How many times do you look at inspirational leadership quotes and something about it resonates with you?
For me…it’s ALL THE TIME… and….I would like to think that I aspire to walk the walk not just talk the talk. I am sure I am also not alone in truly realizing…that this is harder than you may think…especially in moments when we are caught up in all that we are doing…or have to do.
As the story goes….it was August of 2012…and I got the chance to spend the day as part of a corporate baseball camp with the Arizona Diamondbacks professional baseball team (a dream come true). My third base coach was a little known rookie at the time named Paul Goldschmidt (I think that kid has potential)….I went 2 for 3 at the plate AND I got my own baseball card (my Dad’s dream come true). A LARGE day by all accounts and many moments where I was overwhelmed and swept up in all that was happening around me. It’s funny though…that is not what sticks with me most about that day!
Before I get there....Let me take a step back and connect the dots to inspirational quotes. A few days before the event I got a card in the mail from a very thoughtful…dear friend who wrote inside the card…. “Saw this and immediately thought – that is YOU!” The outside of the card read....
live with intention.
walk to the edge.
listen hard. practice
wellness. play with
choose with no regret.
continue to learn.
friends. do what you
love. live as if this is
all there is.
So…what do I remember most about my professional baseball debut? I’m glad you asked! I will illustrate it with two quotes from the passage above….
1) Live With Intention
There are choices we make as leaders that seem small, insignificant and just another decision among hundreds we make a day. We had been asked a few weeks before the baseball camp if our company would donate laptops to the d-backs charity organization in conjunction with the Helios Foundation. It seemed like the right thing to do and in line with other things we were doing at the time so I said yes without really giving much thought to it. After the corporate baseball game….we got to present the laptops to the kids (many who came from difficult backgrounds...and against all odds...were headed to college).
It was an unexpected…indescribable feeling to see the kids and parents coming into the room….realizing the gifts that had just been bestowed on them and how grateful they were.
There were a lot of happy tears shed – and you could not help but feel wrapped up and humbled to be a part of that moment in time. These are kids that don’t have a lot in their lives but what they have is a desire to achieve greatness. That kind of pure joy, excitement and gratefulness is not something we get to witness often. I hadn’t realized how overwhelming that one, brief decision would be and how those leadership moments are not ones you can fabricate – they just happen. I spoke to all of the kids and their families to congratulate them…I was grateful and proud of them. (BTW – even though I have long since left the company, they are still doing it today).
2) Listen Hard
So…here I was….out of gas after all the wonderful events of the day and just ready to sit in my seat and take in the baseball game. My family was with me and my daughters wanted a soda & some snacks so I mustered up what little energy I had left and headed for the concourse.
As I got to the top of the stairs I thought – I should hit the restroom while I am up here before I am laden down with an armload of other things (TMI?). I stood in the long line….impatient about the wait…just wanting to get back to my seat and take it easy.
I got to the front of the line and there…at the sinks… is a middle aged Hispanic women with a really bad nose bleed. She has her head back and is holding a wad of bloody paper towels. She seems like she is coping through it – but she is alone.
I mind my own business and go into the stall – but I can’t help feeling like she is in trouble. I come out…wash my hands and then approach her....
“Are you okay…do you need help?” She says “Yes…please help me… it won’t stop and I don’t know what to do. Here is my ticket please find my family and ask them to come get me.” I tell her it will be alright – I will make sure we get a paramedic and her family. I head out of the concourse – find a female security guard who can go into the restroom to be with her and I tell her I will seek out her family. I find my way through the crowd…find a young women and small child in the seat and calmly explain the situation. I guide her to the restroom where security and paramedics are already waving people away from the entrance. Help has arrived…I walk away...time for a snack….to sit and watch the game…to face the question…”Mom…what took you so long?”
As I look back on that moment....the interesting thing was that there were a LOT of people in that restroom, that came and went. I was the only one who stopped…who listened hard…who offered to help and take action. Not sure why that is…why I can’t help myself…why I choose to jump in where others walk away....
I think beyond all that happens to us…listening hard…walking to the edge…living without regret…live as if this is all there is…means the most. It also makes me pause and think for the one time I did stop and help…how many other times I have missed?
I think a lot of organizations use sports metaphors as trite ways to describe teamwork and model behavior of a winning culture. What I think is missing is base examples of the decisions we make every day that can have a larger impact.
It isn’t about YOU & moments you are in the spot light, swinging for the fences.
It’s about the moments in between…when no one else is looking…when you make decisions that align to YOUR values and the company’s values…when no one else is looking…or celebrating you for it…and only YOU know that YOU made a difference in some small way.
Leadership questions of the week for YOU:
- Which of the lines in the inspirational quote above resonate most with you?
- Does caring for others and who we are in the moments that we did not script have anything to do with us being better leaders or is that disconnected in the long run?
- What was the moment of the week that caused you to pause…be humbled…be grateful that was completely unexpected?
Thanks for reading….and remember…YOU make a difference!
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