Extemporaneous creates memorable experiences. My preference is to be planned and prepared in life. While these qualities have served me well in leadership, it can also restrict opportunities for adventure. When you Google the word extemporaneous it defines it as, “done without preparation.” That goes against my natural inclination.
My buddy Todd Lollis shot me a text last Saturday to see if I wanted to go to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl Classic featuring the number three ranked Clemson Tigers and the number five ranked Georgia Bulldogs. After a quick check of my schedule and consultation with Shannon, the answer was yes! To pull the trigger on a decision that quick for me is rare. Normally would have liked to evaluate it a little more, find out the details, game times, who is going, and etc., but I just impulsively decided. Let’s do this!
The adventure started and ended in the same location. We left Acworth, Georgia at 8:00 a.m. and arrived back at 6:00 a.m. the next day. Twenty-two hours straight! This week, we explore the seven leadership lessons from this adventure and how extemporaneous creates memorable experiences:
Extemporaneous Is Better With Great People
If I am going to step out of my comfort zone and take an extemporaneous trip, it is better with great people. Todd is one of the most rock solid, dependable people I know. He is a great community leader. I am way better for knowing him.
He is a pastor in our community at Freedom Church. Our friendship and leadership journey started in 2008 when he and his pastor planted a church in our community. Since then, we have served on boards together, are in a weekly leadership group together, sat in a scissor lift over Walmart together, and even parachuted the Easter Bunny out of an airplane together. The latter two are blogs for another day!
Spending twenty-two consecutive hours with him can only make me better as a father, husband, and leader. As leaders, when we surround ourselves with great people, we get better. The formula is simple.
Extemporaneous Still Requires Objectives
We set out with simple objectives, but no real plan. First and foremost, we needed to be in Charlotte, North Carolina by at least 7:30 p.m. for the game. Two, we needed to pick up his friend Chad in Duncan, South Carolina (about three hours into the trip). Three, we needed to have Todd back by 6:00 a.m. the next day so he could be at work. Four, Todd’s son Brayden came, so getting him back safely was a good objective as well. Todd’s wife Joni would appreciate it.
In leadership, we want to have everything planned out before we set out on a journey. We did not do that, we set some minimum objectives and hit the road. The rest we would figure out as we go!
Good Things Are Found Off The Beaten Path
The best food is often found off the beaten path. As we were about thirty minutes from our destination, we started thinking about food. Should we wait until we get to the big city to eat or stop before we get there in a smaller community? We chose to stop before the big city. It was perfect timing too. As we got off the exit ramp, we noticed traffic ahead was at a standstill. We could not have gotten off at a better location.
We were in search of a place with televisions so we could watch football. We drove around a bit and came to a small town called Belmont, North Carolina. We ate at a place called Sammy’s Pub. The food and service were great!
It is easy to get in a groove in our leadership journeys. We can stick to the beaten path, the tried and true. When we get off the beaten path, we can find some awesome things along the way like we did that day. Get off the beaten path.
Just Make A Decision
As we rolled into Charlotte, well ahead of schedule, the next big decision approached. Where to park? Close to the stadium? Far from the stadium? Well, we just picked a spot with the proximity unknown. Guess what? We nailed it. When we left, we were on the interstate within five minutes. The gate was broken too, so everyone got free parking!
Do not mistake it, when given the time, we should think through decisions. Sometimes when you are in a big city with one-way streets, confusing intersections, and pedestrians all over the place, you just need to decide. The same is true for leadership. There are times that will warrant you to just make the decision. Some will turn out good, some will turn out bad. That night, we decided good.
Act Like You Have Been There
As a youth football coach for twenty-one years, there were times we had players decide to excessively celebrate after a touchdown. They may have danced, taunted, or spiked the ball, but it was excessive in both mine and the referee’s eyes. As the player made the long track back to my presence, I would greet them with the same thing every time, “act like you have been there.”
It is well documented if you follow this blog that I enjoy a friendly competition with the GPS. It is no match for me. As we were on our way home, we were celebrating our successes of the day. We got off the interstate just in time before the traffic built up for lunch, we parked in the right place, got free parking, did not face a bit of traffic leaving, and we were beating the GPS.
We were so awesome! Flawless in fact. That is a trap we can fall into in leadership. We excessively celebrate our good decisions, positive circumstances, and just plain good luck. When we get high on our horse, the fall to humble can be painful.
Humble Pie Is Not A Good Snack
We dropped Chad off at his house. Before we got back on the interstate, we stopped to get a snack. My snack of choice on a long trip is Combos. The original ones to be specific. As I started my truck, a light came on the dashboard. Low tire pressure! I got out to look at the tire. Apparently, they have bolts laying in middle of the road in South Carolina and my tire decided to pick one up as a souvenir!
Combos were not our final snack of the night, we had a piece of humble pie! All the wonderful decisions we excessively celebrated earlier were not going to get us home. We were at Quick Trip at 1:00 a.m. with some Combos and a flat tire. After a series of comical experiences leading to the eventual changing of the tire, we were on our way. Two hours later!
In leadership we must remain humble. I heard one time that there are two types of people in this world. Those that are humble and those that are about to be. The Combos tasted much better than the humble pie!
It was a long ride home filled with great conversation. We made it home safely at 6:00 a.m. Todd made it to work on time too! Keep in mind he had been awake for more than twenty-two hours!
He could have easily called in and would have had good reason to do so. It was a great story to tell too. Instead, he got a shower and met his commitment. A commitment bigger than him. The cause of his organization. His church. We can all learn something from that example.
Conclusion – Extemporaneous Creates Memorable Experiences
Oh yeah, there was a game! The game was a defensive battle and we got to see two of the best teams in college football compete in a great venue. The place was electric! We also heard more marketing of Mayonnaise in one day than we will hear in our entire lives!
There is a lot that I will take away from the game, but way more about the experience of getting to and from the destination. I am so grateful that my friend invited me on that journey to Charlotte. Even more grateful to have a friend like him join me on the adventure of life and leadership.
Henry Ford once said that life is a “series of experiences.” Extemporaneous creates memorable experiences. They could end up good or bad, but always memorable. Try it and find out.
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
When was the last time you did something extemporaneous with great people? What good things have you come across off the beaten path? Are you excessively celebrating your accomplishments? How was the last snack of humble pie you had? How committed are you to your organization’s cause?