February 7, 2005
There’s no better time of the year to look at what makes a winner than at SuperBowl time. New England made it look easy. But Philadelphia gave no easy ground, and to the very last second on the field, and in the minutes following in the locker room, both teams showed us the character of champions.
We can take a lesson from the big league winners when it comes to teaching our kids about life and success. Players like Bruschi, Owens, Branch, McNabb and Brady don’t rise to the top by accident.
1. Game Plan for Winning.
Any good game plan is based on the fact that you want to win. You don’t build success on a plan that says you plan to lose gracefully.
You make a plan to win. You study the plan. You analyze and revise and execute and analyze and revise and execute…according to the plan! Winning is not an accident.
2. A Coach for Winning.
Winning teams are made of people who want to win. Top on this list is the Coach who inspires with leadership, encouragement, correction, and celebration. Sportswriter Vic Carucci gives them proper credit, “Bill Belichick and Reid are two of the finest football strategists to ever don a headset.”
3. A Respect of the Rules for Winning.
Belichick and Reid plan their strategies around the rules of the game. They know football backwards and forwards. They earn the “highest respect for their depth of football knowledge.”
4. Heart on Fire for Winning.
Winning is the goal. It is not a suggestion. It is not something that happens because you hope it will happen. Quarterback, lineman, receiver, defender or kicker…your heart is on fire for winning.
5. A Team United for Winning.
Every winner stands on the shoulders of people who made it possible. In three years, the trophy for Most Valuable Player has passed from Jackson, Brady, to Branch. Each MVP stands on the shoulders of unmentioned yet dedicated players who blocked, received and kicked. They play as a team. They win as a team. They celebrate as a team.
6. Practice Unending for Winning.
Winning teams are built with players who show up for practice…on time…ready to work…day after day after day.
7. Imagination for Winning.
Practice on the field is not enough to win. Tom Brady is reported to call in the middle of the night, “Can you come up to my room? I’ve got a couple of things I want to go over with you.”
“I promise you while everyone else is enjoying Super Bowl week,” said outgoing Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis before the game, “two nights I’ve been sitting in my room between 10 and 11 going over the game plan per his request.”
Good players exercise the body. Winning players exercise the mind.
8. Accepting Personal Responsibility for Winning.
Brady is being compared to the great quarterbacks. “He’s poised. He’s accurate. He responds to pressure. He deflects praise in victory as eagerly as he absorbs responsibility in defeat.”
9. Regrouping from Failure for Winning.
A good team doesn’t always win. But it knows what to do with losing. When asked about their slow first half in SuperBowl XXXIX, Deion Branch said. “We went inside and regrouped, and figured out what we were doing wrong and had to capitalize on a lot of things.”
Winning comes from knowing what makes you lose. Winning teams learn and grow from each defeat.
10. Accepting the Hard Work of Winning.
The Patriots are being billed as a Dynasty. But they know they cannot rest on past success. Sportswriter Pete Prisco sums it up. “[Y]ou can bet the Patriots will forget any mention of [dynasty] by the time they report for offseason work in March…. Remember, this is a team to a man that doesn’t allow itself to look back.”
Football…or life…winning requires more than a game plan and practice. Winning is a team affair, a plan to win, fueled by a burning desire to win, supported to the max by every single person: player, coach, trainer, wife, and friend.
If we want our kids to succeed, we need to take a lesson from the pros. Whether it’s drugs, tobacco, alcohol or sex, we need to create a society that takes winning at life seriously. Our game plan must be fixed on a plan to win.
Winning in life is also a team affair. It’s long past time we built a culture of support for our kids where the media, teachers, and parents are unified as part of the solution and not part of the problem.
The rules for winning make one thing crystal clear. Our kids fail…because we fail to lead.
July 30, 2004 James Bond in Danger…For Real
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