Hurts So Good – Ten years of writing about leadership summed up in One Man of Character’s response to losing the Super Bowl
Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal can wield the pen. As a writer we rejoice in how he holds the reader’s attention in a format that has been losing market share to other forms of communication, namely video and dare we say it…Podcasts.
It is not a coincidence that we highlight Gay’s recent article about Jalen Hurts on the 10th anniversary of starting Banyan Tree Strategies. Gay highlights the quarterback's resolve, professionalism and character after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to the very edge of Super Bowl glory. Hurts was climbing what we call the hard fun hill, he collaborated with others on a quest, he took on the yoke of leadership, he made the sacrifices, and failed.
Or did he?
That is not how Hurts describes it. He said that he either wins or learns.
Wait, isn’t that just a platitude, something managers put on the wall that everyone snickers at as they pass by?
This guy loses on one of the largest stages and has the courage to say: “I never lose, I win or learn.”
Talk about mind control.
He also went on to say something we have seen time and time again on close knit teams but that most people think is a myth. We have spent the last 10 years helping companies, nonprofits and sports teams debunk the myth that character doesn’t matter, but the myth persists.
When asked why he apologized to his teammates Hurts responded:
“I don’t do this to be loved. I don’t do this to be hated. I don’t do this to seek anyone else’s approval. I do it for the guys in the locker room. I do it for all the time we’ve invested into this.”
Boom, mic drop, see you at OTA’s and practice hard NFL, the Eagles will be back. If you don’t think every single player wants to rally around that kind of leader you are crazy. In a salary cap world with billionaires throwing around millions of dollars Jalen Hurts’ character is one of few sustainable competitive advantages a team could have. The myth is that character doesn’t matter, it is about the money, and the more money you spend the better the players you get, and players make plays. But that only gets you to the quarter finals. Winning the title takes and demands character.
The key to this riddle is that character is contagious but is only maintained by stacking consistent actions on top of meaningful shared experiences on a daily basis. Developing these systems and working with people like Jalen Hurts for the last 10 years has been inspiring.
Will Jalen Hurts be a good husband, father, or friend? We don’t know but a final quote from him gives us a window into the answer. When asked about winning or learning he offered this response:
“The beautiful part about it is everyone experiences different pains; everyone experiences different agonies of life. You decide if you want to learn from it. You decide if you want that to be a teachable moment. I know I do.”
At 52 and 50 years old and 30 years into working in professional services we can really relate to the ups and downs of providing for a family while helping others. Banyan was born out of the challenges of ageing industries being disrupted by technology. Ask any doctor if they are making more than they were 10 years ago and they may do more than chuckle in your face. The gross margin for the financial advisor, insurance broker, or CPA has been plummeting. We formed Banyan to get closer to the client and cut out the middleman.
In the last 10 years we have helped 40 different companies solve problems in the areas of strategy, execution, and building a culture where character counts. Every business, every idea faces the challenges outlined in Schumpeter’s law of creative destruction. There have been plenty of wins, but there has also been a lot of what Jalen Hurts calls learning.
Looking ahead to 2023 we are going to celebrate our 10th year by using our eight newsletters to recall the top projects and solutions we were fortunate enough to work on with clients in the hopes that it will help others. We aim to publish a long format white paper on the “Nine Essential Elements of Close-Knit Teams” that we wrote about in our newsletters last year. Finally, we have been circulating an advent meditation privately over the last five years, and after some encouragement will be looking to turn it into a small book called “O Holy Night” that we will release this November.
Our aim in the next 10 years is to help you create the sustainable competitive advantage that comes from being a leader of character no matter the setting. Most of our industries are just as competitive as the NFL, which means developing character will count. We close by republishing a poem written in January of 2015 as we rallied the troops to climb our collective hard fun hill.
We hope you enjoy it and thanks as always for your readership and friendship. “No hill for a climber!”
There Is Something
There is something awesome about standing at the base of a mountain.
A 365 day climb.
The question before you is which route shall you take?
Is there a new path to consider?
There is something refreshing about standing at the base of a mountain.
A chance to do it just a bit better this year
The question before you is what will you stop doing?
A curious mindset could help.
There is something risky about standing at the base of a mountain.
Past climbs have taken a toll.
The question before you is will you let past risks scare or hone.
Now is a time for going.
There is something unknown about standing at the base of a mountain.
Adventures abound at each fork.
The question before you is will you revel in that moment?
Seek those who have zeal.
There is something honorable about standing at the base of a mountain.
Your gifts were given.
The question before you is how will you share them for the benefit of all?
It is time to climb.
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