stewarding our influence

We begin with succinct accounts of three distinct, polished professionals…

Some would say his personality is “larger than life.” He has a strong, affable personality and has been considered one of the most popular in his field. He is also very good at what he does professionally — one of the best of his time and perhaps the greatest ever to do what he does. But he had decided he was done. Done working. Enough was enough, and no doubt his professional efforts took an increased toll on his body; it seemingly wasn’t all that fun any more. He actually had officially retired.

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He was a hard one. No doubt incredibly gifted, there were signs of trouble both in/out of the workplace. The sexual assault allegations were by far the most serious, although it didn’t end there; there were other domestic accusations, drama, and felony charges. Again, no one questioned his talent, but his self-focus and unscrupulous activity was a major disruption. He changed jobs multiple times, as people no longer wanted him. “Too much diva” was the description by one past employer.

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A one time, reputable worker, he, too, was a bit of an unwanted man. It wasn’t, though, because of his behavior either in/out of the workplace. He hadn’t done anything notably wrong; he just didn’t really stand out. He was a positive contributor, but was not considered a superstar and certainly had no larger than life personality. His last employer let him go, but the man still wanted to work; he wanted to contribute somewhere. Perhaps in some ways, he simply wanted to be appreciated, absent the fanfare.

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As Super Bowl LV has come and gone, my sense is there are more lessons from the contest that would be valuable to discuss, recognizing their application to fans and non-fans alike. Allow us then to unpack a singular, significant one…

We return to the game’s MVP — TB12, the G.O.A.T., Tom Terrific, or whatever we wish to call Tom Brady. In our most recent post, I referred to what a strong leader he is. What draws the onlooker near is the uncanny, arguably indisputable evidence of that leadership. 

Leadership is influence. It’s “influencing others to work together toward a common goal,” writes author Chad Veach. It’s not about extroverts vs. introverts; the focus is instead on where we each have influence. How do we steward the influence that we have? Let’s learn from Brady… 

Above are the incomplete resumes of Super Bowl winning, Brady teammates, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, and Leonard Fournette. None of the three played for the Buccaneers last year; all three joined the team after Brady, willingly submitting to his leadership.

But note how different the three men are. Clearly, they don’t think the same way, act the same way, believe the same things, or have similar personalities. Chances are their politics aren’t the same. They don’t even have homogeneous histories of integrity.

And yet the evidence of Brady’s leadership — which deserves to be discussed far outside the game of football — is that there is something within his approach that still brings the different willingly together.

Such scenario completely contradicts a hollow philosophy not so subtly promoted by current culture — this idea that it’s actually unnecessary to bring the different together. It’s why many even highly intelligent people continue to insist that unity can only happen when more people “think like me.” That’s not diversity, friends.

That’s not honoring either. That’s instead requiring the different to assimilate into something they are not — and requiring others to do something we are unwilling to consider.

Tom Brady seems to get that. Calm, cool Tom approaches leadership requiring mutual respect and recognition of common ground and a common goal. There is no denigrating of the different. Ever. Not in leadership that is wise.

So what happens when we actually bring the different together in a mutually respectful kind of way?

Note there were only three men who scored touchdowns in Sunday’s iconic showdown. Those three were Gronkowski, Brown, and Fournette. Guided by wise leadership, they found blessing and success.

Let’s stop pointing fingers. Let’s steward our influence well.