I rarely watch sports but I love to follow the personalities b/c the drama is so extreme and the stakes are so high.
B/c of this I recently read the book Belichick – The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time, and it was fascinating to say the least.
Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, is truly remarkable with the most Super Bowl wins (6), the most Super Bowl appearances (9 as head coach; 12 overall); the most postseason games (42); the most conference championships (9) and on and on.
What I most love about people like Belichick is all the lessons the rest of us can take from their achievements. Here are just a few:
- Works his ass off. This is a theme that surfaces in almost every book I read about successful people – they work relentlessly hard. Belichick is famous for 18 hour days, as is the case with most successful football coaches.
- Micromanages. This too is a common theme among the ultra-successful even though so many management books advise against it. Belichick is involved in every aspect of the vast and extremely complex Patriots organization. Few of us could come close to staying on top of so many things in the manner that Belichick does.
- Prepares. This goes hand in hand with the hard work referenced above, but Belichick is notorious for his obsessive preparation for every game, draft, and negotiation.
- Thick skin. He endured enormous abuse from other coaches (like Bill Parcells) and from players while he was working his way up. He never let it get to him nor did he burn bridges. This too is a recurring theme among the ultra-successful.
- Perseveres. He labored as a trod-upon assistant coach for over 20 years but never gave up on his dream. He also failed miserably in his first stint as a head coach for the Cleveland Browns and still persevered.
- Ruthless/No emotion. He cuts loyal players, no matter how good they once were and as soon as they become expendable, with no emotion at all. He famously cut quarterback Tim Tebow the day after talking him out of taking a $1 million endorsement deal that would have taken Tebow away from the team for only a day (b/c it was not “good for the team”).
- Learns from other disciplines. He frequently meets with successful coaches from other sports like basketball and baseball and takes away valuable ideas. He also learns from Broadway producers and icons from other non-sports-related disciplines.
- Stretches the rules. Many just call this cheating 😊, but Belichick is also famous for doing everything he can to win even it is not always above board. “Deflategate” (football deflating scandal) and “Spygate” (illegally filming another team’s practice) are two examples.
- Knows the rules. The NFL has thousands of rules and understanding every one of them inside and out is a huge advantage in many game-situations that Belichick often takes advantage of.
- Nurtures talent instead of paying for it. He is very skilled at finding unheralded draft picks and nurturing them, as opposed to paying top dollar for top picks.
- He constantly improves by small percentages. This is one of the best lessons for all of us. He relentlessly improves his organization in small increments, knowing that they will turn into major improvements over the course of a year.
- He doesn’t share information. He loves to glean info from other coaches but he rarely shares it.
Do I want to emulate Belichick? No.
The cheating and the ruthlessness are not things I could live with.
But, the hard work, preparation, constant improvement, constant learning, and thick skin are great lessons and reminders for all us trying to build successful organizations ourselves.
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