“One day some of the kids from the neighborhood carried my mother’s groceries all the way home. You know why? It was outta respect.” I’ve always loved this line from Goodfellas. There are very few things in life that are incredibly valuable yet can’t be bought — respect is one of them.
We’ve heard Aretha Franklin’s famous song “Respect.” Hopefully, you’ve also heard Pantera mention respect in the song “Walk.” (Don’t forget to take your heavy metal vitamins, people). Even Cartman from Southpark repeatedly yelled, “Respect my authoritah!” Why do we expect and often times demand respect? It makes us feel good. It can be empowering. Being respected usually means that we’re being treated properly. It doesn’t get much more important than that.
The real test becomes how we handle a lack of respect. Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo provided a great example a few days ago. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was critical last summer following a trade between the Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder. Gilbert said Indiana “could’ve done better than it did” after trading Paul George for a package that included Oladipo. It just so happens that the Pacers are currently playing the Cavs in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Oladipo lit up Cleveland for a game-high 32 points as the Pacers rolled on Sunday night.
Gilbert’s comments stuck with Oladipo who said he was “aware of it.” Ahh, yeah. Gilbert basically said the Pacers traded for a couple of warm bodies and a few Spalding basketballs. That lack of respect would resonate with any competitor. Oladipo continued, “You could say it added fuel to the fire. Can’t control his opinion. All I’m focused on is myself and becoming the best Victor Oladipo possible.” Amen! This would be the first lesson in Gaining Respect 101.
In sports, athletes and teams object if they feel shortchanged in respect. Some handle it well. Others not so much. The Philadelphia Eagles and backup quarterback Nick Foles handled it perfectly once starting QB Carson Wentz was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Ohio State and Cardale Jones dealt with a similar situation when they were down to their third-string quarterback in 2015. Both the Eagles and Buckeyes won championships despite being doubted and disrespected because they remained focused.
It always makes me laugh when NFL teams get upset about a lack of respect around Week 9. The season is barely halfway over and some whiny team is complaining about not getting the attention they deserve. It’s easy to become so laser-focused on being overlooked and underappreciated, that you forget about doing the things necessary to earn respect in the first place. Demanding respect can quickly switch from a motivational tool to a distraction.
This dynamic is alive and well in sports radio. Plenty of hosts work hard and feel like they deserve more respect than they currently get. It might be with bosses, listeners, co-hosts, the staff — you name it. The minute you spend more time stewing over a lack of respect instead of focusing on doing a good job, is the minute you have a bad formula.
I believe that anger can actually be an asset if used properly. If you are ticked about a lack of respect and that fuels you to be more focused on doing a better job, great. There isn’t anything wrong with that. If you happen to be fuming due to a lack of respect and that’s taking your focus away from doing good work, anger is now an enemy. Focus on a lack of respect only if it helps you. Disregard it if it doesn’t.
It’s important to identify what works for and against you. Some athletes thrive on being disrespected. They lock in and become more focused. Other athletes fall apart. Remember when Baker Mayfield was stripped of his captain duties and starting role after grabbing his love area against Kansas? Yeah, that didn’t work out so great. You can’t let disrespect negatively effect you in any occupation.
If you consistently show others respect, it makes it tougher when they don’t return the favor. Plus, if you’ve worked your backside completely off and still don’t receive the proper recognition, it’s tough to deal with. That’s life. You basically have two choices — use it as fuel to work harder, or ignore it because it works against you.
The beautiful thing about respect is that it’s nearly always attached to success. The Eagles and Ohio State were disrespected during their playoff runs, but that magically disappeared once they won a championship. The same thing exists in sports radio. If a host produces monster ratings, the lack of respect vanishes. Don’t get hung up on a lack of respect. Focus on getting results. If you produce great results, the respect will follow closely behind.