As much as Winters High School varsity women’s head coach Jeff Christian guides his team on the court, he does, perhaps, even more so off the court. A creator of the nonprofit C4 Leaders, his coaching philosophy goes beyond basketball, beckoning back to life lessons learned from childhood.
Growing up, Christian was one of eight children, and a strong work ethic was essential to getting by. After landing his first job in the third grade, Christian soon understood his role in supporting the family and developed a trust in himself and his siblings to fulfill their respective roles. It’s this trust that inspired one of the four ‘C’s in C4 Leadership — Chemistry.
“If you want to be good at something, you have to put in consistent work. My dad role-modeled that and was the hardest worker I ever met,” Christian said explaining another ‘C’ in C4 Leadership — Consistency. “The second part of that is consistently challenging your thoughts and perspectives to the point of vulnerability. I want people to step back and realize that nobody is perfect, and when we realize we don’t have to be we empower ourselves.”
While his father inspired the consistency, it was Christian’s mother who inspired another ‘C’ — Communication. According to Christian, she taught him to listen with an empathetic ear with the intent of serving others.
“If we do the first three ‘C’s, it’s overcoming fear and willing to share your gift. Each person is given a gift, and it’s up to everybody around that person to encourage them to give that gift,” Christian explained the last ‘C’ — Creativity. “C4 Leaders is about taking the four ‘C’s and bringing them to life through experiential activities customized to each team, group, business or whoever’s building a team, culture and community.”
All of these are ingredients that Christian uses to bolster his clients’ leadership abilities and quality of life. He also uses these ingredients as a metaphor in his pizza-based children’s book, “We Rise Together.”
“The book is about a third-grade teacher Ms. Rock, realizing her students are struggling, blaming each other and not focusing. So, she’s able to use the pizza making process with the four ‘C’s to help them get along and share their gifts,” explained Christian. “It’s about building habits that’ll allow the reader to create a life of intention and allow them to live their purpose.”
Not leaving the pizza making to the imagination, the varsity coach managed to acquire his own pizza truck to take to events and help people rise together.
“During my time in Europe, it hit me hard how they view dinner and how everything stops. They use that time to celebrate being with one another. So, seeing the pizza ovens in Italy, I figured I wanted to do that,” Christian said. “When I got home, I did some research on the Piombo family who makes pizza ovens. They made mine and then I found an old Toyota delivery truck and have everything we need to bring it out to Winters and make incredible sourdough pizza. The whole pizza making process has changed my life.”
With all proceeds from his book going to the ingredients and fuel, Christian and C4 Leaders are seeking to improve people – and the world – one slice at a time. To stay up to date with the organization, one can visit their website at c4leaders.org or listen to their podcast, “Life’s Essential Ingredients.”
For more information on Christian’s book, visit pizzadays.org.