“I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into.”
This was said by one of my coaching students, Carl. Carl is a law enforcement officer down in Texas. When I met Carl, one of the things that struck me about him was that he wanted to lead on a much bigger level. He’s been in law enforcement for over 20 years. He had run some miles, built up some scars, and was ready to play a bigger game. So, he threw his hat in the ring at the law enforcement organization where he works and volunteered to start teaching at the academy, developing courses on community policing, on restoring trust, and on intra-departmental communication.
Being selected to do all of this strategic level training was a huge opportunity for Carl. But once it happened, it scared the crap out of him. So, when he called me that night, full of worry and doubt, I told him to lean into it and punch above his weight.
When I say, ‘punch above your weight’, that means choosing to play a bigger game. That’s it. Every single one of us is here on this earth to do just that, and if you’re going to lead people in these trust depleted times, you need to play a bigger game. If you’re just mediocre, if you’re just playing it safe by staying in the bleachers, no one is going to follow you.
I want you to play a bigger game.
Get your mind around that.
Have you ever noticed at night, when you’re still, and everything’s quiet, you feel in your gut and in your heart that you could be doing something bigger? You know that feeling. We all do. That feeling is real and it’s your birthright trying to become fully realized. No matter where you are in your life right now, no matter what’s going on, no matter what you think you’re up against, you’re here to play a bigger game and you need to punch above your weight to get there.
My dad, Rex Mann, late in his life, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and he fought through it. But not only did he fight through it, when he got on the other side, he decided to play a bigger game and really punch above his weight for all he was worth. He took his 43-year career as a Forest Ranger and made a decision to help restore the American Chestnut Tree, which was almost completely killed off by the blight of the early 1900s.
This tree was an icon along the whole Eastern Seaboard, and then it was just gone.
So, Dad gets involved in this movement and sees a bigger game, sees a role for himself to play. Now, because he decided to punch above his weight, that tree has not only been restored, but he worked with President George W. Bush to plant it at the White House.
Think about that. He wasn’t even supposed to make it through his cancer. This is a mountain boy that had to fight his way out of Appalachia. Whatever you’re thinking is not possible for your life, whatever resistance is telling you is bull, right? It’s all about you buying into the notion that you’re here to do something bigger, and that you’re going to play a bigger game.
Go somewhere quiet and just reflect on the unfilled area of your life that keeps nagging at you, the thing that you keep telling yourself you can’t do. That’s the very thing that you were put here to do. Then I want you to write down the actions that would need to happen for that to become a reality, no matter how impossible or unrealistic they seem.
Pick the one that jumps out at you and start. Talk to people about what you’re building. Tell your story. When Carl started telling people he wanted to play a bigger game with leadership, they let him develop the curriculum. When my Dad started telling people what he was doing with the American Chestnut Foundation, they started writing checks. Next thing you know, that tree is planted at the White House.
That’s how this game is played.
That’s how leaders punch above their weight and achieve the things no one else can.
Scott Mann is a former Green Beret who specialized in unconventional, high-impact missions and relationship-building. He is the founder of Rooftop Leadership and appears frequently on CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business News, and many syndicated radio programs. For more information, visit RooftopLeadership.com