Fired with a phone-call Friday afternoon at the airport!

So what’s your next move? I’m taking a vacation with my wife.

His name was “Dylan”, as I heard him tell someone behind us who he apparently knew but hadn’t seen in a long time.

As we talked, he told me that he was heading home on our flight from Atlanta to Greenville, SC that started in Los Angeles. He had learned at the airport with a phone call that he had been cut from minicamp from the LA Rams. These guys know how it works – it’s just business. At least this guy knew that – very clearly.

With my empathetic response, he said thanks but he was O.K. with it and that he and his wife were going to take a vacation together and regroup.

As we continued to talk I learned that he was a football QB, had played for South Carolina and had signed on with the LA Rams. Not being a huge professional sports fan, I asked forgiveness by saying perhaps I should know but what was his last name? He said “Thompson”, then “no worries, I wouldn’t have expected you to know that”. Wow!

Very refreshing! As a Clemson fan, and arch-rival, I don’t follow South Carolina football and truly didn’t know. Nevertheless, his humility was impressive.

Being careful not to wear him out with “airplane chatter”, I asked if he minded me asking him a few questions. He said of course not.

As leaders we know our environment, but do we display the self-awareness to not expect others to know who we are?

As leaders are we presumtuous with our teams and expect them to yield to us just because of the position we’re in and job title we possess?

Having been on the field myself as a spectator during a full house at Clemson’s Death Valley, I asked him how he kept his focus on the field knowing so many were watching every move he made. He described to me how he got started playing in high school. Then on to college, and now the pro’s, it’s just been a progressive process by which he had become acclimated to the environment and had grown comfortable with it over time.

He asked me what I did for a living and described how it was no different. I execute what I do in working with organizational leaders as that is what I have done and what I know, regardless of the environment.

In 20-minutes I experienced superior emotional intelligence with another person in mere casual conversation. His display of humility, authenticity, awareness of others, resilience, self-awareness, and balanced facts and emotion was obvious. You know it when you see it. There’s nowhere to hide.

Arrogant, self-centered, panicked leaders are very different than those who keep it real maintaining their perspective through whatever challenges come their way.

Hero today, Zero tomorrow… soon we’ll be back on top of our game or choose another path.

Way to go @DylanPThompson. The Detroit Lions made a wise decision and I’m proud to have made your acquaintance!

Detroit Lions hire former QB Dylan Thompson as character coach