This afternoon, while waiting for an appointment, I picked up a recent copy of TIME Magazine’s List of the 100 Most Influential People in America. I was disappointed again to see that I wasn’t listed. Actually no one I know personally was listed but as every seasoned South Carolina Gamecock fan will attest to – There’s always next Year!
It did make me think about something motivational speaker Steve Gilliland spoke about at last month’s Small Business Luncheon. He asked the 150+ people who attended the event to create a list of what five people (outside of your family) have most influenced your life and left that indelible mark.
It didn’t take me long to ponder. In 1985, I met a man who profoundly shaped who I am and what I do right down to the core. Ray Parlier certainly didn’t look the part. Ray, with ears two sizes bigger than his head and cheeks that always seemed flushed, was the picture of a country boy right out of Bristol, Tennessee. He also had a stutter when he got excited, which seemed to be most of the time!
Put Ray in a room of 100 people and he might just be the 100th person you’d pick to lead your organization or business. However, leave him in the room alone with the group and come back an hour later, and he’d be the one that they would all be huddling around.
Ray began a career as a trainer for the Furman University Paladin Football Team. He went on to be an assistant coach before becoming Athletic Director for the team that won a National Championship.
When he wasn’t coaching, he put in time with a civic group called Jaycees where he led
our organization as state president. I had the great fortune to serve as his Vice President. Ray loved to cite Vince Lombardi quotes and he had us all memorizing the lines that became our mantra – none more important than “Winning is not a sometimes thing…. It’ s an all the time thing…”
As any great coach does – Ray pushed us to excel and reach past the limitations we imposed upon ourselves. We set goals together, but Ray always seemed to squeeze more out of me than I thought possible. But perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from Ray was to love your people. If you demonstrate to the people you lead how much you care about them – really care – then, they will help you reach the goals you set, no matter how difficult the task.
This month, the Lake Norman Chamber will hear from just such a man, the new head football coach at UNC Charlotte. Coach Will Healy, in his first year with the Forty-niners, will discuss how leadership is not about a title or designation, its about the impact you make on the people you lead – whether in the boardroom or the gridiron.
Like Coach Parlier, Coach Healy is a Champion having served as Team Captain on the University of Richmond 2008 FCS National Championship Team.
When I was elected National President of the United States Jaycees, Ray Parlier, along with my father, was by my side. I will never forget the hug I received from Furman’s Athletic Director. His cheeks were a bright pink. His misty eyes reflecting the bright lights of the stage, and with a smile from ear to ear said, “Remember Bill, love your people. They’ll love you back.”
It wasn’t hard at all for me to list five of the most influential people who have shaped my life. However, Steve Gilliland left us with one more important thing to consider as he concluded his remarks at our Small Business Luncheon –
“Are you on somebody’s list?”
W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE IOM