Whether you're prepping a presentation to the entire company or just looking to spice up a casual conversation, you can't go wrong with a good quote (you can, however, go wrong with a bad quote). Few jobs require inspiring and motivating people under pressure more than head coaches.
Say the right words and your clear-eyed, full-hearted team storms the field ready to do whatever it takes to win -- within reason and in accordance with the law, of course. With the Super Bowl just around the corner, let's look at how some great leaders think about preparing for success.
1. "If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anyone else does them day in and day out." -- Chuck Noll
This is great advice from the man who led Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain to four Super Bowl victories in only six years. Behind every heroic highlight is a bunch of unsung work rooted in practice and mastering the fundamentals. Whatever your field or industry, the same will hold true. This is why global Goliaths like Google internally reward groundbreaking, headline-generating innovation, yes, but also make sure to incentivize incremental progress and less glamorous projects.
2. "Try not to do too many things at once. Know what you want, the number one thing today and tomorrow. Persevere and get it done." -- George Allen
Multitasking is often maligned as a productivity killer, but the second part of Allen's advice is critical, too. When focusing on single goals, it can be tempting to forget to prioritize, and instead work on the tasks that are easiest to finish, or the tasks that are being pushed by the noisiest colleagues or clients.
For bosses, it's important to help your team members set roles, responsibilities, and expectations accordingly. This usually starts before you even hire your employees; your job descriptions should provide an understanding of those number one things.
3. "Success isn't measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace." -- Mike Ditka
The famed Bears coach (and, less famously, Saints coach) provides a counterpoint to the winning-is-everything mentality often prevalent in sports and business. Even if your business measures success by whether it makes a trillion dollars in Q1, remember that employees may define success by other, harder-to-quantify metrics (like inner peace or work-life balance).
4. "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it." -- Lou Holtz
Bad things beyond your control are going to happen -- as will mistakes that are completely within your control. In either case, it's important to learn what you can, and move on. There's a sound reason behind the cliché that great athletes have short memories; dwelling on mistakes can often lead to making more mistakes. Similarly, living in fear of failure can hinder innovation, damage morale, and decrease staff retention rates.
Holtz, incidentally, embodied this quote by failing as an NFL coach, but going on to become one of the most renowned college coaches of his generation.
5. "We're not really worried about all that's in the future. That will come when it comes." -- Bill Belichick
Much to the annoyance of some of his interviewers, Belichick has perfected the art of staying focused on the moment in front of him, and also on not worrying about external chatter and distraction. The quote above is from a 2017 press conference, but he's spent years dispensing similar thoughts in his trademark droll monotone. His team doesn't get too high or too low -- and when a player doesn't fit into the culture, he's often shipped out of town.
The perpetually successful Patriots inspire rage from plenty of rivals -- presumably a position your company wouldn't mind following.
6. "The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer." -- John Madden
Behind Madden's outsized persona is a coach who was known for connecting with players and being better prepared than his opponents. It's little surprise he was skeptical of shortcuts. Work hard today, pile up the accomplishments, and perhaps you, too, can enjoy a second career becoming famous for saying things like "Boom!"
7. "Be careful. Explaining excuses are tools of the incompetent." -- Mike Tomlin
At the risk of making Vince Lombardi roll over in his grave, younger coaches like Pittsburgh's Tomlin are dropping inspiration on Twitter. Tomlin doesn't stand for excuses and, as someone who's been in the hot seat himself recently (and works for an organization with high standards of success), doesn't back away from taking accountability himself. In a successful workplace culture, failure is embraced as a necessary part of the game, but excuses and finger-pointing are forbidden.