|State Seal of the State of Florida|
Centerpiece of the Florida State Flag
|On the Mississippi River with my dad,|
older sister, and Grandpa in 1991
And that accent....
I may hail from Southern Utah, which is like the South in some ways, but I had never heard anything like that Kentucky woman's country drawl! The experience left an indelible impression on my little 11-year old mind and heart.
Dad explained to me that muggy August night back in 1991 that the waitress's attitude and demeanor was emblematic of "Southern Hospitality." As far as I can remember, that was the first time I had ever heard the term Southern Hospitality; and I would never forget it!
Getting to live in the South and meeting Lina have been two of the greatest blessings of my life to date. And I've been blissfully enjoying lovely "Green Christmases" in South Florida ever since!
I have visited and traveled extensively throughout every Southern State, and the whole region has a special place in my heart. Georgia, in particular, will always be "On my Mind" because it was in the Peach State that I met my best friend, the love of my life, and the mother of our three (3) children.
If you include Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Utah—a college professor of mine once rightly remarked that Utah is, in some ways, a displaced Southern State—I have lived in the Southern States for most of my life and therefore have a pretty good understanding of what Southern Hospitality is all about.
More recently, I experienced an outgrowth of this phenomenon in my outreaches to leaders and coaches in college athletics.
To illustrate, check out a few stats...SAL Textbooks. Eleven (11) of the 15 coaches — a whopping 73% — of them were from Southern States (east and west).
Then, of the five major football programs I contacted (Florida, LSU, Texas, and two northern schools that will go unnamed), I received nice letters back from either a Head Coach or Athletic Director from ALL THREE (3) southern schools.
|Wearing my new Gators hat from|
AD Scott Stricklin. Go Gators!
I was impressed!
You can guess, of course, which schools I heard crickets from.
That's right... the two northern schools.
I sent 13 hard copy letters to one northern school's Head Coach, yet never received so much as a syllable in return. I must confess that I had a good time pestering ole' -------, and so had to just chuckle at the fact that he was even more determined not to respond than I was determined to reach out to him.
Textbooks aren't cheap!
And the SAL Textbooks are no exception. Despite these gratis gifts and numerous hard copy letters and emails, I never heard back from a head coach or athletic director at either university up north.
Interesting, isn't it?And even more fascinating is the fact that one northern coach actually sent me a nice card in response to a previous query I had sent him back in 2006 during his time coaching at a different school that was deep in the South, yet he failed to extend the same courtesy after moving north to coach a different team.
Uncanny, isn't it? It sometimes seems as though the hospitality in the North mirrors Midwest mercury in January!
One of the things I have learned through my entrepreneurial experiences is that getting rejected is preferable to getting ignored.
Because a rejection still acknowledges your existence; but getting ignored makes you feel like a non-entity, which is a viscerally demeaning and enervating experience. Consequently, I'd rather be rejected than ignored. While getting rejected is never fun, getting ignored feels a whole lot worse.
Now... I'm sure those coaches and leaders in the North who snubbed me are all "good guys" who love their families. And their capacity and accomplishments as coaches and leaders are noteworthy. That's a big part of what led me to follow them in the first place. Moreover, I recognize I am a NOBODY in their eyes.
But... I am ostensibly just a nobody to the coaches at LSU, Texas, and Florida also; so why the difference in courtesy and respect in response to my written queries?
|Southern Hospitality is a Warm & Welcoming Phenomenon|
It Makes People Feel Comfortable, Capable, and Confident
Perhaps character plays a bit of a role as well. After all, one of the most important SAL lessons I've ever learned is that a person's character is best unveiled not by how they treat a romantic interest, superior, celebrity, or other VIP, but by how they treat a subordinate, service worker, homeless person, or a nobody—like me!
The good news about Self-Action Leadership is that Southern Hospitality doesn't have to remain exclusively in the South. It can travel anywhere human beings choose to embrace the SAL attributes of kindness, cheerfulness, courtesy, warmth, and respect.
The Boys from the North aren't the first high profile persons to ignore or reject written requests of mine, and they won't be the last. Rejection (and getting ignored) is just part of being an entrepreneur.
I accept this reality.
I don't like it.
But I accept it.
If you can't deal with getting criticized, doubted, dismissed, rejected, ignored, misunderstood, underestimated, mocked, or made fun of, you won't make much of an entrepreneur. For me, all of these things have actually been a hugely positive force in my life, career, and relationships.
Because instead of discouraging me, it always accomplishes the exact opposite: it provides a turbo boost of added fuel to my desire and motivation, which then doubles, or even triples my determination to succeed. It seems, in fact, that the more I fail to succeed in the short run, the more spectacularly I end up succeeding in the long-run. Such a course is admittedly not an easy pathway to tread; but it is certainly rewarding in the end—making it a journey entirely worth pursuing.
Furthermore, when it comes to that very natural, human urge to seek "revenge" on an opponent who has disrespected, rejected, ignored, or beaten you, there is no greater revenge than success.
Success is the Greatest Revenge
And now... I'm gonna do something a little jr. highish, but I'm not above taking a cue out of my teenage playbook when the right moment calls for it, so here goes...
I'd like to dedicate a couple of songs—written by a couple of smooth Southerners—to my wonderful wife and best friend, Lina Marie Jensen. Mr. Moore and Bentley say it even better than I can. And they sing it far better than I can.
I don't believe in "revenge" in the negative sense of hurting my opponent. I don't want my opponent to fall or fail. I merely want to succeed myself, and help others do the same, including my opponent (if my opponent wants my help). Thus, the best way to get revenge on my opponents is to succeed myself, and hopefully inspire them—and others—to do the same along the way.
|Statue of Mohandas Gandhi|
in Mumbai, India
There are consequences for failing to acknowledge the existence of others, or otherwise treating human beings (no matter who they are) disrespectfully or dismissively. For example, I used to be an avid fan of a team up north and would sing their praises to anyone who would listen.
I don't do that anymore.
Instead of cheering for that team up north, I now cheer for Coach O's LSU Tigers deep down in the blessed bayou. He gave me a reason to cheer for him beyond the football field and training room. In the process, he earned a new fan, and I now talk him up whenever an opportunity arises.
Coach O treated me with kindness, consideration, and respect. And I rewarded him with my loyalty as a fan. Coaches ------- and ------- and ------- were completely dismissive of my work and me. Consequently, they have lost an avid fan and enthusiastic advocate on their behalf.
Now... I recognize that losing little ole' me as a fan isn't going to hurt either team up north; moreover, my desire is not to hurt them. I don't seek after the kind of revenge that hurts others. I seek revenge borne of personal success myself. And I also seek to help others along my way. But sour the minds and hearts of enough people with arrogant and condescending attitudes or behaviors, and it just might have a noticeable impact over time. And while I'm certainly not perfect, this fact is something of which I continually remind myself.
Bottom line: The way you treat people matters. And as self-action leaders, we really do reap as we sow over time.
I can't control the way others treat me; but I can control how I treat other people. As a result, I can learn from the omissions, commissions, and missteps of others and strive to avoid making the same mistakes myself.
Hook 'em Horns!!!
Another fascinating phenomenon is that there seems to be a connection between Southern Hospitality and WINNING. After all, LSU, Texas, and Florida have won SIX (6) National Championships in football over the past two decades, while ALL the teams up north combined have accounted for only ONE (1) National Championship in that same time period (Ohio State in 2014).
|Southern Schools Dominate|
Just two nights ago, a Southern School (Alabama)—the program that has won more National Championships in football than any other NCAA team in the modern era—crushed (by a score of 52-24) the great northern school (Ohio State) in the College Football National Championship. And if you go back to the year 2005, guess who has won 15 out of the last 16 National Championships (94%) in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision's (FBS) most prominent sport (football)?
You guessed it: Southern Schools!
It's pretty remarkable when you start taking a close look at the facts and stats on this subject.
So, to all you good-ole' Southern boys and girls, I want to say "Thank You" for treating me—a nobody as far as you are concerned—with so much courtesy and respect. I really appreciate it! It does not go unnoticed. And it means all the more because you are so successful yourselves. I always remember these sorts of things, and I believe karma will be kind to you in the long run for your character and courtesy.
Now... I am nobody's fool. I have traveled to all 50 U.S. States over the course of my life and career to date. So I know from first-hand experience that there are all sorts of people (the good, the bad, and the ugly) everywhere you go. The South does not have a monopoly on kindness, cheerfulness, courtesy, friendliness, respect, or athletic success—even if it comes close in that last category (SMILE). Moreover, we all know that nice guys don't always finish first.
Nevertheless, I've also experienced enough of the patterns shared above to know that given the choice, I will always choose to live and work (first) in the American South! And apparently 11 out of the 15 coaches and leaders currently reviewing the SAL Textbooks feel the same way!
I am pleased beyond all description to announce that in just a few weeks' time, my wife, family, and I are off to the great southern State of Florida, which is where we will establish Freedom Focused headquarters for the next two decades, and where my eventual successors will likely continue operating from into the foreseeable future beyond that.The fruit of our upcoming move to Florida began as tiny seeds planted long ago.
Through my work with Freedom Focused, I am hopeful and determined to make Southern Hospitality more contagious throughout other parts of the country and world.
Perhaps someday, "The South" will even be synonymous with Self-Action Leadership.
I thank "The South" and its wonderful citizens for teaching me the art of these noble human characteristics and virtues, and pledge my everlasting commitment to share that kindness, caring, courtesy, hospitality, and respect with others wherever I go and to otherwise give my all to "be the change I wish to see in the world."
And now... back to my jr. high playbook for one final dedication. This time to The South herself!
Tune in NEXT Wednesday to learn about a NextGen 7 Habits and Road Less Traveled.