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