Monday, June 18, 2007

Lessons from Tony Dungy - Part III

1. Direction
2. Perseverence - Staying the course

Tony's third characteristic of true Leadership is:

3. Develop a Thick Skin

To be a great leader you have to develop the
ability to handle criticisim.

Many 'experts' said that Tony's coaching style
wouldn't work with today's NFL. They said he
could never win the big game, not in Tampa Bay
and not Indianapolis.

People are always going to criticize you, especially
if you're doing well.

You should count on it, it's just human nature.

In fact, I'm a believer in the idea that if
people aren't hating on you, then you're probably
not doing anything worth talking about.

When I first started becoming successful, I really
thought that the people around me would be
supportive, they'd get on board with what I was
trying to do because of the obvious results.

Man did I have it wrong.

And back then I did not have thick skin and I
took everything personally.

When athletes and parents started jumping ship
and coming to me for help, other coaches in my
area started saying I was 'stealing' athletes.

It didn't matter that I didn't coach teams in
those sports or, for that matter, that these
people were from other towns.

And it didn't matter that I never approached a
single athlete or parent, they all came and found
me, without exception.

No, logic goes out the window when the human
animal feels threatened. And when you don't follow
the herd, people start to feel threatened.

People are creatures of habit and convention and
they don't like change. They will fight against

When I first started running sports camps and clinics
I couldn't get these coaches to actively promote
them to their teams.

They didn't want to 'lose' these kids to a modern
way of training because they didn't want to put
the time in to learn it themselves.

Back then I took it personally, now I take it as
a compliment. It's amazing what a simple shift
in focus can do.

After all, when you change the way you look at
things, the things you look at change.

I have to laugh now when these same coaches want
me to come back and run clinics for their teams
and towns.

But let me point one thing out:

You can shrug off criticism (because you will be
criticized) but it doesn't mean you shouldn't
listen to it.

Coach Dungy said you can always improve. Take in
the criticism and evaluate it. See where you
can make changes for the better.

Early in my career I was talking to a coach and I
laid out my training progressions for him.

He told me that it was 'too scientific' and didn't
think it would entirely work in practice.

At first I got defensive (I'm as much a creature
of habit as anyone else) and tried to justify
my position and 'prove him wrong'.

My athletes were better, my team was better, so
I must have been 'right'.

But after some time I went back and looked at
what he said. It turns out, alot of his constructive
criticism was accurate.

By analyzing the criticism, I made improvements
that I wouldn't have made otherwise.

And as soon as I made myself open to it, by simply
shifting my perspective, I evolved as a coach

And, quite frankly, as a person too.

<$firstname$>, you can always become a better
leader, coach, parent (or person) once you can
develop the ability to take criticism as an
opportunity to grow, not an indictment of your
personal character.

From a coaching standpoint, you have to decide
how you want your criticism because it'll come
from one of two camps:

One group will criticize you because they see
talented athletes who aren't being developed properly.
And they'll criticize you for your lack of skill.

The other group will be jealous of your ability to
make your 'average' kids better than their team

Both have something to teach, but I prefer my attacks
to come from the second group.

To put yourself in that position, your entire
program has to be built on a solid foundation.

Because that thick skin needs something strong
to support it.

Complete Speed Training is that foundation.

-Latif Thomas


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