For about thirty years I was a competitive athlete, from elementary school, middle and high school, all the way through college and in the NFL. Then I was an NFL coach. I’ve always had a highly competitive nature, setting goals, and going after them, year after year. Then I retired and no longer had the athletic field, but I’m still just as competitive as I ever was.
Alcohol consumption and especially teen drinking has become a major problem in our society today. There are many reasons for that, but one is our kids get so many messages that drinking alcohol is fun and cool. That is what they are seeing. As parents, we need to be proactive on the other side of it. First, my wife and I have chosen not to drink alcohol and not because we think it’s wrong as adults. We’ve chosen not to because don’t want to give our kids the idea that we can do it as adults, while they need to wait. They see us not drinking and hopefully, that will rub off on them. Second, we also have a lot of conversations with them about the dangers of alcohol, especially young people drinking alcohol. In those ways, we’ve tried to be proactive.
Last month baseball lost one of the greatest pitchers of all time in Roy Halladay who passed away in a plane crash. There were many tributes to him, but one thing expressed over and over again was his work ethic. He would always be the first person at the ballpark to work out. He learned how to develop good habits, such as discipline and hard work. Habits such as these made him into a sure bet Hall of Famer.
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.