I have just enjoyed four wonderful days in the Canton, Ohio area visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame and attending the induction ceremonies with my good friend and fellow business coach, Kevin West. We have been talking about business together for four days, and Kevin and I listened to a series of great talks from HOF immortals. I was struck by how some of the messages are relevant in a business context as much as they are a recipe about how to achieve football immortality. For those of you who are not Americans, our version of football is rather different than your World Cup football, but we’re almost as passionate about our football as the rest of the world is about their football.
Derrick Brooks was a tremendous linebacker who played in the state of Florida his entire career, from PeeWee football all the way through the NFL. He thanked Florida for being a great place to learn and a great place to live. Derrick’s talk was one that showcased his humility, and how that helped him to become the player he was, and the great man that he is. He quoted his Mother, who taught him “Never toot your own horn because you’re making one sound.” He went on to say that she taught him further “But if everybody else is talking about you, that sound is forever.” Derrick’s goal is to create a sound that will last forever, and he is well on his way to creating that sound as a great man and a great father.
Ray Guy, who may have been one of the best athletes ever to wear the silver and black, is the the first punter to be selected with an NFL team’s first round draft pick, and now he’s the first to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame. Ray’s message was inclusion, and while thanking his parents and all the great people who helped him achieve his success, he also noted that the Hall of Fame is now a “complete team” with his induction. He mused that perhaps more punters would follow in his footsteps and one day join the immortals in the Hall. We would all do well to ponder Ray’s message of inclusion and help those that follow us to succeed like we have.
Aeneas Williams, a cornerback with the Arizona Cardinals delivered an awesome talk that hinted of a Southern Church Revival. Williams has obviously read some Stephen Covey, and encouraged us to remember two things from his remarks, “Begin with the end in mind”, and “Die empty.” Williams ended on a high note as he led the thousands in attendance in a rousing chant with half of the stadium shouting “Begin with the end in mind” and the other half responding with “Die empty.” Southern revival indeed! No reason for the graveyards to be filled with people who left this planet with their gas-tank half-full…
Finally, Kevin and I were fortunate to join his friend and colleague Katie Woodhall in attending a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast on Sunday morning. HOF greats Cris Carter and Lem Barney were the headliners and gave their testimonies. Cris, the Minnesota Viking, who may have had the best hands in the history of the NFL, also displayed his gigantic heart. Cris promised to write out a check for 10 times the number of members in the hall to help the Fellowship to afford full time staff. In his remarks, Cris also talked about how important it is to give to others, and to remember that we’re never perfect, but we need to pursue perfection through giving to others. Mr. Barney encouraged us to focus on good thoughts because good thoughts grow into good actions. The path to greatness, he said comes from keeping good thoughts, which lead to good actions, which will bring great things to you. Simple words that held the ring of truth.
As I left Ohio, I thought about what a great weekend it was. I’ve wanted to attend the Hall of Fame for over 40 years, and finally checked that off the bucket list. I thought about how much wisdom was shared at the induction ceremonies and the other assorted HOF events held around the area. I left the area with many new friends, and great memories, and motivated to make a difference in the world. The parallels between football immortality and business greatness are many, and the advice from these football greats will guide me in business for many years to come. I hope you will now be inspired to make some time to listen to a great speaker who will inspire you to greatness!