Last Wednesday evening I enjoyed watching my favorite awards event which is the annual ESPN awards called the ESPY. I was amazed as the camera scanned the arena of the hundreds of amazing athletes in attendance representing all the different sports. I thought of how much greatness was on display in this one place. However, I also began to think that there is so much more that we didn’t see.
When they awarded Coach of the Year to Jim Calhoun, 77 years old, 4-time cancer survivor dedicating 50 years of his life to coaching young men to greatness. Coaching them to see more in themselves then they thought possible. Mentoring them to be superior athletes as well as human beings. Having the courage to be who he needed to be for them to be their best. I thought of how many lives this man has impacted over his career. It simply gave me goosebumps of admiration.
I watched as the Pat Tillman Award was presented to Sargent Kirstie Ennis. Kirstie at the age of 17 fulfilled her life’s dream of becoming a marine. Unfortunately, that dream was derailed two years later when as a helicopter gunner her chopper crashed of which she sustained serious injuries. Kirstie broke her jaw and had to lose one of her legs. Devastated, she fought through the first year of all the surgeries as well as the mental and physical rehabilitation. On the one-year anniversary of her accident, Kirstie wanted to give up the fight and attempted to commit suicide.
Only with the tough love of her father did she realize that she was playing the pity party and that she was actually the lucky one. She committed at that moment to not live her life for herself, however, to live on for those brave men and women that did not have the choice to return home alive. She also realized that there were many young girls and boys with similar ailments that looked to her for guidance and strength as she needed to be the role model for them. Kirstie went on to create a goal of raising money for veterans by scaling the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. Kirstie has already checked off four of these accomplishments from her list. She now presses on each and every day, not for herself but for others to see what’s possible.
Lastly Rob Mendez a young man that was born with no arms or legs. A young man that lived with a dream of one day being a head football coach. He persevered ahead on his dream only to be rejected again and again and again. One day he woke up and decide his dream would never happen and decided to give up. Fortunately, once again with some tough love from his father he was educated on that, it was not him, for it was others perception of him. And what was most important was not whether others believed in him, but whether he believed in himself. Rob Mendez eventually became a head coach of a high school football program and continues to believe that he will one day be coaching at the collegiate level before going on to the NFL. When I witnessed this man accept the Jimmy V Perseverance award. I witnessed a tremendous love and passion for the game of football along with an opportunity to impact all those who he coaches. Once again, I was inspired!
As the camera once again scanned the arena of the hundreds of those amazing athletes in attendance. I thought of what was really behind that greatness. How many compounded hours of sacrifice by those athletes in honing their skills, the hours of sacrifice by their mentors, coaches and parents that guided them along the way. How many times amongst all the people it that arena at some point wanted to quit but never did? How much faith, desire, and courage it took by many to persevere in their dream.
And finally, when Dwayne Wade took the stage like many others that evening and shared how grateful he was to be blessed with those skills, however, acknowledged that the sport he loves just served as a platform to stand upon to make a difference for others. Humble, grateful and proud, he challenged all those listening to show up and give their best to themselves and their community.
On display at the ESPY awards was greatness and everything it takes to believe and achieve it. There are lessons for us all. That same greatness is available to all of you in business and in life. So, my challenge to you on this Monday, July 15th and every day thereafter is to show up at the level of greatness that inspires you and all those around you to benefit from. Remember, you may not be on the ESPY awards, however, people are watching. Be Great!
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