I was recently invited to speak at the Lake Dallas High School Football team breakfast to kick off the new season. Its always special and an honor to share leadership lessons with young people – especially to kickoff a new season. One of the stories I shared was about a recent article I read about a sophomore high school quarterback from west Texas. He was playing quarterback and threw a pass to the wide receiver. Unfortunately, the ball slipped right out of the receivers’ hands and flew right into the hands of the opposing defensive players hands for an interception. The quarterback then ran down the defensive player and tackled him to the ground while injuring his shoulder. The quarterback was never able to throw the same way after the injury.
After his senior season, he received a couple of division 2 opportunities to play football, but the kid from west Texas decided to walk on to a school about an hour away from him in Lubbock Texas. While at Texas Tech, he asked a lot of questions, I mean a lot of questions. He was very curious about everything on the field and was always quizzing his coach, Mike Leach. A couple of coaches walked up to coach Leach and asked him why he was keeping this kid around because he really wasn’t good enough to make the team. Coach Leach said that he really liked the way he asked questions and was hoping his curiosity would rub off on to the other players around him. He eventually let the young quarterback know that he wouldn’t make the team as a player, but he would like to make him a student coach at age 19. A few years later, coaching changes were made and the defensive coordinator went on to be a head coach at East Carolina. The first call he made was to make this young coach his new offensive coordinator at age 27. A few years, Bob Stoops was looking to revamp his offense at Oklahoma when he noticed East Carolina making impact. He started researching this young offensive coach and decided to hire him at age 33. Two years later, he was offered to be the head coach at the University of Oklahoma at age 35. His name is Lincoln Riley and is now considered one of the most prominent coaches in the country.
I share this story because high performers and people that have significant success such as Lincoln Riley have many common threads that we can all incorporate in our careers. We don’t need to copy these people, but find the inspiration and traits that work best for us to use in our leadership lane. Today, I want to share three of these traits that are easy to remember… Just remember your A-B-C’s…
A stands for ALL-IN…
Lincoln Riley was all in. He walked on, instead of taking the easier road. He relocated which is not easy to do. He was curious and constantly asked questions. He was committed to be a high performer. We need to be committed in every area of family, friendships, career decisions, and community involvement. My friend Gian Paul Gonzalez says being ALL-IN is like playing poker. When you have a great poker hand and push all of your chips to the center of the table, you are saying I am all in and there is no turning back. Many times, we think about being all in, but then try to pull our chips back when we realize it might not be the best hand. If we were to do this in the poker game, we just might get “punched in the face” for trying to pull back. So how do you know when to go all in? We need to set goals. I hear that when you set a goal, you have close to a 50% chance of hitting it. When you write down that goal, the percentage of achievement is close to 80%. What goals have you set? What are you currently needing to do to go ALL-IN? It’s never to late to set goals. Go ahead, write it down to achieve, and increase the chances of success by posting it on social media for me.
B stands for BELIEVE
When you see business leaders, entertainers, actors, and coaches like Lincoln Riley that are high performance leaders, they all have the common thread of self-belief. They are confident and believe in themselves and their calling. When I was in my early 20’s, I dreamed about bowling in the US Open. I competed at a high level locally, and around the state. In 1989, I finally got the opportunity to bowl in the OPEN. It was a dream come true. However, I quickly realized during the practice session that every person bowling in the US Open was elite. I remember having doubt, and thinking I didn’t belong. Because I didn’t believe, I bowled horribly and finished in the back of the pack. It’s all about belief. When you believe, you can do the unimaginable. So, how do you get belief? Its all in the preparation. I didn’t prepare well for the open. I didn’t research and ask questions. I tried to do everything on my own. Preparation often means getting out and asking questions. Since then, I have learned the importance of belief sense by working hard to prepare every day in my career and trying to learn from the best of the best. How are you preparing for your next meeting, or recruiting call or sales call? Now is a great time to start preparing at a higher level to be a high performer.
C stands for CHOICES
In my book, Find Your Lane, Chapter 2 “The Route You Choose Matters” talks about the importance of our choices. In this chapter, I shared the story about when I was a teenager in high school, my friends decided to climb on top of a building and I made the choice to join them. A few minutes later, the police were shining flashlights on us while telling us to put up our hands. We had walked across different buildings and ended on top of a bank. Just think, we could have fallen off the building, or been shot by the police thinking we were trying to rob the bank! YIKES! We make choices every day to show up with a positive or negative attitude, on time or not, prepared or not, to take action or not, to surround ourselves with the right people or not, to set goals or not, to plan or not, to add value or not, to be kind or not. You get the point. Leadership is about influence. We are all influenced by others on our journey, but at the end of the day, we are responsible for making our own choices. …and the choices we make will ultimately make us. What choices are you making? Do you need to get a project that you have been putting off completed? Do you need to get out of the office to network and build some relationships? What are you waiting for? Maybe it’s time to sign up for that next networking event, or certification prep course to start performing at a higher level.
There are many more traits we can apply to be a high-performance leader, but these “ABCs” will help us get started. Set a goal this week and be ALL-IN, BELIEVE in YOU and prepare every day to be the best you can be, and make good CHOICES in your workplace, in your community and in your home. Find your lane and accelerate with purpose. The best is yet to come…
Quote of the week: Commitment is not a feeling, it’s an action.” Gian Paul Gonzalez
Call to Action: Are you ALL IN? Do you a goal? Write it down and post on your desk. Be all in and believe you can achieve it. Make the choice to ask questions and take action on anything that will lead you to achieving the goal and be a high-performance leader. You can even track it in my new book called “Milemarkers” to help you capture daily highlights on your journey!
This has been A Relocation Minute on “ABC high performance leadership ” with Bruce Waller, for more information, call