After a couple posts on sports, I’m putting up one of the great sports coaching quotes, by Vince Lombardi. According to Wikipedia
Vincent Thomas “Vince” Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) was an American football coach. He is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight league championships and five in seven years, including winning the first two Super Bowls following the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. The National Football League’s Super Bowl trophy is named in his honor. He was enshrined in the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.
He never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL, compiling an impressive regular season winning percentage of 73.8% (96-34-6), a preseason winning percentage of 78.6% (44-12), and 90% (9-1) in the postseason for an overall record of 149 wins, 47 losses, and 6 ties in the NFL.
The following essay runs through my mind when I exercise and play sports. I quoted it before but I have to put it up in total. The man said a number of great things well. I don’t pretend I played and competed at the level he did but my life is better for having approached it.
People who never compete in a sport — I feel they’ve missed out on one of the best parts of life. Teamwork, competition, drilling, and so forth aren’t everything in life, but they reach the deepest parts of you. They bring you as high highs and as low lows as any part of life.
What it takes to be number one
By Vince Lombardi
Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second place bowl game, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.
Every time a football player goes to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up – from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s O.K. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.
Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization – an army, a political party or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win – to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is.
It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there – to compete. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules – but to win.
And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head to head combat.
I don’t say these things because I believe in the ‘brute’ nature of men or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour — his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear — is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book