For those new to this series…
This blog journey is for leaders who desire to capitalize upon natural strengths to realize individual and organizational potential. We share insights into The Foundation of Winning, and the science behind enduring success that will soon be a book.
Section 2: Mankind’s Need for Fulfillment. The five blog posts in Section 2 will help you better understand why we do what we do, and perhaps understand why others do what they do.
- The importance of the Why behind our How, and What we do
- Stage I – Personal Physical Fulfillment
- Stage II – Comparative Accomplishment
- Stage III – Contributing for the Benefit of Others
- Stage IV – Legacy Fulfillment – below
I was privileged to have Bo Schembechler (U Michigan’s Head Football Coach 1969-1989), one of our nations greatest exemplary leaders, as my mentor at a critical stage in my professional development. Being coached by him was special, but it was my 11 years working with him every day that revealed there is much more to long-term success than talent. While Bo was a natural leader, like so many other greats, and we can learn from them through awareness and discipline. This installment looks at our actions that live beyond us – Stage IV of Mankind’s Desire to Leave a Legacy.
2.4 Stage IV Fulfillment – Legacy Fulfillment
In late August 2006, Bo and those close to him knew he was in overtime. Each of the recent speeches he had given was delivered with the heartfelt urgency it could be his last opportunity to convey a message he was meant to leave. He was motivated to provide a foundation for success for those who would listen. We went to the National College Football Hall of Fame Dinner in South Bend for two days of catching up with the Who’s Who of college football, former players, and elite coaches. But Bo stayed focused on his true life purpose to be in service of creating a better tomorrow, of making the world a better place. That long weekend was filled with Bo touching the lives of as many as he could, both from the podium and one-on-one. After his speech, as we were leaving the darkened ballroom, he stopped and conversed with the young man clearing tables, asking about his high school experience and college plans. Before leaving, Bo looked the young man in the eye, shook his hand and said “Young man, you keep that attitude and you are going to do great things!” Bo died less than three months later, having left an indelible message of support and encouragement for countless individuals.
Key Idea: Understanding our legacy will be the result of our acting for benefit of others that we may not witness.
Stage IV is about living a life built on faith, believing that our actions today will create a better tomorrow, something we may not experience ourselves. Living more consistently at Stage IV – Legacy Fulfillment requires a level of maturity that, for many of us, comes only with age. And whereas Stage III Fulfillment – Contributing to the Benefit of Others is rooted in the present, Stage IV is focused on the future. The actions of enduringly successful individuals and organizations can be separated to be in service of these two Stages of Fulfillment.
We are continually fulfilled when we reach Stage IV. In Bo’s last years he would ask, “How do people say they are having a bad day? How can you have a bad day when you are alive, you can hear the birds singing, and you are there to help, you can make a difference in another’s life?” His statements reflect the deep fulfillment his life gave him, right to the end.
Examples: Actions of Faith in Service of a Better Tomorrow
Long term gain often requires tough choices in the short term – it is seldom the easy way.
How often, as parents, must we discipline our children for actions that, if continued unaltered, would take them on a destructive path? Stage I Fulfillment, with its emphasis on our physical comfort asks us to “Ignore it – they’ll learn on their own.” But in Stage IV, our faith that enforcing a firm and fair boundaries will benefit them as they grow up. This strengthens our resolve – we know they must understand through experience that actions have consequences. I can attest to this from my own life: one particular time my wife and I grounded one of our children, two days of very high stress, strain, and tension ensued. But we eventually grew so close during that time together that it became a transformative experience. That experience started a relationship journey that continues to grow deeper to this day.
Laying the groundwork for a culture that recognizes the trade off of short term pain for long term gain
One of our clients, while in the first year of aligning the organization to a shared culture in service of each other, needed to cut one of three shifts in order for the company to survive. This was a real test of leadership as a new culture of trust was just evolving. The CEO shared with the team members that it was a tough decision, because global forces, rather than worker performance, necessitated the reduction. What happened in the next few days was revealing about the potential future of the organization. On the employees’ Facebook page, the dialogue showed discontent by a few, but overall, employees spoke of the future and of the short term sacrifice necessary for their community to benefit in the long run! When the grass roots of the organization see the benefit of short term sacrifice for the benefit of the long term health of the organization, you are on the path to enduring success.
Can sharing any of your own struggles can be part of your legacy?
Bo Schembechler’s legacy goes beyond the impact he had as a football coach: he also left the gift of sharing his own personal struggles with heart disease to help others facing similar challenges. Together with Dr. Kim Eagle, Bo and I spent the last year of his life writing The Heart of a Champion: My 37-Year War Against Heart Disease. He shared his experiences to help others battling heart disease better understand what they are going through, and what they could do to help make their lives better. In addition, Bo, with his wife, Cathy, established the Bo Schembechler Heart of a Champion Research Fund at the University of Michigan, supporting break through research and treatment of cardiovascular disease. As the Schembechler Fund’s website notes, Bo left “A true legacy of passion for cardiovascular health.”
Leadership Challenge Questions
- What does your vision statement say about you? Does it demonstrate your commitment to building a better tomorrow for others?
Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)
Prudential: To help our customers achieve financial prosperity and peace of
- Can you think of at least three examples of when you have strategically sacrificed the short term fulfillment typical of Stage I and Stage II in order to realize a deeper, more meaningful success in the distant future, and possibly beyond your sight?
- Is there an alignment issue at your organization you are not addressing, because it is not that big, it is awkward or it is uncomfortable to do so?
- How has it felt when you have addressed an underlying issue that is finally resolved?
For greater depth and clarity on bringing these stages to life in your organization, email your contact information to Fritz@fritzfsa.com. We will send timely updates on the book release date, FOW Seminars and resources that can benefit you on your leadership journey.
Next: 3.0 Mankind’s Need for Boundaries