Leadership Lessons—Who Do You Hang With?

One of my wife Mary Kay’s favorite sayings is “you will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read,” as spoken by Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.

This has really come into full circle this week with all of the commotion in Waco and the motorcycle gang killings at the Twin Peaks restaurant. This has become the worst biker gang violence in the history of the United States. Sunday’s paper told of an unidentified member of one of the gangs who was at the restaurant but is now in hiding, fearing for his life.

He told the police that many of the people at Twin Peaks that day were simply motorcycle club members, not gang members. There was to be a meeting that day of the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents to discuss biker’s rights, safety and other administration items—a meeting that happened a couple times a year. Instead, he said, the Bandidos were there to ambush the Cossacks (his club). I’ve heard it said that the Bandidos are very similar to Hell’s Angels.

The unidentified member said that many of the 170 who have been arrested and under a $1 million bond are law-abiding citizens who enjoy riding motorcycles. A member of our church who rides with Biker’s Against Child Abuse told me that trouble was brewing for a couple of months and his group was told NOT to attend any such meetings as an incident was going to happen.

I don’t know what to believe. I do believe that some of the 170 probably were innocent bikers who are law-biding and nothing to do with the violence but were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now back to the “Tremendous” Jones’ saying.

If you never heard of “Tremendous”, or haven’t seen him speak, spend some time on YouTube watching him.

“Tremendous” embodied his saying. He had close personal relationships with famous people such as Rick Warren, Dale Carnegie and Billy Graham.

Look at your own life and/or the life of some people around you. Perhaps it’s easier to look at the people you work with and who they hang with, it’s hard for most people to look in the mirror without having “reasons” for whom we associate with. (Others might simply call this “excuses”).

Leaders hang with other leaders. I’ve seen it for years. Those who are have problems associate with other people with problems. It’s easier—easier to blame someone else than simply admit the people we hang with aren’t good for us.

It sure is easy to see when examining the Waco situation. As I said, I have no doubt many of the people were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.

When Mary Kay and I moved to Waco, we didn’t have any family with us, nor did we have many friends.

That gave us a unique opportunity to define a new sphere of influence. I know that I’ve become a much better leader in the past five years because of the people we’ve had the opportunity to hang with.

“Tremendous” was right.

Leadership Lessons—Work Ethic and More (Unfortunately)

Waco, Texas, is the city with a poor reputation because of an event that happened decades ago. Also the same city is adjacent to Crawford, Texas—home of the Western White House. The city where President Bush has his ranch.

In Waco two weeks ago several individuals were enshrined in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. One of those athletes was an undersized Houston Worthington player who later played for the Baylor Bears. He remained a “Bear” as a Chicago Bear. Mike Singletary is known for his “eyes” … his focus and his intensity. Here was his advice:

Always be willing to work. I was one of those guys who didn’t stand out. They would look at me and say, who is that guy?’ I didn’t have a whole lot of talent. I wasn’t one of the fastest guys and I was pretty much always one of the smallest guys. Everybody was telling me that I need to play cornerback or you need to play safety, because you are just too small to be a linebacker.

It doesn’t have anything to do with what anyone else thinks. It has everything to do with what’s inside. And if you have the heart and you’re willing to do the works that’s involved, find somebody that really knows what they’re talking about. Let them help you find the steps to take, and be willing to do it.

His Baylor Coach was Coach Teaff. “I not only fell in love with him on the field but also as a young man,” Teaff said. “There was a seriousness about him and he wanted an education. During home visits, I don’t think I mentioned football one time.”

Both Singletary and his mother were drawn to Teaff.  “I liked Coach Teaff’s candidness, honesty and the fact that he’s a good person,” Singletary said.

Coach Teaff genuinely helped developed this high school Hall of Fame player. Of course, he is in the Baylor Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame.

Newsbreak … Sunday afternoon … May 17, 2015

As I write this you might have seen what was happening in Waco on Sunday. Five biker gangs broke out in a fight at Twin Peaks restaurant. Rumor has it that it started in a bathroom over a parking spot at noon on a Sunday. A fist fight first, which led to knives, and ultimately guns came out.

Nine are dead. Eighteen are in the hospital. The police are concerned that more gang members are headed to Waco for retribution. The police officer on TV said he is has been a police officer for 34 years and this is the most violent crime scene he has ever seen. Blood. Shell casings. Bodies in the parking lot—dead. This is the stuff you see in a movie—not in the city where you live.

The police knew it was going to happen. More than a dozen marked squad cars were at the restaurant. Police had spoken to the owners/managers of Twin Peaks and told them trouble was headed their way if they allowed the gangs in the restaurant. A SWAT team was standing on alert when/if this happened. Police were that sure this was real.

It happened. One of the biker gangs was apparently recruiting at that restaurant. The restaurant is in an upscale mall. A mall that has thousands of shoppers on a Sunday. The police closed the mall.  They also shut down business around the mall. Downtown is closed in Waco—more than 5 miles away as suspects are being transferred to the Convention Center downtown … less than a mile from our headquarters.

Nine dead and many in the hospital. Much of Waco is on lockdown. Shocking.

Leadership. Apparently the leadership at Twin Peaks chose not to listen to the police. Because of this, the Waco police are contacting Twin Peak’s national headquarters about this as they are concerned about the local Twin Peaks not cooperating.

Stupid leadership. That is all that happened. It is a lesson for those of us as leaders. People who ignore warnings make bad decisions. Not deaths—but things we know shouldn’t have happened.

It shouldn’t have happened in Waco. It shouldn’t have happened anywhere. All because an alleged leader didn’t pay attention. Sad.