Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
A new employee in finance, named Jordan, poked his head into my office and introduced himself. He immediately started talking about my blogs and shared how he loved the basketball analogies I used. He asked my perspective on when there is a last second shot for a game winner and how the focus is always on the person who made or missed the shot. The common narrative focusing on how that person either won or lost the game.
But that’s not how it works or how life works. It’s many moments during the game's 40 minutes of playing time. A game that can hold up to 90 minutes of experiences and interactions when you consider talks in the locker room, timeouts, or stoppage of play where a person can have an impact. Let alone the hours of practice and experiences that prepare you for a game that can have an impact at that “One Moment.” So many people are involved directly and indirectly that it should never come down to a single person or that “One Moment” to define a person.
As Jordan and I continued to talk, I knew that I would have to make sure I wrote about this topic. So here you go!
Andrew Whitworth, a former St. L Rams lineman, talked about these moments during his NFL 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient speech. “None of us know when the moment is going to present itself. The key is to always be available when it does.” I love this quote and please click on the link to listen to his full speech because he really wasn’t talking about sports. He was talking about life and how sports just happened to be the vehicle that allowed him to positively impact a young man. Sports is a great venue to relate to life, but life is not well represented by a score board. There is so much more to the process and journey than just the goal.
With March Madness in full swing, the NCAA Basketball Tournament provides a great example every night of games and with the annual playing of the “One Shining Moment” song that includes video highlights of the various “one moments” that were captured by the camera. The one verse goes:
“One shining moment, it’s all on the line
One shining moment, there frozen in time”
Those moments captured in the video show the excitement and passion of victory as well as the sorrow and disappointment found in defeat.
In March of 2021, our middle son Trey, had his own One Shining Moment, when he was playing in the District Championship and was fouled attempting to shoot a 3 pointer to tie the game. He was fouled with 0.1 seconds on the clock. As a parent, I wasn’t nervous, or scared, or excited. Surprisingly, I was calm. As a coach, I had confidence in his ability to shoot and to knock down big shots. But as a parent, I started to hurt, knowing that if the situation didn’t turn out as I hoped, he would be devastated.
Trey calmly knocked down the three free throws to send the game to overtime where they proceeded to win their 3rd district title of his four years in high school. During the interview afterwards Trey brought up that he had missed a 3-point shot to tie it on the previous possession “I had just missed a game-tying three. I thought I had just lost the game. When I went to the line, I didn’t want to lose it again.” Amazing, how in a couple of quick possessions, the mind tricks us into thinking that this singular moment somehow is responsible for the outcome of the game.
Skip Brock, a Hall of Fame Member of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association, sent this message in a tweet. “So often in close games, the focus is on the final few possessions. Made/missed FT’s, FG’s, TO’s, Rebounds, late, are most remembered, but those same plays in the early part are equally important to the outcome. Every possession matters.” He captured perfectly what we as coaches, know naturally, but much more clearly when not in the heat of battle. I responded to Coach Brock’s tweet with how I have approached this topic with my own teams. “I always say “one thing” is the difference between winning and losing. Everybody has multiple “one things” that they could have done differently. Minimizing those “one things” over the course of the game will determine the victor. Keep the focus off the individual.”
This past weekend, my youngest child Ethan, was playing in a highly competitive basketball tournament in St. Louis, facing a tough team from Indiana. After a great first half where we stretched it out to a 15-point lead, we allowed the team to close to 5 at halftime and gradually gave up the lead late in the game. We were able to survive, recapture the lead and advance to the final four.
After the game we were congratulating the players and talking about the game. One of the kids was quiet and when I approached him to give him a fist pound, you can tell he was down. I asked him what was up and didn’t say anything. His mom told me that he was upset about the turnover late in the final minute of the game that allowed them to take the lead. He looked at me and said, ”It could have cost us the game.” I responded, “but it didn’t.” He blurted out “but it could…” and I didn’t let him finish. Sternly, I stated, “But. It. Didn’t!”
I proceeded to share with him my thoughts about the One Moment and the One Thing that could have been done differently. I asked if anyone had missed shots. Of course, they had. Did anyone have turnover? Of course, they did. Did anyone let their man score? Of course, they did. I explained that at any moment in the game, one of those “One Moments” goes the other way, and we possibly lose the game. But that is why we play the game. To compete. To get better. To grow. I told him that his focus should be on how to prevent the turnover in the future, not on the turnover itself.
Good or bad, the secret is to not hold on to that singular “One Moment, but to identify which of the “One Moments” do you need to focus on addressing so that they become positive “One Moments” in the future. For every positive “One Moment” for you, there may be a counter negative “One Moment” for someone else. Your turnover may be a steal for someone else.
I ran into Jordan in the hall the other day and told him to be sure to check out the next Hawkeye, our internal company newsletter, as this article will be in there. He was excited and told me that he keeps reading, wondering when I would capture this subject. We began to discuss this topic and other sports related topics and how they relate to work. These types of interactions, these “One Moments” are all around us. They are not the pinnacle of our life. They are not the moments that define us. They are simply part of the many moments that have a profound effect on our journey. Our journey to make sure that these moments have a positive impact Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.