Hard Work = Perseverance = Character = Confidence = Winning
When it comes to athletics, everyone wants to be “successful.” We hear of coaches at every level being judged, promoted, fired, and praised based on their success or lack thereof. But how is success measured? Is it measured by wins and losses? Is it measured by how many championship rings you have? I think when I was in high school and college, I would have answered that question by saying winning is the best indicator of success. I would like to think that I have grown a little wiser than that by now!
Every year we can point out teams that either overachieved or underachieved at every level. I think we would all agree that a coach that goes 5-5 with a team that everyone expected to do poorly would be considered a better success story than a team that may have won a couple more games and was expected to win it all, but lost in the first round of playoffs.
In that aspect, winning becomes very relative in terms of success. As a high school football coach, I must ask myself, how can I have a successful team regardless of record? In thinking about this, I have come to this conclusion: I must help my players to become the very best they can be on and off the field.
What this philosophy boils down to is that it is the life lessons we learn from football that are more important than the game itself. As a coach, I must prepare my players to be a success on the field by teaching them life principles that will help them be successful off the field.
In his book “Quiet Strength,” Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts, puts it this way: “Football is just a game, it’s not family, it’s not a way of life, and it doesn’t define you as a person. It is just football. It lasts just three hours and when the game is over it is over.” He would go on to say that the most important part of football is the journey, the relationships, and the life lessons. I wholeheartedly agree.
Although I do not believe winning is the most important indicator of our success, please do not misunderstand me. I want to win and I want my teams to want to win. I am a competitive person that gets sick at the thought of losing. This leads to two questions I ask myself. How can I get my team to be more process-oriented as opposed to outcome-oriented? What is the process that can prepare my players to be men of character but will also give them a chance to win football games?
It was a Bible verse that helped me answer this question. Romans 5:3-5 states this: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint…”
I believe that winning boils down to two things: talent and confidence. Since I have more control of the latter, I mainly focus on developing confident players. In order to have players that play with confidence, they must learn to be hard and dedicated workers. Once they learn to work hard, the next step is to learn how to persevere and fight through adverse situations.
Next, I believe that people who persevere and don’t give up during tough times become people of character. People of character work hard even when nobody is watching. They fight through adversity and try to do the right thing in every situation. Character-filled people are confident in who they are and what they believe. Confident teams win games.
Hard Work + Perseverance + Character + Confidence = Winning. This is my “Winning Formula” and true measure of success. It may not guarantee wins on the scoreboard, but it will guarantee a team full of winners, regardless of the score.
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Ozark Preps Illustrated.