Tristan Thompson’s huge double-double in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals and unselfish play in all of the games helped lead the Cleveland Cavs to the World Championship. Good thing for Cavs fans and players that he didn’t pout about his boring and un-glamorous role. He might not be Lebron James, but he can now call himself a CHAMPION!
Many of us are in positions or roles that we don’t like. Some of us are in leadership positions where we have disgruntled team members. I want tell you a little story. A story that I don’t think I will ever forget.
The following is an excerpt of a profound story, along with commentary from motivational speaker Kevin Templeton in his book “To The Hilt” . . .
Charlie Plumb graduated from the US Naval Academy. He was a fighter pilot who helped start the “Top Gun” school in Miramar, California. He flew seventy-five missions in F-4 and F-14 Tomcat Phantom jets over Hanoi off the USS Kitty Hawk.
On his seventy-fifth mission, just five days before he was to rotate off active duty, Plumb’s plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile. The plane was on fire and would not respond. The stick was frozen. Finally, Charlie and his radar man ejected from the F-4 and parachuted, to be captured by angry North Vietnamese soldiers. Captain Plumb spent almost six years the Hanoi Hilton, a notoriously tough prison. There he faced torture, hunger, filth, and oppressive jungle heat. he went into prison at twenty-four years of age and was released at age thirty after a prisoner exchange.
Charlie was eating dinner at a Kansas City restaurant when a guy a couple of tables over was staring at him. The stranger got up and approached Charlie’s table. he said, “You’re Charlie Plumb. You flew seventy-four successful missions off the USS Kitty Hawk. On your seventy-fifth mission you were shot down over Hanoi and captured. You spent six years as a POW at the Hanoi Hilton. You got out when they had a prisoner exchange.”
Charlie told the man that he was right. But there were hundreds of men on that ship. An aircraft carrier is huge. It’s like a floating city. He was sorry, but he didn’t remember the stranger. “Who are you?” he asked. “I’m the man who packed your parachute,” the man answered. Charlie thanked him for doing his job well. He asked him if he knew how many parachutes he had packed. The man said, “No, I never counted. I was just glad I had the opportunity to serve.”
Templeton goes on to provide commentary that I feel no need to add to. If you are a coach or work with teams or are disgruntled with your current team role, the following words are gold!
John Maxwell told that story in his book The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork. Dr. Maxwell calls this the Law of the Niche. In other words, everybody has a place in which they add the most value to the team. Not everybody gets to be a fighter pilot. Not everybody gets to wear wings on their uniform and have people count their successful missions. Somebody has to be willing to pack the parachutes.
Think about it. What if the parachute packer was resentful of all the attention a fighter pilot received? The parachute packer, no doubt, wore the generic navy uniform. No fancy jumpsuit with wings on it. No helmet, just that goofy little white hat.
Nobody counted his successes. Nobody ever gave him an “Attaboy! Whoa, that’s the best job of packing a parachute I’ve ever seen!” It would be easy to think that no one cared or no one noticed all the hard work he put in. If a pilot gets shot down and killed, nobody is gonna say, “I bet it was the parachute packer’s fault. If he’d done a better job of packing that parachute the pilot would still be alive today.
It would be easy for the parachute packer to slack off or get careless. He could have a bad day. Or week! he could easily convince himself that his work really doesn’t matter. Nobody notices me. Nobody cares. They treat those pilots like rock stars. I get no respect. What difference does it make? I think i’ll just take the afternoon off.
He didn’t do that. He did his job. I bet Charlie Plumb was really glad he did. Charlie’s life depended on that parachute packer not having an “off” day.
To see more of Kevin Templeton’s stuff, feel free to visit his website at www.CoachTempleton.com