And Then There Were 11

As I mentioned yesterday, no man is an island. Our success in life, while certainly dependent on our own commitment and motivation, is also influenced by those we meet and associate with along the way. Our coaches, friends, family, teachers, employers, and even our opponents all contribute to our success in some way.  Athletic scholarships, league championships, and world records are testaments to the time and energy these people have spent helping us achieve our potential. We may never have realized our full potential if not for a coach’s trust, a parent’s patience, a teacher’s guidance, friends’ support, or an opponent’s challenge somewhere along the way. While everyone’s experience is different, we all have someone to thank for helping us succeed. Below we examine 11 different “types” you will encounter on your road to greatness. Down the road when you hoist that championship trophy, sign that commitment letter, or accept that job offer, remember to thank these people for helping you reach your goals.

At the top of your list of supporters is your oldest and most trustworthy mentor. For me, that man is my father. My first mate and best friend – the rock on which I built my dream – is the one person I lean on for everything. As men our opinions often differ but as blood I can always trust him to give me unbiased, sometimes painfully honest, advice. Finding truth, trust, and friendship within your own family is essential for withstanding adverse situations in uncharted waters (like opening a new business). Now more than ever, I am proud to be the fruit from the Caligiuri tree.

Next on the list are your close teammates who bolster your vision and actively work to make it a reality. They silently bear witness to your success, never presuming to take it as their own, and keep you focused on the goal in times of trouble. My staff – Mark, Max, and Steve are walls around our prize. If these walls could talk, spectators would rush ahead to listen. The SP philosophy is only as strong as the weakest believer, and when it comes to these men there are no weak believers. They buy in to our methodology – our belief system – one hundred percent. Their loyalty is my proof. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and the power of we will withstand any invasion of doubt.

If you’re smart, you will have at least one “failure” on your list to thank as well. We all read books and see movies based on inspiring success stories, but true education often comes from failure. Find a friend who has failed and is willing to talk about it. Caution is experienced failure. Incorporate cautious mentors into your closest circle. Place respect in their forethought, admiration in their disbelief, and patience in their process. They lay salt so you won’t slip – even in June.

If I sold wood pellets and called them gold nuggets, my wife would support me. My wife is my spine – instant support. Search eagerly for friendship, companionship, or everlasting relationship with a person who publicly supports everything you stand for. As an extension of my existence, my spouse embodies, embraces, and emits all that I believe. A house once made of straw is now made from brick.

All great leaders befriend an even greater pessimist – an optimist with experience. Pessimism is associated with risk and optimism is reflective of comfort. If you immerse yourself in a bed of roses you’ll never be able to hold a stem of thorns. Find discomfort in all that you do. Find people who think nothing like you, and use that perspective to improve your weaknesses.

Unfortunately success doesn’t come without it’s share of adversaries, as we have noted before. At some point on your journey, you may experience the stinging pain of betrayal. That one friend, teammate, or colleague who let jealousy get the best of them, who chose to undermine your aspirations out of spite. Thank them for testing your character. When the immediate pain subsided it gave way to motivation, and strengthened your resolve. Instead of returning the pain in kind, like myself, you will take the high road and be a better person for it.

That’s 8 people on my list so far. A rock, 3 witnesses, a failure, my spine, a pessimist, and a traitor. The last 3 confidants go to my friends. Not just acquaintances, I mean real friends – the kind I might not see on a daily basis but can still call in the middle of the night.  I’ve noticed that when some friends fade out of touch for periods of time, others are more prominent in my day to day life. Maintaining friendships requires great effort – consistent effort. These friends and their contributions are always changing but never disappearing. Include forever friends in all that you do. My hometown friends keep me grounded – remind me of the Joe they once knew, what they found so attractive about our friendship, and what it is about my character that they will always cherish. People change. I’ve changed. But my roots will never change.

The taller your tree, the deeper your roots. Never forget your roots.