Coach: Success is inside job

Published 1:31 am Thursday, August 2, 2018

Speaker encourages teachers to be intentional

Dr. Kevin Elko spends most of his days convincing athletes they can win championships, and officials in Wall Street companies that they can make more money.

He told an audience of educators in Andalusia Wednesday that he was doing something better – “motivating people to do something more important than winning football games.”


The nationally-known motivational speaker and psychologist who helped both the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Philadelphia Eagles win championship titles last year was sporting a University of Alabama championship ring when he spoke at Andalusia City Schools’ system institute on the first official day for the 2018-19 school year for teachers.

His message was simple. Teachers can have huge and lasting impacts on the lives of their students. To do that, they must “keep the main thing the main thing,” and not let outside forces distract them from their mission.

“The best year of your life will be the year you take ownership of everything. Stop the blame game,” he said. “Get rid of excuses.

“If you live with someone crazy, you don’t have to be crazy,” he said. “So you’ve got Little Billy Bad Boy in your room. You’re responsible to how you are going to respond t that. You have to own that you’re not going to be crazy with them.”

He used victims of Hurricane Katrina as an example.

“In New Orleans, they say, ‘Katrina blew our life away.’

“I feel you. But people in Baton Rouge say Katrina blew them to a better life. You have to take ownership,” he said.

He peppered his hour-long talk with anecdotes about people who were struck with devastating illness, but owned it and overcame it. He included his own heart attack last summer.

“From June 5 until August 31, I lost 47 pounds,” he said. “I eat nothing with a mother. I run sprints. I meditate on the 23rd Psalm.”

Heart disease runs in his family, he said. And while he had a reasonably healthy diet and exercised, he was caught by surprise on June 5, 2017.

“On June 5, they carried me out on a stretcher,” he said. “I hope with all I’ve got, every one of you have to tell your family goodbye and come back. The stuff you’re losing your mind about? It don’t matter.”

Those who overcome obstacles heed the words of Jeremiah 29:11, he said.

“It didn’t happen to me, it happened for me.”

While he knew his family would be OK financially and otherwise, he made a decision.

“I had a vision of my wife riding around with Chachi and my cash,” he said. “That ain’t happening.”

“You need peace in your life,” Elko said. “You can’t get to where I’m trying to take you if you let the outside world dominate you.

“The haters are out there drinking the hatorade” he said. “If you let them get to you, they turned you into them.”

He uses Enterprise, Ala., as an example.

“They’re growing cotton, and the boll weevil wipes them out. As a result, they get a brand new crop called the peanut. They get wealthy from the peanut. In the middle of the town is a big thank you to the boll weevil for the role it played in their prosperity.”

He encouraged people to put down cell phones and “be where your feet are.”

Alabama head coach Nick Saban barely uses a phone, Elko said.

“He doesn’t email, he doesn’t text, and he doesn’t like to talk on the thing,” he said. “But he’s the best at connections of anybody I’ve ever seen. He talks to people. He connects with them.”

“Connection is intentional.”

He also encouraged teachers to be a blessing to others.

Carson Tinker, the former UA long kicker, was holding on to his girlfriend when she was ripped from his arms by the Tuscaloosa tornados. She died, and he suffered injuries.

Tinker was a walk-on who earned a football scholarship after the tornadoes. Elko said Tinker continually tells people, “I’m not looking for blessing to come in my life. I’m looking to be a blessing in somebody’s life.”

Elko shared stories about teachers who inspired him.

“Thank you, I owe you,” he said to the teachers gathered for inservice. “Everyone in this community thanks you. You impact this community. But this isn’t over. You’ve changed more people and done more than you realize, but you haven’t blessed all you can bless.”

Andalusia Superintendent Ted Watson said Elko was asked to speak to local educators because they have a tough year ahead of them.

“It’s not a normal year. We will be using technology even more with our new virtual reality computers,” he said. “That takes some adjustment. We have new principals at Andalusia Elementary. We also have a larger number of new teachers.”

At some point in the year, there will be seven teachers on maternity leave, he said.

And at the high school, teachers will work around ongoing construction projects that won’t be finished until at least January.

Speaking after the program, Elko said he normally doesn’t do events in small towns because the travel is complicated.

“But what I said out there is why. They can help children, and they have a tough job.

“I had a private psychology practice,” he said. “Most of the kids I saw, I thought, ‘He doesn’t need a psychology. He needs parents. He needs a dad. He needs parents.”

Elko is doing four events for teachers in Alabama this year. Previously, he spoke at a Chamber of Commerce banquet in Andalusia.