Leadership Lessons—The Special Moments

On Saturday night there was a prelude to the Super Bowl commercials. I’m sure we all have our favorite spots over the years.

Two of my favorites were shown, along with a couple of Budweiser tearjerkers with the Clydesdales. Which were my favorites? Jordan vs. Bird with the McDonald’s “game of horse,” and the Mean Joe Green and the kid—who gave him a Coke. In response, Mean Joe Green threw him his game jersey. It’s been 38 years since that commercial aired. We got to see a recent meeting with the two of them on Saturday—the kid now in his mid-40s. Mean Joe was very emotional during the meeting. The commercial, obviously, meant a great deal to him. Joe and the kid have remained friends over the years.

It was a special commercial that people have talked about time and again over nearly four decades.

Special moments are something leaders cherish. They are able to look back at these special moments and remember them like yesterday.

During our Leadership Summit a couple weeks ago, our speaker, Eric Chester, suggested that everyone carry five pennies in their pocket. The reason? Everyday a person should complement five people … or at least make five compliments throughout the day. After every complement the goal is to take a penny out of your one pocket and put it in the other pocket. This creates a habit that can change a person’s life.

Look back in your own life and think about the times someone has given you a sincere compliment. How many do you think had a major impact on you? Can you also think of a comment or comments that were made to you that had the opposite effect? Something inflammatory that was also a special moment—but a negative special moment? I can point to several in my own life—both positive and negative.

I read a heartwarming story about Super Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning and rookie wide receiver Jordan Taylor—who was undrafted and only on the practice squad. When Manning was rehabbing a few weeks ago after a foot injury he asked Taylor to be his practice receiver. This went on day after day—a few times per day. Manning credits Taylor’s work ethic as the reason why he was ready to come back before anyone thought was possible. As a thank you, Manning had his tailor measure Taylor, then make a custom suit for him for travel to the Super Bowl, along with two shirts and two ties. This was young Taylor’s first custom-made suit.

One of my wife’s new Five Start Painting/Protect Paining franchisees was a tight end for the Indianapolis Colts when Manning was their quarterback. He told me about his rookie year when Manning insisted that he, along with a couple of unmarried rookies, join the Mannings for Thanksgiving. He said he’ll never forget Manning’s thoughtfulness. Obviously, the leadership that Manning shows off the field provides very special moments for others.

What about you?

What have you done in the past that has been a special moment for someone? You might have done it for your kids or other family members. Focus, though, on the people that you work with. If a news crew interviewed your employees would any of them have great stories to tell about you?

Start a habit of putting five pennies in your pocket and doing five nice things for others every day. It might be a complement. It might be random act of kindness. You never know—it might just be a special moment that someone else remembers for the rest of their life.

During the Super Bowl interviews, I heard one reporter tell Manning: “Nelson Mandela once told me, ‘People forget what you say. They also forget what you do. But, they never forget how you make them feel.’”

That best describes what great leaders do!

Leadership Lessons—The Little Stuff

One of the books that my wife, Mary Kay, has in her library is “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … and It’s All Small Stuff.”

I was thinking about this during the Patriots/Broncos game a week ago. The game determined which team would play in the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers. (Which team am I for? Still the Packers—I guess they will only be at the game in the stands. Rats!)

There has always been one play in football that was automatic. The extra point. For the 2014 season there were only eight extra points missed.

Fast forward to this football season. The rules changed so extra points are now hiked from the 15-yard line instead of the two-yard line. This, in effect, makes it a 33-yard field goal—not a 20 yarder. It also took the extra point away from being “automatic.” In fact, there were 71 extra points missed.

There was no one bigger miss than the attempted extra point from Stephen Gostkowski for the New England Patriots in the AFC playoff game. He is a great kicker—evidenced by making 532 consecutive PATs—going back to his rookie year in 2006 when his attempt was blocked. It went wide right. He missed.

With 12 seconds left in the game, the Patriots were down by 8 and driving. (It would have been 7 had Gostkowski made the PAT.) Brady finds Gronkowski (Gronk) in the end zone draped by two defenders. Brady flicks the pass and Gronk grabs it to bring the difference to 2 points. There still hope for the Pats to take it to overtime and make it to the Super Bowl.

If this were any other game Stephen Gostkowski would drill the extra point and they would go to overtime. With no chance of this happening because of the miss, they go for a two point conversion … fail … and the Denver Broncos will be in the Super Bowl this weekend.

The little stuff.

Leaders understand this. They understand their worlds are comprised of little stuff. They monitor and measure. They watch overtime. Look at facts and figures. They compare their monthly spend versus their budget. Little stuff that most people take for granted.

When we read this account of the game, we realize what could have happened if Goskowski was now at 534 consecutive PATs instead of having his string snapped at 532.

Leaders understand why it is so important to order the right windshield. One person on vacation in a company’s operation is okay. But one employee on vacation and two more sick, can be crippling. If we promise someone we are going to be there at 9 a.m., leaders understand why it is so important that the tech call even if they are going to be 10 minutes late. The best owners preach this, teach this and make sure it becomes part of their culture.

There are millions of people who cheer for the Patriots and will watch the game next weekend and say, “what if?” They’ll talk about how good Brady is. They’ll say they had such a better chance to win with Brady than the Broncos will have with an aging quarterback named Manning.

No doubt Gostkowski will bounce back as a stronger kicker. He’ll focus like he has never focused before because of one incident.

Use this example in your own business while you examine the little stuff that happens every day. Use this example with your techs—they’ll get it when you show them what the little things can mean.

Don’t sweat the small stuff? Yes, it is all small stuff!