Tuesday, 29 July 2008

What do you stand for?

I received an email this morning from my coach in Sydney and it literally stopped me in my tracks. It contained a story which I decided to share with you a little further below.

We talk about taking 100% responsibility for our lives. We say that the way we feel, the results we get, the responses we get from others around us, is all a choice. We discuss getting out of the blame game and creating the life we want and the goals we desire.

The story simply had me consider “what do I choose to stand for?” regardless of what I have achieved yet, or may want to achieve in the future, despite the successes I have created or the feedback I have used when outcomes have been “unexpected”.

Many people in business try and sell what they have to sell without consideration for what people actually need or want. Some businesses “go for the close” before asking their customers “what do you need?” or “how can I help you?” Occasionally businesses will force their product or service on someone and they may even buy, once.

Many businesses are so focused on their “competition” they forget to see how they can add value to their own customers. They are constantly looking for the opportunity to “beat the competition” rather than look to improve what they do for benefit of being better than they themselves are right now. Perhaps the only competition we have in business is ourselves?

But what do these businesses stand for? What do you stand for in your business, your life?

This story may help…Would you have made the same choice?

Two Choices

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.

After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection.Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?'

I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!Run to first!'

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team, who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!‘Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

And the foot note that came with this story:

We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate. The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

If you're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren't the 'appropriate' ones to receive this type of message Well, the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a difference.We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the 'natural order of things.'

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

You now have two choices: 1. Delete 2. Forward

May your day, be a Shay Day.

I receive many stories and video clips every day, many if which will invite the reader to forward it to other people. For me, my choice is to ignore that invitation as I, like you no doubt, don’t want to add to people’s inbox just for the sake of it.

Today however, I made a choice. This choice is based simply on the question I asked at the top of this article “what do I choose to stand for?”

Imagine a business world where people made choices like the baseball team in the story. Imagine a business world where everyone truly wanted to support each other to be successful rather than just “cut each other’s throats” for the sake of the quick sale. Imagine a business world that believed in “win/win” in the true spirit of the principle so well described by Stephen Covey in his book. Imagine your business if everyone you encountered tried to help you be successful and you in turn tried to help them.

Would you prefer to go to work each day knowing that everyone you meet wants to help and support you to win, or do you prefer the cut throat competitive world of mistrust and deviousness that results in win/lose or lose/win?

So ultimately, you really do have a choice and my success tip this week is simply this:

Ask yourself, “What do I choose to stand for?”

I trust you do indeed have a “Shay day” ;o)

If you want to know more about how leadership coaching and training can help you improve your results in business we will be happy to discuss this with you. Contact us here.

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