When I was a kid, my papaw taught me how to plow behind a mule. The most important rule he gave me was keep your eyes on where you are going and never take your hands off the plow. I recently returned to social media to see information on an upcoming class reunion. Big mistake. I have allowed it take my eyes off my goals and remove my hand from the plow AGAIN.
The latest hand from plow remover is the NFL anthem protests. Before I begin my next sabbatical, I have to share my simple thoughts on this. I’ve heard and read many viewpoints. Maybe this one is out there and I’ve missed it in the huge haystack.
I’ve taught leadership seminars across the country. I’ve not spoken in front of millions but I’ve spoken to thousands. I’ve not been paid millions but I’ve been paid thousands. I, like a NFL player, practice to get better at my craft. I hear my name called in an introduction. Normally, after the introduction, I hear “please welcome Greg Gilbert” and there is applause. I appreciate and am honored by the applause but honestly, I haven’t earned it yet. Most NFL players have already earned the applause.
Outside the room, sometimes there is an easel with my name and photo on a poster. All this occurs, but I’m nothing special. I’m a farm kid that grew up outside of Hope, Arkansas. Fortunately, I had great leaders and mentors in my life just like the NFL players had great coaches, leaders and mentors that influenced their life. I was a student of the games of Leadership and Life just like they were a student of football.
Here’s the first difference between me and some, but not all of the players. At the end of every one of my programs, I say these words; “I am so appreciative, humble and grateful to be able to share these lessons with you today. I’m only able to share them because of the great leaders and mentors in my life.” I then share the lyrics to a song I wrote, “What Are They Leaving With?” I originally wrote the song about the lessons and legacies I will leave to my kids and grandkids but now the song is also about my audience. What are they leaving with? There are only two possibilities, Pain or Pleasure. Mr. NFL Player, your fans will experience one of these two emotions but it should not be prior to kickoff. Are you appreciative, humble and grateful?
Here’s the second difference between me and some, but not all of the players. I’ve heard many players and performers say they feel obligated to use their platform to further their cause or bring attention to something. When I’ve been hired to speak on Leadership or Life; It’s Not My Platform. It is the platform of the people that hired me and I am paid to speak on the subject displayed on that easel out front. It is NOT MY platform to speak on politics, religion or whatever topic I choose.
I believe we are taking the wrong poll. I don’t think the right question is “do they have the right to kneel?” I wrote a song in 2011 titled, “Are You Proud Of What You’ve Done With What They Died For?” The song and background is available at ForServing.com I believe the proper question for the NFL is “what do the people that hired you want to see?” The people that hired you are NOT the owners or coaches. The people that hired you are the Fans. As a former Human Resources manager, I’ve played a part in many dismissals. Did I fire them? No, they fired themselves.
Should you be fired? Time will tell. Normally individuals in most industries are terminated for performance problems, not mistakes. If you are fired, you will be fired very slowly by every individual that decides to cancel their game tickets, cable TV channels or refuses to buy your products and apparel at Christmas.
I do believe your failure to ask the right question will result in terminations, but sadly, the ones that caused the problems may be the last to go. You may be the draw but there are many more families impacted by your decisions. It is the hotels, restaurants, servers, concession stand employees and their families that will be impacted by your decisions.
I’ll give this analogy. If you were a country singer and if your actions only impact you and your guitar, go for it. If you have a family, stagehands or band members, think about it. Be selfless, not selfish. There are many families that are depending on your performance, not your beliefs.
I know you’ve all had great coaches and leaders in your life but I hate you didn’t have the humility, gratitude and selflessness to KYA, (Know Your Audience).
I also hate that you didn’t have that strong leader in your life that instead of enabling you, looked you right in the eye and said; “Inside the field is NOT your platform!”
The Platform belongs to the Fans and we may take it back.