructions. It wasn’t our best practice. As a result they participated in some additional conditioning! With additional conditioning comes the occasional tears and consoling of emotions was needed.
Now…before you judge me too much as a coach. When corrective measures were taken, we always tried to huddle up and reestablish expectations with the boys. Every moment is a teachable moment. It served as a great opportunity to reinforce the need to follow instructions and practice hard. I commonly told them, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”
As I was delivering the message, I could tell one of the players needed some love. He was not a fan of the extra conditioning and must have gotten some dirt in his eyes in the process. His emotional state was impeding my ability to properly communicate with the rest of the team.
I decided to stop my talk and looked at this player who will remain nameless (and who I love dearly) and asked, “do you need a hug?” This was my typical response during these situations to offer my heartfelt condolences to the player. Then, through the team’s collective heavy breathing brought on by the conditioning, a voice emerged from the back of the huddle. Our quarterback said, “yeah…an Emergency Hug!” As a unit, the team collectively embraced that player with a giant group hug and the rest is history…the concept of Emergency Hugs was born.
The player who invented the concept would go on to require his fair share of Emergency Hugs in the future. Emergency Hugs significantly impacted our team culture moving forward. Struggling with extra conditioning, Emergency Hug. Down and out because you fumbled…Emergency Hug. Upset because a coach got on your for missing a blocking assignment, you guessed it…Emergency Hug.
Can Be Met With Resistance
The first emergency hug ever issued was met with resistance. That is why it was a “collective embrace.” No matter what the player’s resistance level was, he was not going to outrun the love of his teammates that evening!
I enjoy my personal space. My DISC behavioral profile literally says, “Prefers two to three feet of space” between me and someone else. Hugs can invade that bubble, but I have learned the value of a good hug over time. It is only a temporary invasion of that space!
Are Critical For When Things Fall Apart
In another football related post, Calling Plays I shared a quote with the readers from one of my favorite movies of all time, Remember the Titans. When questioned on his limited playbook by an assistant coach, Coach Herman Boone replied with, “It’s like Novocain. Just give it time, it always works.”
Emergency Hugs are like Novocain as well. They will not end the initial pain the player, student, employee, co-worker, or family member is walking through, but here is what they can do. The hug can provide temporary relief and points them towards the healing process.
Can Be Reserved For Moments of Celebration
Emergency hugs were invented in response to a temporary moment of struggle. Over the next two seasons the concept evolved into the including of celebratory moments. Touchdowns, interceptions, pancake blocks, fumble recoveries, and big wins.
As leaders, we cannot forget to celebrate what deserves celebration. Celebration is a form of encouragement. Encouragement leads to moments in the future that will require more celebration. It’s contagious.
For Showing Gratitude
This group was the final group of boys that I would ever coach in football. Those twenty-eight boys went on to middle school ball the following season.
Our last game together was the league Super Bowl. Unfortunately, we lost that game. That evening, Coach needed a whole bunch of Emergency Hugs. There were plenty to go around.
Youth sports parents get a bad rap these days. We had a special group of parents. The hugs I received were ones of gratitude supported by affirming words. Words that attested to the positive impact that we as coaches had made on their child’s life.
In fact, one even even shared that they do not know where their kid would have been without us. It meant the world. Moments I will never forget.
Are Good For Reminders Of Your Why
Nothing brings me greater joy than to show up to a high school stadium or bump into a former player in the community and get a hug. I will never forget a hug that I received a couple of years ago. It was youth night at the North Cobb High School football game and the Emergency Hug team was there with me.
Prior to the game, we got to go on the field. The Varsity team came around and shook all of our players’ hands. As they made their way around, one player stopped, his 6’3” frame hovering over me, a youthful smile came over his previously stoic face, and he gave me a huge hug.
It was a former player who played for me when he was seven. He was one of the best players on the team that year, but we had to drag him kicking, screaming, and crying through the season! The last thing he wanted to do was play football. He was a recipient of Emergency Hugs before they were ever a thing!
We saw more in him than he saw in himself, that is what great leaders and coaches do. They never give up on others. Now he is a DI football player at a prominent school with the entire world at his feet. The hug was a good reminder of my why.
Truitt Cathy once said, “How do you identify someone who needs encouragement? That person is breathing.”
What if you are not a hugger? Well, use your socially distant words! Write a note, comment on a social media post, send a text, make a phone call, give whatever alternate version of an Emergency Hug the situation calls for!
As leaders, we have the awesome responsibility to better others and the world’s we live in. Add Emergency Hugs or a version of it to your leadership toolbox today. The world needs them more than ever.