After-Action Report: RVM #60 with Carl Sharperson

Many thanks to this week’s guest speaker, former Navy footballer and USMC pilot Carl Sharperson (USNA ’76), for his inspiring presentation about the book of his life: Sharp Leadership: Overcome Adversity to Lead with Authenticity.

Let’s talk about PUSH and PULL.

If you’ve ever watched a ball game on TV, you understand PUSH. Unless you get up off the couch during half time, it doesn’t matter if you never drank a drop of alcohol and have a beard down to your knees: you WILL hear about beer and razor blades during the commercial break. That’s PUSH: it might be a blunt instrument, but it’s definitely one way to win the numbers game.

Then there’s PULL. That’s what happens when your audience comes to YOU, knocks on your door, and demands to buy what you have to offer. There’s a whole branch of marketing science around how to engineer PULL, but the best kind—I mean the OG of authentic product design—is organic.

Now, do an Amazon search on leadership. You will find pages and pages of books written by retired admirals and generals, princesses and politicians: people who already had a platform, and leveraged it to PUSH their message once they moved on in life past whatever their platform was about. Obviously there’s a lot of good stuff on those pages… but just like the beer and razor blade commercials, those messages aren’t necessarily about YOU.

Then there’s Carl Sharperson. Carl played football at Navy. He was a Marine Corps aviator. He survived two bouts with cancer while building a career in consumer products. He’s a lot more like you and me than, say, General “Mad Dog” James Mattis or Barack Obama.

Yet, somewhere along the line, people started pestering Carl to write a book about leadership. He wrote the book, and it began changing lives even before he sold his first copy. Now Carl makes a living teaching people about leadership… not because he was able to leverage his big soapbox to promote his big message, but because the people he quietly actually LED hardly left him a choice.

Carl’s message is a great example of PULL, and I think it’s inspiring, because it teaches us that the things we DO when we think NOBODY’s looking matter at least as much as the things we SAY when we know EVERYBODY’s looking.

Last night’s conversation was fascinating. There were two central themes, both do do with the connection between leadership and coaching.

One had to do with the actual practice of coaching. We noted that many RINGKNOCKERs coach either business professional athletes, and many who do either actually do both. Why is that? This kicked off a fascinating discussion, which you Subscribers can review in the Meetup video or transcript.

Another cropped up in a couple of different contexts, and it boiled down to: how do I influence people over whom I have little leverage?

Carl’s answer to this one produced a bit of an epiphany around the room when we realized how many leadership problems it addresses. Two steps:

  1. Figure out what they want or need most.
  2. Use that information to serve them with a loving heart.

See? That’s Sharp Leadership. 😁

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