I started thinking about those experiences that are at once meaningful, memorable, and short enough to be described as “defining moments.” These are moments that rise above the everyday and make the ordinary extraordinary. They might be events that, upon reflection, provide insight into what inspired us or influenced our lives in some way. Peak moments are those that become turning points in our thinking or our actions. They could be times that capture us at our very best, moments of achievement or of courage. Finally, they may include those opportunities to connect meaningfully with others and collectively celebrate an experience together, such as a wedding, expedition, milestone, or sporting event.
Once you recognize the importance and impact of these “defining moments,” you are more likely to search them out, and to use them to shape the way you think and possibly live your life going forward. I had one of those moments recently that happened because of some behind the scenes thoughtfulness that truly made a particular day turn into a memorable moment for me.
Most of my staff know that I love leading with quotes—these are those one-liners that truly reflect big picture thinking, put things into perspective, and, finally, give us time to pause to figure out what really matters. I have no shame in leading with other people’s ideas if they provide the clarity and context to help me with my message! People also know that I truly love Simon Sinek’s book entitled Start with Why and that I continue to follow his daily blog and his frequent presentations on TedTalks. So….
The week following Spring Break, Simon Sinek himself came to our campus specifically to visit me having heard from the host family with whom he was staying, that I am a follower of his work. As you can imagine, I was thrilled, humbled, and truly appreciative to be able to meet this author and mentor in person. It was a slightly awkward visit since a group of onlookers watched my reaction as I came into the front office and realized who was there. Then Simon Sinek and I exchanged a few words and shook hands before he rushed off to catch a flight to Vancouver to attend the TedX event—not as a presenter, but as a participant. It impresses me that he still sees himself as a learner who is interested hearing other people share their ideas, thoughts, and experiences.
After he departed, I was asked if I had taken a selfie both to prove that I had met with the man himself and so that I could post this interaction on our school website confirming that Simon Sinek had indeed visited SMS. To be honest, the thought of taking a selfie did not cross my mind. The idea of interrupting this moment to capture it with a photo so I could prove that I had met him didn’t seem genuine or appropriate. I personally didn’t care if anyone believed me or not—I knew and that was what mattered! I believed that his visit was a peak moment for me and I am content with that. If I have any regrets regarding the exchange with Simon Sinek, it was the missed opportunity of saying to him:
“I love your work and try to put into practice daily the importance of your words of wisdom and knowing your WHY before focusing on the What and How. BUT I am curious as to your own learning: Who do you learn from? Who inspires you? Which books do your read? Who is your mentor? I think, in hindsight, he would have loved the questions!
I also learned the importance of generosity as a couple of days later, to my surprise, I was provided with a video that Simon Sinek had made prior to his visit to the school that was specifically directed to me. I have attached the link below. Now, that is the best gift ever, and a testament to the importance of acknowledging those followers who are trying to put words into action and to lead from behind.
“Look for those moments of elevation; those moments of insight; those moments of pride; and finally, those moments of connection.”
“Moments matter. Teachers can inspire, caregivers can comfort, service workers can delight, politicians can unite, and managers can motivate. “
Chip and Dan Heat
The Power of Moments. Chip Heath and Dan Heath. 2017
Start with Why. Simon Sinek. 2009.