Here is the full text of motivational speaker Molly Fletcher’s talk titled “Unleashing Your Potential” at TEDxEmory conference. Molly Fletcher is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker and former sports agent. She is the founder of the Molly Fletcher Company, based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Molly Fletcher – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT
What fun! It’s awesome to be here. What an honor! I tell you what: Wow!
Listen, you know I have felt so fortunate over the last 20 years to have the opportunity to work with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world. It’s been fascinating and I’ve always been so interested in how they do what they do and how they do it at such a high level consistently day after day after day.
And what I believe is that [us] wherever we may be in our lives, wherever we may be in this wonderful world, have so much that we can learn from these athletes and coaches that execute so consistently at a high level.
So I think there are sort of five things that I want to sort of walk through that I think are paramount in sort of shifting your behavior in the absence of crisis. So in other words, we hear the word potential so much, right? People talk about potential.
Well, why do these athletes so often reach that potential? How do they maximize it and how do we take those processes that they capture each and every day and insert that into our own lives, to improve what we do and how we do it?
So I think at the most basic level we have to believe in what we do and why we do it, right? So one of the guys that I’ve worked with for years is an unbelievable guy, John Smoltz. John Smoltz is a guy that I believe certainly believes in his ability to execute as a pitcher. John was a pitcher in the big leagues, pitched for the Braves for years, a right-handed pitcher and had great success.
Well, for 10 of the 14 years that the Atlanta Braves went to the division series, John was a really big part of that process. And he was a starting pitcher. So he would come out at the beginning of games, right, every four or five days and he would pitch and he would start and he would throw 80 or 90 pitches right and then four or five days later he would do it again. John won Cy Young, he had incredible success, and was a part of the Brave’s success.
Then in about 2001, he struggled and had Tommy John surgery and had some issues physically but then in 2000 — late in 2001 the organization came to us and to him and said, “Hey, listen, you know what! He’s an unbelievable star. He’s had great success but we don’t have a guy inside of our organization right now that we want to close for us. So we don’t have a guy that can come in the 8th or 9th inning and finish the games for us.” And we feel like John can step up and do that role.
Well, nobody believed that he could, because John had had a lot of injuries — he’d dealt with some issues. But John at the core believed that he could. Writers and folks in the media were saying, “Boy, I don’t know if this guy can actually handle this transition physically, mentally; it’s a whole different deal.” And that in many ways was what motivated John to want to do it.
John said, “You know what, everybody doesn’t think I can do this but I know I can close now.”
So he accepted the opportunity to be the closer and in that very year he came out in 155 — closed 55 games, had 55 saves, unbelievable, set a new NL record. So not only was he a Cy Young winner as a starter but he also set records as a closer as well.
But what it was was John didn’t let the negative influences from the world, from the media, from anything else come into his mind and tell him ‘you can’t make this change’, you can’t make this change from being a marathon runner right to a sprinter but he could and he believed he could.
So I think when we think about unleashing our potential, when we think about maximizing our abilities in our own lives, the first step in that process is to send ourselves the right messages, to send ourselves messages that allow us to believe that we can in fact execute at the highest level that we have that potential.
The second thing that I think is paramount is our ability to ensure that we discover who we are and the gaps in the world in which we live and how in fact we can actually potentially close those gaps for ourselves personally and for the world that we live in to add value.
So I’ll give you an example kind of a personal story.
In 1993, I graduated from Michigan State and I had this passion to be in the business of sports. But like most of us at 21 or 22 we’re not sure quite what that might look like. But I got my Honda Accord in Lansing, Michigan where I grew up in a wonderful family and I packed up my Honda Accord and I had about 2000 bucks in my back pocket because my folks were kind enough to let me live at home after I’d graduated for a few months and teach tennis at a little park nearby.
So I taught tennis, made two grand, put it in my back pocket and drove to Atlanta without a job. And my college coach from Michigan State I played tennis there was kind enough to give me three names of three coaches that she said would be able to help me. And I had this philosophy at 21 or 22 that if you ask for advice you get a job, and if you ask for a job you get advice, right?
I think the same thing is true in business, right, if you ask for the business, sometimes you just get advice. And if you ask for advice sometimes you get the business.
So I get my car, I drive down to Atlanta, and my parents thought well this will be about two to three weeks top, she’ll be back driving north on 75 back home to come back and live with us and find a job here.
Well I got down to Atlanta and I woke up and one of my friends from high school was kind enough to let me live on the floor of her apartment for a couple weeks until I could find a place to live and get a job and sort of start tapping into my two grand which I didn’t want to tap into too quick.
So I get up that first morning and this is before cellphone, so I’m exposing my age a little bit. But I get up and I call from the landline there at the little apartment and I call this one Pro who my coach had given me the name of. And I said, “Hey listen, I played tennis at Michigan State. You know I want to teach tennis and I’m trying to kind of get into my space in Atlanta. I want to be in the sports marketing business but I’m thinking you know maybe you might have some nice people in Atlanta they’d be kind enough to give me some advice, because I really want to pursue my passion of sports.”
And he said, “Well, you know that’s interesting” and we got to chatting for a minute. He said, “You know you may not know this but in Atlanta you can teach tennis in exchange for your rent.”
And I said, “Wow! Man, I got to get one of those deals right, that sounds like a sweet situation.” I said what do you mean?