EDITOR’S NOTE: The holidays can be an especially tough time for some folks. We recently received the below note from Ed Molitor (with minor edits for clarity) that hit home and believe it’s very important to pass on to everyone in the TMR Community. If you, or someone you know, are struggling, please know there are always people who will listen.
You may have had a similar phone call to the one I recently received.
Your screen displays the name of a good friend as your phone vibrates and you think to yourself, “It is about time they got back to me.” But as soon as you pick up the phone and your friend begins to speak, you know something is off.
Then, when they deliver the news…it is worse than you thought.
This happened to me Monday, Dec 2, and I will never, ever forget where I was sitting when I had the call.
My good friend and brother-in-the-fight Shaun Jacob had taken his own life.
The phone call will serve as a defining moment in my life, though I usually think of defining moments as positive. In the book, The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath explain defining moments as meaningful and memorable.
Shaun’s passing holds incredible meaning and is a moment I will never forget.
Shaun founded Yoga 2.0 and put it all on the line to make the studio a success. He was a hard driving Type-A personality who competed his ass off every day he was on this planet. Shaun outwardly exuded positive energy but internally fought an all-out war with demons that many did not know about.
Shaun was smart, engaging, funny, determined, caring, stubborn, tough, and had a presence about him. When Shaun Jacob walked into the room, you knew he was there.
Shaun was my guest on The Athletics of Business podcast back in May [available to stream here or on iTunes, Stitcher or Google Play] and he shared with us the lessons he learned from the leaders who impacted his life and how he carried those forward into his professional career.
The list of Shaun’s accomplishments is too long to include but it seemed to never be enough to him. He was always driving for more. He was as determined a person as I have ever met and no one judged Shaun harder than Shaun.
Shaun’s greatest accomplishment was the impact he had on so many lives whether as a business leader, a youth basketball coach, a mentor, or as a friend. The legacy he leaves behind was on full display at Old St. Pat’s Church at his funeral, Dec 9. There was not be a dry eye in the place and everyone’s heart was heavy because we lost a great man…a difference maker.
What really eats at me is that I am not sure Shaun understood the impact he was having on other’s lives.
That thought made me pause and gave me perspective.
How could someone who appreciated people so much and had so much gratitude for what others did for him not be able to see the significance of his leadership and the impact it was having.
I realized two things…two critical things…as I reflected on Shaun’s life.
First, as a leader we need to humbly understand the significant role we play in the lives of those we lead. We have an opportunity to positively impact others professionally and personally. What I view as a gift, an opportunity, is truly our responsibility.
Second, in order to maximize the positive impact we have on the people we lead it is critical to earn access to the truest version of them. It is critical to get to know what makes them tick, what their struggles are, what inspires them, and what their whole world looks like.
The only way to do that is to earn their trust by leading authentically. Be honest, operate with integrity, and have the humility to be vulnerable.
It is the third trait that I mentioned, vulnerability, that will convince them that you trust them. Once you can ask for help when needed or admit an error, they will realize they can talk to you about the important stuff. They can open up to you and feel safe. This is when you will take your relationship to a whole new level thus empowering you to make a huge difference in their lives.
You matter, the difference you are making in the lives of others is significant. Probably more significant than you will ever realize.
Humbly give yourself credit as a leader.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide this holiday season, know you are never alone. Call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to speak with a trained crisis counselor. Your life matters and they are here for you, 24/7.