Seconds – That’s All it Takes

Seconds – That’s All it Takes




Seconds make all the difference in the world.

In the San Diego, where I lived for a few years, you never smell autumn in the air. You can’t see it as trees change because Palm trees don’t really change unless the ocean breeze intensifies. The only harbinger of fall is that the beach is less crowded and football is back.

Ain’t it great?

Years ago, in our San Jose home that was jammed with kids, football season used to average congregating before the tube to root for our favorite Forty Niners while ridiculing the opponent.

However, sometimes, that meant for a few, in good fun, inter-family squabbles especially when the Dallas Cowboys came to town.

But the biggest row came on my birthday in 1982. It was two seconds that changed everything. It was “The Catch.”

It was the NFC Championships between the Cowboys and the resurging but upstart Forty Niners. It was the last two minutes of the game and the Niners were behind by a touchdown. Quarterback Joe Montana was in his component. The excursion itself was memorably tense what with dropped passes and other missed opportunities. But it was the fingertip catch by Dwight Clark in the end zone with seconds to go that made the difference. With that win, the Niners went on to own the NFL for the next decade.

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything. And not just from the sports angle.

Leadership is a choice one makes in each and every second. It takes plenty of practice and sustain. Leadership is not a uniform you use or a title positioned on an organizational chart. It is a way of life that is always inclusive of others.

Montana and Clark could not have achieved the feat alone. To make “The Catch,” they needed “The break,”The Block,”The Throw,” in other words they needed “The Team.”

Perhaps, you complain, one can’t fairly compare the football world to our normal work-a-day life. In their world, they practice and prepare all week for one day of “work.” Your point is well taken, although there are probably more than a few athletes who would argue with you.

We have practice time in every second of our busy schedule. Each day, in every interaction, we can make the choice to coach someone, collaborate with others, express confidence and proportion credit. We can choose to learn and grow together while offering our commitment to someone that fuels his or her fire. Each day you can make a conscious choice to include with “The Team” and mirror on the results your choices create.

Although receiver Freddie Solomon was covered like a blanket by Dallas, Montana could have chosen to toss the ball to him like the play called for and then berate Freddie later for missing it and losing the game. No, they were leaders. They had a plan and a back up plan and maybe a plan after that.

What is your plan? And what about the back up plan? Take a few seconds right now and think about what is important to you. Ask yourself my The Four Commitment Questions: What can I do… More of? Less of? Start? Stop? Woven into your day-to-day life, these four questions make all of the difference in the world.

If you want to deepen the collaboration at your office, encourage your team to make the choice to ask these questions with everyone they interact with. With the right intention, the answers will come. The playing field will be already. Everyone will be acting on the plan.

It only takes a few seconds.

(By the way, Dwight, if you read this please accept my thanks for the birthday gift so long ago. It nevertheless keeps giving. If we ever meet, the first round is on me.)




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