Is That What You’re Wearing? Part 2

Continued from Is That What You’re Wearing? Part 1

When I got to the bottom, I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew it wasn’t my fastest race. In fact, I was really worried that I wouldn’t be in medal contention. Chuck skied down to me; I can still remember the look on his face to this day. It wasn’t of disgust, just disappointment with a tinge of, “You’ll regret not listening to me.”

The only thing I could do is wait as each of the other racers came down. I waited for what seemed like hours. The truth is, it was probably thirty minutes. Back in those days Kirkwood didn’t have an announcement system that called out the times as each finished.  So basically I just waited for the awards ceremony with my stomach turned inside out. The ceremonies were always back at the main lodge. Both teams would gather around an area that had a small table with the trophies on them. Then they would go through each age group starting with the youngest group.

Again, what seemed like hours, but was probably 15 minutes, they finally got to my age group. I remember thinking of how embarrassing it was going to be when my team mates saw that I didn’t even place. Well…I did place. in fact I got the silver medal. I missed the gold by a couple of thousandths of a second. Yep, a margin so small that had I listened, I would have won it for sure. I knew the jacket would slow me down. I even expected it to be a few tenths. I just knew that I would win by a greater margin than a few tenths…or so I thought. The coaches and I never talked about that race or my decision after the ceremony.

It was a bitter-sweet moment when they called my name. Obviously I was glad to have even placed, but I was ashamed for the decision I had made. Back then, the lesson I learned was that I needed to listen to those with more experience than me; those who knew what they were talking about. Later in life, I learned that it was just as much about getting a swift kick to my ego. You see, there doesn’t always have to be someone better than you to beat you. It’s very easy sometimes for your ego to be the one that beats you. I kept a lot of my trophies in boxes, but I hung that one on the wall as a reminder to tell me that you’re only as good as you let yourself be.

While I’m happy for the lessons I have learned from once race on a Sunday morning many years ago, I’m also glad to know that as a leader, you have many options. While I loved my coaches, I know that Chuck could have pushed me harder to give up that jacket. There’s no doubt that he took the path of a teachable moment by letting me teach myself. But I also know that there was a teachable moment that could have taken place in that starting gate. With the right persuasion, I would have made the right decision. You see, as leaders, it’s our obligation to persuade our team members out of their bad decisions. When you can do that, you are truly leading.

Please leave a comment on how you’ve either done the same, or tried to convince somebody else.

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