Jeff Kemp: Beating Life’s Blitzes #46

Warwick Fairfax

December 1, 2020

In more than 20 years of playing football, as an amateur and in the NFL, Jeff Kemp was only once earmarked as his team’s starting quarterback before the season began. His career never did match that of his legendary dad, AFL standout Jack Kemp — whose shadow loomed even larger thanks to a distinguished career in politics and public service after he retired from the game. But while Jeff got knocked down a few times, he always got back up. He learned his life had a greater purpose than just achieving, and he’s crafted a post-gridiron career helping others huddle up to build stronger marriages, more faith-filled lives, and deeper relationships at home and at the office.

For more information about Jeff Kemp and his book, Facing the Blitz: Three Strategies for Turning Trials into Triumphs, visit www.jeffkempteam.com

Highlights

  • How his dad encouraged him through his NFL crucibles (7:50)
  • We are all more than our pedigree (9:20)
  • How he learned he didn’t have to be his dad and accumulate the same accomplishments (13:44)
  • Crucibles provide both danger and opportunity (16:11)
  • Warwick’s challenges growing up in his forebear’s shadow (17:27)
  • How he turned the pain of his greatest NFL crucible into a positive (25:38)
  • Crucibles come with varied circumstances, but with similar emotions (29:00)
  • The importance of learning the lessons of your crucible (31:11)
  • Leveraging LIFT — Life is for Transformation (37:15)
  • Three strategies for facing a blitz — or a crucible (39:27)
  • How he created a post-football career by serving others in the offseason (48:55)
  • The crucible of his NFL career ending (50:07)
  • How he believes his dad would view the man he is today (55:00)
  • Jeff’s final exhortation to listeners (1:03:37)
  • Key episode takeaways (1:04:57)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Jeff K:
The toughest things I’ve gone through in pro football and the fact that I didn’t get to be Joe Montana, Super Bowl champion, or Jack Kemp Jr., basically, those things crushed me to seek a better answer for who I am and a better purpose for the outcomes and circumstances in my life than just achieving.

Gary S:
A better purpose than just achieving. That’s the goal we exhort listeners to every week on this show, as we offer insight and inspiration for you to lead a life of significance. It’s not an easy journey, and it can be particularly difficult when you grow up feeling like you’ve got really, really big shoes to fill.

Gary S:
Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, the co-host of the show and the communications director for Crucible Leadership. Today’s guest is someone who knows the reality of what I just described really well. Jeff Kemp is the son of American Football League champion and MVP, Jack Kemp, the American Football League is the old AFL. And Jack Kemp didn’t just leave a legacy on the football field, he left one in public service and in politics too, as a cabinet secretary, presidential candidate, and vice presidential nominee. His son, Jeff’s, achievements on the gridiron were no match for his dad’s. In his more than a decade in the NFL, Jeff Kemp was rarely a starter, and more than once released, traded, passed over. But as he explains in this conversation with Warwick, he weathered the blitzes on and off the field to find his true purpose, helping others huddle up to build stronger marriages, more faith filled lives, and deeper relationships at home and at the office.

Warwick F:
Well, Jeff, thank you so much for being here. I loved reading your book, Facing the Blitz. Definitely found some common themes, a different language, in terms of as we talk about bouncing back from crucibles, and as you talk about just overcoming blitzes, thinking differently. So, I love that whole theme. It’s funny, typically, when we have a guest on, we often ask them, “Tell us about your family.” Well, you’ve got one impressive family. Obviously, you and Stacy and your three boys, but just you have a very famous dad, Jack Kemp, who, even in Australia, I mean, I’d heard of him there and I’ve lived in the US since the early ’90s.

Warwick F:
And as I was refreshing my memory about your dad, I could relate because I come from a prominent family in Australia, five generations of very prominent people, of which I’m not in their league at all of any of the five that came before me, which we can talk about in a bit if it’s helpful, but I’d just love to hear your perspective because a lot of people will know about Jack Kemp, but just to refresh people’s memory kind of looking it up here. Obviously, I knew a lot of this, but your dad, as you know, played 13 seasons in pro football, AFC quarterback of the winning team in ’64, ’65, I guess before the merger happened, and Super Bowl, represented Buffalo for nine terms in Congress, Housing Secretary under President George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole’s running mate for vice president in ’96. Ran for republican nomination in ’88. That’s some huge shoes to fill.

Warwick F:
So, talk about growing up as the son of Jack Kemp, when you’re trying to find your own way in life and identity. Everybody loved Jack Kemp, everybody admired him, irrespective of what side of the aisle they’re on, so talk a bit about how it was like growing up in that kind of family.

Jeff K:
I’m actually looking through my phone to find a picture, since there may be some folks who don’t remember Jack, but I’ll get a picture. I just found some. Here’s one of dad and me after a Rams game.

Gary S:
Oh wow.

Jeff K:
Came to all my games in California. I never would have made it in pro football without his encouragement. I was a starter one time out of 20 years at the beginning of the season, in my whole life. Okay, one time out of 20 seasons. I was a backup most of the time, but I still made it 11 years in the NFL because I had this voice in my head saying, “You are a Kemp, be a leader, you are a Kemp, be a leader. Your day is going to come. I believe in you. It’s going to happen. God has a plan. You’re in the right place. Hey, you played great today.” “Dad, I didn’t even get in the game.” “Oh, I know. I saw you warming up. You’re really doing well.” That’s the kind of dad I had.

Jeff K:
Let me show you another picture. Here’s me on the airplane, the Buffalo Bills team flight with my dad, sitting in his lap.

Warwick F:
How old are you there? Like about four or something? You look pretty young?

Jeff K:
Yeah, four or five. We didn’t get to go on the flights normally. I might have just jumped on the plane, gotten to sit down and take off, I don’t know. But we really were blessed in a huge way. Here’s a picture of me as the little toe head, and my dad. Do you know that other guy in the picture with him?

Warwick F:
Yeah. Ronald Reagan. Wow, my gosh. Your dad looks young there. Was that before Reagan was president?

Jeff K:
Oh, yeah. He was governor. My dad worked for Reagan in California in….

Warwick F:
Right, when he was governor of California. Okay.

Jeff K:
1967 off season, we moved out there for three months. Let me give you the family thing, because you wisely and graciously opened this interview by asking me the question about who am I and who am I related to? And I think you and I both know quite well from experience, from families of achievement, we are not our pedigree, we are not our performance, we are not our bank account, we are not our title, we aren’t our job, we aren’t all the stuff we accomplish. We are amazing, beloved creatures of God who he created, and we have the opportunity for a relationship, or we can skip out on that, which many people in the world do, and secondly, we’re the son or daughter of a man and woman. We’re the sister or brother of people. Relationships are what shape us. Today I’m the husband of Stacy, I’m the father of four sons, not three, and I have four daughters-in-law and five grandkids.

Jeff K:
So, my identity is related to family, both spiritual family, which is way better than performing, because I promise you, football players get cut and then they would lose their identity if they were football players. And I don’t lose my identity as Stacy’s husband, I don’t lose my identity as a son that God loves, or ever will I lose my identity as Jack and Joanne’s son.

Jeff K:
The interesting thing about that is, as good as my dad was at encouraging, and loving unconditionally, and not making it about me being first string or anything like that, I put my own pressure on myself that I was going to be a great leader like my dad told me I would be, and I figured a great leader must be an all pro quarterback in the NFL, and win championships, and then become a great speaker, and then become a statesman, and run for president by the time you’re 50 years old. That’s kind of hard to live up to all that. And he didn’t put all that on me, Warwick, Gary, he didn’t put pressure on me for that, but we humans are insecure, and we’re driven to feel good about ourselves, and we want to be popular. And so I put my own pressure on myself that I got to really rise and achieve a lot.

Jeff K:
And I didn’t get to go to University of Southern California or Stanford or Notre Dame. Best college I could go to for football was Dartmouth. Now, it happened to be great for academics, so it opened two pathways. But my mom was the really encouraging, personal, relational, faith expressing force in the family.

Jeff K:
My dad was the hyper encouraging, best encourager I’ve ever known in the world, visionary, a championing, vision casting, optimistic, big picture faith, but he didn’t really have the transparency, and vulnerability, and honesty, and sharing his weaknesses and stuff like that, so I didn’t really pick that up from my dad as much as from my mom, and mostly, I picked up that from my relationship with God during the years I played pro football, and my wife, who she’s got a fabulous, cool, committed relationship to God and she helps me be a better person, although she’s kind of like sandpaper. She keeps rubbing off the spots of me that are a little bit obnoxious.

Jeff K:
So, I have two sisters, and a little brother, younger than me. I was the oldest. I married Stacy. I met her my first summer in California as a free agent with the Rams, and then we got married right after our second season. She’s the only girl I dated out there. We knew God brought us together. We have incredibly different personalities in every single way except dominant leadership. She’s a 99 dominant leader and I’m a 97, which bugs me because I’m competitive, and she beat me. So, we got two totally different people, this introvert, organized, disciplined, black and white, right and wrong, sequential person, and then there’s me, the opposite of all that. And I’m the feeler and she’s the thinker. It’s kind like I’m the girl in the equation and she’s the guy, but we’re dominant leaders, so our marriage has had a lot of friction, but great commitment.

Jeff K:
And that has reshaped us both. It’s made us turn to God because we needed some help to keep us glued together that we couldn’t have done on our own. And we’ve turned to mentors, coaching, conferences, classes, books, and then we ended up helping other couples because we needed so much help. So, that’s the journey. A great family, a dad with a big pedigree, and I finally figured out that I don’t need to be a famous success, I just need to be faithful.

Warwick F:
Right. You don’t need to be Jack Kemp.

Jeff K:
I don’t need be Jack Kemp, I have to be Jeff.

Warwick F:
Being Jeff Kemp is fine. It’s interesting, it sounds like your dad had a great heart, and wasn’t trying to push you into anything, but as you say, when he’s saying, “Being a Kemp means being a leader. I know you can do it. You did great. You can be all that you want to be.”

Jeff K:
Exactly.

Warwick F:
He might not have meant that, but you could interpret that as being, “Okay, so if I’m not a starting quarterback, and win a Super Bowl, at least be a member of Congress, maybe a Senator, I’m not being a Kemp. I’m not being a leader.” So, it probably wasn’t what he intended-

Jeff K:
I think you read it right. I filled in all the blanks and I exaggerated it and created a higher expectation for myself, even than he set out. But it was natural that I did so because he was so hyper encouraging and leadership to him was, “Let’s work with Reagan to cut the tax rate and energize the whole world economy. Let’s win two championships in a row with the Buffalo Bills.” That was the benchmark.

Warwick F:
Right. It’s funny. Do you ever think of saying, “Dad, I love your encouraging. Can you dial it down a little bit?”

Jeff K:
No. I didn’t, because back then, I loved it, and I didn’t know the performance mentality that I would assign to it that would make the weakest parts of me show up. The weakest parts of me is my vanity, my pride, my ego, my comparison to others, my impatience. But at the same time, that journey of seeing all that stuff and ending up a backup quarterback usually, getting traded, getting cut, getting booed in my big opportunity with the Seahawks in 1988 when I thought my career was going to flourish and take off, and it happened exactly the opposite, all of those things, the Crucible, okay? I don’t think you understand, Warwick, but the real word is blitz. You’re supposed to call those things blitzes. I don’t know where you came up with this melting the gold and silver Crucible

Warwick F:
Yeah, blitzes. Yeah…

Jeff K:
Listen, blitzes, they are not just danger, they are… What are they?

Warwick F:
They’re blitzes.

Jeff K:
They’re not danger. They’re also what? Opportunity.

Warwick F:
Painful. Opportunity. Right, right, right. Sorry, I hear what you’re saying.

Jeff K:
That’s what a crisis is.

Warwick F:
Right. And I love that. Just parenthetically, one of the things you have in your book is the two Chinese characters, saying the Chinese character, that crisis combines danger and opportunity.

Jeff K:
Yeah, show us the picture. Gary, can you show us the picture.

Warwick F:
That’s fascinating that a crisis can be birth. I love that.

Jeff K:
Do you have the picture right there? Can you show it?

Warwick F:
Yeah, I’ll try.

Jeff K:
If you can.

Warwick F:
See if I can-

Jeff K:
There it is. It’s simple.

Warwick F:
Do people see that? Okay. So, it’s two Chinese symbols.

Jeff K:
Got it. That is the way, in Chinese, they represent the word and concept crisis. And the Crucible is a crisis, the blitz is a crisis. It’s not just dangerous, it’s also opportunity.

Jeff K:
What I was saying was the toughest things I’ve gone through in pro football, and the fact that I didn’t get to be Joe Montana, Super Bowl champion, or Jack Kemp Jr. basically, those things crushed me to seek a better answer for who I am and a better purpose for the outcomes and circumstances of my life than just achieving.

Warwick F:
Yeah. I want to focus here in a second on sort of one key crucible you talk about, I think it was the ’88, 49ers, Seahawks game, but some listeners will know, but I think it’s helpful, I couldn’t have grown up in a more different background. I’m not particularly athletic, I’m not terrible, but in Australia, at least in Sydney, we play rugby, and most of the rest of the country, they play Aussie Rules, which they call footy there, which you’ve kind of got to be basically the size of a basketball player but maybe with the strength of a football player.

Jeff K:
Yeah, it’s a great sport.

Warwick F:
It’s strange, and you got to be very fast. But yeah, I mean, as listeners will know, I grew up in a large family media business. I was the fifth generation that was started by a very strong person of faith, as strong a businessman for Christ is I think I’ve ever heard of. He founded a great business. Wonderful husband, great dad, his employees loved him, elder at church. Every aspect of his life was done well. So, the benchmark there is really high. And then succeeding generations, faith wasn’t quite as important, but by way of comparison, my dad was knighted. He had the same name as I do. He was Sir Warwick Fairfax, that were three knighthoods in a row, and this kind of knighthood you have to earn it.

Warwick F:
So, it’s not quite like being three Super Bowl champion in a row, but it’s a little bit like somebody that’s achieved greatness and prominence three in a row. Obviously, I wasn’t knighted, they don’t do that anymore. It’s a bit too English royal family these days, and I wouldn’t have earned it, but they were all greatly admired and respected by the community. My dad oversaw a company going from one newspaper, or a few newspapers, to TV, radio, magazines, to a huge company, and what did I do? I was the Fairfax that kind of destroyed 150 years of family history. So, my Wikipedia entry, and I do have one, it’s the young hot headed kid that could have had it all and blew it. It is kind of like, through the game, losing interception in the big game, that’s what you’re forever remembered for.

Warwick F:
So, yeah, I get the whole, for me and my identity, can’t just being a Fairfax, because I can’t compete with the legacy of five generations of great, great men. So, I kind of get it on one level, even though we’re very different. But talk a bit about one of the key points in your career was that 49ers, Seahawks game when you were playing for the Seahawks. I love that incident in the book. I mean, you throw into your buddy, Steve Largent, and somehow he drops the pass.

Jeff K:
Yeah, I’ll set it up this way. I had five years at the Rams as a free agent, wasn’t even supposed to make it. Started for them in ’84, took us to the playoffs. They wanted someone more flashy and pedigreed, maybe taller, and so they got someone new. And then I got traded to the 9ers, and that looked like a dead end. You stuck behind Joe Montana your whole career, but he got hurt right away, and I got coached by Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren, got to throw to Jerry Rice, and had the best season of my life in ’86, and we went to the playoffs. But I was hurt, Montana got better. They brought in Steve Young, and somehow I didn’t beat out those two Hall of Famers. Anyway, so they traded me. They said, “Thanks, Jeff. You helped us get to the playoffs, but we don’t need you.” Traded me to Seattle. So, I was on the rise. I was getting good in my career.

Jeff K:
And I spent a year on the bench backing up David Krieg, and then I had the chance to start, after an injury of his, in ’88, and we were playing the 9ers in Seattle. And I had prepared so well, I was so hyper disciplined on that week, to know my game plan, to throw extra passes after practice, and I was very confident. I was spiritually really plugged in to make sure that I gave God everything so he might bless me. He doesn’t work like that. He’s not a… But I was covering all my bases.

Jeff K:
And I walked out in the pregame meal on Sunday morning, four hours before the game, and a coach put his arm around me an offensive coach… and this is kind of rare, this level of encouragement, and he said, “Jeff, I just want to let you know,” looking me in the eyes, “I’ve been waiting for the day that you would be the Seahawks quarterback. This is going to be awesome.” That was as big an encouragement as my dad had given me, right? And I felt so validated, so valued, so encouraged, so pumped, I was ready to have the world’s best game, lead us to victory, take us to the playoffs, win a Super Bowl, and really launch my career. It wasn’t pure ambition, but it was adrenaline to be the best you can be, and this was the moment, it was coming.

Jeff K:
Anyway, the game started, and the first pass of the game was to Steve Largent. I hit him perfectly between two defenders on a slant route, and he dropped it. Steve Largent, Hall of Fame, unbelievable. The guy’s perfect. He drops the ball on my first pass to him of our big game, and I’m-

Warwick F:
And he’s a good friend of yours.

Jeff K:
He’s a really good friend of mine. Yeah, we’re super close. And after that, Steve didn’t make any mistakes, but the game did not go well for the Seahawks. We were getting beat on defense and on offense. I was playing very, very poorly. Nothing was really open. Nothing was working. And gosh, I had only four completions in the first half, and three of them were to the 49ers, not my team.

Warwick F:
Oh, no.

Jeff K:
Two corner routes were intercepted and a hail Mary at the end of the half that was intercepted, and I walked off the field expecting to get benched, because this is pro football and not Pop Warner, and they pay you to play well, and I wasn’t, but I had a clear idea of one of the reasons for the interceptions, was they were stymying our tight end, he wasn’t getting down the middle. They were killing him at the line of scrimmage, blocking him. And so I was going to talk to that encouraging coach who put his arm around me, and I was going to say, “Coach, why don’t we move the tight end in emotion, got them off the line freely, he could split the two safeties, and we’d keep him honest on those corner routes that I’ve been messing up on.”

Jeff K:
Well, I walked up to him two feet away, and Gary, I looked at him and I said, “Coach,” and he turned his back 180 degrees, and he walked over and got another quarterback, put his hand on his shoulder and was going to put him in the game. This made sense. I understood benching Jeff, and I kind of expected it. I didn’t want it. I knew I could play way, way, way better than that, and that’s not the real me.

Jeff K:
I have the Jack Kemp, never give in, never give in, never give in Churchill attitude, but I didn’t get to say a word to that coach for the rest of the game. Other than to call plays to a new quarterback, Kelly, and encourage him, that coach didn’t say a word to me during the game, after the game, Monday in films, he critiqued me as he should, but he didn’t say a word personally to me.

Jeff K:
For a month, we were out of relationship. I’d say, “Hi,” and he’d kind of veer around me and not even look at me anymore. Basically, he’s not a jerk, and I’m not telling this story because he’s a jerk. Basically, we live in a conditional performance-based world, and the epitome of it is the NFL. The acronym NFL might stand for, not for long. If you don’t perform, you won’t be here for very long. Okay? What have you done for me lately?

Jeff K:
So, this coach thought he could motivate me with a real personal, almost loving encouragement, and I feel like he probably meant a lot of it, but the minute I didn’t perform and let him down, he was on to the next hope, and he was feeling that same conditionality, that same performance basis from his head coach who’d get rid of him just as quick if he did as badly as I, and he feels it from the owner, and he feels it from Madison Avenue and Wall Street. And this conditional performance-based value system that I got caught up in and benched from first-string to third-string in one half, my big shot with the Seahawks was gone. I hardly got in the field for a number of years until 1991, my last season, when I got to play again. All this was gone in a matter of seconds because of-

Warwick F:
Did this feel like a turning point, that game?

Jeff K:
It was a turning point in my career in Seattle for the negative. There’d been a lot of expectations and hope and I had a lot of confidence, and all sudden now I’m just a good, solid, dependable backup who’s played in the league, and we can count on him. We’ll try to replace him with some other guys, but we haven’t found anyone better, but he can still be a backup, but he’s not our starter. That’s how my career went in Seattle. And I handled that, Warwick, by persevering, still preparing, hoping I get to play, but I also put a lot of effort into being the best teammate I could.

Jeff K:
And I helped as many guys on the team as I could be good athletes, and I helped them be better husbands, and better men, and better dads. Steve Largent and I, and Eugene Robinson led the team chapel and the Bible study. My wife and I invited couples over to our house, dating couples and married couples, to learn about marriage and relationships, because we were learning about it. And then I’d use the off seasons to invest in the community to make the world better, the way you talk about using Crucibles to get other centered purpose to make the world better. I started doing that kind of thing, and that’s what set me up for post football, having a mission to strengthen fatherhood, marriage and families. So yeah, it was a turning point.

Warwick F:
Yeah. How did you deal with the whole identity issue? Because obviously, as you said, your dad was sort of, amongst other things, Hall of Fame quarterback, that people think of you as a good solid backup. You had this shining moment, well, potential, and it didn’t work out too well. How did you deal with the whole identity of my life isn’t going the way I had hoped it would? It seemed like you’ve handled it as well as you could in the sense of helping others, mentoring. I mean, you weren’t just sulking and sitting at home. I mean, to the outside world it was like, Jeff Kemp’s handling this amazingly. So, what was going on inside?

Jeff K:
It’s funny. The Seattle newspaper did an interview with me several weeks after I’d been benched from first-string to third, and they were asking how am I doing? How am I handling it? And they checked with some teammates and saw that I wasn’t hanging my head, and I wasn’t going out to the bar and drinking myself silly, I wasn’t down talking the other quarterback. I was a help. And so we had this long interview, and I answered all this reporter’s questions, and she wrote a really long and mostly nice article, and it was very complimentary of me, but it finished with this line… And I share, basically, a lot about my identity isn’t in football, it’s in my relationship with God, being a husband and a dad, and that anchors me. So anyway, she ends up writing, “Jeff Kemp will survive. He’s a survivor because of his great faith, faith in himself and faith in his abilities.”

Jeff K:
She completely missed the point. I do not have faith in myself. My character is flawed. I wanted to be the starter. I was pissed. I wasn’t happy. I had a couple of nights where I cried on my apartment carpet floor, not bawling but kind of sniffling male cry with my wife as I explained to her how much it hurt to be benched and forgotten and rejected. And I even told her, “One thing that bothers me most is not only that I’m benched but that it bothers me so much.” I thought I was a stronger person of faith than this.

Gary S:
Right. I want to jump in here and say to the listener, you’re probably not an NFL quarterback, you probably weren’t an NFL quarterback, you probably weren’t the fifth generation heir to a multi-billion dollar media dynasty, but what Jeff just described, the emotions of a crucible, the emotions of a blitz, of getting sacked, of getting knocked off balance, those emotions are legit and the same in what you’re going through right now. And Warwick, I know you’ve talked before… I mean, having editorial cartoons done about you after the takeover failed, that was an emotionally trying time, and that’s a real thing for anybody who goes through any crucible of any stripe.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. It’s funny.

Jeff K:
Thanks, Gary, for saying that.

Warwick F:
I mean, obviously, Jeff, you wouldn’t be familiar with it, but you never want to have editorial cartoons done on you. I mean, there was one that says, “How do you start a small business? Give Warwick Fairfax a big one?” I mean, another one had me looking like sort of Genghis Khan, so this Mongol kind of raiders, “And here’s young Warwick destroying what took 150 years to build,” and it was pretty brutal.

Warwick F:
So yeah, for me, yeah, I had become a believer before this whole takeover thing, but feeling like I’ve let down my dad, and my great-great-grandfather, John Fairfax, who founded it, and caused turmoil for a few thousand employees. Some family members who are unhappy with me, it was like I was pretty down for most of the ’90s, like, “How could I have been so stupid?” I have an Oxford degree and also have a Harvard MBA. In theory, I shouldn’t be that dumb in business.

Jeff K:
That’s your problem. You went to Harvard instead of Dartmouth.

Warwick F:
There you go.

Jeff K:
It all traces back to that huge mistake.

Warwick F:
If I’d gone to Dartmouth Tuck School of Business, life would have been better, absolutely.

Jeff K:
Hey, let me say this right now. Gary, you teed it up, Warwick, you felt it, and every person out there has been blitzed. They’ve been cut, they’ve been rejected. They went to junior high, they know what it’s like to be on the losing end of that conditional performance-based value system, making fun of your pimples, or your size, or your voice, or whatever. Everyone goes through crucibles.

Jeff K:
I want to remind people, you want to remind people, Gary wants to remind people, you are not alone, others have been in it before, and the worst thing you can do is hide your emotions from other people. Hide your pain, drown it and self medicate it or pretend it didn’t happen, but the worst thing you can do is say, “I’m a victim. It’s all about other people.” Because you’ll never grow if you don’t look at what your part in it was, which wasn’t, “I’m the worst guy in the world. I deserved to be benched, or I deserved to have cartoons against me.” No, but you know what, there’s lessons that I learned, and you have to accept your own personal responsibility. Maybe it was a divorce you went through, you can think it was 90% her. Your math is probably off. Okay? Maybe you were cut, or sacked, or benched, or fired by some company and you think that was the worst manager or CEO ever. Maybe they weren’t that perfect, but there might be something you can learn.

Warwick F:
Absolutely.

Jeff K:
All I’m saying is, embrace the crucible, embrace the blitz, get honest with God and honest with other people about it, and learn everything you can about yourself and what life is truly about, because your life is not about your win-loss record, your statistics, your bank account, the applause of the world, how many Twitter followers you have. That is pretty much a bunch of BS and it’ll take you down a wrong road, you’ll lose your identity. Living for image and living to gain and earn your identity is a very losing equation. I’d say explore everything you can learn about the blitz you’ve gone through, the crucible you’re in, share openly with a few trusted mentors and people, and then find out if there’s a possible solution, by a relationship with God, who loves you unconditionally, and actually uses blitz and crucibles to turn bad things to good.

Jeff K:
In fact, all of history, Warwick, I think hinges on one date, the date that God came to earth in the person of a man, and he told everyone, “I am going to die on a cross, and I’ll be buried and gone for three days, but then I’m going to raise from the dead.” And 500 people saw him because he actually did it. There’s no religious leader or person in history who’s done this. And then he went back to his father in heaven, and said, “I will return again.” Well, basically, no one had a career that looked as good as Jesus’s and turned out as bad as his. His number one guy, the treasurer betrayed him. Okay? His new number one guy, Peter, he denied him three times. Every one of the guys scattered. They couldn’t even stay awake with him and pray with him in that garden the night before he’s going to get killed. They all left. They all left. The world mocked him.

Jeff K:
The Jewish leaders, he practiced Judaism better than them, but they said he was a fraud. He was the actual answer that they were supposed to believe in. And I love Jewish people, I love Israel, I love the Jewish faith. My Christian faith is stemming from Judaism. It’s the same God. I just believe the Messiah has come. And that is kind of God’s plan, was to take a blitz in Jesus, make it look terrible, and then turn it around for good. That’s God’s formula. Look at all the Bible stories. That guy Joseph, man. There was a dude named Lazarus who Jesus was supposed to heal, but he let him die and stay in the tomb four days so that he could actually prove that he gives life instead of just heal sicknesses. So, blitz is God’s way. I’d say, turn to God, be honest, and let your blitz become God’s blessing.

Warwick F:
Yeah. I want to shift to LIFT here in a moment, which we’ll unpack, well, you’ll unpack. But I just want listeners to hear what Jeff is saying. He said a number of profound things, is take responsibility for what happened in your blitz or your crucible. And, yeah, I spent a lot of years, in fact, a lot of the book that will come out next year on Crucible Leadership talks about that, thinking I was on this crusade, restore the company to the ideals of the founder, have it be well-run, I was so convinced in the mission, even though it was more an inherited one, that I wasn’t really listening to advice. It was very biblical, actually. I had good advisors and bad advisors. I listened to the bad ones and ignored the good ones.

Warwick F:
In fact, there’s a Bible story, Rehoboam, who was the son of Solomon, and he could have listened to his dad’s advisors, Solomon was meant to be the wisest person that ever lived, he ignored his dad’s advisors and he went with his buddies, these young guys. He said, “Yeah, persecute people, do whatever it takes,” and it led to the split of Israel and bad things happened from there, so absolutely.

Jeff K:
You know what, that principle is, even though you are well educated and you had noble goals, at the root, wouldn’t you say the problem probably was that the hinge point between pride and humility?

Warwick F:
Well, yeah, and it was also, as I talked about, I was living not even my dad’s vision, the founder’s vision. In your world, it’d be like trying to be Jack Kemp. Well, I was trying to be John Fairfax, the founder. But taking responsibility, and then as you put it, I mean, similar for me, even though I was a believer, I had to learn that God loved me unconditionally. He didn’t need Fairfax Media and all of that. If he’d wanted it to work out, he would have, despite my mistakes, so that sense of God’s unconditional love was the key point of me coming back.

Warwick F:
But I want to transition here a bit because I want to make sure I get to some of these key principles in your book. I love this phrase, LIFT, that life is for transformation, that I think you mentioned that your dad modeled and preached, then you’ve got these three, I guess, pillars in your book, of take a long term view, be willing to change, reach out to others. So, talk about just those three concepts and how it’s sort of anchored in this whole concept of LIFT, of life is for transformation.

Jeff K:
Yeah. So, Bill Bennett, who worked with dad in the cabinet for President Bush, the first President Bush, described dad, after he passed away, as LIFT. Wherever he went, whatever the issue, whatever the audience, no matter the situation, Jack Kemp brought LIFT, a sunny, optimistic disposition that we can make the world better, we can turn bad to good. That’s the way it was with me.

Jeff K:
But I agree with that sentiment, and I love the word LIFT, kind of like the aerodynamics of a wing that takes a plane up in the air when it’s moving, but not when it’s not moving. Secondly, there’s an acronym, life is for transformation. Transformation from less good to better, from proud to humble, from selfish to unselfish, from me to us, from racist to we’re all equal, from a lack of opportunity to more opportunity, from immaturity to maturity, okay? Obviously, it’s for growth. Everyone’s trying to grow and improve. That’s the purpose of life. God made himself creative and he made us creative, but that means we should transform things to be better.

Jeff K:
Well, blitzes and crucibles are great examples of things that need to transform from not so good… COVID, I didn’t want it to go this way. I didn’t want to lose all my speeches and not have any men’s conferences for this whole last seven months. I didn’t want that. But guess what, there are other opportunities that I found in the midst of it that had been improvements in my life, in my marriage, in my relationship with God, in my content creating, in my coaching of leaders. I’ve started coaching CEOs, and they might reach many people versus the audience I wanted to.

Jeff K:
So, here’s three strategies for facing your crucibles, and facing your blitzes, your troubles, and trials, and problems, and unexpected stuff you didn’t want to happen. The first, take a long term view, not a short term view. Now, you and I have been changed and have found a lifelong centering relationship with God through the person of Jesus, and so our long term is eternity, right? This life is pretty cool, there’s a lot of good stuff, but we know it’s jacked up and imperfect. There’s a paradise coming forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. That sounds pretty cool. That’s God’s kingdom. If you take that long term view, you’re really going to make good decisions.

Jeff K:
If you just take a 10 or 20 year future vision, you might not yell at your wife quite so much, go have an affair, and say, “Screw this marriage,” and blow up your family, because you’re thinking, “I think grandma and grandpa together would be better for our grandkids than splitting up.” Long term view. “Begin with the end in mind,” Stephen Covey.

Jeff K:
Number two, you got to humble yourself instead of being proud, and you have to be willing to change. That’s strategy two. You got to be willing to change. Football players always change the play in the blitz. We don’t run the same play because it’s not going to work. We site adjust, we adapt, we might call an audible, but we got to change. And many times you have to sacrifice. That’s how we beat blitzes. Quarterback get hit in the jaw, but they deliver the ball to a receiver who changes his route, while all the linemen and running backs are diving in front of 300 pound defenders to sacrifice so the team can win, and the quarterback is on his back when he finds out that the touchdown pass just occurred, turning the blitz into the greatest play in the game and we win.

Jeff K:
You got to be willing to change, call different play, become more humble. If you talk all the time, shut up and listen. If you never talk, speak up. If you spend all your money and there’s nothing left for the kids’ college, start saving. Change your character. Maybe your faith is what needs to change. Maybe you say you believe in God, you go to church occasionally, you’re religious. Why don’t you try something different? Just try a relationship with God instead of religion. Well, why don’t you try trusting him instead of just saying I believe? That might change some things. Why don’t you try reading the Bible and seeing if the greatest book in history of the world can actually change you like it has me? So, that’s number two, be willing to change.

Jeff K:
Number three. Stop playing the victim and focusing on yourself, and very simply, focus on others, bless others, turn outward. That’s your vision. I’ve heard it in your crucible leadership. Here’s my analogy for it my friend. It’s to be an investor, especially in relationships. In the summertime, they teach the quarterbacks like Drew Brees, “Your responsibility is to throw the football to a one foot diameter of accuracy to the wide receiver, not anywhere close.” I was in practice one day, Joe Montana threw a pass to Jerry Rice, it hit him right here in the shoulder, Jerry turned the ball to the front, kept running scored a touchdown, and the quarterback coach, Mike Holmgren said, “Good throw, Joe.”

Jeff K:
And our Hall of Fame coach, Bill Walsh, turned to Mike and said, “No, it’s not. That’s not a good throw. That’s not good enough. That hit him on his back shoulder. That could bounce off his pads, it might slow him down. He might not get the score. Mike, that ball’s got to be right here, one foot diameter of accuracy in front of him so we can keep running.” Meanwhile, they’re teaching the wide receivers in the summer in the training camp, in their own meeting room, their responsibility is if they can touch the ball, wherever it is, they got to catch it. “Go up, get hit in the ribs, be out for eight weeks, we’ll see in the playoffs. We need that catch.” Can you hear the mentality? Expect much of yourself and little from others and give your best to make them successful, make it easy for them.

Jeff K:
Boy, what if husbands were like that with their wife? What if wives were like that with their husband? All husbands really need is a little bit of respect. Deep down, we’re little boys that are just crying out to know, do we have what it takes? Do we measure up? Are we a man? Are we a good man? And we can handle correction and all sorts of things, but we can’t handle it when we don’t feel respected.

Warwick F:
It’s so true.

Jeff K:
Meanwhile, poor wives. We husbands, we work our butt off, we buy a nice house, we get them the car they want, we get the kids into the school they want, we mow the lawn, we do all this stuff, we tell them we provide for them, but guess what? We don’t talk to them, we don’t share our feelings, we don’t open up, we don’t ask them questions, we don’t stop and pray for them, we don’t take them on dates anymore. We take them for granted. We don’t cherish them, we don’t tell them they’re beautiful anymore, we don’t apologize to them when we hurt their feelings. Basically, we’re not loving them. And I’ll tell you what, a woman, her currency is love, and a man’s currency is respect.

Jeff K:
So, I’m talking about being a relationship investor. In football, you have to picture quarterbacks serving receivers, receivers serving quarterbacks, in marriage, husbands serving wives, wives serving husbands, in business, CEOs serving the team and the team serving one another, and then serving clients. If we had this invest in others… There’s a great message that is in the Bible, the book of Philippians, which is a letter Paul wrote to a small church in the city of Philippi said, “Don’t do anything out of selfish ambition, or vain conceit.” That basically means don’t do anything out of selfishness or pride. Well, now that rules a lot of things out for you and me, doesn’t it?

Warwick F:
It does.

Jeff K:
But in humility, an attitude of humility, consider other people more important than yourself, and don’t just look out for your interest, look out for their interests. It’s basically saying, don’t be a consumer, always worried about yourself, be an investor. Bless them, encourage them, give them the truth, be kind, prefer their preference over your own, apologize first, forgive first. This is investing. This is relationship investing. And so those three strategies, they’ll change your life and they’ll change the world. One, take a long term view. And I recommend you include God in it because he started you, and it’s just not wise to ignore someone who is unbelievably perfect, loving and good, even though this world is jacked up. The reason it’s jacked up is because we ran away from God.

Jeff K:
Number two. Be willing to change because you’re humble enough to learn and grow and try something different. And number three. Why don’t you try copying the greatest man that ever lived, Jesus, who didn’t come to be served, but to serve. And be an investor in your spouse, your son, your rebellious teenage daughter, your estranged brother, your boss, who’s a jerk, tough. Invest in him and the relationship, your employees, your team.

Warwick F:
Well, there’s so many profound things there I want to talk for a minute about what you’re doing now, but just in terms of transitioning to that, I want the listeners to hear there’re so many profound things you said, this concept of being an investor and not a consumer. And that’s a great analogy with, say, with a quarterback running to this one foot window, and receivers, if he can touch it, probably if he can kind of smell it, hear it.

Jeff K:
If anyone’s close, you got to get it.

Warwick F:
Right. If it’s within a 10 yard radius or something, at the risk of hyperbole, that idea of just investing in others and being willing to change. So true. Just as we transition to what you’re doing now, obviously, growing up, you had one model of what it is to be a great person, your dad, politics, reaching across the aisle to people of all backgrounds, all races, all pro quarterback, incredible human being.

Jeff K:
And my mom. My mom is the unsung hero in the family. Joanne Kemp, if we show the tombstone for her, it just says, “The power of the personal.” She was always personal. Relationships meant everything to her. Go ahead. I didn’t mean to cut your…

Warwick F:
No, no, it’s all good. But you obviously had to be willing to change. There was a point in your life, you said, “Okay, I’m probably not going to be an all pro quarterback, maybe I don’t want to be a politician, or a senator, or president.” Somehow you had to be willing to change from not just living your father’s vision, or in my case, John Fairfax’s vision, the founder. So, talk about how did you shift from kind of the football, living up to your dad’s vision, to finding your own vision? Because a lot of people are trying to live other people’s visions and not their own, in fact, their God given vision, from our perspective. How did you make that shift and how did that lead you to what you’re doing now?

Jeff K:
Boy, I’ll give a little bit of story, but the principle that I’d like people to go away with is, you know what, if you really want your ideal purpose, and vision, and mission, and calling, and role, go consult the owner’s manual and talk to God, let him define it for you. The culture is jacked up, your ego is jacked up, sometimes your advisors are jacked up, as you found out. So, go on a journey spiritually and ask the Father, your Father, what he thinks.

Jeff K:
But here’s how it happened for me. The off seasons had a fair amount of open time because I wasn’t getting invited to all the most high profile celebrity golf tournaments like the starting quarterbacks, so I wanted to use the off season to serve in the community. And I was on a board of directors of something called Pro Athletes Outreach. I learned how to be on an executive committee, how to be on a board, I learned about budgets, I learned about strategy, I cared about ministry. We gave money to Christian charities and we learned about some of the work that they did, Focus On The Family was one of them, Family Life was another. And we did stuff in our home to help others. Okay?

Jeff K:
So, all of that gave me a vision for helping others, and I loved working in the inner city with kids. And I realized that I can’t save the world, and I can’t even save that many kids, but maybe I can impact the family that will impact the kid. So, that’s kind of why I had a vision to go upstream and strengthen marriage and fatherhood, because that can touch a lot of kids. And I’d like to prevent problems more so than just being the band aid, which is not a fair way to say what loving kids is all about. That’s not just a band aid, but you know what I mean? You got to prevent the breakup of the family, not just trying to pick up the pieces. So, that was in my head.

Jeff K:
But in ’92, right after my really good year with the Eagles, and I signed a big contract, thought I was going to extend my career for a few years. I was the last guy cut, came home, no one signed me around the league for four weeks, and I was pretty upset. My prayers weren’t being answered, that I get a new team. And when the Seahawks had a quarterback get hurt, and I called the coach to say, “I’m in town, please sign me.” I was sure this was the answer to my prayer, he left a message and said, “Sorry, we’re going to sign someone else. Good luck.” Click.

Jeff K:
And I went out to the front door, and despite all this faith and maturity that I’ve been telling you about, I slammed the door, sat on my front step on my nice home in America, Redmond, Washington, and I started having a pity party. And I said, “This isn’t fair. This isn’t right. God, this stinks. I’m not going to pray. I’m just going to sit here and feel the stinking pain.” And I did, I started feeling the pain. “This isn’t fair. Why am I getting rejected, cut, after I’ve served well and been a good teammate? I just want to finish positively.”

Jeff K:
Well, my wife came out, Stacy, and we’d been married 10 years by that point, and she said, “Oh, Jeff, I can’t imagine how much this hurts. And I just want to encourage you, we’ve been through tough things, and God’s always been there, he’s always cared for us, he’s always had a good purpose come out of it.” She kind of articulated this principle. And I said, “I know that,” looking up at her. “I know that. Don’t tell me that. I just want to finish football with some dignity.” In her head, she thought maybe he needs some tough love, not the soft stuff. So, she very gently said, “As I recall, when Jesus Christ walked this earth and he left, he didn’t get any dignity. Maybe you need to let go that desire.” Wow, that was like a barb into my heart.

Warwick F:
Oh, my gosh.

Jeff K:
And I looked at her in all my marriage conference speaking maturity as a husband, and I said, “Maybe you need to go inside.” She went inside, left me alone. And then I think it was God that started speaking to me, and I had the worst moment of my life… This is prior to my dad’s cancer and losing him, prior to a nonprofit that I ran, getting so behind in money that I had to fire myself, those two things hurt. But this was the worst crisis blitz I’d ever had, losing my career at age 32, and having the bottom dropout, realizing more of my identity was wrapped up in it than I’d ever thought.

Jeff K:
So, in a matter of seconds, I thought about what she said about Jesus, and I started realize, “Oh my gosh, what unbelievable, unconditional, courageous love he’s shown for me. He forgave all my sin, he adopted me, he said I can go to heaven paradise forever, and he’s given me this great wife, except for what she just said, and these three healthy kids. 11 years of pro football, I didn’t deserve any of this. I was a free agent out of Dartmouth, I was a 50 to one odds guy. I am whining, wanting more? What a schmuck I am. Most of all, God loves me, and I’m his son.” And I started to cry tears of gratitude and joy, and the worst moment of my life became the best spiritual moment.

Jeff K:
And here’s what I get to the answer to your question. I heard, in my thoughts, in my heart, these words that were penned somewhere by the Apostle Paul, “Forget what lies behind and press onto what lies ahead.”

Warwick F:
One of my favorite verses.

Jeff K:
And right there, “Oh, my gosh, football was great. It was a gift, use it as a platform, but step out of that and go into strengthening fatherhood, marriage, and families.” And that’s when I began my career search. I thought about corporate speaking, motivational training, a couple different things, but it was pretty clear that this calling to strengthen families was key in my life, and that’s what I started doing right away. And it’s only morphed into focusing more and more on men, and husbands, and then leaders who can shape the team and the culture as a way to reach the next generation, because that’s kind of where my stories fit well, with leaders and with men. And then my wife and I do marriage conferences.

Warwick F:
That’s awesome. Well, you have a very clear vision, a clear mission. I know your dad’s been gone quite a long time now. Let’s assume he’s up in heaven, I think we both believe he is.

Jeff K:
Yeah. Well, you know what, he got cancer late in life, and cancer had a blessing in that it finally brought him to his knees and slowed him down and made him realize that the forgiveness of Jesus and the grace of Jesus can cover anything you ever do wrong. And I don’t think he ever really understood that before. It was more metaphysical, more of a belief.

Warwick F:
I understand.

Jeff K:
More of a church thing. He could say it but he didn’t feel it in his heart, and I think cancer was used by God as a blitz, to draw my dad into that personal relationship. So, I know that he’s with God, with Jesus, in heaven.

Warwick F:
As he’s looking down at you and your life of what you’ve done and what you’re doing now for marriages, and men, and kids, what do you think he would say about your vision and how you’re seeking to live his construct of LIFT, of life is for transformation? What do you think he would say about the man you are now and what you’re doing in your ministry and all?

Jeff K:
Well, my dad did a good job with Jennifer, and Judith, and Jimmy and I of showing his pride, showing his love, kissing us, affection, hugs, approval, he bragged about us and tell all sorts of stories in his speeches about his kids, but I know that he was particularly pleased at our faith, and particularly pleased at my marriage and my fathering, and I think he was really proud.

Jeff K:
And he was a financial investor in our nonprofit work to strengthen families, and so he believed in it, but I think, with all the new insight he has up in heaven, he’d probably say, “You were a really good Kemp, but way more importantly, I think you understood that you were a child and a son of the king, and the perfect father, and you’ve really been a good ambassador for him. And I’m proud of that, and more importantly, God’s proud of that. And I really am thankful for the fact that you let God get a hold of your life, and you let him use you to show others that God is love, that family is important, that marriage matters, and that men should be humble servants, not cocky performers.”

Jeff K:
So, dad would be very happy, very proud, very complimentary. We’ve had our little debates and stuff, sometimes he thinks I’m too intense, which is funny, because he was pretty intense.

Warwick F:
Now, that’s funny.

Jeff K:
Yeah, it was funny. But I can’t wait to be with my dad again. That’s going to be awesome.

Warwick F:
Well, that’s great. I mean, and as we kind of wrap up here, for me, my dad was a bit more… I have more of an evangelical faith, his faith was a bit more ecumenical. But when I look at him, certainly, the founder of the company, John Fairfax, I didn’t do the whole newspaper business deal, it wasn’t my vision, but in terms of how he lead his life as a father, as a husband, the way he treated other people, those elements, yeah, I mean, to the degree I can, I want to emulate that, and I know you’re the same way.

Warwick F:
So, we don’t have to copy the vision of our fathers or ancestors, but those who are believers, there are certain things we can copy, how they treat people, how they treat their wives, and kids, and that’s really what it’s all about, not how much you achieve, or your bank account, or how many books you sell, or how many people listen to your speeches. I mean, that’s all like dust compared to what’s really important. So yeah, it’s always good to remember.

Jeff K:
Mother Teresa said that her definition of success is being faithful.

Warwick F:
Yeah, absolutely.

Jeff K:
Faithful means you take the gifts that God gives you and you steward them as if they belong to him and you’re just taking great care of them. And sometimes we’re supposed to multiply them and let things get really big, but we’re never supposed to do it in a way that skips over the relationship of the soul and person you’re talking to at the moment. So, if your business is pulling you away from your marriage and your kids, you’re not being faithful. And if your ministry, Mr. Pastor or Mr. Churchy Guy, is taking you away from humility, and loving your wife and your kids, or your spouse, that isn’t necessarily being faithful. So, I don’t need to be a superstar.

Warwick F:
No. It comes back to what you said earlier is, is where is your identity? Is it in how many touchdowns you’re scoring, or where you are in your career, your bank account, or even in the world of church, how big your church is? Is it in what you believe for us, our faith in Christ or others that maybe some other belief system but is your identity and what you hold most dear in life, or is it about achievement? Success and achievement is okay, but you don’t want to worship it.

Jeff K:
Oh, that’s the point. Yeah. Don’t let anything, even good things, get in the way of loving God. And I like the phrase, let’s live from our identity, which we receive from God and relationships, rather than living for our identity to try to earn it. That’s a losing equation. We can look at all Hollywood, and athlete, and famous business people, celebrities, it doesn’t worked out for them.

Warwick F:
That’s the path to misery, not happiness. We don’t want to go there.

Gary S:
This is the time in the show that I normally say it’s time to land the plane. I’ve been waiting all episode to say, “No, it’s not time to land the plane, it’s the two minute warning.” And I will be guilty of throwing an interception before the two minute warning, Jeff, if I did not give you the chance to tell our listeners how they can find out more about you and about the Jeff Kemp Group.

Jeff K:
Okay, thanks. First, let me say thank you to you, Gary, great job, and Warwick, and this concept of Crucible Leadership, I agree with it 100%, we’re on the same page, and you’re using your story and humility, and you’re lifting others, and I’m a believer.

Jeff K:
Jeff Kemp Team is my platform for public speaking, men speaking, particularly conferences and retreats, where I bring faith and identity and purpose in relationships, front and foremost, and then I do CEO soul coaching. I call it soul coaching, it’s not just executive coaching, it’s not just mentoring, it’ll touch on strategy, it’ll touch on team building, it may go very deep in those areas, and I have some experience to draw upon, but it’s going to start with your identity, your soul, your relationships, both vertical relationships and horizontal relationships. And then it’s going to address how do you receive guidance when everyone’s saying you’re the boss? Are you humble enough to get guidance from God and from others? Do you have friends? Are you protected or have you moved too far to where you’re isolated like many leaders become?

Jeff K:
Isolation has been America’s problem, and in some cases, COVID has made it worse. So, Jeff Kemp Team is basically speaking, messaging, conferences, I put in some of my own men’s retreats, but the real core is the CEO soul coaching.

Gary S:
And how do they find you online?

Jeff K:
Just go to the website, jeffkempteam.com, jeffkempteam.com, and there’s a book site called facingtheblitz.com. That’s really the place. My phone number is even on there. I believe in relationship. If someone needs to get a hold of me, they can give me a call or send me an email.

Gary S:
Awesome. Well, Warwick, any final question for Jeff?

Warwick F:
Maybe observation. I just love what you’re doing, Jeff, Facing The Blitz. I mean, we may use different terms, but there was something that you wrote here that was… it says similar to what we talked about on Crucible Leadership. You write, “The blitz is not the end of the story, it’s only the catalyst to a greater one.” I mean, we use almost the same words. “The crucible is not the end of the story,” as Gary will probably say here in a bit. Exactly. So, wait a minute or two, and you’ll hear it, but now I just love how you forged your own path coming from a famous father, and you’ve got your own mission, your own vision that’s yours, and you’ve got your identity and a higher purpose, a higher cause in the Lord.

Warwick F:
And so, yeah, I just love what you do, and your book and so much of what you wrote resonated just humbly talking about it. So many things in there makes so much sense. But you’re right, as you’re humble and vulnerable about what you’ve been through, you allow other people, and especially men who seem to have a particularly difficult time about being vulnerable and perhaps humble, you allow them to walk into that space, so you lead by example, which is what leaders do. So, I love your book and what your ministry is doing, and so yeah, it’s just an honor just to chat with you and hear about it. So, thank you.

Jeff K:
My exhortation to all our listeners, women and men, and men particularly is, friendship is a wonderful thing. Don’t get too busy for friendship. Secondly. You know shouldn’t go along, but few of us build a team to go through life as a team. You cannot beat blitzes alone, you can’t get through the crucible alone. So, you got to build your team ahead of time. I call it a huddle, Warwick. I have two best friends, and we meet every week, and we drop our guard, disclose what’s going on in our life, talk about the most important thing, we admit and confess the areas where we blew it, our mistakes, our weaknesses, our sins, and then we’re set free from that. And then we pray for each other, and we support each other, and we champion each other.

Jeff K:
I actually have two groups like that, one that does it by Zoom with some guys across the country, and one that does it right here in Little Rock where I live. And I enjoy friendship, and I enjoy the huddle, and I enjoy teamwork. And I would encourage everyone, build a team in your life. Maybe get a mentor, but get two or three closest friends who you can drop your guard and be real with and process your crucible, process your blitz with them and you’ll be set free from the isolation, secrecy, and the shame that a lot of people live in.

Gary S:
Well, I have been in the communications business long enough to know that the clock now reads 000. That was the last word right there. Let me end, though, for the listener with three takeaways, I think, that this discussion between Jeff and Warwick has brought. Number one, is your identity is not in your accomplishments, it is not in your job title, it’s not in your family history. And we’ve talked here today to men whose fathers were known as Mr. Secretary and Sir Warwick. It’s not in your popularity or your image either, your identity. Learn the lessons of your crucible, be honest and humble enough to acknowledge where you may have gone wrong, then get up from your blitz and press on. That’s point one.

Gary S:
Point two. Think of life as an opportunity to LIFT. Life is for transformation, from proud to humble, as Jeff said, from selfish to humble, from immaturity to maturity, from not so good to better. Lean into the LIFT.

Gary S:
And finally, number three. Focus on others, bless them, be an investor in relationships. Live life on purpose with your eyes, not on yourself. That is, let’s mash up the language of both our host and our guest today by that is a playbook that leads to significance. Thank you for spending time with us on Beyond The Crucible, listener. Warwick and I have a little favor to ask you. Please do click subscribe on the podcast app on which you’re listening right now. That will ensure that you don’t miss any episodes like this fascinating conversation we had with Jeff Kemp today, it will also help us make sure that other people get access to interviews like this.

Gary S:
And until the next time we’re together, do remember what we’ve talked about for the last hour. Do remember this truth, that your crucible is not the end of your story, your blitz is not something you can’t get up from. They both can be the starting point to a new chapter in your life, to a better chapter in your life, to a more fulfilling chapter in your life, because bouncing back from your crucible and getting up and moving beyond your blitz is a path that leads to a life of significance.

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