Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
One of my biggest regrets was missing out on the opportunity to celebrate with my son. A game winner in a hotly contested game against a select St.Louis team with our little underdog school team. In my desire to be viewed as a “Coach” I completely missed out on simply being a Dad.
Trailing by a point, my young son attacked the basket with time ticking down and defenders grabbing and holding him while the referees swallowed their whistle, Ethan got the shot off in traffic as the buzzer sounded and Rolla won the Championship! Ethan came running directly to me with his hands outstretched, tears of joy and relief welling up in his eyes. As tears started to form in my own eyes at the sight of him running towards me I thought my heart would burst with pride and I... I just shrug it off, trying to avoid showing favoritism to my son, during arguably, his most exciting moment at that point of his life. I immediately regretted my decision.
To make matters worse, I had to race to the airport to catch a flight out of town for work. I was dangerously close to missing my flight as I raced through security and down the terminal towards my gate as they announced the last call for my flight.
Securely on the plane, fastened in my seat, I received a text from my wife, Jenny, showing the team posing for a photo with the championship trophy and a second photo of the trophy, safely buckled into the seat in the back of the Yukon. Her text read ‘he hasn’t stopped smiling.’ As I envisioned Ethan’s smiling, 8 year old face as he clutched the giant trophy, I began to cry.
Not only did I miss the opportunity to celebrate during the moment of triumph, I then missed out on the post celebration time of reflection where you relive the moments - the stress, the excitement, the joy - all over again.
I made a vow at that moment to be true to who I am - not to who I want to be viewed as or perceived to be. Gaining respect as an unbiased, “professional” coach means absolutely nothing if it comes at the cost of being a Dad to my kids. It’s not who you think you should be or want to be, but who you NEED to be for those that matter today and Beyond Today.
Last summer in the midst of the Covid pandemic, my wife and I had a quick getaway to Naples Florida. As you can imagine, I don’t spend a lot of time “laying out” when I go to the beach. While I do enjoy the opportunity to relax and read, I can spend countless hours walking the shore looking for shells and rocks that catch my eye.
One morning as I walked in the water finding shells, I began to wonder what attracted me to some shells versus others. I noticed that while the shells may be of similar style, they were all unique in their own way. I also realized that sometimes I would throw back the broken ones and other times, it would be the one I most cherished on that specific search.
As the tide would change I could go deeper and find those shells that were less damaged on their journey to the shore, but there was risk as you waded deeper in the ever elusive search for the perfect shell.
But perfect is a perception. You look at one side of the shell and it appears perfect but as you turn it over, you see that the shell has sustained significant damage. But does this take away from the Beauty? You turn it back and the beauty still exists... despite the imperfections. Or is it even more beautiful because of the imperfections?
The beauty and uniqueness of the shells are created by the challenges of the sea. The journey they take to get to the shore. Similar to the journey that has brought you to where you are today. By the history of the paths you travel to get to your shore. The trauma. The turmoil of the waves crashing around you. Obstacles. The coral reefs and rocks are immovable and redirect the path of the shell in the waves. Enemies. Animals attempting to see what is inside of you… to take you as their own.
Each shell means something different to the person viewing the shell. Some like the colors or the shapes. Some like the small, petite, and fragile shells while others like the strong, solid shells. Some like those that are symmetric while others like those that stand out with their uniqueness.
What these shells remind us of or what we see in the shell is how we derive our value. A value that is unique to us, just as every shell is unique from the others. Recognizing that each shell has value in its own way is important but appreciating the value that each shell possesses is what is needed to get you 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.
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