By Nico Hohman
Picture a stadium filled with 100,000 cheering fans rooting on their beloved home team. Now, rewind the clock to about six months before that stadium was even opened and packed with fans. The construction workers are in the middle of piecing together giant building blocks of steel, concrete, and bricks to build this stadium. Now turn the clock back two years before that moment, when an architect had a dream to build the stadium.
To most people, these may seem like logical steps in the building of a stadium. But to me, I believe these steps show what it takes to be a leader. I believe that great leaders are meant to build stadiums.
Leaders are believers. And the best leaders know they need to believe in three things to build their stadiums: They believe in positive results; they believe in others; and they believe in themselves.
In 2006, when I was in high school, my younger brother Burton and I went to the World Cup in Germany. My mom was born and raised in Germany and my grandparents still live there today. I felt especially proud to go back to my native land to cheer on the United States’ men’s national soccer team.
The first match of the 2006 World Cup for the American squad was against the Czech Republic in Gelsenkirchen, just a few miles from my grandparents’ home town. Before the match, my brother asked me if we should paint our faces. I said, “Absolutely!” We painted our faces with blue stars on one side and red and white stripes on the other. We even had American Flags draped over our backs. I felt like Superman the entire day.
Throughout the match, Burton and I and the rest of the U.S. fan base always had the same intensity and belief as we cheered on our team. In fact, the American fans even have a chant that speaks exactly to that attitude:
I believe that we will win. I believe that we will win.
For you to become a great leader, you need to believe in positive results. No matter what the odds, and no matter what the obstacles, you need to believe that you will win.
Leaders are believers. The American fans in that stadium in Gelsenkirchen that day were believers. And true believers know how to build their stadiums.
A few years after the World Cup, I was a college student when I got a summer job working for a masonry contractor. One of my first assignments was to help the construction crew build a brick wall. I had never built a brick wall before, and it was in the middle of a sweltering, humid summer. After three and a half hours of terribly stacking as many bricks as I could into this wall, I couldn’t do it anymore. I physically fainted from heat exhaustion.
After coming to, my foreman told me something that has stuck with me to this day. He told me, “Son, you’re putting to much thought into the bricks. Believe that the mortar will do its job and the bricks will follow.”
You see, the mortar is the most crucial part of the brick wall, yet you should never notice that the its there. Without the mortar, the bricks would simply be stacked on top of one another with no support. You could stack a pile of 100 bricks on top of each other and a gentle nudge or push could topple the entire wall. Without the mortar helping the bricks do their job, the wall will fail. Without leadership holding the pieces of your business, your team, or your family together, the slightest push can cause the entire organization to fail.
A few years after I graduated from college, I decided to become a REALTOR®. No one in my family had ever worked in the real estate industry. I was under 30 years old working in an industry where the average age of an agent is over twice my age. Plus, my wife and I had just found out we were going to have a little baby boy. This was not a good time for me to quit my salaried job and go off on my own.
But I let none of that stand in my way. I didn’t focus on all the things that were there to hold me back. Instead, I chose to focus on the things that were going to make me a success. I chose to believe in myself. I knew that if I believed in myself, I could build my stadium.
From a world-traveling high school youth, to a college student with a part time job, and now as an adult working in real estate, I have learned many leadership lessons. The most important of these lessons is that you have to believe. Leaders are believers. Leaders believe in themselves; leaders believe in others; and leaders believe in positive results.
Go follow your dreams, achieve your goals, and build your stadiums.