In 2003 Natalie Gilbert, an 8th grader was selected to sing the national anthem for the Portland – Dallas NBA playoff game in front of 20,000 fans. It was her dream come true until the unthinkable happened. Shortly into the song her mind went blank and she forgot the words. Alone, frightened, and embarrassed she didn’t know what to do. Suddenly Maurice Cheeks appeared at her side, put his arm around her, and together they finished the song.
Did Maurice Cheeks display leadership that day? Certainly. In a full arena anyone could have went to her side but he was the one who did. He also displayed vulnerability. This was a tense and awkward situation and he put himself in the middle of it. As leaders we often think that it is all about us but it hardly ever is. It’s about using our ability to act in service of someone or something else bigger than we are. That is how you inspire those who follow you and how real leadership is defined.
Watch the video and see if his actions don’t bring a smile to your face and inspire you too.