Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Tony Dungy on Character
I especially liked this section from Coach Dungy's The Mentor Leader (pages 69-71):
"Coach (Cal) Stoll was the first person I can recall who made the connection between the quality of our character and our success on the football field. He was talking about success in life as well, but what was new to me was the emphasis on character and success in the short-term, on the field. Once I learned that lesson, making the connection to success in life was easy...
"Much of what we hear today about football players and good character has more to do with their not embarrassing themselves or their school or team than it does anything else...
"Coach Stoll made the point that how we did things affected our results. He further believed that the kind of people we had on our team would affect our ability to get the results we wanted, and that the people we were around would have an impact on us. To follow his thinking, then, the kind of people we spent time with affected our character, and our character affected our performance on the field.
"I had never looked at it that way before. I never thought that my personal life, or that of my teammates, would have any impact on whether we won or lost games. In my mind, winning games was simply a matter of talent and teamwork. So whenever I played pickup basketball on the playground, where the rule was win or sit out--and of course I wanted to win and keep playing--I didn't give any thought to character, just to who could help me win. Or so I thought.
"After hearing Coach Stoll, however, I began to think about the decisions I had made over the years and the types of guys I always picked. It hit me that I hadn't necessarily picked the most talented players to be on my team. Some of those guys never passed or didn't play defense. Rather, the guys I picked were the ones who had a burning desire to win and who would do the kinds of things--such as rebounding, defending, or passing to the open man--that would put their team in a position to win. If it meant they didn't score at all in the game, fine. If it meant they scored every point, that was fine too. I realized that, without even thinking about it, I gravitated toward the guys who had character. I began to see that the people I wanted to associate with were people of character both on and off the court or field.
"Coach Stoll made it clear that the guys who went to class, who treated other people with respect, and who were responsible in the little things on and off the field were ultimately the ones who gave us a better chance to win...
"Ultimately, Coach Stoll showed us that players who weren't reliable off the field would eventually demonstrate those same shortcomings in the heat of battle. If they weren't responsible in other settings, we wouldn't be able to count on them at crunch time. And he was right...
"Surprisingly for some, research conducted by the Leadership Research Institute had shown that in times of crisis, people gravitate toward the person of highest character, not necessarily the person who is 'in charge' or even the person they believe to be the most competent. Rather, people will tend to build a relationship with and follow the person they view as the most trustworthy, who cares the most, and who is willing to always do the right thing.
"In a crisis, people crave character. But there's no reason to wait for a crisis. You can continue to cultivate your character along the way, and it will contribute to your team's performance long before a crisis ever comes. Character is the glue that bonds solid and meaningful relationships."
Whenever I think about good character, I think of honesty. While it's a key ingredient of character, it's not the only element. Tony Dungy has correctly pointed out some of the relational elements of good character (such as caring about others and being reliable).
Coach Dungy's books are available at all major bookstores and amazon.com. I always buy one when it's published. You can find a link to his blog on my blog roll at the right side of my blog. You will find some wise advice and encouragement posted frequently.