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Lessons from NFL Star Charles 'Peanut' Tillman

You can start your own business and still make the work about others.

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I recently attended and participated in the Dad 2.0 Summit in , where a collection of daddy bloggers with different perspectives came together to talk about life, career, fatherhood and a dozen other issues -- racism, sexism and homophobia; blended families and vulnerability.

Streeter Lecka | Getty Images

The entire conference was terrific, but one keynote speaker particularly touched my heart, as a father and as a professional. Charles "Peanut" Tillman is an  superstar. He's also a great dad who's been through a lot, both personally and professionally -- enough to break most people. Not him, though. 

While Charles (Peanut) spoke on several topics, he also touched on the concept of success with a very interesting perspective . . . one that I live by but have never called out by name. One that applies to us as parents as well as professionals.

Play for the person next to you.

Related: 5 Kinds of People Who Will Help You Succeed as an Entrepreneur

When you get to a certain point in your life, you’re not really in it for yourself anymore. In our younger years, we are working hard to make it, so of course we must be self-focused.

But after a certain point, our focus shifts to those around us.

This is certainly true of . My kids are older now. I’m no longer changing diapers, making school lunches or applying bandages to cuts and scrapes. But I am helping them navigate the and hopefully helping them to build the confidence it takes to succeed on their own. It’s all about them and their successes, and what I can do as a dad to facilitate it all. I’m measuring my world based on what they do in theirs.

I’m playing for them.

Related: Lonely Entrepreneur? How to Build a Support System

This is also certainly true at work as well. I’m really not climbing up the corporate ladder anymore; that’s not my focus at this stage. Sure, I’ve still got some life left in me so watch out, but that’s not the driver now. I’m here to help others to succeed, knowing that our collective triumphs rely on teamwork and making sure those around me have exactly what they need.

I’m playing for them. How?

  1. Review others' work. Take a look at your team's work before they pass it along to their bosses or clients. You can teach them a thing or two in about something they know will help them in the future. It’s the best kind of  and teaching!
  2. Give feedback. Continual feedback is the best way to help those around you, whether they report to you or not. By  on a regular basis, you can put others first and help them improve.
  3. Be a mentor. When I started at Johnson & Johnson in the late 1980s, mentors brought me in and taught me the craft of marketing. Those relationships were invaluable and helped propel my career. There don’t seem to be as many formal mentoring programs around anymore, but you can still serve that role for an up-and-comer in your organization.

Related: 5 Mentors Every Entrepreneur Should Have

None of us can truly be happy and successful if we are amongst people who are not. Our collective spirit relies on our joint and comradery, with each of us helping the next to better themselves.

We must play for them, if we want the world to thrive.

At home, at work, and in the world at large, play for the person next to you.

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