One Necessary Lesson for Every True Leader

“Dude! We are in trouble!” Tyce Miller emphatically said to his doubles partner as they watched their challengers in pre-match warm up. Tyce is the Founder and CEO of my newest investment called MobileMind. It is a company which has had an incredibly fast start in the K-12 and higher education marketplaces.

The day after the match Tyce told me, “My partner and I were approaching the tennis court for our Thursday night ALTA (Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association) match, and there they were. Our competitors arrived just before we did and were readying themselves for the match. We’re no hacks, but they were really good.”

Trouble in Pairs

Tyce is a good player and, as you might guess, very competitive. However, that Thursday night in late September, his competitors intimidated him.

His partner, a 35-year-old investment banker, shrugged off the threat. “What’s wrong? They’re a couple of old dudes. We will destroy them.”

Tyce said, “Trust me, we are in trouble.”

I asked Tyce why these guys intimidated him. He said, “I have learned when you see an old guy wearing a knee brace in ALTA, you just know you are screwed. You are going to lose.”

They lost the the match, 6-4 and 6-1. Their opponents were 79 years old and 65 years old. These older tennis players had the two younger guys running all over the court. They had the ability to put the ball wherever they wanted and with enough spin to make it unplayable.

To add insult to injury, the older opponent asked Tyce, “How old are you?”

Tyce said “I’m 43.”

He said, “I thought you were about that age. You look a little younger than my son.”

No Love Lost

They talked for a bit, and then the guy said to Tyce, “Where is our new can of tennis balls? You are the home team, and the home team is supposed to supply the visitors with the new tennis balls after the match.”

Tyce sheepishly said, “We didn’t know we were the home team. We don’t have the tennis balls. Sorry.”

As Tyce tells the story, the old guy just wouldn’t let him loose. No matter what he said to Tyce, all he did was make Tyce and his partner feel bad about themselves.

The next day Tyce had to get up and go to work. The fact that he brought this story up to me at our meeting means he was impacted. In fact, he was humbled.

We had a good laugh together as he told me this story. Tyce said, “When was the last time you got crushed by a guy almost twice your age?” I related a time when I was humbled. I’ll share that story soon.

Being humbled is part of what makes a leader. One of the greatest and most revered leaders of all time was Moses. He led over two million people for 40 years in the desert to the promised land. Here is how he is described in the Bible, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Read Numbers to learn more about Moses’ humbling.

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