Friday, November 18, 2022
This week, CBS ran a story about Ironman athletes, father and son, Jeff and Johnny Agar. Jeff is 59. Johnny is 26. They have competed in over 200 competitions together – competitions that require a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. Jeff and Johnny are not your typical triathletes though. Johnny has Cerebral Palsy. So, in each race, when they swim, Jeff tugs Johnny; when they bike, Jeff tows Johnny; and when they run, Jeff pushes Johnny. The two of them together with their gear weigh over 400 pounds.
This is not something Jeff Agar does for himself. Speaking of her husband, Becky Agar said, “Even though he got him the 140 miles, he’ll always be hiding behind Johnny. He doesn’t want to be announced as an Ironman. It’s Johnny’s moment. And it’s the most beautiful thing to me.” Jeff Agar knows with 100% certainty that it’s not about him. And because of that, his son becomes really, really big. See, that’s the paradoxical truth of life and leadership: the smaller we become, the bigger those around us can get.
And that’s the point for the week.
Those who make it about others attract followers to them. Because those who follow them recognize in them a genuine care for those they lead as human beings, and a true concern for their welfare and safety. When we make it about others, their interests are placed ahead of our own, and as a result, we are made more aware of that which stands in their way of health and happiness, and we’ll move heaven and earth to fix it when these things are threatened. When we make it about others, they flourish, because nothing other than that is more important to us.
But when we make it about us, those around us cease to thrive. That’s because we suck the very life out of them. It’s exhausting and soul-crushing for others to support the nearly endless need of a narcissist to feel more important than they truly are. Those who put themselves first make others feel unsafe, less valued, and less important. They feel like disposable parts whose opinions matter for nothing and who wouldn’t be missed if they didn’t bother showing up one more day.
In organizations where it’s not about those in charge, the rest of the place looks out for one another and for their leaders. They offer up ideas to make things better and to catapult the organization forward. They bring their whole hearts to what they do because they know that it’s about them and making their lives better. And as a result, the businesses they work in move ahead with speed and force, accomplishing things that those in them only ever once dreamed were possible. All because people started making it more about others than themselves.
So, make others really, really big … by making yourself really, really small.And win.