You Play to Win the Game - Leadership Lessons Westside Toastmasters, in Santa Monica
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You Can Treat People Differently as Long as You Treat Them Fairly

'Isn't that a contradiction?' you ask. Not to me. And here's why. For me to treat one of our top players the same as the fifty-third guy on the roster wouldn't be right. That top player has probably accomplished a lot in the league, and he has earned the right to be treated a little differently. Curtis Martin, our veteran Pro Bowl running back, deserves to have a different set of rules because he has proven himself over and over and over again to be not only a man of great talent, but a man of great integrity. But that last guy on the roster-that fifty-third guy-hasn't proved anything to me yet. He hasn't shown me that he will fight for that extra inch or dive into a pile for a loose ball, and he hasn't shown me that he will stay after practice as long as it takes to get something down cold. Curtis Martin has.

Everyone always says you have to have the same set of rules for everyone on a team. I don't buy into that. I'll treat that last guy on my roster fairly-you can take that to the bank-but he's going to have a different set of rules and standards from my top player.

Say I'm not a football coach, I'm a bank manager. I've got to leave the bank early one day, and I've got to find someone else to lock up. I'm going to select the guy I know best, a proven teller who has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. That's the guy I'm going to hand the keys to the vault to and ask to lock it up. I'm not picking the first-week trainee. I'm not picking some guy who just transferred from another branch. They're all tellers, and they're all held accountable to certain rules and regulations, but the guy I'm going to trust is the guy who has already proven himself to me. That's not unfair to the other guys; it's a responsibility that the guy you know and trust deserves.

One of the great phrases in life that puzzles the heck out of me is the excuse people give when they don't want to do something for you. They say, 'Well, if I do it for you, then I have to do it for everyone else.' I always say, 'No, you don't.'

Now maybe if you're a little kid handing out gum to the other kids, this wouldn't apply. But just because someone does something for you or allows you to do something different or special doesn't mean that person has to do it for everyone else.

If I give a kid five dollars, that doesn't mean I have to give all of his friends five dollars, too. Maybe I know the kid and I know he doesn't have any money and I know he needs the five dollars because he hasn't had anything to eat all day. That doesn't mean I'm being unfair to the other kids; I'm just treating him differently.

I know a guy who was so hung up on treating his four sons exactly the same that if he gave one son $100, he would mail checks to the other three on the same day. When the kids were growing up, at Christmas, each son would receive exactly the same number of presents worth exactly the same amount of money. Their dad wanted to be fair and equal.

And further down the road, after the boys had grown up and developed their own careers and lives, their dad still gave to the others what he gave to one, not wanting to seem as if he was biased or treating anyone unfairly.

What he didn't take into consideration, however, was that his sons were not the same. One had become a very rich real estate developer, one had become an orthopedic surgeon, and one had developed a new kind of software for a computer company. Those three were very successful. The fourth, however, had tried a life in sales but had come to learn that his real passion was to open a bakery. So he quit his job and sunk all the money he had earned into this bakery, with the design of opening a catering business. But it wasn't long before he found out how tough it was to make a go of a start-up business. He was having trouble making ends meet. Things got so bad that at one point he called his father and asked for help. And as his father found himself saying, 'I can't give you the money because I'll have to give it to your brothers, too, and I don't have that kind of money right now,' he realized how foolish that sounded. Obviously, his other three sons didn't need the money; in fact, when he talked to them about it, they said they would have refused it if he had insisted on sending them checks. They convinced him that treating them differently didn't necessarily mean he was treating them unfairly. He gave his fourth son the loan, which was repaid within a year.

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