After 34 years in the human performance profession, teaching and coaching, Monday July 30, 2012, is my first day of retirement. When such a momentous day occurs, it is easy to become philosophical.
Beginning a new phase of my career in the media means I have to put my thoughts in writing. While I have been good at scribbling notes to myself, and ordered them to present to others, my present challenge is to put these thoughts into some meaningful perspective. What follows is my attempt to put some perspective about what my life has been about to this point, where I am going from here and what is really important.
There is a difference between inspiration and motivation, and both are necessary. Inspiration comes from the inside-out, from a person’s core. I liken it to diet and exercise that builds a person up from the inside.
Motivation is the “grooming” of a person, and works from the outside-in. It is like taking a shower: it has to be done daily to be effective. While motivation may be temporary it is important for our well being, like your daily hygiene.
As a coach, I tried to stress inspiration with the daily reinforcement of motivation. If you want to develop a person, you want them to grow from the inside through inspiration. Inspiration takes longer to develop, but is longer lasting.
Most people spend more time on motivation. It is easier, and we are bombarded with quotations and expressions that are supposed to “fire us up.” Such communication is good and valuable, but has to be repeated often (SR&R = Shampoo, Rinse & Repeat).
As a matter of fact, I collect quotations and expressions in an effort to quantify human performance. It is hereditary. My Father has been, and still is, discovering, collecting and devising such communication.
As trite as many of these expressions may be, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” there are a few sentences that are so profound that they immediately transcend from motivation to inspiration. Here are a couple that have stayed with me throughout a lifetime of developing humans:
“The price you pay for the air you breathe is service to other people.” --John Ralston
This sums up why we are here on Earth, to make things better for other people. If you spend some time each day doing this, you will have lived a truly complete life.
I first heard this from the late coach John Ralston, who at the time was with the Denver Broncos after a stellar career at Stanford University. Ralston had some pretty good coaches work for him at Stanford, which was then known as the Indians in that pre-politically correct era. Of course, Stanford is now the Cardinal, the color and not the bird, and whose mascot is a tree.
Anyway, Ralston had some notable assistants such as Bill Walsh, Dick Vermeil and Jim Mora. This was during the time that Jim Plunkett was winning Rose Bowls and Heisman Trophies.
Coach Ralston spoke for a couple of hours at a clinic I attended in Houston, Texas. I always took pride in spending time during the off season attending football coaching clinics, trying to learn how to do my job better. As I remember, this was a clinic sponsored by Nike and I attended with Bobby April, now the Special Teams Coach with the Philadelphia. At the time we were both working at Chalmette High School.
While I learned many other things from Coach Ralston, this quote has stayed with me since I first heard it. Obviously, a lot of other great coaches learned from him as well.
“We can do no great things, only small things done with great love.” --Mother Teresa
If you do the really important things and you do them really well, success will follow. Care about what you are doing. Love the process.
You cannot inspire unless you love.
I found this great thought in the book All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulgham. While his list from the title chapter is very true, Mother Teresa’s maxim that appeared later in the text is the one that has stayed with me.
It is in vogue to try to create the big, or explosive, play. Not just in football, but life and business as well. Score quickly, always attack, force the action. Only results matter. While there is some merit to that philosophy, greater good is done over a long period of time by doing things consistently well.
However, the fundamentals are the small things that we have to love doing over and over again. Through this consistent execution great things will eventually happen. Those great things will be meaningful and long lasting. Consistency counts.
As mentors to others we have to insist that the fundamental be executed perfectly while we are always on the lookout for better ways to do things.
And finally, results come from execution. I sum it up this way:
“Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.”
More fun to come.
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