Great Opportunity = Great Moments

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Great Opportunity = Great Moments

By Steve Scott

“Great moments are born from great opportunity.”

-Herb Brooks, Head Coach for the “Miracle on Ice” 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Do you believe in miracles? In 1980, I remember intensely watching a hockey game with my Dad. Not just any hockey game, but a group of amateur hockey players called the USA Men’s Hockey Team, playing against the Soviet Union’s powerhouse team of professionals in the Winter Olympics. The Soviets had a solid record of success winning the gold in six of the last seven Olympics. The young Americans trained hard and even trained against NHL teams to prepare themselves for the Winter Games. They wanted to be prepared for greatness should the opportunity present itself.  

Their preparation and hard work paid off. They defeated the Soviets in the game dubbed “The Miracle on Ice” and went on to win the Gold Medal. America celebrated and history was made. 

On Jan. 17, 1994, I was involved in a completely different kind of icy miracle. I was living in Louisville, Ky., when a storm dropped nearly two feet of snow on the city. The snow was on top of ice, and temperatures fell to minus 22 degrees. The city was completely shut down and at a standstill.  

My young son had spent the night with his grandparents across town. They woke up with no electricity, so I bundled up and attempted to drive to get him. After a valiant attempt, the roads were just impassable and I was forced to return home.  While driving back, listening to the local news on the radio, I heard a plea go out: There was a little girl, just three years old, in final stages of liver failure. She had been waiting for over a year for a donor and one was available for her – today – in Omaha! Little Michelle must be in Omaha, Nebraska, in surgery within the next eight hours to receive the transplant. Thankfully, arrangements had been made for a helicopter to land in the parking lot of a Louisville church near her home, pick the child up, and take her and her family to an open airport. 

The only catch: For the helicopter to safely land, it needed a 70’ x 70’ clearing of the two feet of snow that had fallen overnight – within the next 25 minutes. I thought that was a tall order, but was happy they at least had a chance.  

Where was I when I heard that news? Right in front of that church! I had put a shovel in my car that morning when I ventured out, so I quickly pulled over, grabbed my shovel, and ran around the church to see how I could help. Not a single person was there except for one man walking toward me, with no shovel. I asked, “Where are we supposed to clear the landing site?” and he said, “I don’t know. You’re the first one here.”

I quickly began stepping off the 70’x70’ area that needed to be cleared, and within just a few minutes, 100 or so people came out of nowhere it seemed … running through the snow, with shovels! They’d come to me and ask, “What do you need us to do?” By defacto, I was leading our efforts just because I was the first one there. 

We all worked fast and hard, got the site cleared and just moments after we finished, the helicopter hovered … and landed. The little girl and her family were rushed on board by medical staff and to our cheers, away they went. Today, that “snow baby” is 26 years old, alive and well, because a Great Opportunity was seized and turned into a Great Moment.  

Great moments are born from great opportunity. Right now, right here at Lee Company, we have a great opportunity. And, while it may not be life-saving, it sure can be life-changing. YOU can be part of a Great “gold medal” Moment in our history! 

A few years ago, we used the word BEYOND as a describing theme for Lee Company. Using this word provided the perfect opportunity for our teams to celebrate team members who consistently go BEYOND. Throughout the year, we shared profiles of colleagues who exceeded expectations in their personal and professional lives. These examples inspired us all to find ways to do more, give more and learn more.

Every single one of us can apply our BEYOND concept to our work life and decide to be a bit better this year. You don’t have to hold a leadership position to make a difference – every team consists of leaders and followers, and every great movement requires both. The 1980 hockey team won by pulling together and it took about 200 of us working together to clear the landing site for the helicopter. 

Great investments have been made recently in people, processes and technology. A Great Opportunity has been created – let’s turn it into a Great Moment. 

We can do that by looking for ways to leverage this Great Opportunity every single day. Maybe you can give 5 or 10% more of your time, your effort or your creativity. Maybe you can help a teammate who needs to be lifted up, supported or encouraged. Maybe you can go the extra mile for our customers. Whatever it may be, push yourselves beyond the ordinary. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this is a good company and I don’t need to do anything – that everything will happen on its own or someone else will do it. 

Instead, own the moment and seize this great opportunity. Do you believe in miracles? Pick up the shovel … and Go BEYOND!