Monday, August 17, 2009

Leadership: To Get Up, One Must First Fall Down!

I spent this past weekend at the Rocky Mountain District Convention for Kiwanis, in Gering, NE. It was a great convention and a real learning experience on a number of levels. But I was really inspired by our Keynote Speaker on Saturday, Jerry Traylor.

Jerry Traylor was born with Cerebral Palsy. He has pictures from when he was a baby with casts on his legs, as his parents and the doctors tried to help him. But Jerry never let his condition deter him. Jerry knew that while he could not impact the challenge that life had given him, he could impact how he would react to the challenge.

As you might suspect, his childhood was very challenging as his condition impacted everything he could or would do. But Jerry persevered and did things that no one ever thought possible. Jerry shared with us his story of tragedy and triumph and told us how hard he had fought to ensure that his condition would not define his life. At one point, Jerry decided to run a marathon. He set out to train and eventually completed a 26 mile marathon in somewhat over 7 hours, all while on crutches. Of course, that was just the start. Since then Jerry has completed 35 marathons.

But that is not Jerry’s biggest accomplishment. You see, once Jerry knew that he could run a marathon with his crutches, he set his sights even higher. In 1985 Jerry Traylor, using his crutches, jogged across the United States from San Francisco to New York City.

Absolutely inspirational.

When Jerry spoke with us this weekend, he talked about how winners get up while others stay down. Winners don’t quit when things get tough. Winners find ways to conquer problems that many of us would let overwhelm us.

And while I was truly inspired by Jerry’s story and what he had overcome and accomplished, I was struck by a simple fact that many of us overlook. You see, while Jerry had figured out that being a winner means getting up, most of us think being a winner means never falling down. Somehow we have taken the perspective that winners routinely win, while others of us struggle. The reality is far different than that. The reality is that we all fall down from time to time. We all struggle with different types of challenges and we all fail from time to time. But winners consider any setback to be temporary in nature, something that teaches them what not to do, and as guidance for future efforts. Winners understand that mistakes are part of the game of life and accept them as natural. They don’t dwell on mistakes because they understand that never making a mistake means that they have never tried anything new.

You see, it’s not just that winners get up while others stay down. Winners know that, in order to get up, you have to have fallen down. And everyone falls down from time to time.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog and will take a few minutes to provide us with feedback and perhaps share it with a friend.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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