Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quiet Strength

My admiration for Tony Dungy has grown considerably over the past few years. My biggest obstacle was overcoming his affiliation with the Tampa Bay Bucs. I don’t have anything against Tampa Bay, but I’m a Bears fan. Bears fans no like Bucs – except when they beat Green Bay.

As a Christian and a sports fan there is a lot to like about Dungy’s book, Quiet Strength. He weaves faith and sports history in a way that captures my attention and imagination.

As a student of leadership I was enthralled with Dungy’s simple leadership strategy for turning around losing organizations. 1. Don’t make excuses. 2. Focus on things that you can change, not on things beyond your control. 3. Continue doing the right things, and you will eventually be successful.

Pop psychology proposes that we need to find and correctly label the source of our problems if we are to move forward with our lives. There are at least two problems with the pop psychology model. First, we rarely find that we are the source of our problem. Second, we tend to turn our newly labeled problems into convenient excuses for why life sucks or why our organization loses. In an age of pop psych, Dungy touts personal responsibility. No excuses. No explanations. In two words – personal responsibility.

Dungy also has a positive attitude about the challenges of life. Focus on things that you can change, not on things beyond your control. I am paraphrasing Dungy at this point, but it is similar to the Serenity Prayer. I like this point because it is so practical. Do the things you can, and don’t worry about everything else.

Dungy’s final point sounds just like a coach – Continue doing the right things, and you will eventually be successful. Dungy believes in character and consistency. This statement is quite counter cultural. We live in a results oriented society. If you don’t perform in the short term, you don’t get the opportunity to influence an organization for the long term. Dungy teaches that you do the right things consistently for long enough, success will follow. Preach on.

I’ll close with Dungy’s definition of success:

God’s Word, however, presents a different definition of success – one centered on a relationship with Jesus Christ and a love for God that allows us to love and serve others. God gives each one of us unique gifts, abilities, and passions. How well we use those qualities to have an impact on the world around us determines how "successful" we really are. (143)