By Gino Blefari
This week my travels find me in the Hawaiian Islands for business meetings and my annual family vacation. The islands are nothing short of spectacular: pristine beaches, unspoiled landscape and a welcoming aloha spirit. This spirit is also evident in the history and local legends of Hawaii, like Duke Kahanamoku, whose life and achievements make for an incredible story I’d like to share with you now.
A gold-medal-winning Olympic swimmer and champion surfer, Kahanamoku once famously said, “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” And whether commanding the waves of the Pacific or a team of real estate agents, Kahanamoku is right. Always remember why you chose to lead, what you enjoy so much about your business and why you want to inspire your team to succeed. Have fun. If you’re having fun, others will, too.
We can also take a lesson from Kahanamoku’s humble nature. When he became a household name in Hawaii, many people thought he was royalty, (his name, after all, was Duke). However, he was the first to remind his fans that he was one of them, a citizen of Hawaii and a man who worked hard for every award and accolade he received.
When Duke passed in 1968 at the age of 77, he left a lasting legacy behind him. Today, restaurants and statues bear his likeness and name, as symbols of a local hero who prospered through a powerful combination of talent, diligence and perseverance.
So, here’s the message: Duke Kahanamoku may have been best known for his aquatic accomplishments but beyond the champion athlete, he’s a man defined by selflessness, strength of character, kindness of spirit, and humility, all qualities every great leader should possess.