Thursday, October 19, 2006

Who the Hell was Vince Lombardi?

Perhaps the most often quoted and highly touted sports figure of all time, Vince Lombardi was the winningest coach in football history. Through an era where multi thousand dollar contracts were not even fathomed, players performed prior to their reward and rules and regulations did not interfere with the flow of the game (which, as in life… was / is not perfect), Vince Lombardi set a precedence that has not and will not be touched for eternities to come. Yet, if we are evolving, redefining and revolutionizing as a species, why is his record so difficult to break?

Vince Lombardi made no secret about the attitude of his tenure. For Vince “winning is not a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in awhile; you don’t do things right once in awhile; you do them right all the time. Unfortunately, so is losing”. In our new world, we lack the consistency to embrace or want a winning attitude because it is seen as ‘extreme’ or ‘over the top’. Yet, given the opportunity… we all want to see a winner and we want to be that winner. Lance Armstrong is a winner. Instead, we embrace equality (like the word truly exists) and cater to the middle denominator right from the participation ribbons, to the integrated workforce. Do we grant academic scholarships for c – averages? Is it necessary to place male(s) or female(s) in preferential positions for the sole purpose of being equal? In how many instances is the middle of anything celebrated / embraced or mentioned? Evolution or religion – equality was not part of the master plan because if we were meant to be equal(s), there would have been one being, who died shortly after birth. We need to get that winning attitude back.

Platform / Plan.
Vince Lombardi was not vague on how he would win. He would win on the back of hard work. To be a member of his team, one had to prepare themselves to tax their physical and mental thresholds day in and day out. Vince believed that “any man’s finest hour- his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he’s exhausted on the field of battle – victorious”. Our world has been infiltrated by short cuts. Getting the most, while giving the least. From overbearing parents who don’t want to see their kid’s struggle, to climbing the corporate ladder, to keeping up with the Jones’s, we have yet to figure out that it is the effort through the journey, which generates the adrenaline and archives the best memories. Fewer of us get to experience what it feels like to be victorious in our own right because quite simply, we just don’t want to work hard.

Vince Lombardi was a visionary with passion. He believed that “every time a football player goes to ply his trade, he’s got to play from the ground up – from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s o.k. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to have a find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.” Our world lacks passion. Catering to mediocrity, compounded by short cuts, has left many with a deflated ‘why bother / who cares’ 1-2 punch. This flows through osmosis from above / around / underneath and can cripple the strongest of candidates. Whether it’s the youth who half asses it on the field, the cancer in the workplace who complains behind closed doors, or the salesperson who explains ‘it’s not their job’… people lack passion and that is sad. We need to realize passion comes from within and then match what we are good at with what we are passionate about in order to get something out of life. We only have one life to live and we must live that life without regret.

Vince Lombardi fostered his passion amongst his team through disciplined principles. “if you are 10 minutes early, you were 5 minutes late” Vince explained that “running a football team is no different than running any other kid of organization – an army, a political party or a business. The object is to win”. He had a plan, and he did not deviate from that plan. Regardless of how great of player you were… you were not exempt. The principles instituted to carry out that plan set the expectations and created consistency. Our world has sacrificed many of our principles. We have established a ‘gray’ area to keep us from avoiding the realities of black and white. The adjective for this is ‘justification(s)’ and the examples are too numerous to site. It’s very difficult to consistently abide by the principles when you have little passion, look for the easy route, or give a half assed effort with a loosing attitude.

Vince Lombardi was the winningest football coach of all time. He accomplished this with one team, one attitude, one foundation, one passion, and a few principles. Our world will not see this repeated in our lifetime because there is too much grime (greed, resistance, ignorance, money, and ego) within some of the current leadership where there needs to be better attitudes, stronger foundations, deeper passions, and guided principles. We are in a constant state of building better mousetraps in order to avoid the realities of life. (note how short this section is? It’s that easy).

Vince Lombardi did more than a win football games and hand out quotes. He left a legacy. Our world is composed largely of a ‘me society’ trying to accumulate as much ‘stuff’ as we can in order to validate our actions. We perceive this stuff… to be our legacy. Vince Lombardi left a legacy of leadership. He stated "Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal." Our world thinks that leaders are born so we can justify their obscurity and continue schlepping our personal baggage for as long as we can. Few want to step out. Fewer want to take charge. Fewer still want to rock the boat and, even fewer still actually leave something that will benefit not only themselves but generations to come. That’s what leadership is about. We are leaving our world with few goals, a weak foundation, piss poor passion, and pathetic principle(s) and the results are evident. When millions embrace a music phenom who’s music is his escape from his troubled life. Realize the appeal is the reality that, in many ways, his story… is their story.

Who the hell was Vince Lombardi?
One of the greatest leaders of all time.

No comments: