My wife and I were invited to Tony Dungy’s Uncommon Award Dinner Friday night in Minneapolis by Brian and Megan Slipka whose company True North Equity Partners sponsored the event.
As the night unfolded, I couldn’t help but think about the tens of millions of people Tony Dungy and his award recipient Kevin Warren, the former Big 10 Commissioner, and current President of the Chicago Bears, have impacted with their platforms and yet what stood out the most from the event was the uncommon influence someone can have by impacting just one life.
You see, it was Tom and Jeannie Lamphere’s investment in Tony Dungy as a young coach that helped him become the kind of leader that would impact millions. It was Tom and Jeannie Lamphere's investment in Ben Hamilton, as a freshman star football player at the University of Minnesota, that would lead Ben to rally and inspire his teammates to invest in their character, spirit and soul. One of Ben Hamilton’s teammates was Ben Utecht who talked about the incredible influence Ben Hamilton had on him. Ben Utecht would then go on to play for the Indianapolis Colts where he was coached by Tony Dungy.
Ben Hamilton played ten years in the NFL after leaving Minnesota but the movement he started has influenced thousands of student athletes over the years and is still going strong. He is now a high school math teacher in Denver Colorado where he continues to influence students one person at a time.
When Tony Dungy's wife, Lauren, spoke she didn't talk about the millions of people she and Tony have impacted with their book Uncommon Influence and various initiatives and talks. She talked about one young girl she's been mentoring each week who has had a difficult childhood. She said it was the highlight of her week to meet with this one girl and influence her.
I knew the feeling she was describing because I felt it that day. Before the awards dinner I spoke to the leaders of Truth North Equity Partners and their 28 different companies. When I was done speaking a father and daughter came up to me to say hello. They reminded me of when the father approached me on the sidelines of a Minnesota Gopher football game a few years ago and gave me a hug with tears in his eyes. His daughter, who had been dealing with a mental health challenge at the time, read Row the Boat, a book I wrote with University of Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck and was encouraged by it. I face-timed with her that day via her father’s phone on the sideline to encourage her and now she stood before me with her dad and thanked me. In that moment I had tears in my eyes because I realized that she was the reason why I wrote that book with PJ Fleck. It wasn’t to sell millions of copies. It was to influence the one who needed it most. Her!
When we think of influence, we often think of someone who influences a lot of people but everything I heard and experienced on Friday reminded and inspired me that Uncommon Influence happens when you make time to intentionally influence one person.
So today, I want to encourage you to be uncommon and make time to influence one person.
Focus on helping them become their best by investing your best in them.
When you influence the one it creates a ripple effect that leads to influencing many.