Last week was a challenging week of travel. Like many people who traveled through the northern part of the United States, air quality was poor, which caused many travel delays. I am fortunate to have an Admiral’s Club membership, so when delays happen, I have a refuge.
Most of the time, I find a spot in the club, get something to eat, drink and catch up on all the administrative stuff accumulating when I travel. As I settled in one of the clubs at O’Hare airport, I sat close to a volleyball team returning home from a tournament in Chicago.
When one of the young ladies got up, she accidentally bumped into me and spilled something on my pants. Not a big deal, and though, she was very apologetic. As we started to speak, I asked her about her team. On a summer tour, they were a group of top volleyball players from Oklahoma.
She asked me why I was in Chicago, and I told her I was en route home from speaking in Iowa. She asked me what I speak about, and the conversation was on.
What I told her is, I show people how to find opportunity out of uncertainty. At first, she didn’t understand what that meant. I then asked her if she had seen the movie “Sully.” She said yes and then asked me if I was on the plane. I told her I was, and there is nothing more uncertain than a plane with no power and heading straight into a body of water.
When I said that, some of her teammates joined the conversation. I shared a little about what happened that day and why all the moments in your life matter. All these moments and experiences they are having now will impact them as they go through life, so don’t take any for granted. Because
The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.
These young ladies stared at me; I didn’t know if they were in awe or thought I was some whacked-out old man. But I then related the story of how I went back into the Hudson River after not swimming for over forty years to all the time and effort they are investing over their summer break. How the training I was and am doing to face the combat the River presents and as important, showing people how to face their turmoil and turn it into their personal triumph.
I then shared a story about how Tom Brady won the Super Bowl in his first year with Tampa Bay.
Whether you like or don’t like Tom Brady, you can learn his strategy on how to win and be the best.
One thing that Tom Brady did was study Super Bowl champion teams and what set them apart from other teams. He found out that most of the winning Super Bowl teams invested in their backups in their offensive and defensive lines. Most teams have players who just want to “cash in” when it’s their opportunity but many times over his career, Tom Brady sacrificed short term payout for the opportunity to win the big game.
Other quarterbacks were often mad at him as he took less money, which meant the pay scale went down for them. But when confronted with this feedback, Brady would say, probably true, and they will be watching the Super Bowl I’m playing in.
I told them the key reason moments matter: if you remember the lessons from these moments, you can create the conditions around you for success. And make your “plane” fly faster toward victory.
What happened on January 15, 2009, was a culmination of all the moments that made up my, the other passengers and the crew’s lives—these moments created the conditions for a potential tragedy to turn into a triumph.
When I was leaving to go to my gate, I wished them well and reminded them that the moments that they were experiencing now were the sweat, and when their defining moment comes, whether that is a big game or something bigger in their lives, they will “bleed less” and have references to call on to handle it.
A pathway to create opportunity out of uncertainty is to create the conditions around you for success. You may have to sacrifice today’s win for tomorrow’s victory. You have to put the reps in today so that when your defining moment comes, you will be able to create your own flight plan for your future.