Dungy's Diary

Thinking About Work and Money

work and money

“The mercenaries will always beat the draftees, but the volunteers will crush them both.” – Chuck Noll

Work is good. My good friend, Tony Evans, a pastor in Dallas says that we were created to work. “Before Adam had Eve, he had a job,” he says. Work is good. Adding value is positive. I’ve seen it time and time again: high school and college students trying to figure out what they are going to do — and why. Ultimately, it’s not really a career question. What am I going to do with my life? We all need to answer the deep questions of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in life. But don’t be paralyzed over your career choice.

Men who have been in one line of work for over three decades are becoming dinosaurs. Even within my industry, I’ve had seven employers. What you’re doing today probably won’t be what you are doing in the distant future and possibly not even the near future. Rather than making choices on the basis of money, however, select something that you want to do. It’s great to love your work, and a blessing to enjoy it.

As the head coach, Coach Noll was concerned not only for our physical well-being but also for the emotional health of the team. He loved the quote above because of its truth. People who are forced into something will be least effective, while those with an external motivation (money, in the case of mercenaries) will be effective to a point. However, those with internal drive, who have signed on for the endeavor because their hearts are in it, will rise to the top. Money may get you started, but it won’t be enough to sustain you when the times become difficult.

Coach Noll told me repeatedly that I should “never make a job decision based on money”– first when I was a player then when I was one of his coaches. He wasn’t disparaging money or its ability to allow you to do things in life but rather making sure that I understood it’s limitations. All too often, I’ve seen players in this era of salary caps forced into making a tough decision. They loved playing for the Colts, they fit perfectly into our offense or defense, they really liked their teammates and coaching staff, and their wives and families were comfortable in Indianapolis. On top of that, they’re having fun. Then another team would offer them $2 million more than we could pay them. When those players came into my office and ask me what they should do, I have to admit, I wasn’t always comfortable giving them the advice Coach Noll gave me. I worried about it sounding self-serving — that I wanted them to stay with us and take less money because they could have helped us win. But the truth is, in most cases, it really is better to disregard the money. It’s just hard to do. They have so many people telling them that they would be crazy not to leave. What about their  future, their financial security? What about providing for their families?

It’s easy to compare dollars to dollars and, when we have the opportunity to earn more, it’s tempting to think, “This is best for my family.” or “That employer values me more.” or “That team (or company) respects me more.” The reality is, however, money isn’t really a good measure of what’s best for you or your family. In fact, the more you base critical decisions on monetary evidence, the more your children will come to believe that money is the most important thing in your life. And ultimately, in theirs.

Posted in Encouragement | 8 Comments

How Do You Define Success?

how do you define success

“I would rather play well and lose than play poorly and win.” –Chuck Noll

We had improved from 1996 to 1997, and we should have kept improving in 1998. Instead, we finished 8-8 with the most inconsistent playing of any team I’ve ever fielded. We’d play well one week and badly the next. Our problems weren’t only on one side of the ball. Our defense alternated between hot and cold performances. Our offense scored in bunches one week and then suffered through droughts. We had lost to Green Bay six times in a row then finally broke that streak by causing eight fumbles and sacking Brett Favre eight times. We handed 15-1 Minnesota their only regular-season loss. But we also lost to a 6-10 New Orleans team, twice to Detroit, and to Jacksonville when we blew a fourth-quarter lead.

We headed into the final game with a record of 7-8. If we won at Cincinnati, and if Arizona lost to San Diego, we’d be back in the playoffs–barely. We went on the road and finally put together a complete game, beating the Bengals 35-0. I was proud of our team. We were now relying on the San Diego Chargers, who had only five wins that season, to get us into the playoffs by beating Arizona. We watched the beginning of the game at the airport on the overhead televisions. Some of the guys clustered around tiny handheld televisions. We hung on every play. When our plane took off, San Diego was poised for a comeback win after being down 13-3 in the third quarter. Here’s the rest of the story.

A short time into our flight, the pilot’s voice came over the intercom. “Air Traffic Control knows whom I have on-board the aircraft this evening, and they wanted me to tell you congratulations on today’s game.” We all sat breathlessly. “They have also passed along the scores from the late afternoon games, including Arizona, who kicked a field goal on the last play to beat. . .” I didn’t hear the rest, even though our plane was deathly quiet.

Being a Steward of Opportunities

What distinguished the 1997 team from the 1998 team was not those two extra wins that put us into the playoffs. The 1997 team was simply a better steward of its opportunities. Every team has its own unique set of dispositions, gifts, talents, and opportunities. What they all have in common, however, is the ability to control what they do with those dispositions, gifts, and talents when the opportunities come along.

The 1997 team was younger with less depth and game experience. The 1998 team filled in some of those holes and was a year more ingrained into our system. On paper, the 1998 team was a better team. But our 1997 team stretched itself and achieved its potential; the 1998 team was inconsistent and squandered chances. I still believe what I told the team the day after the finale against Cincinnati: “We have a good team, but we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we were given all year long. That’s why we had to rely on someone else. We cannot do that again.” The same is also true for each of us as individuals.

Do the Ordinary Things Well

That, to me, is where we find the best definition of success. We’re not all going to reach the Super Bowl or the top of the corporate ladder, but we each have a chance to walk away from something saying, “I did ordinary things as well as I could. I performed to the full limits of my ability. I achieved success.” Under that definition, a 5-11 team might actually be more successful than a 14-2 team.

I have no problem coaching a team that needs to win its final game and needs help from another team to get into the playoffs. As long as the team has played to the limits of its abilities and has fulfilled its potential. Our 1997 team played to–and beyond–its potential. Our 1998 team did not.

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Posted in Encouragement | 4 Comments

The Importance of Taking Your Family On Vacation

Fall is always a busy time for me and my family. With my traveling schedule it makes it hard to find moments to bond with the whole family. That is why we make it a priority to always take our family on vacation. A lot of great memories were made this year. Here’s what we did:

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