Tyndale House Publishers, who published all of my books, came to me and asked me if I would like to write a commentary on a topic for the Every Man’s Bible. I chose integrity because that was so important to my parents and they drilled that into us. As I wrote and shared on my blog several months ago, integrity is not determined by your past or your position in life. It is determined by a decision to be a person of integrity or not.
So often there is such an emphasis on results that it doesn’t matter how you get them. Moving up is more important than the way you move up. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are, just what kind of player you are. It doesn’t matter if you follow the rules or break them, just as long as you come out on top. After all, that’s what everyone will remember at the end of the day.
You can achieve more with a team than without. I’ve seen it time and time again: A team that is functioning well is more than just the sum of its parts. In fact, the Colts team that won the Super Bowl in 2007 was not the most talented team I had during my years in Indianapolis. But it was the team that came together best and played at a higher level than you might have expected from the sum of its individual pieces. Each member of the organization had bought into our clear vision and the way we planned to accomplish it, both on and off the field.
No one ever wants to be one of those annoying parents. Have you ever thought about something your parents did when you were a child and said to yourself, I’m never going to do that when I’m a parent? Maybe you’ve even thought, I’m going to be better than that. Then you find yourself doing that very thing. I’ve been there.
Every year when I was a coach, I would challenge the players to remember that our goal was to be the best team we could be, and that eventually we would need contributions from everyone. We saw the fruit of mentor leadership when we got to the Super Bowl. Nick Harper, our veteran defensive back, got hurt and couldn’t finish a game. Young Kelvin Hayden went in for him and made the game-winning interception. Kelvin was prepared for that moment in part because Nick had spent time with him and helped him to be ready. That’s the kind of chemistry great teams have.
The following is an excerpt I wrote for the Every Man’s Bible (which I highly recommend) about having integrity.
The great thing about integrity is that it is truly no respecter of position or wealth or race or gender. It is not determined by shifting circumstances, cultural circumstances, or what you’ve previously achieved. From the moment you are born, you-and you alone-determine whether you will be a person of integrity.
A question I would get a lot when I was coaching was how do you deal with a player who has a bad attitude or not the right attitude. There have been many talented teams who weren’t able to accomplish the type of success they could have had they had the right attitude. As a leader and a father it’s important to help mold and shape children or the people you are leading to buy into the culture you are trying to create. There are 2 things that I would try to do with players I thought didn’t have the right attitude.
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll didn’t try to be all things to all people. He didn’t try to change who he was or alter his approach. Instead, he hired coaches with different personalities. I must admit that I didn’t notice this when I was playing for him in Pittsburgh, but it became apparent once I was on the Steelers’ staff for a while. He always looked for good football coaches who were also good people and who had different strengths that they brought to the team.
As a former coach I am often asked, what do you do with a player or what do you do with children or what do you do with anybody who isn’t trying their hardest? I have found when coaching players the most effective technique is not brow beating. If someone wasn’t trying it was important that I didn’t say, “Try harder!” or “You have to do this!” while threatening them with consequences. Instead, I came up with the following system when motivating kids and players, and it has worked well.
When I arrived in Tampa as head coach, I began meeting with the players who lived there, trying to understand from them what needed to be fixed. Although all the issues were relatively minor, they contributed to the team’s second class, defeatist, excuse-laden mentality. I began to sell the philosophy that we are responsible for what happens to us, not anyone or anything else. No excuses, no explanations.