The Final Score – Lessons in Leadership

James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine

The following is an excerpt from The Honor Book, found HERE.

Have you ever just gone straight to the box scores to see the statistics, or to the standings to see how your team is doing? Right? Cut to the chase, cut out the extra verbiage, the extraneous verbs and give us the highlights. That’s the first thing I learned as division coordinator of the San Diego Men’s Division from June 2009 to July 2011: men love stats. 

I – like many a man – look for that final W or L in the standings … the black and white results, the final score, the facts, the numbers, the bottom line. Not interested in a story or emotional ramblings, we want to simply know where we stand, and where our brother stands. This is vital when we learn about honor, as some men wish to debate and complain about a certain result in their life: being late, having a low-paying job, surviving a bad relationship. Yet, men aren’t as interested in the story as compared to what a man has made of his life – the actual barebones results. When we are at the end of our lives and we have our final stats – our headstones – the stories and excuses and debates will not matter. The legacy will be what it will be, and it will echo out what was truly accomplished in a lifetime. 

A friend of mine told a funny story of a tennis match she experienced with two coed couples. After a lengthy exchange on one intense point, the women stated, “what a great rally,” while the men wanted to know, “what’s the score?”

Therefore, stripped down, for your skimming pleasure, I give to you some pointers and lessons I learned as a leader in our Mentor Discover Inspire, bulletpoint-like:

  • You will learn the most while leading others. Just the mere reflection of your team will show you instantly how your leadership skills are showing up. Are the men following you? Are they in disarray? Can 10 men be aligned under your tutelage? Yes? No? Each step of the way, you will learn about who you are as a man and how you are as a leader, as you watch your men respond or react to you.
  • Men want to conquer something; they need to conquer something. They must reach a mountaintop, win the trophy, tap that ass. They may give you the impression they want it easier, but they truly want to be challenged so the climb up that mountain will be worthy of a celebration. Whether it’s a woman, a gig, a job, a country or the deepest part of the ocean, they want to explore and conquer. 
  • Men do so much better on teams and in life after their word or honor is restored. Though they may fight it at first, after they are – in jargon’s terms – “cleaned up” for any of their mishaps, they are lighter in spirit, more present and better prepared to take on more challenges.
  • Physical presence means the most to men, more so than words of encouragement via phone, text or e-mail. We all symbolically carry a load in life, and it’s those men who are physically present – not symbolically supportive – that carry the real value. When needing support in moving a piano from house to house, it would be hard to hear, “I’m with you in spirit.”
  • Men don’t like asking for help. It goes against their DNA or something ingrained in their makeup. However when living at the team level, asking for help not only assists the man to humble himself and expand, but it also offers a gift to other men wanting to be valued in lending a hand.
  • Having put out 100 requests for help over the two years as division coordinator, I saw a trend of men commenting with curt answers when they couldn’t physically help out a situation or do a specific job. What I learned is men are in their power when they focus on, and comment on, what they are able to do rather than what they aren’t able to do. For example imagine the difference when asking for help with a ride home from the airport. 
    Answer 1 – “I can’t do it, but I can ask a couple men on our team you haven’t thought of.” 
    Answer 2 – “No.”
    There is a door closed on answer 2. With answer 1, and all answers carrying what is possible rather than what is not possible, it gives the receiver a boost and something to work with. This point could be the basis of another book entirely. Suffice it to say in business, in your relationships and on your teams, give hope and a sense of possibility to those you influence, and you will not only be a loved man but also a rich man.
  • As a man, you can focus on the very disempowering thought of trying to get someone to react to you in the way you want, or you can focus on the very uplifting concept of offering your best self, no matter how it is received. The impact will come from you, your choice, an experience that is active not passive. You will be focused on what you give, not what you must receive. Success can be yours as long as you are faithful to who you are and what you have to offer. All of this will be within your power.
  • Wanting others to win will help you win. As division coordinator, I focused so much of my time supporting men to win and realize their dreams, that I barely even noticed that in the process I myself was realizing my dreams in my life. As Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
  • The biggest lesson I learned also includes what I would consider the biggest step a man can make in life. The biggest step a man can make is from living a life as an “individual” thinking mainly of his own needs, to expand to live at a relationship or “team” level. You can see the difference on common sports teams. The glory hog wanting the attention and hurting the team, as opposed to the team player everyone respects for his selfless and winning attitude. It works the same for us common armchair athletes. With such a leap – from one to two – the man expands from ego to heart, from solitary man to teammate. All other steps are much easier once that first step out of the selfish level gives way for something higher. This step is what saves marriages, families, relationships, teams, divisions, countries. It will be what ultimately saves our humanity.

For your other skimming pleasure, here is a shorter, barebones list, all of which came through as I agonized, grew and celebrated as a leader in MDI.

Top 10 Lessons Learned Around Bringing More Power Into Your Life 

  1. Take care of yourself first as a base, and then expand to include and consider others in your world.
  2. Do not stop in that consideration of others as you move through the various levels: relationship, team, community, society and humanity.
  3. Be good to your word – it will build a bridge of trust for others, and it will foster a power of manifestation for yourself.
  4. Respect others – by being in integrity with agreements and commitments, even in small ways, such as being on time for appointments. 
  5. Humbly admit when you make a mistake or let someone down.
  6. Find creative ways of “making it up” or “giving back” to those you let down … including yourself.
  7. Focusing on what you can do rather than what is not possible will teach your heart to be in gratitude, your mind to be in possibilities and your spirit to be in abundance. 
  8. To be in a state of giving is to be in the state of abundance. Giving of yourself will lead you to your own riches. 
  9. Be active, not passive in your approach to life. Being in action creates hope, activity, good works and positive results.
  10. Success comes to those who live in honor, as they honor those around them, and the personal dreams and goals that include the wellbeing of the collective.

James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE.

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