What makes a great story? First, you must have a compelling premise; something to guide your tale along its path to a conclusion. Second, you must have great characters to give life and body to a story. They must be edgy and unpredictable and keep the plot turning at every intersection. There must be a hero juxtaposed by a villain in there as well to give your story emotional appeal. Next, you need a hurdle for your hero to overcome; a mountain that can’t be climbed, or a girl or guy that’s out of their league. Lastly, there must be a climax and a resolution; a sequence of events that leads up to a bated-breath moment where the story unfolds from unknown to known. The resolution is where the premise is realized, and the audience is given the satisfaction of closure.
The story of Tim Tebow will not fully be told for many years, but the polarizing nature of Tim’s existence in sports and pop culture is captivating. Tim is the hero of this story for most, but for a very vocal minority he takes on the role of villain and they root for him to fail for reasons known only to them. His obstacle today is to become what nobody thinks he can, a successful NFL QB. The subtext around this fairy tale in the making is wonderment of what it must be like to be Tim Tebow. What would this story look like being told through his eyes? I am amazed at the way he has handled his fame, and icon status at such a young age. This year I have watched the first act in the story of Tim Tebow, and have derived five lessons I am carrying forward in becoming a better leader.
1. Always be humble
Perhaps Tebow’s “gee whiz, golly” personality is a bit over the top and dripping with cheese, but it’s hardly unlikeable. Arrogance, on the other hand, is fun to hate and it will kill your career. Tebow does a phenomenal job of highlighting his team in very public forums when things go well. For you, in great times, deflect praise to those who support you and it will come back tenfold. Your team will work harder and with more passion for the shared vision of success that is necessary on winning teams.
2. Always accept responsibility when things go wrong
Even if you possess transcendent skill and ability in your field of focus, you will most certainly lose from time to time. How we handle defeat is not just about learning from the defeat, it is how we react immediately after when emotions are still running hot. Your people are looking to see how you handle these times, and if you accept the burden of defeat and are accountable for it, respect and gratitude will follow. Winning the hearts and minds of those you lead isn’t just about selling your vision. It’s also about dealing with adversity and overcoming obstacles. Tebow, like all great leaders, makes no excuses for his performance and pledges to get better when losses are experienced. Accountability typically goes hand-in-hand with humility, and must be present in great leaders.
3. Have faith in something greater than yourself
This is not me preaching that you need to be as devout as Tebow is with his faith, or even share the same beliefs. However, peace of mind is present in those who achieve on the biggest stages, and is only possible under two scenarios:
- You have zero accountability and feel that there are no repercussions to your actions. Children and sociopaths fit this description, but you don’t because you are reading this right now. Or,
- You feel deep in your soul that what you do has meaning and its ripple effects are infinite.
This can simply be genuine care for your team, and you knowing the decisions you make effect more than just yourself. It can also be a state of being where you accept that there are certain things that you can’t alter or control, such as the economy or the personal lives of your teammates. Once we submit to this, we can move past these mental barriers of success where we use obstacles as excuses, rather than catapults to great achievement.
4. Stay true to who you are — be authentic
The media portrayal of Tim Tebow is nothing that he can control. The only thing he can do is be himself. It has been told, by every sports journalist covering the Tebow story that I have read, that he is exactly what you see on TV. His teammates swear it is this authenticity that allows him to lead so effectively. His team has bought into who he is, and what he is all about. The polarizing existence of Tebow is nothing of his own doing, and more about disbelief in what people think an NFL quarterback should look, talk, walk, and play like. It is a result of how the media has built him up to a point that you are forced to have an opinion on him, even if you care little for football.
In your office, the backroom and lunch table chatter is very similar to the media chatter surrounding public figures such as Tim Tebow. If you pay close attention, or even if you don’t, you will most certainly come into contact with what your people think of you. Your people will not likely unilaterally agree with every decision you make, but they will respect a consistent and deliberate approach forged by your core values and beliefs.
5. Never give up
Seems a bit generic to mention this perhaps, but then again, so is a blog post about Tim Tebow, right? Thanks for getting to the end of this and not giving up on what the premise of my little story here is: “Those who never give up can lose, but will never fail.” What will become of Tim Tebow, and how will his story someday resolve itself? I will not offer my guesses, but I bet it will sell some books, and a few movie tickets. I bet it will include many losses, just like the one he had this past weekend. But I’ll tell you what. I don’t see him failing. His will is too strong, and he will simply find a way to keep pressing on.
Success can be measured by wins and losses to be certain, but it can also be measured by the impact you have on individuals within your sphere of influence. It can be measured in what is overcome in order to get your team to pursue a shared vision. It can be measured in what influence you had in getting your team to this promise land, or to defeat, and then redefining the vision in a way that outdistances contentment or despair.
Your sphere is smaller than Tebow’s for sure, but no less impactful to those who follow you. Accepting this burden of responsibility is a crucial step in becoming an elite leader.
About Nate Elgert
Nate was born and raised in Lincoln, Neb., graduated from Lincoln East High School, and went on to The University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) where he was a four year letter-winner on the men’s golf team earning a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1999. Nate took a winding road back to Lincoln that led through Phoenix, Des Moines, Chicago, back to Kansas City, and then finally Lincoln once again in 2005. Before coming to Aureus Group in 2006 as an account manager in the Lincoln Accounting and Finance office, Nate was a golf professional, an advertising rep, and a mortgage lender. Currently, Nate is a senior account manager. He enjoys playing basketball, golf, and time with his wife Angie, and daughters Sofia & Cecilia.