Last night I went to the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado – home of the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets. I went there to watch my son, Anthony, play in the Hockey Frozen Four High School Semi-Finals. The best four teams in the State battled it out to see who gets to play in the Colorado State Championship next Tuesday night.
Anthony is a senior at Valor Christian High School and is the assistant captain of his hockey team. Last night, Valor played defending State Champions, Monarch High School. Monarch not only won the State Championship last year but has gone to the State Championship every year for the last five years. Four years ago, when Anthony was a Freshman, Valor went 3-15. Clearly Monarch High School was the favorite to win last night’s game.
Close friends of mine from our 1987 student year in Up with People, Pete and Yuki Young, have a son who plays for Monarch High School. In fact, he is also a senior and Captain of his team. Great kid. Respectful, hard-working and humble. I sat next to Pete & Yuki during most of the game. After the national anthem was finished I whispered to Pete that Monarch has the better hockey team, but Valor is going to win tonight. And here’s why.
In hockey, both teams line up on the opposite blue lines during the National Anthem. Valor High School’s team lined up and stood during the Anthem. They stood stoic, straight faced and honored the Flag in silence. Monarch’s team lined up as well, but the end six players talked, laughed and joked around during the Anthem. Where I come from, that is just as offensive as talking back to your mama!
I told Pete that I didn’t think these six young Monarch kids meant to be disrespectful to our Flag. I think they were just cocky. And in hockey and in life and in business – cocky never wins.
There is a fine line between cocky and confident. And heart-led leaders never cross that line. And if they do, they will lose 4-0, just like Monarch did last night.
I received a bunch of e-mails and texts this morning from friends that heard the news that Anthony’s team will play in the State Championship against rival Regis Jesuit High School back at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night. And at the end of all these text messages and e-mails, my friends said, “What are you going to do?”
Our two younger children, Tate and Caroline attend Aspen Academy. They are in the fourth and sixth grade. About six months ago Aspen Academy’s Character & Leadership Committee asked if I would speak to the entire school and community on Heart-Led Leadership and Heart-Led Families. Of course, I agreed. And the date was set for Tuesday, March 6th at 7:00pm. The exact time and date the puck will drop at my son’s State Championship game.
“What are you going to do?”, asked my concerned friends. “Reschedule your speech?”
Here was my response, “As a parent, I want to reschedule Tuesday’s speech, so I can attend my son’s game. But I’m speaking on leadership. And Heart-Led Leaders keep their commitments.”
I’m not a perfect parent. Far from it. I’m not a perfect leader. Very far from it. But I’ve humbly learned over the years that cockiness is cancer. It kills. Kills culture. Kills teams. And kills relationships.
I’ve also humbly learned over the years that your word is the most powerful four-letter word.
Commitment is king. If you want to lead a kingdom, it starts with humble confidence. And it ends with always keeping your word.