Let me tell you about the definition of a class individual, and an image we should all learn from. 

In speaking and teaching about “The Undefeated Image”, I remember to always seek out the advice of those who have earned the right to be called leaders. No matter how much I think I know, I understand there is always so much to learn from those who have carved paths before me.

So I took a chance, and sent an email recently to Jim Tunney, Ed.D, a legendary NFL official and someone who has been teaching about leadership and integrity for many years. I interacted with Jim a long time ago when I was covering the NFL for network TV and radio, but because he was a zebra and I was a reporter, we weren’t exactly drinking buddies. But when I met him and spoke with him in very short exchanges, he was always the epitome of grace and professionalism. In the years since he left the NFL, Jim has changed the course of so many lives with his speaking engagements and inspirational messages.

I wanted to seek out his advice on a specific organization. Jim wrote me back that he would call me next week. 

My phone rang late this morning. It was Jim Tunney. We spent about 20 minutes or so in a wonderful conversation about life, football, and he was so generous with his time and his advice. I hung up the phone, looked at it and said out loud “Now that is a classy guy”. 

How many times do we say or write to someone “call you/text you/write you next week” and we never do? It’s an easy line to drop, and we can always cite “sorry, but things got so busy I couldn’t find the time” or some other excuse. We’ve all done it, and perhaps some of the time it’s true. More often than not, however, it’s not. It’s convenience. An excuse. Something we believe in this day and age is no big deal. 

But it is a big deal. It’s our bond. Our pact. Our integrity and our image. It’s what sets us apart from others and not only makes us memorable, but leaves behind something so positive that we cannot help but hope we’ve changed a life by simply doing what we said we would do. 

Sad that it’s something that seems so rare, we have to note it here. We’re all guilty of it. Perhaps this is the time we change that habit. Perhaps we learn that it’s truly those little things that can change a mind, change a life, change a path. 

It’s called leadership. And we need more of it every day. In our professional and our personal lives. 

Jim Tunney taught me something I already knew, but needed to hear again and to understand the importance.

A person’s word is their bond, and there is no excuse that should break the bond.

For that he has my enduring thanks, and if he ever needs me for anything, he’s got it without hesitation.

That’s what leadership and integrity does. It creates moments that inspire, and fashions true bonds of friendship.

Thanks, Jim.