How I found My Dream with Ross Stewart

Today I am sharing my interview with Ross Stewart who did just that — he identified his passion and went after his dreams.

Ross is currently the head coach at Leto High in Tampa, Florida. He is a graduate of Endicott College in Boston and East Lake High School in Palm Harbor, FL.  His love for basketball has carried him through high school and college and into a career.  Today, Ross will share about how he was able to identity his passion and the steps he took to live his dream.  And oh by the way, Ross is my son.

Cindy: Ross, welcome.

Ross: Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.

Cindy: I’m glad you’re here too. Tell the listeners a little bit about how this passion for basketball began.

Ross: Well, I’d say I’m lucky in the fact that some of us, our passion comes easier than others. I knew from day one that my passion was the sport of basketball and just athletics in general. Now over the years, my passion has developed a little bit and has become more specific, but just generally speaking, basketball since day one has always been my passion. I tried a million different things.

Ross: Football, other sports, all sorts of things, but it always just came back to basketball. There are just so many things that I like about the sport. From day one, my favorite thing about it was that it’s something that you could do on your own. You could go out, you didn’t need anyone else. You can spend hours by yourself.

Ross: Right. As just a general way to have fun or as a stress-reliever or a way to get rid of anxiety or a way just to block out everything else, basketball has always been a great outlet for that. I think from an early age just the fact that I could go out and I could do it whenever I wanted and I could just be me, just me, the basketball. I think that sparked the passion originally.

Cindy: That’s good. I remember when we bought your first basketball hoop. Yeah, I think you were maybe two and a half, three years old. It was a little Fisher-Price, and, of course, the little ball was tiny. You would stand out there and just throw the basketball in over and over again. We didn’t realize what a good investment that was. It wasn’t just a toy. Apparently, it was a career choice.

Ross: Good, good.

Cindy: For sure. Let me just ask you something. You’re in a position now as the head basketball coach at Leto High that you really didn’t plan for.

Ross: Yeah, that’s absolutely right.

Cindy: You came out of college, went to work for your dad, and then just tell me the process you went through in discovering that that job was a great job, but it wasn’t really your passion and your long-term goal.

Ross: Right. It’s a very long story if I broke down everything, but just to kind of talk about it for a minute. It’s funny because I never imagined myself being a coach. I never imagined myself being a teacher, which I am now and have been for the past three years. It was not something that I saw in my future at any point, and I think that’s mostly because I didn’t have great role models as coaches. There were a few coaches that I can think of that I can remember little things that they said or little things they did, but overall, I didn’t have a lot of Godly men in the coaching realm.

When I was a player, I … I don’t want to say disliked. I feel like that’s kind of strong. There were things about my coaches that I didn’t want myself to be, and so for that reason, I decided that coaching wasn’t going to be my ultimate goal. When I went to school, I went to Endicott College and got my degree in sport management, and, again, my goal wasn’t to be … Although sport administration was a part of it, my goal wasn’t to be a coach or to be within an athletic department or to do anything like that. It was more on the marketing side, athletic apparel, sports teams, that sort of thing.

When I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted. I wanted something.

Ross: I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know. One of the biggest things, and we’ll talk about it a little bit later, but one of the biggest things is I just didn’t know really what I valued. I didn’t know what was important to me. I didn’t know kind of what made me tick. I had a good idea of the things that I like to do, but I didn’t have a good sense of a grounded value that when I wanted to wake up every morning, this is the influence that I wanted to have, this is what I wanted to do.

I tried a bunch of stuff. As soon as I got out of school, I half-way applied for my MBA to see if I could get into that, and that didn’t really pan out, so I came home. When I came home, I immediately … Like you said, I immediately got a job with my dad, and that was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me, because he gave me that stability right away to where I was able to work, and then I was able to also kind of branch out and find out those other things that I might be interested in.

I went through that for about five years. I went through working with him and actually being really good at my job, but along the way, I was applying for other things. I was looking into other things. I was searching, I was probing. At one point, I went to a sales kind of conference. It was a weekend sales conference for some major sports teams in the area. They basically recruit you to be a ticket salesperson. I was really good at that. I got offers from the Tampa Bay Lightning. I got offers from the Orlando Magic to go there, but it wasn’t enough monetarily at the time.

Looking back on those five years, before we go any further, it’s funny how I must have filled out 50 or something applications to different places, different sports marketing places, different athletic apparel companies, Reebok, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour. I must have filled out applications to all of them, to all of these major league sports teams, to all of this stuff, and just nothing panned out. At the time, it looked bleak. At the time, I’m thinking to myself, “What is going on? How come none of these guys are taking me seriously? How come I’m not getting interviews?”

That’s the funny thing about timing, is that at the time … That’s the funny thing about God is that at the time, you’re so laser-focused on trying to get something that you want and you don’t see that bigger picture, which, looking back, is so funny to me.

Cindy: Yeah, that is great. You know what’s interesting is when we get out of college, we’ve got our degrees, we’ve got all these things, and we think, “Okay, this’ll be good,” but then there’s something inside of us that says, “This is good, but it doesn’t satisfy me. It doesn’t fill the longing within me, that longing for importance, that longing to make a difference, that longing to feel like I’ve achieved something, and I’m really great at it because it’s what I was made to do.” I think with finding that basketball coaching job, and even that was just kind of a fluke, wasn’t it? Tell us a little bit about that.

Ross: Yeah. It’s definitely a fluke, and I can’t wait … That’s one of my favorite things to talk about right now is just knowing your value and knowing where you have influence and what your spear is and where you can just be this amazing person that God has destined you to be. I think that’s great, and again, we’ll talk about that in a little bit. As far as finding the coaching job, the story is sort of unbelievable.

One day, I’m just sitting in my office at my old job, and it was a construction job, which, again, I loved, the people I loved. There’s so many things I loved about it, but at the end of the day, it just didn’t fulfill. It just wasn’t … I didn’t go home … I could go home and look at my paycheck and say, “Okay, I’m doing a good job, or I could go and talk to other salesmen and they could say. “Oh, you’re doing a great job,” but at the end of the day, I wasn’t fulfilled. I didn’t feel like I was influencing people in the right way. I didn’t feel connected to a lot of things. It just felt like a job, is what it felt like.

One day, I’m sitting at my desk and I get this kind of tug. I get this kind of feeling, and I had never done this before. I start searching these jobs. I think it was at a point where I was five years removed from college basketball, and the only experience that I had in the sport since then was playing in men’s leagues and playing recreationally every once in a while, and because it was my passion, I really felt like I was missing it.

Cindy: Yeah, that’s good.

Ross: There was something there that I was missing, and it just felt like a piece of me wasn’t there. It’s something that I’d done for so long. I got this tug, and it said, “Go search out these websites. There’s someone that’s looking for someone like you.” That’s the feeling that I got in my head was there’s somebody and they’re looking for you. Go find it. Here I am sitting at my desk and just at a little break in the day, and something is tugging at my heart, telling me, “You got to search this out. There’s somebody who needs you, there’s somebody who … There’s a place for you. There’s a place for you. I’m going to find it for you. I’m going to tell you where it is.”

Cindy: Yeah, that’s good.

Ross: I started searching on the Florida High School Athletic Association website, and they have what they call classifieds for schools. I began scrolling through different job opportunities. There were athletic director positions, and there was assistant coaches and head coaches and all these different positions for all these different sports, and I just happened upon one that said, “Assistant coach needed, brand new head coach at this school called Leto High School.” I had never heard of it before. I had no idea where it is, but I searched it out and Leto High School just geographically is about a mile from my work.

Cindy: I can’t believe that. That’s unbelievable.

Ross: It’s funny how that happens. I called the guy, and I said, “You know, I played college basketball and I’m really looking to get into basketball again. I’ve been away for about five years, and I would love it if I could come in for an interview and talk to you just for a little bit, pick your brain, and see what’s going on.” I did. I went in and talked to him two days later, and he called me back and he said, “You know, we got somebody else.”

Cindy: Oh, no. I didn’t know that.

Ross: Yeah, so this is new to you. He said, “We basically have somebody else,” and I said, “Well, all right. If I could come and if I could volunteer for any little bit or anything like that, then that would be great. I’d love to come in and volunteer.” He said, “Yeah, we’ll be in touch.” I waited two weeks or three weeks or something like that, and, again, I was searching the website a little bit and not really finding anything. Late one afternoon, after I had already got off work and I was home and everything, I got a call, and it was the coach. Now this is three weeks later. He said, “You know, we had another guy, and in the process of doing all of his paperwork and doing his background check, he didn’t pass his background check.”

Ross: Yeah. He said, “Would you still like the job?” I said, “Okay,” and I took it. That was my start to coaching. Next year will be my fifth year coaching, so that was about four years ago, so I was 26.

Cindy: Wow.

Ross: Yeah, so that was the start. Then from there, it just kind of skyrocketed, it just kind of takes off. I get the job. It’s about a mile away. The good thing about my old job … If I would have had any other position in any other field, this would never have worked, but it just so happened, I could get in early at 6:00 or so, and I could get out at 3:30 in the afternoon, which allowed me to go to every single practice, which is amazing how that happened, because if I had a regular nine-to-five, I would have missed every single practice and it wouldn’t have been feasible for me to do.

One year goes by, and I decide this is really what I want to do. This is my calling. It wasn’t that simple. I didn’t just snap to one year later and this is my calling, this is what I want to do, but from there, I was given, or I applied for a teaching job, because I knew if I ever want to be a head coach, I’ve got to be a teacher because that’s how it works. You have to be on campus. You have to be able to be accountable for your kids as far as grades and all that stuff goes.

I knew I would have to be a teacher. I had no qualifications in teaching, zero. I went and I interviewed for an open position in Exceptional Student Education, the ESE Department, and it had a science job tied to it, so I would be teaching earth science, physical science, biology, all that stuff. I had no qualifications. I had literally nothing to back me up, no ground to stand on, and they said, “Okay, you can start in the next year,” so I got that job.

Cindy: That is amazing, isn’t it?

Ross: Yeah, without any qualifications. The only thing that I had was a bachelor’s degree, and it wasn’t related at all. They said, “Go ahead.” They throw you in a classroom and they expect you to thrive, and I think that was … It was a really awesome experience for me. In my second year, I was the assistant coach, and I was able to work on campus and assist the head coach in doing all of those things that the head coach has no time for, setting up the gym, holding kids accountable as far as grades go, monitoring study hall times, and just supporting him in any way that I could.

To be honest, I was just in love. It was my favorite thing to do, and it’s just so … it was so nice for me to no longer be at a desk for eight hours a day, but to be able to get in and interact with students and interact with other teachers and administration and all that stuff, it was just such a godsend. I knew as soon as I .. The first day, even though I was petrified to start teaching, the first day that I was in there, I knew that it was what I wanted to do.

Cindy: Yeah. That’s really good. That’s really good.

Ross: From there, and we’ll just go up until where we are now. From there, after my second year, at the very end of my second year of coaching, the head coach resigned, which I never expected, I didn’t see coming. He had only been a coach for two years, but something happened that caused him to resign, so they opened up the floor for a head coach, and they said, “You know, we’re going to go through the interview process. We’re going to call in as many people as we can. We want the best person for the job.” it turns out that only four people interviewed, and I was the only one with a teaching certificate.

Cindy: Oh, my goodness, so that pretty much paved the way for you.

Ross: Yeah. Every little step along this way has just been this miraculous kind of adventure right from being 26 years old and just getting this random coaching position which was so close to my job and having a job that made it accessible, made it possible for me to coach. Then getting a teaching job that I had no business getting, ever. Then my head coach resigning in the second year, and then being put in charge in the second year and being promoted to the head coach, it’s just a crazy thing.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: It’s crazy how in the moment, you don’t see the picture at all. You don’t see it. You don’t have any idea, and there’s just this miraculous, bigger picture going on. It’s just crazy. That’s all I can say.

Cindy: Well, and it’s funny because even though your dream was not set to be a basketball coach or a teacher, you were of that mindset that you loved basketball. You just wanted to do something with basketball. It’s interesting how you had those opportune moments to moving to a position that not only petrifies you, but you feel like you’re not really qualified for, but then when you get there, you realize all the diligence and all the hard work has made you qualified. Yes, there was a learning curve in all of it, right?

Ross: Sure, absolutely.

Cindy: With the diligence, the practice, the preparing for the class, your first class and studying. I know you went to school the whole time you were teaching, too, to get the right certificates and all that kind of stuff. Even though you were in that position, you see that you were prepared even though you might not have had all the knowledge that you needed.

Ross: Right. I totally agree with that. Yeah, it seems very easy. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. There was tons of classes that I had to take. There were tests that I had to take, and if I didn’t pass them, I couldn’t keep my teaching certificate. There were tons of little things and tons of little tests and tons of little obstacles and hills to go through and to go over and all that stuff, but, yeah, it’s funny. You don’t realize the stuff that you do in the past does really build you up and prepare you for the things that are coming in the future.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: That was a really good thing where I would run into an issue, and I would say, “Man, I am glad that I took this class in college, because if I didn’t take this class, I would have no idea what I was doing right now or when it came to being a head coach, you’re in charge of everything. One of the hardest things was raising money, was fundraising and doing all of that stuff.

It’s amazing that something that I never planned for but I ended up taking classes in sport sponsorship and sport finance and sports law, and all of these things and all of these little pieces that I was able to pull and go, “Oh, I remember that. Oh, I remember that. Oh, I remember that.” It’s crazy how for five years I didn’t utilize my degree at all, really, just content-wise. Then five years later, here I am, and I’m still pulling these things from 2007, 2008, 2009 and using them, and I’m going, “Wow, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Cindy: Didn’t you actually do some fundraising in college where you had to call the alumni and ask them for money?

Ross: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Well, for two years in college, I worked in the Admissions Department. My job was basically to do whatever the admission staff needed to reach whatever goal they were trying to reach. If it was raising money, I was on the phones. If it was a open house, I was dressed as the school mascot. If it was to take kids on a guided tour, then I was taking kids on a guided tour. All of those little preparation pieces ultimately led to kind of filling out this puzzle and helping me to complete things and helping me to thrive in ways that I would have failed if I wouldn’t have done them before.

Cindy: Yeah, that makes sense. Now it’s been such a big shift from going from working with contractors and vendors and all that different things to working in a school environment with teenagers.

Ross: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cindy: What do you think the biggest value add that you bring to all of that?

Ross: One of the things that we haven’t really talked about and one of the things that I rely on so much every single day that I go in is my relationship with God. That was one thing that I … For a good amount of time through the latter years of my high school and through college and then the first couple of years that I was out of college, that was something that I really didn’t value. It was something that I was brought up with. It was something that was instilled in me from an early age, but it was something that I didn’t find value in because I didn’t have my own identity in it.

At the same time that I was going through all of these transitional changes, I was also going through changes in my spiritual life. I was also going through changes in … I felt the tug wasn’t only for me to change career paths. The tug was also saying, “Come back to me.” Right?

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Ultimately, all of this stuff is orchestrated by God. It wasn’t anything that I just woke up one day and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to start going to basketball, do basketball again. I’m going to start going back to church and all this stuff.” All of this stuff is just … When we talk about a bigger plan and we talk about this greater scheme that we can’t see, ultimately that’s a part of it. It was a huge part of it for me, and it almost went hand-in-hand. It was like I was being equipped for the job that I was going to step into.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Right. I’m not sure that I would have been able to have what I have now without the spirituality part, without the new relationship and that renewed and kind of revived relationship with God.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: As it relates to what I bring to the table in my day-to-day life, I just don’t think that I would … I don’t think that without that foundation, without that strength, without that value system that I would be able to thrive in a high school setting. I think it’s pretty easy to tell … No, not there. I think my job would have been much more difficult. I think I would have found a lot less pleasure in it without that relationship with God and without thanking him every day for bringing me into my passion and without praying every day that I could be an influence to somebody and without arguing with him over and over about decisions to make and what to do and how to face certain things. I think if it was left to my own devices, then I would have made the wrong choice many times.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: As far as what I can bring or how I influence those around me, I think that … The one thing that I try to do is just look back to my past and say, “Okay, how was I treated as an athlete? How was I treated as a student, and how can I change that or how can I mold that so that the students …” Because ultimately, it’s not about me. “How can I mold that and change it so that the students feel valued, so they feel like there’s something that they get out of going to school every day and that it’s not just a chore for them to move on to the next place, but they really feel like they’ve taken some sort of intrinsic value out of being at school, out of being a part of the basketball team, out of developing friendships and developing that teamwork and all that stuff.”

I think the focus is first on God and saying, “What do you want me to do? Where can I be the most help? Who can I be the most help to?” That’s not always just students. That could be a student. It could be a faculty member. It could be a member of the administration or janitorial staff. It doesn’t matter, but wake up in the morning and say, “Who can I be an influence to? Who can I help? Where can I show your love?” and then just go from there.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Right? Then just play it out from there. If you’re true to that, if it’s something that … again, we’ve used the word value many, many times already … but if that’s something that you value, if it’s something that you find … If that has a special place in your heart, then I think you can be successful. That’s what I’ve tried to do, hopefully. I don’t know. I’ll have to take a …

Cindy: It’s all right. They’ll have to do a survey.

Ross: Yeah, you’ll have to go back.

Cindy: Okay, Coach Ross. Yeah. How does he do …? Can you see a measurable difference in certain students as you poured into them?

Ross: I think you can, and I think that it’s slow. I think that it’s … There’s some kids that you don’t reach. There’s some kids that you really don’t, but that’s part of the bigger plan, part of the … You read in the Bible that you don’t have to harvest everything. In any year, I’ll see somewhere between 220 and 250 students, not including my basketball players.

Cindy: Wow.

Ross: That’s just class. I don’t have to have a come-to-Jesus moment with every one of them. I can’t. I can’t physically do it. It’s not in my power to do it, and the good thing is that God says that we don’t have to.

Cindy: Yeah, that’s good.

Ross: it’s not something where I have to follow up on every single thing, but you know the couple of kids that you touch.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: There’s one or two, and for me, obviously, just being around the same kids in basketball so much, those have been the people that I’ve noticed the biggest change in. All you have to do is just plant the seed. All you have to do is just show them who you are, and ultimately, once they’ve got that seed, then there’s no taking it out. Those are things that you don’t forget.

Cindy: Yeah, that’s true.

Ross: All it takes is one thing said, one time where somebody’s hurting and you opt to help as opposed to ignore it. It’s just those little things that people don’t forget. I don’t have to be there at the end. I don’t have to watch them all get baptized. I don’t have to watch them all come to the altar. I don’t have to watch all of that stuff, but if I can be an encouraging word, then that’s a change in somebody’s heart. If I can stop somebody in the hallway and figure out what’s wrong with them as opposed to just letting them go, then that’s a change that you want to see. I hope that just by living that life that there’s tons of people changed that I don’t even know about.

Cindy: Yeah. I think that’s probably true, because people, they’ll say, “Ah, that was really nice.” They may not even be a student of yours. They just may be an outside observer that you happen to say something encouraging to and something that helped them move past where they were in struggle and whatever it is. That’s really good. With that many students, how many basketball players do you have in a season?

Ross: About 30.

Cindy: Okay, so you have 30 basketball students, you have 250, something like that, normal students, and I know you have basketball practice every day, games three or four times a week. How do you stay grounded in such a busy job that you have?

Ross: Discipline. Discipline and …..

Cindy: Time management?

Ross: Yeah, time management. Well, I would definitely say discipline. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in everything that’s going on around you. It’s very easy to get pulled in a thousand different ways. Again, I think it comes down to what you value. You find out what you value and then you put those things first.

Cindy: Yeah, that’s good. That’s good advice.

Ross: If I value time with God, if I value making sure that I’m prepared before the day starts, if I value making sure that I’m healthy, if I value those things, then you’ll always … If I value at least even in the busiest times spending some sort of time with people that I care about, if I value those things … I know that there are extended periods of time where it gets hectic. When you have three games a week for four months in a row, that stuff gets hectic.

If you value those things, then ultimately, you’ll find a way to get them done, and you’ll find a way to put those things first, and you’ll find a natural hierarchy just in your day-to-day pass, where you say, “This is the most important, this is second most important, this is third. For me, it’s been every single day, no matter how late you were up the night before, whether you got in on the bus from a long way road trip or whatever it was at 11:00, you wake up at the same time every day, so routine. You wake up at the same time, and you read and you pray.

Another thing that I value is that I’m healthy. You work out or you do some sort of something, and you make sure that you eat. You do all these things that seem routine and they may get boring or they may be hard to do, and sometimes your will is saying … You battle with your will and you’re going, “Do I really have to…?”

Ross: My alarm clock is going off at 5:00. I didn’t even get to bed until 1:00 because I’m up studying for the next game. We might have two games two nights in a row. As long as you’re saying yes to the things that you value, then it’s easier to stay grounded. If you don’t have that core value system, if you don’t know what you value, then you’re in trouble.

Cindy: Yeah, because then you’re all over the place.

Ross: Because then everything that everybody asks you, you say yes because you don’t know if it’s important or not or you don’t want to let people down, and you don’t want to be that guy. You don’t want to be a bad guy. If you know what you value, if you can put down on paper, “These are the things that are important to me, and these are the things that I’m going to devote my life to,” then everything falls into place.

Cindy: Yeah, that’s what I think, too. When you’ve found kind of your core, it’s really your core, then everything else centers around your core. For us, our core is Jesus and our family and just living a life that portrays loving other people.

Ross: Yeah.

Cindy: And encouraging other people and being successful at what we do in our careers and our different jobs. I think that is so important, is knowing your core, knowing what’s important to you.

Okay, I’ve got a couple of more questions before we wrap up. First of all, I want to know where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Ross: With a family. Okay, so there’s a couple of ways to attack this question, and it’s actually one that I’ve been thinking about a lot and actually one I’ve had conversations with people about a lot recently, which is a good thing. It’s prepared me for it a little bit. Again, there’s a couple of ways to go.

First is personally. Personally, a family is in my future. I don’t know what that means, but I just feel this kind of stirring about it, and it’s something that I think about often, so I know that it’s … Again, I know that it’s in God’s timing, but I feel like it’s something that is … I know that it’s something that’s stirring in my heart. When you are getting ready to enter a certain season or when you’re getting ready to go on to the next thing, it’s feeling. It’s not-

Cindy: You just know.

Ross: … something that you just jump into. It’s something that you know. A family and that sort of thing is something that I’m really, I’m hoping for, I’m praying for. It’s not something that I take lightly at all, but it’s something that I see in my next … Obviously in the next 10 years, before I’m 40, I’d like to have some semblance of a family. That’s something that because of the family that I was raised in, it’s something that’s always been important to me, because family, for me, and we talked about the hierarchy of things that you value. It’s always been God, and it’s always been right after that is family.

I think that’s one of the reasons that Katie, my sister, and all of us, I think it’s one of the reasons that we’ve stayed close and that we haven’t really ventured and moved too far away for any extended period of time is I think we just value each other so much that it really means a lot for us to be around each other.

Cindy: Yeah, you’d hate to see your mother cry if you moved away.

Ross: That is something that I’ve had kind of a sense for and I’ve had kind of a longing for, so I’m in that respect, I’m excited for whatever that road brings me. Professionally, I really like where I’m at. One thing that I’ve found is that you’ll never … You don’t know what the bigger picture is. You don’t know what it is until it happens to you. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be coaching until it happened to me. For me, it’s being grounded in where I’m at right now and really enjoying every moment of where I am right now.

Cindy: That’s good.

Ross: Now do I see greater things on the horizon? Obviously. There are paths that I would like to explore. There are things … I know we talked about this before we started recording, but maybe going back to school and getting my master’s in educational leadership so I can pursue one of two routes, ether college coaching, because most college coaches need some sort of master’s degree or some sort of further higher education field, whether it be an assistant athletic director or an athletic director or an assistant principal at a school or something. I think those are all routes that it will be really interesting to pursue.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: But for now, I want to win a few games. In the next 10 years, do I see myself coaching Leto High School basketball? It’s a possibility that I’m still there, but I have these greater urges, these greater feelings, these greater wants for my life. It’s really anybody’s call, but family more than anything. I just want to stay-

Cindy: Yeah, that’s kind of your number one.

Ross: I want to stay grounded in family, and I want to be able to pour into the people around me in any situation that I’m at. If I can support the people around me, if I can give hope or joy or love or whatever it is to the people around me, if I can show them that I’m a Christian, if I can … It doesn’t matter where you’re at. That’s the greatest thing about doing what God has called us to do, is that it doesn’t matter where you’re at. It doesn’t matter if you’re working at a Jet BnB, or it doesn’t matter if you’re whatever, whatever.

Cindy: A basketball player.

Ross: A basketball coach or an artist or a musician or whatever it is. Whatever your spear is, then that’s where he’s put you. That’s the greatest thing, and that’s one of the greatest joys about it is knowing that you can be used wherever you are.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Even if it doesn’t feel like the final destination, that’s great because he’s using you right now where you are.

Cindy: That’s really good.

Ross: When you move on, he’ll use you right there where you are, and you can’t do anything else. You can’t project 10 or 20 years out and say, “Well, he’s only going to use me if I can be the president of a college. That’s the only way that he can use me, because that’s my ultimate destination.” That’s not true. It’s everywhere you are every day that you live.

Cindy: Every day.

Ross: So that’s-

Cindy: There’s that opportunity.

Ross: That’s a beautiful thing.

Cindy: It really is, and it takes the pressure off of you, too. Do you have any tips for our listeners?

Ross: Yeah.

Cindy: How to help them live their dream, how to maybe feel that nudge from God, re-engage, whatever it is, what are your tips?

Ross: I do. I do. This is actually the only question that I physically wrote something down for. I have these prepped, and they’re in no particular order, but I have five things. Like I said, they’re kind of in order but some of them could be kind of interspersed. The first thing, and this is, I guess would be five steps to finding your passion or five steps to stepping into your calling or whatever it is.

Step one, and I think this is just so important. It was really important for me. It was really important for me because I went along for a long time not knowing … Sorry.

Cindy: That’s okay. Take your time. You got the listeners on the edge of their seats now.

Ross: Yeah. It’s something that took me a lot of time to figure out. For a long time, I didn’t know who I was, and I think a lot of us struggle with that, and it’s such an easy thing to fall into what people say you are.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Okay, first one. First one is to know your value, number one. This is one that I struggled a long time with. I struggled for a long time. What I have written down here is that God has destined you for a purpose.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Right. There is something. He doesn’t leave anyone out. There’s no one that is exempt from his purpose. For me, that calling was to pour into students as a coach, to use my passion to influence others for the kingdom. That’s my passion. That is my ultimate goal. If you don’t know your value, if you don’t know that God is good and that he has destined you for something good and that there’s … If you don’t know those two things, then you’ll never feel that real connection and real love to what you’re doing. Number one is to know your value and that God has destined you for a purpose.

Number two is to know what you value. Number one is to know that you’re valued, to know that you’re loved, to know that you have been blessed by God, and even if you don’t feel it, you have to know that it’s there. Number two is to know what you value. What do you wake up and do every day? What do you wake up and you think about every day? A lot of people, they go and they do their nine-to-five or whatever it is, and they come home and they do something. They have something that they love. I think a lot of people are held back because they don’t think that they can turn that into their life.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: They think that at most, it’s just a hobby. At most, it’s just a skill that they have that they enjoy. At most, it’s just a recreational thing. If you have enough passion for the thing that you’re doing, then you can turn it into something that you can use for your life, and it will support you.

Cindy: I agree. I agree totally.

Ross: Number two is know what you value. Whatever that passion is, whether it’s music, whether it’s art, whether it’s sports, whether it’s cars, whether it’s whatever, there’s something that keeps you up at night, there’s something that you dream about, there’s something that you do every day that you love.

Cindy: Go for it, right?

Ross: Go for it, right? That would be number two. Number three is kind of interspersed between all of the ones. Number three is pray. Number three, if you don’t know your value, pray. If you don’t know what you value, pray. If you don’t know what your passion is, if you haven’t uncovered that passion, that’s okay. Ask God what it is.

Cindy: He will definitely show you.

Ross: He’ll tell you.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: You may think it’s the weirdest thing or you may not … Some people don’t … I was lucky enough, fortunate enough to know what I was passionate about early, but there are some people that do not discover what their passion is until they’re 30, 40, 50, 60 years old. There are people that are in the peak of their game and they are at the end of, or towards the end of their life. Sometimes God doesn’t reveal those things to you, but if you pray about it, then God will reveal that to you.

Cindy: Yeah, it’ll be uncovered.

Ross: That was number three, but it could also be number one. It could be the first step. It could be the second step.

Cindy: It could be interspersed.

Ross: it’s really an essential part of all the steps.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Yeah. Number three, so I guess pray is number three, but could be number one through five. Number four would be to ask others and to seek knowledge. If you don’t know exactly what it is you want to do but you have an inkling, then go figure it out. Ask people who are in that line of work. If you really like fashion, ask people that are involved with that. If you really like politics, ask people that are involved with that. If you really like whatever it is, cars or music or whatever, ask people that are involved. You would be really surprised at a lot of the weird careers there are within these greater segments.

Cindy: That’s true.

Ross: That you would never even know about unless you ask somebody or unless you seek, sought out some sort of knowledge.

Cindy: Yeah, just begin exploring.

Ross: Yeah. Ask people, explore, Google things. That’s really helpful. Maybe take a single class at a college, just one. Don’t commit to taking an entire bachelor’s degree worth of something that you’re not sure about, but maybe sit in on a class. Ask the instructor if you can just sit in.

Cindy: Yeah, you can audit it.

Ross: Or something like that. Number four would be to ask others and to seek knowledge. Then lastly, step five would be to take the leap. I have written down here, “You only have one life to live.”

Cindy: Let’s just live it.

Ross: At the end of it, you don’t want any regrets. You don’t want to say, “Well, I wish I would have done that 10 years earlier because now finally I’m uncovering it.” If you feel strongly about it, if it’s something that you feel that you could do, ultimately no amount of money will make you happy if it’s not your passion. You’ll go home every day and you’ll look at your paycheck and you say, “Well, I guess this is okay. I’m doing okay. This is something that will sustain me,” but at the end of the day, you’ll say … There’s no amount of money. You hear it all the time. Find something that you would do for free.

Cindy: Yeah.

Ross: Your passion is something that you would easily do for free every single day, so find that thing. When I came out of my job, I was making really good money doing what I was doing, and my paycheck got cut pretty much in half, but I had never been happier.

Cindy: That’s right.

Ross: There’s no amount of money that can replace the feeling of walking in your passion.

Cindy: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. That is so good. Thank you so much for being with us. I so appreciate you and just appreciate your honesty and just putting it all out there. The thing that I really take away from all this is you just have to go after every day. If you don’t go after every day, not only finding your passion, living in that passion, but releasing passion on other people, then your day is kind of wasted.

I would love to hear from you. Leave your comment on my Facebook page by clicking here: CindyStewart or send me an email at

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