by Terry L. Sumerlin

Do you ever worry? I’ve had people tell me that they never worry about anything. I’ll take their word for that. However, for the rest of us, worry can be a problem.

We tend to worry about similar things, such as health, careers, family, money, relationships and cars. Yes, I said cars!

Right now, as I sit in the Catalyst, the coffee shop for the historic General Morgan Inn in beautiful Greeneville, Tennessee, I’m worried about my car. I know, worry can cause insomnia, high blood pressure and hair loss. (I think I’m in the clear on one of those side effects!) But when I see the “check engine” light on a car with less than 30,000 miles, I worry.

The light has gone on and off for the past 2,500 miles, from Lavon, Texas to Gettsyburg, Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. to Greeneville, Tennessee. I’ve had it checked twice, and I’ve had the sensor replaced once. On our long anticipated once-in-a-lifetime road trip, the light has been the proverbial fly in the ointment.

But, alas, some good has come from this pesky fly: I get to reflect on how I’ve dealt with my worry, and I get to share my findings with you.

Many years ago, when Al Smith was governor of New York, he had a way of dealing with worrisome issues. He would say, “Let’s examine the facts.” That’s what I’ve tried to do with regard to my car.

Fact: I’ve been assured TWICE that we will make it home, with no damage to the engine. Fact: I’m told that only when the light is blinking is there a serious problem, and it has never blinked. Fact: we’ve made it this far.

Imagination, on the other hand, says the light is going to start blinking, and the car is going to blow up immediately. We will be left standing by the side of some lonely stretch of highway in the middle of the night, waiting to hitch a ride with a serial killer.

Truly, the most powerful nation in the world is imagi-“nation.” So, the first thing I would share on dealing with worry is to silence the imagination and to just deal with the facts. I would even suggest that, as I’m doing now, we write these facts down. This step greatly serves to rein in a wild imagination.

Another thing that has helped me in dealing with the emotional state known as worry is motion. Sherry and I have been so busy having so much fun that “the light” is often forgotten. A light on the dash of our car meant nothing while we were in motion, viewing the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier. Always remember, motion (of any kind) will change emotion.

Perspective can also pull you out of a state of worry. The engine light and car mean nothing at all compared to the sacrifices that are represented by Gettysburg or the Lincoln Memorial. In fact, by making such a big deal of such relative trifles, I feel a bit ashamed.

We have so much to enjoy in this life and so much for which to be thankful. Most of what we worry about doesn’t ever happen anyway. Let’s make it Job #1 to enjoy all the relationships and good things that DO happen.

BARBER-OSOPHY: Eliminate most worry by grabbing hold of the real moment and letting go of the remote possibility of the worrisome maybes.

Feel free to reprint this article in your organization’s newsletter.  Please add the following notice — exactly as follows:  *Reprinted with permission from Terry L. Sumerlin. © 2015 Terry L. Sumerlin.  For over 25 years, leadership author and conference speaker, Terry L. Sumerlin, has been addressing audiences throughout the U.S. and internationally.        

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by Terry L. Sumerlin

It was a very busy, but incredibly good day in the Alamo City. It started at 4:30 a.m. After looking over my speech notes and reading for a while over some very strong coffee, I stepped through the door of our adjoining rooms to enjoy room service with my daughter. Amanda had accompanied me on the drive from Dallas.

Following our wonderful breakfast, I gathered up my things and took the elevator down 26 floors to the lobby of the Rivercenter Marriott. Shortly, my ride arrived and I was whisked off to the meeting place where I did the keynote for a retreat of supervisors and managers for the city of San Antonio.

Following the presentation, and after some rest back at the hotel, the incredible day continued as I met my good friend, Chris, for a light dinner. We had not seen each other in a few months, and were eager to chat. Since we share similar interests, it was great to reconnect.

As we talked, Chris told me about a fascinating experience he and his wife had recently enjoyed. It involved a celebrity.

Chris said a friend called one day and asked if he and his wife would like to hear Rudy Ruettiger, of the movie Rudy, speak that very evening. After Chris said they would like that, his friend asked another question. How would they like to have dinner with Rudy before the speech? So the two couples and Rudy had dinner together.

Rudy is quite a storyteller. So, I enjoyed immensely hearing Chris tell about Rudy’s experiences.

One story especially caught my attention. In fact, it has been on my mind ever since Chris told it. The story involves a time when Rudy’s daughter was asked to sing the national anthem before a Laker’s game.

On game day the family arrived several hours early in order to check out the Staples Center.
As they were looking things over, they noticed a lone player who was practicing shot after shot. “That’s Kobe Bryant!” Rudy excitedly told his family. “I’m going to go out there and meet him.” The security guards were not as excited about his idea as he was.

“No one interrupts Kobe while he’s practicing,” they said. “Oh, I’m not going to bother him,” Rudy replied. “I just want to say hello.” No way was he allowed on the floor.

Rudy came up with another plan. From the seats, he shouted, “Hey, Kobe, it’s Rudy!”

Kobe stared in unbelief at the man behind the voice. “Rudy?” he yelled back. “Rudy Ruettiger?”

“Yeah,” came the reply. “Rudy Ruettiger!”

In an immediate expression of profound admiration, Kobe walked over, stuck out his hand to Rudy, and said, “You are my hero!”

He then said that when he was a teenager growing up in Italy, basketball was not going well for him. Then one evening his dad had him watch the movie, Rudy, with him. To Rudy, his daughter and his son, Kobe said, “That movie changed my life.” A hero for many had met his own hero.

Perhaps neither Kobe nor Rudy are your heroes. I don’t know who your heroes are, nor do I need to know. That is beside the point I wish to make. My point is this: heroes matter greatly, even to those who have achieved great things. In fact, many have achieved great things because they had certain heroes in their lives. Not only that, but because of their heroes many have also been able to face some of life’s greatest challenges.

My friend Chris is that kind of hero to me. We are both survivors of the same type of cancer. Several years ago, when this wonderful friend and oral surgeon found out I was scheduled to have the same surgery he’d had, he opened his heart and his busy schedule in order for me to pour out my intense fears and concerns, and for him to candidly and compassionately answer all my questions. He inspired me with courage and hope. Though Chris’ life has taken a different path from Rudy’s, to me he is a hero simply because he cared enough to make a huge difference in my life. That doesn’t require a big name – just a big heart.

Heroes come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common: they all matter to others. We, each of us, matter to someone. We may not always know who that someone is. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that we be good heroes to others, and that we choose our own heroes wisely.

LEADERSHIP TIP: Be careful who you greatly admire, and be well aware that someone, somewhere greatly admires you.

Feel free to reprint this article in your organization’s newsletter.  Please add the following notice — exactly as follows:  *Reprinted with permission from Terry L. Sumerlin. © 2014 Terry L. Sumerlin.  For over 25 years, leadership author and conference speaker, Terry L. Sumerlin, has been addressing audiences throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Posted in encouraging positive attitude, leadership skills, people skills, team building | Comments Off on A STORYTELLER’S STORY