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How To Inspire Peak Performance- At Any Age: A Lesson From Steve Lyons

Steve Lyons

Steve Lyons

I am thinking of Steve Lyons today. It’s 12 years ago this week that Peter and I held his hands as he passed away in Kuala Lumpur from cancer. I am recalling the most powerful and inspiring habit Steve had. It defined him. And stays with me today. Do you do this? If not- start now!

You don’t remember what someone said, or what they did, but you always remember the way they made you feel. And Steve Lyons was an absolutely master at making you feel incredible. Steve made you feel everything and anything was possible- was within your grasp. He lifted your spirits, ambition, drive. He made your heart beat faster. Scott- you know it. Alan- so do you. Eileen- I know you agree. All who were touched by Steve know exactly what I mean.

And sitting here at an  Auckland Airport café, I have absolute clarity about what it was that Steve would do that was so inspiring. So simple. So powerful. Here it is. Steve, quite simply:

Gave us all a fine reputation to live up to.

“Hey- meet my good friend Chris. He is the best client service person in our company.”

“Sam- the thing about you, you are the most organized and efficient person I know.”

“Francis- I just love the way you listen to anyone and everyone. You are an awesome listener. World class. Teach me how you do it.”

“Hey everyone- I want to introduce George from our Manila office. George is the best writer I have ever worked with. You can learn from him.”

In almost every case, Steve made these huge claims about people who were pretty young and raw- on the way up. The impact though- was massive. Shoulders lifted. Pride swelled. “WOW! If Steve really feels that about me, then I must have some talent. I am going to work really, really hard at that skill and become brilliant at it. I CAN do it. Steve said I can.”

He always picked on skills where we shone, and had big potential. And away we’d go and work hard at it, and- what a coincidence- we’d end up fricken brilliant at whatever Steve had said we were brilliant at.

There’s an 11 year old I know. He is learning the habit of daily homework, of focus and discipline. I was speaking on the phone to his Grandmother, knowing he was in earshot while watching sport on TV. “The thing about that boy is that he is so organized, and a self-starter. I am so impressed with the way he sets about doing his homework. And we don’t even need to tell him to do it.” A few moments later the call ended. I walked into the dining room. There he sat- at the table, TV off. Pencil, rubber, ruler neatly lined up, his spelling revision in front of him, looking up at me, a spark in his eye and a massive, proud grin on his face.

I am tearing now just thinking of it.

You see – our darling friend Steve Lyons gave us fine reputations to live up to. It made us feel kings and queens of the world. It worked then. And it works now. Give it a go. Whomever you bestow this gift on will explode with growth- and will always remember how amazing you made them feel.

Love you Steve. Always did. Always will.

March 13, 2013 – The Passing of Steven Arif Abdullah Lyons and Why Love Endures

Steve Lyons

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29 Responses to How To Inspire Peak Performance- At Any Age: A Lesson From Steve Lyons

  1. Margaret March 19, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Love this Chris! I had an inspiring weekend at a seminar, and while I have some great strengths in some areas, complimenting someone is not something that comes naturally to me, I take these things for granted. It actually takes effort for me to pay someone a compliment out of the blue. How sad is that??!! This is a great reminder and great technique I can work on.

    Thank you for another timely bit of insight… how is your weekly hour of power and review going?

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      Thanks Margaret- good to hear! My weekly session are still happening, every two weeks or so!

  2. Marcie March 19, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    That’s an awesome way to live your life! Thanks for sharing that Chris!

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks!

  3. Debbie Flanagan-Lippett March 19, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Thanks Chris for this powerful post
    If more leaders adopted this approach we may be able to encourage more development within work places with fantastic outcomes for all ! Here’s hoping this inspires many in those positions let’s make a difference with the great approach ENCOURAGEMENT !!!!! Thank you for sharing certainly made me reflect !

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks Debbie

    • Anjali March 19, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      Could not agree more! :o)

      • Chris Savage March 20, 2014 at 9:52 am #

        Thanks Anjali

  4. Paul Alexander March 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    very cool

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Thanks paul

  5. Padraig (pod) OSullivan March 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Chris,

    Thanks for sharing this fabulous story about Steve Lyons. I never knew him but can imagine who he was just through your story. What an amazing person to be with in life and in his moment of passing.

    I think you are awesome at blogging and tell the most amazing stories with heart.

    I look forward to reading yours every week and often pass them onto my friends/ clients. I am inspired to the extent that in the last few weeks I have decided to start my own blog and am in the process of setting up my site to do that.

    Thanks

    Pod

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

      Pod- thanks so much for the feedback and delighted you’ve been inspired to start your own blog. Send me the link so I can subscribe! Chris

  6. MC Hammer March 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    Chris, I have never seen anyone devour a donut quite like you.

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Beautifully said MC…. inspiring as always!!! Munch munch

  7. Tim Burrowes - Mumbrella March 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    That’s a great trait. It reminds me of a presentation I saw at an industry event where a colleague described his boss’s habit (at Colenso BBDO in Auckland) of “talking people up behind their backs”. As a result, he argued, it helped the agency become a place where everybody felt their colleagues were awesome and raised their own game accordingly…

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

      Thanks Tim- nice story.

  8. David March 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    Great stuff Chris, a fabulous legacy from your dear friend.

    What better way to help people grow, identify their strengths and fertilize their development with some encouragement and praise. I have to agree that too many of us leaders do not use praise often enough, yet it is so economical to apply. Your friend Steve must have had some great education/mentoring, probably at home, his father perhaps.

    Whilst the real power I think comes from encouraging people to use their strengths to be the best version of their self they can be, some good old generic encouragement is a great place to start.

    Keep up the fantastic posts.

    David

    • Chris Savage March 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

      Thanks David- appreciated.

  9. Whitney Foard Small March 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Very nice, Chris! Lovely remembrance and lesson…

    • Chris Savage March 20, 2014 at 9:51 am #

      Thanks Whitney- good to hear from you. Chris

  10. Dawn Kingsbury March 20, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Still so vivid in my mind! Seems like only yesterday! Lovely tribute Chris and so true of Steve! Bless him x

    • Chris Savage March 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks Dawn!!!

  11. Russ March 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    So true isnt it Chris and also its not that hard!! i have a 12 year old boy and i have spent all week telling him what he is not doing right rather than actually telling him the things he is doing right to create that positive frame of mind!Thanks for sharing and also thanks for reminding us.

    Cheers Russ

    • Chris Savage March 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks Russ!!

  12. Jane Young March 21, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    It’s just such a powerful thing! After years of working for bosses who like to ensure you know your rank, it’s been amazing for me to finally find a boss that believes in me, “big ups” me and gives me enough rope. I have grown more in the last two years than I ever thought possible. I hope I’ll take on this trait as I lead my own teams. Thanks Chris!

    • Chris Savage March 21, 2014 at 11:45 am #

      Fabulous Jane! Delighted to hear it. Chris

  13. Ben Stokes March 24, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Great article Chris and some damn fine leadership advice.

    Cheers
    Ben

    • Chris Savage March 24, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Thanks Ben

  14. Jessica November 4, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    I have just come upon this article and am uplifted just reading it. As you have conveyed nicely, not just for the workplace but as a parent too for home when kids are in earshot!! Many thanks.

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