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Having Empathy

Thanksgiving evening MK and I were in Ann Arbor driving around looking for a place to have dinner, everything we own was in the moving truck somewhere between Waco and Ann Arbor. In the new house an Aero Bed served as our bed, it was the only place to sit, except for the two bathrooms and the remains from a pizza from the night before.

Nothing was open for dinner.

I asked Mary Kay to find “downtown” on Waze. We looked for the tallest buildings we could find. We saw one but soon realized it was the “big house,” the Michigan football stadium built in 1927 and holds 107,601 people. It’s the second largest stadium in the world but there aren’t any restaurants open around it.

We finally found downtown. Slowly we drove down the street–all I wanted was dinner, a glass of wine for MK and a place to watch some Thanksgiving Day football.

As we were heading back to the house, we saw an “open” sign at a sushi place – MK loves it. I saw a TV on, and since I love watching football on Thanksgiving, it was a match made in heaven.

We went in and found not only did they have the game on, but they served warm sake for MK and cold Miller Light for me. The place was virtually empty and there was free parking outside on the street because it was a holiday.

The Chicago Bears already beat the Detroit Lions. Yea for my son, Andy, who’s a huge Bears fan, but too bad for virtually every neighbor we’ll have in Ann Arbor.

MK and I were having a great adventure. Our waiter was a friendly young guy in his early 20’s who previously worked there and made his way back after a six month leave.

We love meeting people and learning about them. Our waiter told us his story and we found out he was adopted, wasn’t the best kid and has lived with his birth mom and birth dad but is back in Ann Arbor with his adoptive parents.

In the middle of it he dropped the bombshell.

Less than a year ago, his fiancée was murdered by someone they were trying to help. She was stabbed over 40 times. We both sat there in shock. How do you relate to anyone who has gone through this? What advice can you give?

I truly believe we go through challenges in our lives, to help others. People who we relate to in one way or another, but what does one say when you learn about something like this?

All we could offer was a prayer, encouragement to attend grief counseling, to not lose faith in others, and a nice “welcome back to work” tip. Let’s catapult back to our own lives. First, when you learn about something like this on Thanksgiving Day how do you ever feel sorry for yourself in whatever you are facing?  Secondly, do you think God gives us challenges so we can help others?

Let’s remember to try stepping out of our own lives and seek opportunities to touch others’ lives. We’ll be back to see how our new friend is faring. This was a Thanksgiving we’ll never forget.

Hall of Fame

What transpired last week didn’t surprise me at all.

It all started Thursday night at the Pro Football Hall of Fame game. My son’s beloved Chicago Bears lost again, but there were two good things. The first – it’s only preseason. The second, Waco’s favorite son, RG III, was back in football as the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. After winning the Heisman trophy and playing for the Washington Redskins he got injured. We hope RG makes the team and is back in football.

Thursday night’s game started the Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame were: (in importance according to me)

  • Jerry Kramer (Packers),
  • Brian Urlacher (Bears),
  • Ray Lewis,
  • Randy Moss,
  • Robert Brazile,
  • Brian Dawkins,
  • Bobby Beathard, and
  • Terrell Owens

I grew up watching Kramer play. The first football jersey I bought for my grandson was an Urlacher jersey.

Now, T.O, and the rest of the story.

You’ve probably heard the rest of it by now. T.O., Terrell Owens, didn’t attend. He said he was going to deliver his acceptance speech at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga instead of in Canton at the festivities. This was unprecedented for any living inductee. Then he’ll charge fans $40 for the T.O. HOF after party. Wow.

I enjoyed reading what Barry Wilner, Associated Press, wrote:

The 44-year-old Owens had a mostly sensational 15-year career playing for San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati. He is second to Jerry Rice in receiving yards and third in touchdown catches behind Rice and Randy Moss, who is entering the hall this week and will attend the festivities.

But he also eventually wore out his welcome in those cities, and now Canton probably can be added to that list.

This is a lesson in Leadership.

Each month MK and I welcome Dwyer Group’s new franchisees and give a 45-minute talk on retaining employees. Each month I ask the group if they would like T.O. and/or Johnny Manziel on their team. Usually 90 percent emphatically say they wouldn’t want either on their team because of their behavior.

Talented. Unbelievable in both instances. I doubt that I will ever be as talented in what I do compared to either of their talents in football.

As a leader, I have to build a team of people who work together. Trying to assemble a group of prima donnas is very difficult.

Being elected to the Hall of Fame, in anything, is an honor. Regardless of one’s disagreements with the organization that elected them, accepting the award – with class – goes a long way.

I love what speaker Walter Bond says, “Confidence is arrogance, under control.”

T.O. has every reason to be confident. It’s his right to be arrogant. It’s also his prerogative not to attend the Hall of Fame ceremonies and give a speech to the millions watching on TV.

I thank him, once again, for another lesson on what Leadership is really about.