Blog post February 2012
You gave up trying to read that, didn’t you? So let’s try it this way:
If you don’t take the time to pause, punctuate your people’s efforts with recognition, and celebrate their successes, then they will feel they are on a never-ending treadmill and that nothing is good enough. They will eventually lose motivation and results will suffer.
So, how much should you recognize and celebrate? The right answer: More than you think you should.
Frank stared intently at me, wanting to see if after three years as a college football coach, assistant to him, I had discovered the secret. Having won two national championships as a head coach, it was clear that Frank had.
“No,” I replied, “I don’t know what the most important thing is to be a successful coach.” It felt like one of those landmark moments and I was ready to receive the pearl.
“Mike,” he said, his eyes narrowing as he leaned forward. “Get the studs. Get the people who can help you win. For all the time you spend coaching and coercing, your life is a thousand times easier if you get the people who can get the job done.”
Exactly as true in business as it is in sports. Get the right people, get the studs. You will save yourself inestimable time, effort and grief by getting the people who are capable and driven to get the job done.
And “stud” doesn’t necessarily mean the best individual performer. You define what stud means in terms of performance, collaboration, behavior and cultural fit. But once you do, go after the studs with a vengeance. Don’t just recruit. Compete for talent.
You can be the best coach in the world but without strong people you can’t win.
Get the studs.
We’ve all heard stories of coaches who inspire their teams to victory with impassioned speeches. “Win one for the Gipper!”
What you may not know is that many successful coaches rarely talk about winning. What they talk about is improvement. Making yourself better every day. Performing, reflecting, learning and improving. Focusing on what you can control. Becoming the best you can be. No excuses, no rationalizations. Just you.
Winning in a team sport depends on a lot of factors. Some you can only influence. Ultimately, you can’t control whether or not your team wins. All you can control is you.
Sure, there are times for an impassioned speech. But the secret to ongoing success isn’t fire and brimstone. It’s a commitment to constant improvement.
Overcoming adversity. Yes, it’s a cliché. But that doesn’t make it any less important for leaders who are committed to succeeding.
Just ask the New York Giants. With a 6-6 record on December 11, and down by 12 points on the road with under six minutes to play, they were on the brink of oblivion. But a stirring comeback win kept their playoff hopes alive.
They needed to win their final two regular season games just to get to 9-7 and hope that they might make the playoffs. A sliver of a hope because in 2010 their 10-6 record wasn’t good enough. The Giants responded and won both games handily.
Then after a playoff victory over Atlanta they faced the task of having to defeat the top two teams in their conference on the road to get to the Super Bowl. And they did. Finally, they faced the most dominant team of the past decade in the big game. They suffered the letdown of squandering an early lead by giving up 17 straight points … but maintained their composure and came back for an inspired win.
When asked how his team could crawl out of the grave so many times, Coach Tom Coughlin said simply, “Anything is possible for those who believe.”
Look in the mirror and ask yourself: How do I respond when the chips are down? How do I want to respond?
To be 100% committed 100% of the time regardless of the circumstance requires complete, total, absolute, unwavering belief that you can achieve your goal.
Do you believe?