Natalie Gilbert was invited to perform the Star-Spangled Banner. Memorized and rehearsed she had performed it so many times she could belt it out blindfolded.
A booming voice delivers the introduction:
And now, to honor America and salute the men and women serving our country, with our National Anthem. Please welcome – as voted by you the fans, our winner of the Toyota, “Get the Feeling of a Star” promotion, Natalie Gilbert.
No pressure, sing in a way that honors America and salutes the entire military. And yes, remember to sing like a “Star,” you are a “winner,” this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.
Natalie moved to her designated spot. Some 20,000 Portland Trail Blazer fans focused their eyes on the young teenager. How many variations had they heard over the years? Yet, no one could imagine what was about to happen. (Two-minute video.)
It wasn’t supposed to be like that.
What if your performance sucks?
Yes, she stumbled. When interviewed by Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, Natalie talked about the experience. After watching the video, she said…
It all comes back to me, how overwhelming it was … what a tough time, even in those few seconds it was.
I was turning around, you know, to look for my parents…what am I going to do? I’m stuck, I couldn’t move, my feet were stuck, you know …I was turning to look at my dad who was right behind me, as I was turning Coach Cheeks was walking over…I didn’t know what he was going to do.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do.” This statement describes the “fear” people have when they underperform at work … how will the boss react?
But Coach Cheeks did what leaders do.
Singing isn’t leadership
Clearly “Mo” Cheeks isn’t a singer, but he is a leader. Leadership is the ability to lead, guide, direct, or influence people.
Natalie delivered a “poor performance” moment. Can you identify?
We know Natalie can sing; there’s no invitation (or no job) otherwise! But the hiccup in her performance opened the door for panic and fear, which hindered her ability to recover.
What did she require at that moment? She needed human compassion and a helping hand. While Cheek’s singing was essentially a hindrance, his influence was right on tune. He came alongside Natalie, not to shame her or out shine her, but to encourage her.
Using his influence, he not only set Natalie free to perform but rallied the crowd’s support. Not one tomato was thrown.
Potential of a moment
The action of Maurice “Mo” Cheeks’ transformed what could have been the “worst moment” of her young life. In the ABC interview she answered Charlie Gibson…
“Well it started out that way (the worst moment of her life) but after everybody started singing with me, and Coach Cheeks was helping me out … it turned out to be one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Natalie was stuck until a leader helped her her improve her performance. Where are you in the Story? When have you forgotten the words? Who do you know that is “stuck”? How will you sing-along with them?
Here’s to your Next Level Leadership…
Coach Cheeks joined Head Coach Scott Brooks in 2009 as an Assistant Coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Thanks to Diego Rodriguez for bringing this story to my attention.
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