Great teams have great sayings. And they live by these mantras.
In Arizona, Bruce Arians introduced us to three words that carried heavy weight: Trust, Loyalty, and Respect. Individually, these words were noble, maybe even weighty. But together they became a call to action. A mantra that we as a team lived by.
For Pete Carroll it’s Compete Everyday. For Mack Brown it’s Consistently Good to be Great. But each great coach has a great saying that means more than just the sum of its collective words.
I recently watched an hour long interview between Pete Carroll and Angela Duckworth about what it means to have “grit.” I’ll spare you the circumstance but suffice it to say that grit or even “great” is not developed overnight. Grit can be taught, greatness can be learned.
As a 13-0 Texas Longhorn that went from a national championship to a 5-7 season, and as an Arizona Cardinal that went from worst to first seemingly overnight, I’ve had a chance to be a part of some major turnarounds. And oddly enough I find myself in the midst of one now as a Chicago Bear. One thing rings true. The good teams know why they’re good. They know what it takes to be successful and they consistently imitate the same successful patterns. Some call it practice, but I call it a mindset – a winning mindset.
See, for Pete Carroll, Compete Everyday doesn’t mean finding someone you’re better than and outdoing them. It is actually the opposite. For him, to compete means thinking like a champion. It means finding ways to get better at your craft and not worrying about the guy next to you. For Mack Brown, greatness has nothing to do with what you do on Saturday afternoons. It has everything to do with what you do Sunday through Friday when no one is watching. For Bruce Arians, respect has nothing to do with his authority, but rather respecting the process – the process that it takes to be great.
For all of these coaches, being great has less to do with how you handle success and more to do with learning from failure. And that’s where a lot of us miss the mark. We want so much to be perfect, or to be great, that we disrespect the process and the work that goes into being great.
In the offseason I train at a place called Ignition. There’s another player who trains there every single day, but I never see him. He’s up early, gets his work in, and is out before most of us are even awake. He’s been training there the last few years. His name is Luke Kuechly. Guys like Luke respect the process, are consistently good, and are immensely focused.
In the football world – and in life – that’s a recipe for greatness.