Cory Weismann was a healthy college basketball player at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.
He was a hard worker who had scored over 1,000 points in his high school career and was looking forward to earning a starting spot on his college team. Then, out of nowhere, he suffered a stroke that nearly killed him during his freshman year.
Cory survived but he endured a long road to recovery with memory loss and the burden of relearning how to walk, as well as perform many other basic life functions.
Eventually, Cory had to come to terms with the fact his life would never be the same…
What is Your Motivation?
These setbacks appeared to shatter Cory’s ability to Have a Vision and Pursue his Dreams. He had to Rise Above the physical limitations the stroke imposed on him and Overcome Obstacles to have a chance at a normal life. But Cory experienced real transformation when his mindset changed to Being a Lighthouse for others. The motivation which guided his actions switched from achieving things for himself to a cause that was much bigger and more significant.
So here’s a challenge for us to reflect on as classroom leaders:
Describe your motivation for life. Is it centered on achieving things for yourself OR is it connected to a more significant cause than yourself? Analyze the benefits of living a life fueled by a motivation to impact and serve others.
This challenge comes from the fundamental of success of Leading by Serving.
To Quit or Not to Quit
Cory eventually returned to school. A couple of years later, he even rejoined the basketball team. A burning desire to get back on the court and prove he could play again plagued him. However, at the end of his junior year, Cory’s coach felt it was still too risky to put him in a live game because Cory still experienced occasional seizures and suffered limitations to his mobility.
After his junior season, Cory considered quitting the team.
He didn’t think all the hard work he had put in was worth it if there was no chance he would ever get in a game again. People told him how much he inspired his teammates and others, but he didn’t want to listen. Cory didn’t consider himself a hero and didn’t think he had done anything special to inspire anyone…
Until he received a letter from the mother of a six-year-old boy who also suffered a stroke. The woman wrote about how she told her son about Cory and it inspired him to keep hoping and persevering in his own life.
The letter made a huge difference in Cory’s outlook on life. He realized it wasn’t about whether or not he would be able to make any baskets in college after scoring more than 1,000 points in high school. It wasn’t even about whether or not he even played in a game during his senior season.
Yes, he still wanted to do those things. But when his mindset shifted from taking action to fulfill his own wants and desires to let his light shine for others, he found a reason to keep going when he wanted to quit.
Taking Action to Help Others
The 12 fundamentals of success work in pairs. The inside (mindset) fundamental of Being a Lighthouse is living a life that gives direction, guidance, and hope to others. The fundamental of Leading by Serving is the outside fundamental of taking action to help others.
What was the action Cory took?
He kept going when he wanted to quit. He continued giving it his best shot even though it didn’t look like he would ever achieve his dreams and goals.
You might ask, “Is that really serving others?”
Cory kept taking action. He moved forward living his life and striving for his dreams even though, selfishly, he wanted to quit. Even when it didn’t seem like there was anything in it for him. He persevered knowing he may never achieve his goals, but even if he didn’t he could have an impact on others.
Doing something which benefits others even though it may not benefit ourselves is most definitely Leading by Serving.
The Responsibility of Leadership
One of the most important words we can use with the fundamental of Leading by Serving is responsibility.
We have a responsibility to give our gifts and abilities to the rest of the world.
We have a responsibility to serve the needs of others without expecting anything in return.
We have a responsibility to use the events in our lives and our circumstances to discover that what happens to us is always an opportunity to let our light shine for others.
Remember, we are all born with the responsibility of leadership.
When Cory focused on himself, he couldn’t find any meaning in what happened to him. This is because he was trying to find success from the outside-in. He believed he could achieve his way to happiness. But he experienced a transformation when he found the meaning in what happened to him.
And that meaning was the responsibility to serve the needs of others.
A Greater Capacity to Give
So how about you?
Is your motivation for life centered on achieving things for yourself or is it connected to a greater cause? What are the benefits of living a life of service to others even though it may not benefit you personally?
On the surface, the idea of experiencing soul success by writing our own story can appear self-centered. But writing our own story is about finding our gift and our purpose and giving it away to the rest of the world through servant leadership.
Sometimes, like Cory, we discover our true gift and our true purpose through something we initially view as a tragedy. It may be something that appears to be completely destroying our dreams and goals of what we want to do in life. Maybe something happened to us that doesn’t seem fair or has completely knocked our dreams off the tracks. This is when we need to take what happens to us and search for someone who needs us to keep going. Even if we don’t achieve worldly success like scoring a single point in a college basketball game, we can experience the soul success of pouring into the lives of others.
As the ancient Greek statesman, Pericles, said, “What we leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Our leadership is not about doing more and accomplishing more. It is about becoming more so we have a greater capacity to give to others.
On our journey of Pursuing our Dreams and Seeking Excellence through daily improvement, we often find that writing our own story is not about what we WANT from life…
…It is about what the people in our life NEED from us.