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A Powerful Saying to Approach 2014 with…

In my keynotes and seminars, I try to share timely tools that people can use to stay as positive as possible and to seek excellence.

peyton2This week has seen Sports Illustrated honor Peyton Manning with their prestigious Sportsman of the Year award. He is having a historic season as quarterback of the Denver Broncos, after coming back from four neck surgeries that sidelined him for a whole season two years ago.

One of my points in the keynote Stoke the Fire Within is the power of caring deeply. When people within your organization, school, college or church truly care, you can accomplish anything. Manning has cared deeply his entire life. There is a beautiful line early in the article by writer Lee Jenkins where Jon Torine, who used to be the strength coach when Manning played for the Indianapolis Colts, says:

“When Peyton Manning dies, this is what they ought to write on his gravestone — IT ALL MATTERED TO ME

As you enter 2014, that could be a powerful quote for you all to rally around.

Manning played at the University of Tennessee from 1994 to 1997. He got his undergrad degree in three years and graduated with the highest GPA that year in Tennessee’s College of Communication and Information.

Because he was such a positive role model and had such a strong work ethic, from 1996 to ’98 there were 68 Peytons born at the Knoxville Hospital. It kept going to the point that in the early 2000’s an elementary school class had 9 Peytons in it!

Those Peytons (hundreds of kids in Tennessee, Indiana and beyond were named after him) are all nearly grown up and in the article the writer Jenkins cites that they are high school valedictorians, Eagle Scouts, black belts, yearbook editors, engineering majors. They are in the National Honor Society. They lead Bible study. They raise money for cancer research. They lifeguard. One directs short films. One blew the trumpet in a high school band at President Obama’s 2nd inaugural parade. One became the first girl and first deaf member of an all male wrestling club and captured the state title in her weight class.

Peyton Robinette said this in her valedictorian speech she gave this past June at the Rockwood High graduation near Knoxville:

“I urge you all to always remember the experiences you’ve had. But be ready to write your sequel. Be prepared to face consequences. Be prepared for adversity. Be prepared for change.”

As the article indicates, when Manning arrived at the University of Tennessee, he attended freshman orientation. He took 38 pages of notes! That attention to detail led him to great success as a college and professional player.


Now 38 and in Denver as quarterback of the Broncos for the final few seasons of his career, Manning gets about 300 handwritten letters a week. He takes home the heartfelt letters. Writer Jenkins indicates Manning has had a hospital tray put in by his bed so he can work without craning his neck. His responses have included:

To Chris Harris, widow of David Harris, a pastor in Arkansas who was killed in a car accident along with his granddaughter Maci:

“I am sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’ (Matthew 5:4). I learned that Pastor Harris was an avid Colts fan and had an autographed picture of me in his office. I read an article about Pastor Harris, and I can tell he was very special. Maci was very special as well. I am proud that Pastor Harris was a fan of mine. May God’s peace be with you.”

To Charlie Johnson, a 63-year-old in Indiana nervous about neck-fusion surgery:

“My neck pain went away immediately after my surgery. I believe you will be able to resume your normal activities rather quickly. I took it slow on doctors’ orders, but I felt better right away. I can’t give you a definite time frame. I would encourage you to be patient to avoid any setbacks. But you should be back lifting soon. Good luck and health.”

Manning keeps a list of those he has contacted, with descriptions of the correspondence on the back of the their envelopes. “Letter from a woman whose best friend had cancer and is a big fan. . . . Husband has MS and they are naming their first born Peyton. . . . Sick man. Call ASAP.”

The issue is out now. If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, it could make for a stocking stuffer for that young person in your life. My Aunt Betty bought several copies and is sending one to each of her grown children.

Manning has a fire within and is an outstanding role model. As one Mom says in the video below, she and her husband named their child Peyton because Manning has integrity and is a competitor, two things they wanted their child to have in life.

– Charlie Adams is the author of 4 books on positive attitude and peak performance, including 2013′s “How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing!!” and “Stoke the Fire Within.” His books and motivational keynotes and seminars are designed to make sure events reach their objectives and to help create winning cultures. Email him atCharlie@stokethefirewithin.com.

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