You probably excel in your work. Most of my readers
are exceptional performers. My clients are easily in the top 5% of
America’s leaders, running organizations that deliver remarkable
value. I am proud of the people I associate with. I choose this work
because I associate with movers and shakers who make a difference,
altering the landscape with the impact of their efforts.
When you talk, people listen. When you dream and design, tomorrow is
created. Your intentions are translated into actions that shape our
It is not easy being a leader. It may be one of the most
personally rewarding occupations, but it is far from the most
appreciated. By its very nature leadership requires pushing the status
quo, pressing the boundary, and engaging the frontier.
Yet, it is possible to settle into complacency even in leadership,
taking refuge in the defined role of your assignment. Witness Mickey
Mantle, the US baseball hero, at the end of his days.
Mantle to this day holds the record for the most World Series homeruns
and is regarded as one of the greatest switch hitters of all time. Yet,
July 12, 1995, he said, “You talk about a role model — this is a role
model. Don’t be like me. God gave me the ability to play baseball and
that’s what I wanted to do. God gave me everything and I just wasted
it… God gave me everything… for the kids out there … don’t be
like me…I wasn’t even like a father. I don’t ever remember playing
catch with the boys in the back yard. I was a drinking buddy.”
Just 32 days after he uttered these words he died from liver cancer,
cirrhosis and hepatitis, all ailments stemming from excessive alcohol
use. During the funeral sportscaster Bob Costas called him “a fragile
hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that
it defied logic … In the last year of his life, Mickey Mantle, always
so hard on himself, finally came to accept and appreciate the
distinction between a role model and a hero. The first, he often was
not. The second, he always will be.”
There is an alternate route and many leaders, the vast majority less
visible than Mantle, choose it. They take being a force for good,
a source of improvement, seriously. And with it comes the greatest joy,
a life well lived. Take for example, Charlie Plaskon.
Since 2003 Charlie has completed 8 half Ironman events,
6 full Ironman events, including the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii
in October, 2007. He has 6 Olympic distance triathlons to his credit
including the ITU World Championship representing the United States as
part of Team USA in Lausane, Switzerland in 2006. He has been featured
in two Ironman documentaries carried nationally on NBC and the Outdoor
Life Network. Charlie is in his 60s and blind.
He dedicates his life to helping ordinary people see beyond their
self-imposed limits and exceeding them. I met Charlie recently in DC in
preparation for the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind’s Light the Way 5K. His message was so moving that I
asked him to join me for my next major event in DC, Breakthrough Business
Leadership, Sept 6 (info here).
After seeing Charlie, my life will never be the same. Charlie
challenged my limitations with his stories and presence — he is humble
and enormously successful at whatever he chooses to do. You can’t help
but be moved and transformed by this man and his amazing experience.
Here is a person using everything
in his life to be a light, to open up new worlds, to help people
succeed in their chosen fields.
Leaders enjoy exceptional influence – it’s part of the job. When they
choose to be visionaries, they light the way for a new and better
world. By virtue of their station, their behavior is amplified. Charlie
has garnered the public eye and he uses it to spread an amazing truth
he lives: we are so much more than we imagine; our achievements need
not be constrained by circumstance.
Where is your visionary frontier? Have you found a way in the world
that opens your heart? a way to make the difference that only you can
I invite you to come to my event and hear Charlie speak. If you’re
interested, just drop me a line and we’ll make it happen. You will
discover a true companion on the most amazing journey of all: life.