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Miraculous Leadership


It was a time of turmoil. In November 1979, supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini took 71 Americans hostage in Iran. On Christmas Eve that year, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Gasoline prices, inflation and interest rates were soaring as 1980 began. President Jimmy Carter said America was in a "crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will."

Then on February 22nd - 25 years ago - our American spirit received an unexpected boost. A group of U.S. amateur and college athletes took on the mightiest hockey team in the world in the Winter Olympics. Prior to the game against Russia, coach Herb Brooks told his team: "You were born to be hockey players. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours." Hand-picked by their coach and having survived a grueling seven-month training regimen, the youngsters absorbed his inspirational words, then went out and did the impossible. As the final seconds counted down, a then unknown Al Michaels made the famous call: "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

Herb Brooks crafted what may be the greatest upset in American sports history. He was a visionary leader, and understood how to select players who fit his style and blend each one's unique skills into a high-performance team focused on winning. As a small business owner, one of your most important roles is to lead your team to achieve incredible results.

Success Handler Action: The first step to making your small business soar is to ensure your team understands their goals - the definition of winning your gold medal. For them to know their goals, you have to know yours. After you finish reading this E-Newsletter, spend some time thinking about two major goals you want to achieve in the next six months. Here are some questions to help you get started:

~ What are the biggest potential opportunities for your small business?

~ Where is your competition focusing its marketing and sales efforts?

~ Why are you better than your competition, and why do customers/clients choose you?

~ When you talk to customers/clients, what are they asking for that you don't provide, and which of these could you provide?

~ Who among your existing customers/clients could give you referrals and prospect leads?

Team USA beating the Soviet Union was like a bunch of college football players defeating the New England Patriots?and the celebration was incredible. Yet in the locker room after the game, Brooks immediately went to work focusing players on their next goal - the gold medal match-up with Finland. He told them lose and the world would quickly forget their victory over the Russians, and they would have to live with the disappointment the rest of their lives. Players said later he actually scared them into winning.

Success Handler Action: While it's not necessary to strike such fear into your team, it is important to keep them focused. Meet with them regularly to share information and discuss ways to better serve your customers/clients. Here are five ideas for inspiring the employees in your small business:

1. Ask for their input?and be sure to hear what they have to say.

2. Include them in your goal-setting?and engage them in executing your plan.

3. Lead by example?and help them grow as employees and individuals.

4. Teach them new skills?and encourage them to seek new challenges.

5. Involve them in the game?and reward them for completing key steps along the way.

We may never see another "Miracle on Ice." The Cold War ended, and the "evil empire" Soviet Union dismantled. Olympic athletes are now professionals. Tiny hamlets like Lake Placid, NY can no longer accommodate the rush of spectators, media and corporate sponsors. However, we may always hope.

In an interview shortly before his death in August 2003, Herb Brooks, referring to one of his favorite movies, is quoted as saying: "You know, Willie Wonka said it best: 'We are the makers of dreams, the dreamers of dreams.' We should be dreaming. We grew up as kids having dreams, but now we're too sophisticated as adults, as a nation. We stopped dreaming. We should always have dreams. I'm a dreamer."

Listen to the coach. Keep dreaming?and go for the gold!

Copyright 2005 by Success Handler, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (http://www.successhandler.com), and specializes in helping small business leaders find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there - as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.

Leadership is best defined by the quality of your thoughts, decisions and actions. It is also underpinned by the quality of the tools you use in your role. Be seen to bring true leadership to your organization and act with the authority that it brings to you.

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