On this morning, when Gillian meets with Coach George, she finds herself watching Mrs. B., one of the wealthiest women in town, serving breakfast to a group of underprivileged children alongside a famous local athlete. Not only are they serving the children food, they are also serving up a heaping helping of self-esteem. In both words and actions they communicate that while these youngsters may come from difficult circumstances, they are immensely valued young human beings. Gillian is fascinated, but can’t quite come up with the word she wants when her mentor asks her, what quality is it that Mrs. B. (a/k/a Elizabeth) and the tall quarterback share in common?
“Grace,” said the Coach. “You know why a cat always lands on its feet? Because it never loses poise. Take high-speed photos of a cat jumping off a wall, even of a cat falling off a wall, and you’ll see the same thing in every single frame. Grace. A cat is always graceful, no matter what.
“A good athlete is like that. Always graceful, in every moment. Graceful in action. Graceful in thought. And gracious in conduct.
“Which is the fourth secret of the Winning Strategy: Be gracious.”
Gracious. That did seem a good description of this entire scene.
“When Elizabeth started coaching me, the very first thing she taught me was also the most important thing she taught me. ‘Have a kind and generous spirit, George,’ she said. ‘A kind and generous spirit always wins. And you know why that is?’
“I didn’t, of course. I never know the answers to the questions she asks.”
Gillian could easily imagine that. The woman had a sort of oracular quality. Sphinx in a hairnet.
They were quiet for a few moments, those last eight words echoing in Gillian’s brain like a thunderclap, until the silence as broken by Mrs. B’s voice calling over to them.
“Same root, you know.”
Gillian and the Coach both turned back in her direction. “Ma’am?” said Gillian.
“Gratitude,” she said. “Same root word as grace and gracious. From the Latin gratia, meaning favor, esteem, regard, a pleasing quality, goodwill, and before that from earlier roots meaning to announce, sing, praise, celebrate. In English, its first meaning was more like divine favor, love, or assistance—typically unmerited assistance, by the way, but freely given anyway. Grace. Wonderful, wonderful word.”
She headed back to the serving center as more kids swarmed.
“And that,” said the Coach, “is why I wanted you to meet her.” He held up four fingers. “A walking, talking example of the fourth secret. Be gracious.”
Excerpted from The Go-Giver Influencer, by Bob Burg and John David Mann, about which legendary business coach Marshall Goldsmith says, “This may be the most important Go-Giver book yet—and in today’s polarized world, it could not be more timely.” Download the first two chapters at bit.ly/GGInfluencer.