My mentor and dear friend, Raymond Berry, has had a tremendously positive influence on me, in a number of ways. Because of his high profile success in the NFL as a Hall of Fame player and as a Super Bowl Head Coach, Raymond has impacted thousands of other people by his living example of excellence, diligence, humility, dignity and faithfulness.
I have often been with Raymond in public places where a grateful and excited fan would approach him and tell him how his tremendous example had huge positive impact on their life.
As a player, Raymond’s teammates speak of how his work ethic, his drive and commitment impacted the entire team, helping to lead them to back-to-back world championships. As a coach, Raymond’s players played their hearts out for him because they didn’t want to disappoint their coach, who so strongly believed in them, and who was so strongly committed to them as well.
It is important to note that Raymond takes this influence very seriously. He often tells me that, “If God gives us influence, he intends for us to use it.” He is never cavalier when he meets people and treats every person he encounters as if it is the most important meeting of his day. His ability to love nearly everyone he meets, without judgment, is an example to be emulated. He knows that words and actions truly do matter and therefore operates with a level of integrity that is truly remarkable. Frankly, having Raymond in my life, as friend, partner, and mentor, has been one of the great blessings in my life, as well as on most, if not all of the people associated with HBW. He is a living, breathing example of, as one sports writer put it, “Someone who has been given most all of the good qualities God gives us and very few of the bad ones”.
Trying to live up to this icon of all that is good in people makes us all better for the effort. As three-time Super Bowl winning coach, Joe Gibbs says, “When you have spent time alone in a room with Raymond Berry, you come out a better person.”
There is a passage in the Bible that says, “It is not what goes into a man the defiles him, it is what comes out of him.” I know this to be true because the things that have hurt me the most, personally, are never what somebody has said or done to me. It is the hurtful, unkind or thoughtless remarks that I have sometimes made that, upon reflection, negatively impacted others and “defiled” me. Not using the influence I have been given for the best purposes, not living up to Raymond’s example, is far more hurtful and disappointing than anything anyone might have done to me.
Recognizing this has driven me to constantly seek to use the influence I have to enrich and uplift people. I realize that a kind word, or a word of encouragement, or even a warm smile can have a huge impact. That’s not saying there’s no room for a strong but caring (and metaphorical) “kick in the butt” to help someone going down the wrong path doesn’t have it’s place. Same motivation. In either case, the intent is to positively influence and uplift.
Recently, at the driving range where I practice golf, one of the instructors called me over and proudly proclaimed that he has been off cigarettes for 6 months. He was excited to tell me because he knows how important fitness is to me. I had been encouraging him to “Do things
that his future self will thank him for.”, words I use to encourage people to think about the future and the life that they dream of living. He knows that I care about him and he wanted me to know that I had been a positive influence on him. Needless to say, I am very happy for him, and doubled-down on encouragement to continue with his new discipline.
I am often surprised and delighted when someone comes up to tell me how something I said or did had a positive impact on them. Each and every time they do, I am reminded that what I say matters, how I treat people matters, what I do matters. I have influence. And the more successful I’ve become, the more people I’ve influenced, the more my words and actions matter. Knowing all that compels me to focus on the responsibility of being a person of influence.
Becoming a person of influence and using that influence to improve the lives of the people around us is a high calling. Answer well.
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