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You can tell something about the greatness of a person by studying his life: Did he walk the walk, or was he just a “talker?” Leaders aren’t born; they are made. When made correctly, it’s obvious to all. Gerald Francis Coleman, “Jerry” to millions of baseball and sports fans around the country, was not just appreciated. He was in the category of beloved. Revered. Iconic.
But a leader? How did that happen? How was he made into a leader, and why does it matter to us today? Jerry was more than just the announcer of the San Diego Padres. Prior, he had been a player with the New York Yankees for nine seasons, the MVP of the 1950 World Series, and won six World Series as a member of one of the strongest teams ever in MLB history.
All that aside, he did not think twice about cutting his career short when called to re-join the US Marine Corps as an aviator in Korea. He flew a total of 120 combat missions, split evenly between World War II and Korea. He retired as a Lt. Colonel, and as the only Major League player to have actively served in both of those wars. Jerry walked the walk.
Along the way, surviving those combat missions, he once flew through exploding wreckage directly in front of him – previously the plane of his best friend. One time, he aborted a takeoff, choosing to land his fully loaded airplane, instead of first jettisoning his bombs, due to concern for those on the ground. Upon crashing, he was nearly killed, and was revived by a Navy Corpsman.
Oh, yes. Jerry was very much the leader. Combat tested in war, and tested by public opinion over the decades spent as a player and broadcaster.
Interestingly, Jerry passed away the same day that one of my mentors, “Coach” Kenneth, reminded a group of us about the lessons of leadership that come by faith. Coach Kenneth cautioned us to know the difference between faith and foolishness, and to walk by faith. That is, to not only see the obvious between here and the corner, for instance, but to have a good idea of what’s around the corner, and move toward it aggressively. Never foolishly!
As Jerry Coleman saw his friend’s plane explode in front of him, his training kicked in. He knew exactly what to do, evaluated the possibilities, flew through it, and completed his mission. Same with how he handled the aborted takeoff. In a split second, he ran the scenarios through his mind, made a decision, and then executed it. In both cases, he saw not only the obstacle, but also what was around the corner from the obstacle.
As Coach Kenneth would say, “Faith does not cancel out foolishness.” Your faith requires you to do a matching action: See the choices, make a decision, and then take passionate and aggressive action.
What can we take from these lessons of heroic actions by great leaders, and apply to our own businesses? We can begin with good training and the faith that can come from it. You show this every day you send out your crews to work on a project. You know how they were trained. You have faith that they will “accomplish the mission,” even if something unexpected comes up or goes wrong on the jobsite.
As I write this, the “enemy” is still out there: the same dreadful economy that has been sabotaging prosperity in our industry for several years now. The MCAA is kind of like our industry’s air traffic controller. It’s surveying the entire country, and seeing what is coming over the horizon at us from around the corner, if you will.
This year, let’s be especially mindful of leaders important to our own lives, realizing that they have been placed there for a reason. Likewise, the mantle of leadership is upon you as you captain your own fleet. I don’t know everything, but I do know this: Trust your training, keep the faith, and love your family and your country. Love the fact that you are still free enough to own and run your business. And may this be the year that your business gets to hang its own “star” on a little more success.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 15:17|