I was blessed to serve as Head Football Coach and Athletic Director for 13 years after serving 5 years as an assistant football coach. I have always loved football and owe a lot to the sport for the impact it has had on me. One of my favorite coaches is Tony Dungy. I had the opportunity to meet Coach Dungy early on in my career at a Coaches Clinic. Coach Dungy was very humble and gracious and took the time to talk to me after his presentation.

QUIET

STRENGTH

I ended up following his career and eventually reading his book Quiet Strength. As a young coach, Tony Dungy met with a pastor for regular devotionals. During one of those meetings, the pastor advised Coach Dungy to take a closer look at the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a great leader, and the pastor knew this story would be of great benefit to Coach Dungy. Reading this in Quiet Strength encouraged me to also take a look at Nehemiah. Consequently, I discovered one of my all time my favorite leadership stories. Nehemiah took on the challenge of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He knew when he set out to do something great he would first be ridiculed, be challenged, and finally be attacked. Once these attacks became too fierce, the workers had to build with one hand and fight with the other. This story has such great parallels to life. It is possible that you have a goal so big that others laugh at it. By the way, if your goal isn’t being laughed at, chances are the goal is too small. It may be that you are on your way to achieving that goal and your detractors have moved to ridicule and even outright challenge. It may even be that you are under attack. Keep heart and remember, leaders build with one hand and fight with the other.

LEAD

is not spelled

LOUD

Tony Dungy has had and continues to have a huge impact on me. I have read all of his books, and I start each day by reading a devotion from The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge devotional book followed by reading a chapter in my Bible. If you haven’t read any of his material, I highly recommend it.

Quiet Strength is my favorite. As an NFL head coach, Tony Dungy was under a microscope. His every move was analyzed and discussed nationally. He was often criticized for being too quiet. He was not a yeller and a screamer. There were no profanity-laced tirades at his practices. The national media and NFL fans in general could not understand this. As a High School head football coach, I always had a no profanity stance with my coaches and team. I was never much of a yeller. I will never forget reading Quiet Strength. I could easily relate to Coach Dungy’s temperament. I actually read Quiet Strength in 2007 while serving in the position of Head Football coach at Andalusia High School During a team function, I was asked by a booster how I had made it through 15 practices (he had been at all 15) and not said 1 cuss word. His question in and of itself was not shocking to me. I understand a lot of people expect that type of language. The shocking part for me was this particular team function we were attending was at a local church. Can’t make that stuff up. He was sure to let me know I was a little quieter than he had expected me to be.

Remember, LEAD is not spelled LOUD. Meek is not weak. There is something to be said about quiet confidence. The loudest voice in the room is not necessarily the one to be trusted. I love hearing Louie Simmons, legendary Westside Barbell founder, say “Big is not strong. Strong is strong.” I say leadership is leadership. It is not volume or force. It is not a title. It is not making people do something. It is helping people grow and become the best they can be so that they have the capacity to do. Leaders build capacity in others. Sometimes words are the last thing people need to get from a leader. It may be that jumping in with both feet in the trenches is necessary. Oh, and what about those hands? We can look to Nehemiah for that answer. No, LEAD is not spelled LOUD. Leadership is setting the vision, handling the ridicule while maintaining the course, and when necessary, fighting with one hand while building with the other.

Moving people from

involved

to

invested

It has been widely reported that Bill Belichick, Head Football Coach of the New England Patriots, has one sign in his athletic facility. The sign reads, “Do Your Job!” This is powerful. If everyone does their job success is the result. This was true in the time of Nehemiah as well. He had to find a way to ensure that everyone would do their job. He was building more than walls. He was building capacity. Nehemiah had to build capacity in others in order to build the wall. He did this by asking everyone to work on their portion of the wall. The people were totally invested in this because the part of the wall they were working on directly impacted them. This would make their job worth fighting for. As leaders, we are faced with this same challenge. We need everyone in our organization to do their job. Having a personal stake in the work that we do, moves us from involved to invested. Being invested causes us to do jobs that are worth “fighting” for. Going the extra mile becomes the norm. It becomes what we do, how we do things. We build capacity in others by moving them from involved to invested.

Actions

are far

greater than

declarations of intent

Nehemiah generated actions. The whole wall project began with a vision. This vision was presented to the King. Permission was granted and resources were allocated. But it did not stop there. The intent was to build the wall. That was only the beginning. Action was required. As leaders we must move our people to action. The magic is in the DOing. What are we getting our people to do? We do need vision, plans, permission, and resources, but more importantly, we need action. Dr. Deming’s PDSA cycle of continuous improvement is solid. Plan – Do – Study – Act. All parts are important; however, all the planning and studying means nothing if there is no DOing and ACTing.

Finish

Nehemiah was able to FINISH. As leaders, we must preach FINISH. We often have great ideas and great starts, but do we finish? We have some BIG jobs to do. People will laugh. They laughed at Nehemiah. People will challenge. They challenged Nehemiah. People will attack. They attacked Nehemiah. We must finish. Tony Dungy had a sign in his facility as well. It stated, “No excuses, no explanations.” Nehemiah was a finisher. We don’t read about the starters. Nobody really cares to hear about the excuse or explanation for why something did not work. We read about the finisher. Be a finisher. Build capacity in your people to finish. Provide the vision. Provide the permission. Provide the resources. But demand the FINISH.

BUILD IT!

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