I have shared before about the power of words. As I continue to grow in my leadership I continue to become more aware of a leader’s responsibility to always speak words of life over people. I recently just finished listening to How to Win Friends & Influence People on Audible. This book is a MUST READ if you want to find more success and happiness. The book is full of simple actionable wisdom that will help you accomplish exactly what the title describes. One of the many take aways/reminders I have after listening to it is point number 7 in the Be A Leader Chapter, Give The Other Person A Fine Reputation To Live Up To. This reminded me of a quick story from a few years ago.
In my previous profession I was a head weightlifting coach at a local private school in town. I loved coaching and it is still a passion of mine. The main reason I love coaching weightlifting is not because it helps you become stronger and faster (which it does), but because of the character traits and qualities I could instill into young men and women. The vast majority of athletes I coached never competed at the international level, but that didn’t lessen the opportunity to teach them valuable life skills.
A few years ago I had a young man named Riley who came out at the beginning of the season to join the weightlifting team. I knew Riley prior to him coming out for the weightlifting team. He was not the most gifted athlete I ever worked with and he was not accustomed to working hard at physical activities. At the end of every practice I would always take the opportunity to do “Team Building” activities. These were just mental toughness exercises which involved hard physical challenges they would have to endure through. The way it became team building was EVERYONE always had to complete the tasks. If anyone ever quit the whole team had to start over. Unfortunately too few kids today are taught the value of persistence and perseverance. Riley was no exception.
He struggled very badly through his first practice and tried to quit many times. I refused to accept that and continued to push him until he completed the tasks set before him. The next day when it came time for team building at practice he asked if he could talk to me. He told me that his mom told him if anything was ever hard he should just quit and did not have to do it so he was going to sit this one out. As you might imagine that did not go over too well with me. I was extremely disappointed he had been given that advice and I understood that unless he broke this habit of quitting things that are hard there would be major consequences for him later in life.
My response to him was simple, “Riley losers quit things when they are hard. You are not a loser. You are a champion and I know that you can do this so get down on the floor with your teammates.” That simple statement was a turning point for Riley. The entire rest of the season I never heard another complaint from him. His physical abilities improved greatly. As the season carried on there were many times when other teammates of his were trying to quit during team building activities and Riley would actually come alongside them and encourage them about how he used to want to quit, but he pushed through it and was thankful he did.
Riley never achieved great athletic success like some of my other athletes, but in my decade of coaching that still stands out in my mind as one of my proudest accomplishments as a coach. Riley was a young man accustomed to quitting and doing what was easy. All I did was remind he was a champion and he could do the seemingly impossible task before him. That set about a change that carried forward in his attitude, decisions, and actions. Think about how often we encounter others who have negative attitudes and self-imposed limitations. How do you choose to respond when you encounter them? I know I need this constant reminder to give the other person a fine reputation to live up. Have you ever tried speaking to someone’s potential instead of their current reality? It is amazing to see how people respond.
Question: What is a time you gave someone a fine reputation to live up to and what was the outcome? Comment below