Dave Clawson is not your typical football coach – not even close. He’s a well-educated man who speaks well, is authentic, doesn’t get into bravado and bluster, and has class.
Nowhere in the country can you listen to a more interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking weekly college football coach’s press conference than the ones held by Dave Clawson.
Yesterday during his weekly presser, I asked him what book he’s been reading of late. His answer: From Strength to Strength by Arthur Brooks. It’s a hot book many people have been buzzing about. Here’s a review: New Book: Deriving Strengths From Weaknesses As You Age (ngscsports.com) (ngscsports.com).
This book is not about football, recruiting, the transfer portal, or the delayed run-pass option mesh.
It’s about how to, when you’re around Dave’s age (56), start to make contributions to the world in different ways because you’re getting older and eventually you won’t be as cognitively sharp as you once were. It’s about admitting your weaknesses and shortcomings brought on by age and turning them into strengths.
The author writes about the need to make a transition in our lives from hard-working and often high-achieving middle-aged professionals to another phase when we have to contribute in other ways because our intellectual capabilities tend to decline, the likelihood of us creating innovative products and services becomes harder, and we have less energy and more health maladies.
The author, a social scientist who wrote this book at 57, reveals he’s in this unsettling phase of life himself.
“What I found was a hidden source of anguish that wasn’t just widespread but nearly universal among people who have done well in their careers. I came to call this the “striver’s curse”: people who strive to be excellent at what they do often wind up finding their inevitable decline terrifying, their successes increasingly unsatisfying and their relationships lacking.”
As you enter this transition, the author notes, you can’t rely on your professional accomplishments to help you find fulfillment and happiness.
Counterintuitively, you need to embrace your weaknesses and admit what you can’t do as well anymore.
“If you want to make a deep human connection with someone, your strengths, and worldly successes won’t cut it. You need your weaknesses for that. Elite credentials don’t make you relatable. They are a barrier to human connection.”
“Decline is loss; loss is bad. Remediate it or hide it, but certainly don’t talk about it, right? Wrong. The secret to going from strength to strength is to recognize that your weakness – your loss, your decline – can be a gift to you and others.”
It’s not surprising – in fact, it’s expected — that our Wake Forest football coach has read this book. He’s more than an X and O guy; he’s a smart man with varied interests and open to the exploration of ideas far beyond the football field.
Clawson is interested in bettering himself, having a bigger impact on people, and gaining insights to help him as he transitions through life.
His intellectual curiosity, breadth of literary interests, and focus on strong interpersonal relationships make him, a football coach well worth supporting and admiring. You know and I know that this guy is not just a football coach; he’s a life coach, a student himself, a teacher, a friend, a well-rounded human being. He’s a leader of young men and a leader of us, Wake Forest football fans, who wants to live a life of significance, not just a life of winning football games, not just glory for him, not just money for him, but a giver to others.
Clawson epitomizes Wake Forest, a human being with a larger purpose than just doing his job well. He’s a man fully engaged in exploring the wonders of life and being a giver to others, in any way he can, for as long as he lives.
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