I became a sports fan in 2010—the year the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. I now root for the Giants, the 49ers, the Raiders and the Warriors. This time of year, I turn my attention to football.
Huge men in padded uniforms run around trying to break each other’s limbs, and for the most part, they’re successful.
The weekly injury report is a running commentary on the game’s violence. Broken legs, ankles and knees, separated shoulders, the ubiquitous ACL injuries and most disturbing, concussions, with their life-dimming implications.
But football is the ultimate guy culture. These players love pitting their wits and brute strength against their opponents.
What motivates these guys and keeps them competing?
What keeps them coming back is the elusive dream of a Super Bowl ring, but you can’t win without an elite quarterback and some really explosive receivers with great hands.
You need a strong offensive line, a ferocious defense. You really have to have it all. Including superb coaches. And it’s up to the coaches to keep these behemoths motivated.
Looking at how football coaches are motivating their teams, we find that the lessons aren’t limited to football. They’re also life and business lessons.
Tom Coughlin, longtime coach of the New York Giants, is a huge fan of the daily quote.
One of his favorites: “Be where your feet are.” Focus on what you’re doing right now. If you’re running routes, focus on routes, not what you’re having for dinner.
Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals:
“It’s a short elevator to the back of the sh*thouse. All of a sudden, I’m the greatest damn coach in the world. I’ve been a sorry SOB for 17, 18 years now. That ain’t changed just because we won a couple games.”
Who can’t relate to this one?
Everyone loves a winner, but sports fans are particularly fickle. Make a few mistakes and we all know how hard it is to claw your way back up into people’s good graces.
We need to be consistent, playing at the top of our games. Make a mistake, and like Arians, we start playing catch-up.
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks:
“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.”
It’s amazing what can happen when people show confidence in you. Anyone who’s had a mentor who challenged and supported him/her knows what a difference-maker this can be.
Jim Harbaugh, University of Michigan:
“Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”
Apparently this was Harbaugh’s dad’s favorite saying, the way he brought his kids up.
Each day offers new opportunities; like Harbs, we need to attack each day with unbridled enthusiasm.
If we take the collective advice of these seasoned, fierce competitors who’ve known their share of wins and losses and career highs and lows, we’ll be focused, enthusiastic, confident and persistent — requirements for football, life and business.