I read something a few weeks back about the wisdom and philosophy of Mike Singletary – stud linebacker for the Bears and now head coach leading the turnaround effort in San Francisco.
I can’t find the exact quote so I’m going from memory. He basically said:
I don’t put any stock into what I hear about a guy. I only go by what I see.
The article went on to talk about all the rumors that circulate in the NFL. Rumors about how a guy is in the locker room, his heart on the field, etc.
He gave some examples. [Made up quote] “If everyone says a guy is a jerk and he’s nice to me… then he’s a nice guy.”
For whatever reason this point really stuck with me. The NFL is a lot like the nonprofit world… or, I’ll bet ANY workplace. I think people misread others 70% or more of the time. It’s done me no good to take the word of others in evaluating a relationship. Too often I’m told, “He’s a really difficult board member. Very disruptive and always wants to cause a problem,” only later to SEE that he’s really the only that gives a damn and he’s just moved by passion… being objective. Or vice-versa.
I was reminded of this on a recent road trip. Had to make the conscious decision to just ignore all the intel that was piled onto me about a room of board members. To make meaning of the pre-opinions would’ve put me in an impossible situation. Turns out everyone was great 🙂