The Gift of
by Lee J.
(This report is an excerpt from the book
"7 Moments… That Define Excellent Leaders".)
The building blocks of our excellence are
moments… literally. Defining moments, that is.
Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Create a
positive defining moment for someone in your life. It will be the
best gift you could ever give… and receive.
Nobel Prize winning scientist Daniel Kahneman, asserts that
we experience thousands of individual moments every waking day.
These "moments" last only a few seconds. If you consider your
strongest memories, positive or negative, you'll notice the
imagery in your mind is actually defined by your recollection of
a precise point in time.
In some cases, a single encounter can change your life forever.
Think of your own defining moments. Are they literally moments?
Defining moments might be positive or negative, but either way,
we are never the same after experiencing one. These moments
shape who we are and who we will become. As Mufasa, the Lion
King himself, said to his son, Simba, from the heavens, “You are
more than you have become.” These few words created a positive
defining moment for Simba to start acting like the king he was.
Fantasy or reality, it works the same. So let’s look at reality.
We might be defined by a word of encouragement from a colleague
or, just as likely, from a word of discouragement. We might be
defined by a moment of glorious victory or one of horrendous
failure. We might also be defined by a moment of perfect
intuition or one where our best judgment was ultimately found
faulty. Or perhaps, the moment we commit ourselves to a goal or
the moment we decide to go another direction.
We could also be defined by the moment when we decide to make
our family’s experience different than the one we grew up with
or the moment we experience a positive example and decide to
model it. Or we may be defined by the moment a boss lets us know
he believes in us or even the moment of honest self-reflection
that triggers us to change.
Defining moments, indirectly or directly, create a new direction
or perspective for us. Consider runner Georgene Johnson. She got
to the starting line of a weekend race 15 minutes early. It was
a mistake in timing that became a defining moment in her life.
The 42-year-old secretary had registered to run in a 10
kilometer/ 6.2 mile race that Sunday. The race started at 8:45
a.m. There was also a marathon scheduled to begin 15 minutes
earlier. Both races used the same starting line.
Georgene took off at the sound of the starting gun. Four miles
down the road, as the race route took the runners out of
downtown and into residential areas, Johnson said she
experienced a sick feeling that she was possibly in the wrong
race. A few minutes later, another runner confirmed her
Instead of stopping and retracing her steps, she joined about
4,000 runners taking part in the Revco-Cleveland Marathon.
Rather than quit, she decided to keep going (no doubt a defining
moment!) and hung on to finish her first 26-mile race.
"As stupid as I felt out there running, I'm proud of myself,"
Johnson said after the race. "I guess I was in better shape than
I thought. I feel fine."
Johnson finished the 26-mile marathon in four hours and four
minutes, good enough for 83rd place in the women's division –
definitely qualifying as one of her life’s defining moments.
Why? Until that time, her longest run was eight miles.
Like Johnson, we each experience our own defining moments on the
road of to excellence.
It is important to be aware of our defining moments. They make
us who we are. Additionally, we have the opportunity to
create defining moments for those around us every day.
In fact, the pathway to excellence is paved with these moments –
positive defining moments we create for others.
I remember earlier in my career, I was hungry to advance to an
executive leadership position. I thought I was doing all the
right stuff, but I wasn’t getting there as fast as I had hoped.
So I asked a respected friend and colleague what he thought it
would take for me to break through to the next level. He sat
quietly and thought for a minute, then with penetrating eye
contact he slowly advised, “Well, Lee, from my perspective, you
should probably focus more on performing your current role
excellently than worrying about your next move.”
It was incredibly valuable and humbling advice - a defining
moment for me and my (never ending) journey toward excellence.
It taught me that excellence is achieved in the moment, not in
The holiday season is a magical time – the perfect time to
create a positive defining moment for someone important to you.
It’s not as hard as it might sound. Take a moment to:
Copyright © 2007 by Lee J. Colan
Return to Back Issues