Wednesday, October 27, 2010

prACTice like a champion


prACTice like a champion.
That little double entendre was taken, along with a whole lot more, from the entrance to the Woody Hayes Athletic facility. This world class facility is where the Ohio State Buckeyes train, study, review game film, practice, and are etched into OSU lore with each passing season.

The reason we are discussing THE Ohio State University today is because they are winners. Under the leadership of coach Jim Tressel, and Athletic Director Gene Smith; the city of Columbus, Ohio has a champion to call their own. Another key slogan, this one from the locker room, refers to how the winning occurs with momentum that is generated via personal character and purpose.

In short, winning, making money, being great at anything - they are the outcomes of champion practices.

While in Columbus, friends and I were privileged enough to visit the longest-running Harley Davidson dealership in the United States. Here, another lesson in winning. The one thing the good people at Harley Davidson had in common, other than their product knowledge - was a passion for riding.

The success we heard of from Harley Davidson was not that they were the number one bike brand in the world (though we did learn they were the number one bike brand among young people, which defeated our view of mid-life crisis baby boomers being their typical rider). The success we heard of is that their dealership was a hub for the community with riding as it's central passion. Every Wednesday was a full out ride party, sometimes generating 8,000 attendees! Their sales of high end bikes have also remained flat during one of the worst economic downturns in memory.

The good people at Harley Davidson win, because in addition to measuring every aspect of their business - they love what they do.

The Buckeyes also measure everything they do; and everything their opponents do. Every practice and every game is filmed and de-constructed. Every team they play is filmed and their games analyzed. Individual and team performance is broken down in every measurable fashion... and their coach and athletic director, and everyone else who even touches a piece of scarlet equipment - loves football, particular Buckeye Football.

Ohio State's success? More Heisman Trophy winning players than any other school in history, 7 national championships, more conference titles than I could count, and the 49 - 0 win over Purdue we took in? There were 105,300+ screaming fans which was the 56th consecutive home game with over 100,000 fans. They also have a higher graduation rate than the student body at large, and have players from their program on every NFL team's current or past roster.

In short, these are two of the best examples of success anyone could hope to have the privilege of seeing, let alone analyzing from the inside.

In both cases, the precision of measurement, the discipline with fundamentals, and understanding of the respective business is phenomenal. And in both cases, the fundamentals came before the success. Both have experienced (a lot of) adversity. But both have weathered all storms and stood as great examples that if you love what you do, you are willing to do the work to be great at it, and you refuse to quit - you stand a pretty good chance of being your own success story.

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