As you know from previous posts, I love to write about lessons from our fallen icon: Nancy Reagan, Prince, Muhammad Ali.  Over the weekend, we lost another one – Arnold Palmer.  So I’m not going to let the opportunity go by to not only pay tribute to “The King” but to pass along some of his qualities for which we can all learn.  I actually had the good fortune of meeting Arnie, though it was a little embarrassing for me.  In 1994, I was marshal at a  Senior PGA event in Pennsylvania.  He graciously shook my hand as he approached the tee box, but a few minutes later he yelled at me because I was having difficulty controlling a rather unruly portion of his “Army” as he was about to hit his shot.  It certainly made a lasting impression on me.  Even twenty two years later, his face and voice are embedded in my memory.

With his good looks and swashbuckling style, he took golf to a new level.   Whether it be on the golf course over almost a 50 year career, designing golf courses or as a pitchman for a number of products, he was a success in almost every aspect of his life.  Although, as I listened to the tributes over the weekend, it seems that his greatest success was the impact he had on so many people and the number of people he helped over the years.   Here are some the qualities that seemed to be repeated over and over by almost everyone he ever met.  These are the same qualities that we can emulate in our own lives to have our own lasting impact:

  • He treated everyone he met the same.  It didn’t matter if you were the President or a groundskeeper.  He looked you in the eye and shook your hand with a smile.
  • He had a style that never changed.  It was his brand.  He looked and acted the same both as a 19 year old amateur and a 87 year old legend.
  • He surrounded himself with quality people.   He had a handshake deals with his closest advisors and business partners.
  • He was a passionate man.  Arnie loved what he did and wasn’t shy about showing his emotions.
  • He took chances.  He didn’t always play it safe.  It didn’t always pay off, but he was willing to take a risk for a big reward.
  • He  gave more than he took.  He was very generous with his time, money and influence.  He helped people whenever he could.

The traits mentioned most when people were describing him were integrity, generosity, passion, commitment, love and loyalty – and always with a smile.  These are traits for which we can all strive.  If we do, we too can live like “The King.”

Arnold Palmer – Rest in Peace.

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