When leadership ‘stands tall’
Full Contact Project Management
I recently watched a new football movie, “When the Game Stands Tall,” which has very little to do with football, and everything to do with life – lessons, leadership and showing love.
“When the Game Stands Tall” is a movie based on the winningest sports team of all time – any sport, pro or amateur – the Concord De La Salle football team, which had a winning streak of 151-0 over 12+ years. De La Salle is a Catholic boys’ school in Northern California, and it primarily played against public schools. The team’s coach is Bob Ladouceur.
Interestingly, the movie is not really about the win streak, but what happened once that streak ended, and how the team reacted to it. That’s about where we come into the movie.
Let me give you a possible parallel to your business. Most mason contractors had a pretty good business “win streak” going from, say, prior to 2000 to just about 2008. When the meltdown of the economy happened, lots of us were bemoaning the loss of business, thinking about the good old days, instead of getting a new game plan going. Our comfortable streak of winning business had been stopped.
It’s easy to get caught up in the woe-is-me mentality. Sort of like another line from an ancient movie, where Marlon Brando says, “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.”
Your own team is not a bunch of high school boys craving Coach Lad’s four requirements: commitment, accountability, perfect effort, love. The men and women on your team can only hope for those, but are absolutely blown away when you make those principles the cornerstone of your business efforts.
In the movie, the team learns to deal with adversity, disappointment, losing and tragedy. We face the same out in the real world, don’t we? Are there many days when your phone doesn’t ring, and one of those things rears its ugly head? I doubt it. Coach Lad taught his kids that they needed to give the perfect effort on every play.
When you get that bad phone call, email, fax or whatever, it might mean that your team did not execute properly and give that perfect effort. Stuff happens. Sometimes it’s really bad, but mostly you can and will get through it. One of the best lines in the movie came not from Coach Lad, but from Assistant Coach Terry Eidson, who told the team after a loss, “Don’t let a game define who you are. Let your lives do that.”
But there’s another big lesson inside of that lesson: Whether you are winning or losing, don’t let that current game define who you are. Because, sometimes, we can win ugly.
It used to be said in football that a tie game was kind of like kissing your sister. Winning ugly is about the same, I imagine. Personally, I want to know that I did give something the perfect effort, from start to finish, and that I went into the game with the proper training and equipment, a committed team, left it all on the field, and did everything we possibly could to give that perfect effort. Absolutely everything.
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.