What the ESPN Body Issue has to do with Employee Engagement

The recent ESPN Body issue of completely unclothed athletes has an unlikely and refreshing participant.  It's 77 year old Gary Player.  Player has been a fitness nut since his childhood days growing up in South Africa.  At 5' 6' and 148 pounds, he won 24 PGA tour events, including nine majors and was one of only a handful of golfers to complete the career grand slam.  Over his career, Player won 165 tournaments on six continents over six decades and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. 

At 77, he does 1,200 sit ups a day.  Yes, that's right,1,200.  This is one of the many parts of his daily exercise routine that has him, in his estimation, more physically fit that the average 45 year old (That would be me!  Watch this video for proof!)

The question is why and what does this have to do with employee engagement?  The answer traces back to childhood and the close relationship with his brother.  Player's brother went off to war when he was 17.

Before he left, his brother asked him, "What do you want to do?"  He said, "I'm going to become a professional sportsman." Player didn't know about golf then; he thought he would play rugby or cricket. His brother said, "Well, you're very small in stature," and he bought Gary some weights. "I might not come back. Will you promise me you'll exercise?"  Player did, and he's adhered to that for 63 years.

Here's why this story is so powerful for engagement.  Gary Player has been on a fitness crusade for 63 years because of a promise he made to his brother who could have died in the war.  Player has been engaged and committed to that promise all of this time because of the emotional connection with his brother and the power of his words at that moment. 

Emotion and feeling create inspiration which then creates motivation and long term commitment based on that feeling.  There is not a day that goes by where Gary Player does not think of the words of his brother before, during and after exercising.

The question for you as an individual and as a leader is, "What's my inspiration and how can I inspire others?"  Too many leaders focus only on tasks, activities, goals and objectives and completely miss what has to come before that for there to be long term success.   It's something that you feel inside you that cuts right to the core of your inner being.

That's inspiration.  It's connecting at deeper, more meaningful levels so that people know that what they do matters and that it matters way more than just profits.  If you can inspire to that degree, both yourself and others, they are no limits to way you can create and achieve.

Borrow from Gary Player's example and ask yourself, "Is there something that would inspire me  to consistently and tirelessly work at something for decades on end?"  For organizations, "Is there something that we can all rally around and connect with at a deep, emotional level that inspires us all to work together as one toward a common shared vision?"

These are not easy questions to answer but they are ones that need to be asked in order to start the discussion and answered in order to achieve long term, sustainable success.

For further information on this and other organizational topics, contact Derrick at dstrand@derrickstrand.com or 804-814-9921.


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