My thoughts today bring me way back to my senior year in high school. I, like most kids, had spent countless hours focused on fulling dreams of playing professional baseball, basketball or football. Early on I learned about the process, which simplified, included high school sports, college and then the ultimate; professional sports.
As a senior, I was extremely fortunate and had been given an opportunity to extend the process. I was given an opportunity to play baseball at the collegiate level. I was on cloud nine and my dream of playing in the major leagues was still alive and becoming more of reality.
No, I will not continue to bore you with the details of the pursuit to fulfill my childhood dream. My message starts with a very important question my dad asked as a senior in high school. You see, my brain was strictly on playing baseball and not much else. However, my dad was able to slow me down for a short moment and ask “What do you want to study in college? What do you think you may want to do once you graduate?” What?? You mean I have to think about that stuff. School and what I was going to be following sports was not even on the radar. However, I did engage in the conversation and managed a response; “I like people”. Thankfully my dad was able to decode that and suggested that I major in business management. It sounded good to me.
This brings me to today. A long story short, I never made it to the big leagues but I was able to collect enough credits in college to earn a business management degree. This has proven to be much more important than any victory on the mound.
Remember that reply, “I like people!” I often tell young leaders that your success in leadership hinges on your ability to connect with people. The unfortunate thing is you can’t find the directions to this in a text book. I often try to think back on my college courses and if any of them prepared me for what to expect when you engage with people as a leader. I remember the Math, Finance, English, History and Business Ethics classes but I struggle to remember one that prepared me on how to lead through people.
This brings me back to a truth I have discovered. You can have all the degrees and be the smartest person in the world but if you cannot connect with people you will struggle to maximize your success and really reap the awesome feeling of accomplishment with others.
So where did I gain my love for people? Remember that quest of becoming a major league baseball player? Now, some will say that it’s just who we are but I say that all my years of competition with team has also played a role. A perfect example is a slogan that my high school football coach had posted in the weight room, “Together We Can Do Anything”. I cannot tell you how many times I think about that slogan in my daily work. No one person can accomplish anything without the effort and work of others.
The message today is you must invest in every person on your team at all times. Don’t be that leader that only cares when you need something done. If you want people to invest in you, you must invest in them first. Know those you lead. Constantly remind them that everyone is important and that each play a critical role in the outcome. The biggest challenge is that regardless how busy, stressful, overwhelmed, disappointed, etc. you may be; you must make time for them.
Call to Action: