You Play to Win the Game - Leadership Lessons Westside Toastmasters, in Santa Monica
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Autograph Your Performance

Make sure that whatever it is you do, you do it in a way that would make you proud to sign your name to it, like an artist signs a painting. I tell my players that means everything: how you act in public and in private, as well as on the football field.

To be a winner, you've got to act like a winner at all times: the way you carry yourself; the way you deal with your teammates, your coaches, people you know, and people you don't know. You never want to walk away from someone and have that person then say to someone else, 'What a jerk.'

Too many times I hear about people being cruel to someone they consider 'beneath' them. They yell at the bellman; they curse the lady in the business center or the waitress who brings them the wrong order. To me, there is really no excuse for that type of behavior. People should be treated with respect, as long as they are doing the same for you. Belittling someone is not turning in a performance worth autographing-in fact, it's something that, when looked at from a distance, you really don't want to be associated with at all.

The same goes for showboating on the football field. I don't believe in using all these wild celebrations to autograph a performance. I like the spontaneous joy that comes from scoring a touchdown or making a big sack, but make sure that how you autograph what you just did doesn't put you into a category you don't want to be in.

Don't gloat, either. Say you've just finished a big project and the boss is very, very pleased and you're thrilled with what you've done. Don't walk around the office with your chest puffed out or start lighting cigars. Autograph that project with class. Thank those who helped you and then go back to what you were doing to get there in the first place.

People who gloat and brag, to me, are the most insecure people you can find. They feel the need to tell everyone who will listen, and even those who won't, about what they've done, or about what their kid has done, in a way that is almost offensive to those who do hear what that person has to say.

I heard about the father of a runner who had just gotten a scholarship to college. He was excited about his son's achievement, and rightly so, but he was so excited that he became insensitive to what other people were feeling. All day long at the meet, he kept walking up to other parents and saying, 'Sam got a full ride to UT; isn't that great?' They'd reply politely, 'Yes, congratulations, that's wonderful.' And then he'd follow with, 'Where's your son going?' Now, he may genuinely have wanted to know and not meant any harm, but suddenly the parent whose son hadn't gotten a college offer was put in a bad spot. And the guy never got it. All day long he went through the motions-bragging, boasting, and then putting people down. He was not autographing anything then; he was just alienating people.

I know that people by nature do things and say things they later regret. Sometimes it's an honest mistake. Sometimes it's simply reacting wrong and not paying attention to how what you say or do affects someone around you. The best advice I can give is to see yourself in the best light possible, where everyone says good things about you and no one says bad things behind your back. Visualize that, and then think about it before you say or do something, whether it be in the heat of anger or because of alcohol or whatever excuse you come up with for why that action is, in your mind, justified.

Many people have lost their jobs, lost their image, or lost their reputation because of a few bad judgments that affected their performance on a certain night or a certain day. Remember, you only have one reputation, one image; changing either is extremely difficult. I deal with reality, not perception. Make sure you're living a life that reflects what you stand for in the workplace, socially, at home with your kids, wherever you go. Because at the end of the day what you stood for tells the story of your life.

You Play to Win the Game - Leadership Lessons Westside Toastmasters, in Santa Monica
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