Paul-Batz-and-Kevin-Waren

Kevin Warren shared his personal story at the Good Leadership Breakfast, and he thanked me for the opportunity.

Kevin Warren is an emotional guy. Some would say fiery. When telling his personal story he can cry at any moment from a place of love and gratitude. He can also be angry and frustrated like anyone else. “But I’m so grateful today, that I can’t really be upset about anything,” he whispered with a lump in his throat.

Last Friday, Kevin Warren, Chief Operating Officer of the Minnesota Vikings was the speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast. He told a sold out room of good leaders how the hardships in his life shaped him. “Life is difficult. Unfortunate things happen to all of us. Not maybe…I guarantee they will happen. The words you speak, and the thoughts you have will save your life,” he offered.

The necessity of gratitude

Who hasn’t had a personal storm? A miscarriage. Trip to the emergency room. Sudden death of a loved one. Divorce. Economic meltdown, job loss, debt. Humiliation?

Kevin Warren, age 12, in traction after surgeries to repair a severely broken leg. He would spend the next 7 months in a body cast.

Kevin Warren, age 12, in traction after surgeries to repair a severely broken leg. He would spend the next 7 months in a body cast.

Kevin spent 7 months in a body cast after a car hit him on his bicycle at age 12. Thousands of hours of solitude, and the kind words of strangers helped shape his character and mental toughness for life as an NFL executive today. “We can’t live a full and healthy life without working on our muscles that make us resilient,” he coached.

Who deserves your thanks?

An angel blessed Kevin’s life in the form of an EMT nurse, who kept him alive in the back of the ambulance. And weeks later, she visited him in the hospital to share these words: “I knew you would make it, and I hope you have a good life.”

Kevin wishes today he could find her, and thank her for the words of encouragement and assurance that he would indeed “have a good life.”

Your homework: Call or write Thank You to someone today

What joy to be able to say "Thank You" to my mother: the woman who made me who I am today.

What joy to be able to say “Thank You” to my mother: the woman who made me who I am today.

Kevin gave us all homework, because “Paul likes giving us homework,” he smiled. It shouldn’t be a surprise the homework was about gratitude, and came by way of a sports metaphor:

  • If want want to make the Freshman Team: say Thank You to one person today – write or call someone today, but for them, you would not be here today.
  • Make the Junior Varsity: say Thank You from today through Halloween
  • Make the Varsity Team: say call or write someone until Thanksgiving
  • To become an All-American: call or write someone to say Thank You until the end of this year
Melinda and I celebrated 29 years of marriage with dinner and a show in Las Vegas.

Melinda and I celebrated 29 years of marriage with dinner and a show in Las Vegas.

The most popular person in the room who deserved thanks that day was “mom.” To my good fortune, I took my mother to church two days later on Sunday, and said my thanks in-person, with a hug. That same day was my 29th wedding anniversary. So I also got to say “Thank You” to my wife Melinda. Committing to her was the best decision I made in my life.

Good leaders live with so much gratitude that they cannot be upset about anything for very long. And they make a habit of saying “Thank You” to the people who helped them become who they are today.

Please share with me: who deserves “thank you” from you today?