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NFL Receiver Doug Baldwin Catches Empathy While Passing It On

Pro-Bowl receiver Doug Baldwin is of the NFL’s most respected playmakers! The undrafted, 8-year veteran is explosive, strong, and deliberate, both on and off the field! He consults corporate, government and school leaders, but is better known from beating his defenders at the point of attack, after the snap!

Question: “When do you know you've won that battle?”

Doug: “I would like to say that it starts much earlier than when you're actually on the line of scrimmage, right?  There's a lot of preparation that goes into it, a lot of film study, a lot of workouts, so typically when you go into the game you have the mindset that you have the tools in the toolbox to go out there and win.  The visualization part of it is having a visual reel so that if you ever get into a situation where you start to doubt your talents, you go back to seeing what you are at your best.”    

Question:  “Does that competitive drive as a player ever entrap you!”

Doug: “Absolutely!”

Question: “As a person?”

Doug: “It does.” (Sighs) “I'm very passionate about competing uh and I wear my emotions on my sleeve.  I let it be known how I feel.  And somewhere in my uh, emotional furniture, I had this need for more as a competitor.  I had this greed - if you will - to win.  God has already blessed me with everything that I would ever need, and more.  And so, I have to make sure that I'm taking this step back and realizing that sometimes because my competitive nature – will -- entrap me in a number of ways.”

Question: “So what's the escape hatch - what frees you?”

Doug: “There's always going to be these obstacles that you have to overcome.  The only thing that spiritually freed me is knowing where my blessings come from, of who I want to become and where I plan on going, not just in life, but when I pass on too. All of that factors in! But you can have a relief knowing that, you know, Jesus died on the cross for us.”   

Question: “You've been visible in social, political, cultural dialogue. What, Doug, do you think earns a voice to effectively move together?”

Doug: “Empathy! It's very hard to get people to hear you if you don't feel them. People won't remember what you said to them, they necessarily won't remember what you did to them, but they'll remember how you made them feel - and it breaks away all the layers that we put up, insecurities, everything that we do to protect ourselves, empathy hits really at the core of that. The conflicts that we have in not understanding each other would be much easier to mend and to get to.”                    

Question: “What does empathy bring that compassion can’t?”

Doug: “What empathy looks like is when somebody says something happened to them that's bad, they say, ‘Yeah, I know’.  And you sit there in that emotion with them and you ask them "How does that make you feel?" You don't have to offer solutions, what you're doing is just being present in that moment, in that pain, in that hurt with somebody -- and even if you don't fully understand what that is -- by asking the questions, by being present, eventually it's going to penetrate your own heart and you'll feel that pain as well.”

Question: “Have you identified a bond that runs deeper than teaming?”

Doug: “I have! Tribe as compared to team!  The difference between a team and a tribe - - in a team everybody's working towards a common goal, winning the Super Bowl, right?  That's our goal. But in a tribe the team is the common goal. The value of each person, the progress of each person, the well being of each person, the health and the wellness of each person, that's the common goal. Is the goal to win the Super Bowl? We will do that because my goal is to make sure that you have everything you need to be at your very best and everything else, will take care of itself.”

TomQuestion “What have you learned about leadership specific to moving people forward?”

Doug: “That's a good question. It's not the person who just leads in the front, it's not the person who just leads from the back, it's the person that is surrounded by others, and saying, "What are your needs? How can I meet your need?  
How can I provide you with what you need?" When you're in the grassroots, you know what's needed.  So to me what leadership looks like is the person who's amongst the people that they're leading, asking the questions, being a part of the tribe, not being on the outside of it so that they're in tune with everything.”                  

Question: “Humility? Is that the trigger?”

Doug:  (SLIGHT LAUGH) “It is. It is. It very much so is. The leadership that I'm talking about, servant leadership, you have to have the humility.  You have to understand that "I don't have all the answers”, but my belief is that I'm giving you all of me so that you can have everything that you need. The ultimate leader, in my eyes, Jesus Christ, that's exactly what he did. You know, he didn't lead just from the front or from the back, he was amongst the people, he served them, uh and he wasn't afraid to do so. What’s not to admire! You know Jesus is on the cross, He’s being crucified and you have the wherewithal to say – ‘forgive them’?  I forgive you?’ It’s an unbelievable sacrifice to be that selfless! It’s just so profound to me I don’t know how else to explain it!”

Question: “Doug, what does Christ-like look like today if we lived that?”

Doug: “Well, it all comes back to love, right?  Christ was love. And I think in order to have the love that Jesus had for us, you have to be empathic. You have to be willing to be vulnerable enough to go to a place where your natural instincts won't allow you to go to. Why are you so afraid to be vulnerable? Open your heart to others even though they might not have the same opinion as you. My pain – there's some level of truth to it, your pain, your insight, my insight.  The difference of lives that we've lived, Right? And I think that if there's a way for us to demonstrate, truly, the forgiveness, the commitment, the selflessness, the respect, the humility, the kindness, it's truly by being empathic! Really what you're going to come out to is love. And again, Jesus is love.”

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