Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Living the Dream

“Can I get your autograph?”

“Me too!”

“How about a picture?”

I was in Salt Lake City as a keynote speaker at a youth conference, and three students were joining me for lunch.  Walking into the restaurant, I saw a frenzy of people huddled around a table, all urgently asking for autographs and photos.  I asked the waiter what was going on, and he told me that there was an NBA playoff game in town that night, with the defending champion Houston Rockets playing the Utah Jazz.  The Rockets’ 7-foot superstar center, Hakeem Olajuwon, was trying to have a peaceful lunch, but fans were mobbing him.  We were seated about thirty feet from his table, and watched as the restaurant manager shooed all the fans away saying, “No autographs while he’s eating please, you’ll have to wait outside.”

Once they were gone, it was quiet again in the restaurant.  I wasn’t the biggest basketball fan, but the students with me were awestruck.  The conversation shifted to how they could get his autograph and how they could get into the sold-out game that night.

Hakeem was born in Nigeria and never played basketball until the age of 17.  When he did, he said he’d found his passion.  He also learned that pursuing this passion would lead to a college scholarship and ultimately to the basketball hall of fame.  It was no accident that Hakeem’s NBA nickname was “Hakeem the Dream,” that he played on the US Olympic “Dream Team,” nor that his autobiography was called “Living the Dream.”

I told the kids that if they wanted his autograph, we’d need to do something for him.  Having seen all the fans trying to approach him and being turned away, we needed a new approach, and I had an idea.  I motioned our waiter over, and said that I wanted to pay for Hakeem’s lunch.  He was eating with two other men, and I figured the bill would be around $50, even with a generous tip.

When Hakeem finished eating and requested the check, the waiter informed him that I had already paid it.  He and his guests spoke for another minute or two, and then they all stood up and came over to our table.  The students were in shock as Hakeem thanked me and said he couldn’t remember the last time someone had bought him a meal.  He introduced me to his father and his agent, signed autographs for my students, and even posed for a photo with us.  Then he asked if we were going to the game.  I replied that it was sold out, but he smiled and said, “Not for you.  I will leave four tickets at the box office.”  And with that, the kids floated into outer space.

We all could use some help on the path to achieving our dreams.  You may be the most determined, capable, and talented individual on the planet, but even then, there will still be moments when someone else’s thoughtfulness helps you to get where you’re going.  One of the best ways to attract others to help you on your journey is to first seek ways to help others on their journeys.  This is called “leading with value,” and it’s the act of benefiting others with what you know, have, and can do for them.  When you initiate doing things for others, it jump starts the cycle of giving that brings life’s wonderful things your way.  Hakeem was used to everyone asking him for something, so we decided to give him something instead.

While you consider your biggest dreams in life, start asking others what their dreams are.  Then look for ways you can assist.  Remember that successful people look for ways to work with, for, and ultimately through others.  If you can achieve your dreams alone, you’re probably not dreaming big enough!  It’s time to get on someone else’s Dream Team.  Begin by leading with value, and in no time, you may find others are asking to be on your Dream Team… just be sure to remember me when I ask for an autograph.

Until next week…

Live Your Dreams

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