We all have and are living in uncertain times. As we realized with the recent pandemic, it’s just relative, there are times that are more uncertain than others.
As we have seen recently, the markets are volatile, companies are struggling to find labor, and something is flying overhead every day. Navigating a time of constant uncertainty takes focus, discipline, and people around you who can give you the guidance you need to make significant progress toward your goals. Who matters.
When I was in high school, I was the president of our new Key Club. Our sponsor from the Kiwanis Club started introducing me to people of influence in our community. As a high schooler, meeting these “movers and shakers” was great, but I didn’t realize the power of being around people of influence. But what it did for me was show me that “proximity is power.”
In my book “From Turmoil to Triumph,” I share some of the lessons that I learned being a mentee to a man who was a fantastic business person but, more importantly, a servant leader. Occasionally, he would invite me to be with him and his “kitchen cabinet” over lunch at Spoons BBQ or the Old Pancake House in Charlotte, NC. The first time I met him at Spoons, I wasn’t that impressed, it was a small restaurant with picnic tables and lots of sweet tea. But as we sat there sipping our tea, his friends started to come in, in suits. He started to introduce me to them and I found out that they were some of the most influencial people in the city. As I sat and listened to what they discussed, I learned that my mentor and they became who they were because they looked for opportunities to be inspired by those who really excelled in their field. They knew that who matters.
When I joined Tony Robbins’ security team, I sat on “stage left, ” the equivalent of having the quarterback’s back. At Tony’s Financial Mastery program in Palm Springs, CA, one of the speakers was Jim Hansberger. As he spoke, I was mesmerized. I took copious notes. I was asked to escort him and his wife back to their room. During that walk, I told Mr. Hansberger how much I enjoyed his talk and I asked him if he would be open for me to coming to Atlanta to meet with him. He gave me his assistant’s phone number, and I thanked him. When I got back home, I called her and she set up a time for me to meet with Mr. Hansberger. He was kind to give me 45 minutes of his time.
I learned many things during that conversation, but two things really stuck with me. First, the key to gaining wealth starts with giving first. The second was to have gratitude for everything you have. Twenty-seven years later, those two lessons are the framework for why I do what I do. For many years, I did not live up to those two lessons. But shortly after the Miracle on the Hudson, I found those notes from that day in Atlanta, and they became my north star.
My father taught me that I don’t need to know everything, but I do need to have access to people who do. My mentor taught me to look for opportunities to be inspired by those who really excelled in their field. Tony taught me that “proximity is power.” Jim Hansberger taught me to always start by giving first and having gratitude for what I have.
And my experience on the Miracle on the Hudson was the uncertainty I needed to wake me up and help me have the discipline and focus to serve first. Once I started to “serve first,” the who’s for my how’s began showing up. When I committed to go back into the Hudson River and swim with the Navy Seals, I read Admiral William McRaven, a former Navy Seals’ book ” Make your Bed.” One of the key lessons he shares is “don’t go it alone; you have to paddle as a team.”
The who does matter. Put yourself in the proximity of people who can give you the wisdom and insight to help you achieve your mission. Focus on serving before you ask for anything. I have found that true servant leaders will give you access and time if they know you come from the heart first. Find a mentor AND a coach who will help you navigate uncertainty, give you the focus and discipline, and put you in proximity to their relationships, and you will be able to create opportunity out of uncertainty and
Create your own flight plan for your future!