“Young kids with positive male role models have something to live for, somebody who is proud of them, somebody who cares about their well-being.” –Donald Miller If you follow professional football, or just read the news, you’re probably familiar with the story of Michael Vick. A star quarterback with elusive speed and remarkable athleticism, Michael […]
Early in the 20th Century the city of Montgomery, Alabama passed laws that segregated buses. The front section was for whites and the back was for blacks. The sections were divided by a sign labeled “colored” and could be moved at the discretion of the bus driver. Another stipulation of the law was that when there were white riders already seated in the front section, boarding black passengers were required to enter the front to pay, then exit the bus and walk to re-enter through the door in the back.
In 1943 an African American woman entered one of these buses and, after paying, walked straight to the back and sat down. The bus driver told her to get up and exit the bus and enter through the door in the back as the law required. She exited the bus and waited for the next one, committing to never ride that driver’s bus again. That woman’s name was Rosa Parks. Twelve years later she would enter his bus again. This time when he told her to give up her seat for a white male passenger she refused. Despite the potential consequences of being arrested, losing her job, or even physical violence she had the courage of conviction to stand for what was right.
Believe it or not, I have had some really bad habits in my life. People don’t believe it now, but my language was terrible when I was younger. I wouldn’t use any bad language around my parents because I knew they didn’t except it. But when I was on the playing field and with my friends, it wasn’t very becoming. The second one was my temper. When I was younger I was very competitive; so in junior high and high school, I would fly off the handle when I was upset about losing.
We all have bad habits and the two I mentioned are just a few of mine. I want to tell you how I was able to change. Let’s talk about how to break bad habits.
When I was the head coach of the Colts, during the 2006 training camp, I explained our strategy to the players. “We’re going to be fine,” I said, “as long as we think we’re fine. If we don’t, we’re going to have problems. We’re going to do what we do. Stay the course. Our biggest temptation will be to think we need to do something different.”
That year, my word picture for the players was from a story Denny Green had shared with me about quarterback Joe Montana.
Joe had been with the San Francisco 49ers for a number of years, helping them win several Super Bowls. Year after year, the team ran head coach Bill Walsh’s same offense. At the beginning of each season, Bill installed the offense the same way, with the plays installed in the same order. The first play he installed—every year—was “22 Z In.” Joe Montana could run “22 Z In” in his sleep.
When Paul Hackett became offensive coordinator for the 49ers, he installed “22 Z In” just as Bill Walsh instructed him. Paul realized that Joe knew more about “22 Z In” better than he did, but when the meeting was over, Paul saw that Joe had taken three pages of notes. He’d documented exactly how Paul wanted to run the play, as well as all of the basics of “22 Z In” and its details. That’s what a professional does.
“That’s what we need to do this season,” I told the Colts. “You’ll think you’ve heard it all before, but you can’t get mentally lazy. We have to stay sharp and continue to work to improve—all through camp and all through the season. We are going to do the same things over and over—that’s how we are going to win.” Then I ran through the same list of goals.
If you want to become a leader who adds value to other people’s lives and to the life of your organization, how do you get started? What do you do?
As a leader, I have found that I cannot move the ball forward with positive, nurturing leadership until I engage with those I am blessed to lead. Once I’ve engaged with them, I am able to educate and equip. Throughout the process, it is essential to encourage, empower, and energize in order to finally elevate the people around me.
It’s time to get in the game. Here is an explanation of the 7 E’s of reaching the full potential in those you lead.
When a team wins or a business is successful, the families of the players or the workers may be excited for the moment; but when they count the cost, I wonder how many would say that the temporary accomplishment outweighs all the memories missed or the bonds not formed. Or, worse yet, maybe they have been programmed over time to believe that the all-encompassing sacrifice of family, community, time—or anything other than what it takes to win games, close sales, or build a business—is an accepted part of life, simply what is required to achieve the number one priority: winning.
Sadly, such “accomplishment” without significance will ultimately prove to be meaningless and without lasting value. The meaning of leadership for mentor leaders insists on more and defines success in a much more robust and well-rounded way. Here are the things they do.
What does miracle mean to me? A miracle is something that we can’t explain with reason, logic, or science. I look up at the sun every day. It comes up at the same time and never fails. To me, that is miraculous because the only explanation is God’s hand. Another example that is more close […]
If you have ever coached a team before you know the challenges in being successful. It’s a question I am asked all of the time. What makes a successful team? There are a few ingredients that are needed. Most people will immediately say that a team needs talent. Talent is what makes a good team. […]
When I was in Minnesota, Denny Green had been a big proponent of creating what I call “artificial adversity,” making things tougher on the players than they had to be. He believed this was an essential foundation for handling the turbulence of a season or game. As coaches and as players, he wanted us all […]
As a leader, speeches are a great tool to motivate and inspire a group of people to greater things. They give a destination or vision to strive to achieve. Having worked in the National Football League, I have witnessed many great speeches, ones that energized the locker room. Occasionally in sports, a good speech could be a game changer.
On a larger scale, there are speeches that have been given that achieve historical significance. The truth of the words spoken strikes such a chord they lead to cultural change. The most inspiring speech I have ever heard, without question, was when I was a young man. On August 28, 1963, I watched Dr. Martin Luther King on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. deliver his now-famous “I Have A Dream…” speech. This was my reaction to it and why I consider it to be the greatest speech I ever heard.