Monday, February 23, 2015

Three Rules to Live By - Life Lessons from an NFL Football Coach

You've seen him on TV, chewing his gum like it's going out of style, rushing up and down the sidelines celebrating touchdowns like a little kid does when running free at the playground, slapping high fives and giving the 'ol "good game" slap on the butt cheek to his players as they run off the field!

You may have also heard of him taking some heat from fans and sports analysts regarding the play that he said was "his fault" during this last Super Bowl game - you know....."that play" which the other team intercepted a pass at the goal line and took the game away from what could've been a game winning TD and a chance to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. However, this is a whole different story in itself, which I do not plan or desire to discuss.

Regardless of the number of wins, losses and a heart breaking loss at Super Bowl XLIX, Coach Pete Carroll is a stand up guy, and I say that will all sincerity. The crazy part of is that I'm not a Seattle Seahawks fan!

Let me rephrase that - I'm a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan (ever since I was little) but I've come to also be a fan of the Hawks in the adopted city in which I reside.

I can honestly say that Coach Carroll has done a tremendous job turning his team around and converting them into a powerhouse football team which I consider them to be dangerous and a force to be reckoned with.

There have been numerous interviews and conversations that I have witness and heard on TV and/or on sports talk radio about the culture that Coach Carroll has created. A culture of sorts that the players and the entire organization has come to love, appreciate and more importantly, one that they believe in and live daily.

It's such an amazing culture that other players from around the league have expressed an interest and desire to play for a guy like Coach Carroll and the Hawks organization.

The other day, I was reorganizing my book shelves when I came across a book that I read and have re-read a few times over the last few years. It was a book written by the man himself - "Win Forever - Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion".

As I thumbed through the pages, I came a cross a chapter simply titled "Laying Ground Rules", where he went into detail about 'The Three Rules' he introduced to his football team back when he was a NCAA head coach of the USC Trojans.

These rules were a product/end result of when Coach Carroll had gone through a process of self-discovery after having being fired from coaching jobs with the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. It was during the time when he was seeking his next coaching opportunity that he created a vision and a philosophy based on his personal core values and beliefs that was centered with competition as the central them while striving to "do things better than they have ever been done before."

However, his values, philosophies, and beliefs stretched beyond the football field and the locker room. As Coach Carroll explains, it all comes down being a better version of ourselves and being good human beings while having a sense of integrity, respect and a desire to embrace the challenges that life offers in addition to accepting any and all opportunities to grow, prosper and flourish.

With that being said, here are Coach Carroll's Three Rules that we can all live by and implement into our lives while reaping the benefits and rewards for upgrading our quality of life.

Rule #1 - Always Protect the Team

According to Coach, rule #1 emphasized that his staff and players understood that their actions and decisions that they made would always reflect that of the team as well as themselves. He wanted them to understand and be fully aware of what they were doing at all times. No matter what, the end result would always be a product of their actions, decisions, and choices - both good and/or bad.

In the case of how this may impact you and those around you, it may actually reflect a lot on your personal outcomes and/or desired results that you seek. You see, "protecting the team" could easily pertain to:

  • Family
  • Close Friends
  • Neighbor(s)
  • Co-workers
  • Fit-Fam 
  • Church 
  • etc.
By protecting the team, you instill the ability to make good judgement calls by way of adopting not only the factor of integrity, but also the will of self-discipline where you do the right thing, even when no one is looking. 

Think about that for a bit. 

If you were to get yourself into some form of trouble, and I mean big trouble while having prior knowledge that if you got caught there would be some consequences involved, how would that impact your team?

How would your poor judgement and decision making make them feel? 

How would it reflect on them? 

Every choice & decision that you make will not only affect you but those around you. When I read Coach Carroll's first rule, I immediately made that connection and the resiliency needed to offset any negativity. 

We all have a great obligation and possess the power to execute at our maximum potential through our actions in a positive way. As long as we understand our responsibilities and have the capability to tap into our conscience to achieve personal greatness, we can always expect to do what's right while protecting the team at all costs. 

Rule #2 - No Whining, No Complaining, No Excuses

Back in the day when I was playing Pop Warner football, my coach would always give us his speech in regards to eliminating the excuses and just putting in the work to complete our assignments. In that speech, he would always say a specific quote that has stuck with me since (maybe it's one that you're familiar with too):

"Excuses are like assholes! Everybody has one, and they all stink!"

Every time my youth football coach would say this infamous line, I'd sit there, think about it, and absorb it in in terms of when I would come up with some lame excuse for not preparing for my role as the team quarterback, when my playing would suffer or when we executed a bad play based on poor performance. 

However, Coach Carroll's second rule isn't just about recognizing the consequences of our actions or solely about physical performance, but more so about the language we use which we refer to as self-talk and how the lack of making excuses sets the platform of positive affirmations - speaking the language of being positive while staving off any form of negativity. The rationale behind the power of intentions of speaking in the affirmative is to minimize the attraction of negative thoughts as it tends to happen when we speak and/or think in a negative way.

I like to think of it as abundance (positive) vs scarcity (negative).

According to the universal laws, what we believe is what we tend to draw towards us. Since our brains are wired to ask questions, searching for the answers to those questions is the process our brains go through to seek the appropriate response. We can take Coach Carroll's second law an apply it in a form of positive 'afformation', which is basically an 'affirmation' put in the context of a question.

Affirmations are statements of something that we want to be true in our lives.
  • "I am happy and healthy."
  • "I am loved by many."
  • "I a financially stable."
  • "I am well respected by others."

If we seek for the above statements to be true, the question we should be asking ourselves is, "Do we honestly believe in our own affirmations, or do we have any sense of doubt about them?"

Chances are that if we doubt them, it's because we're trying to convince ourselves, all the while our mind believes that the above statements are false. 

Rather than making a statement that we may not believe to be be true, can we be better off asking a question of empowerment that can transform our lives instead?

Maybe we should be asking ourselves questions such as:
  • "Why am I happy and healthy?"
  • "Why am I loved by many?"
  • "Why am I financially stable?"
  • "Why am I well respected?"

On the flip side, we should be consciously aware when we ask similar questions in a negative way:

  • "Why am I unhappy and unhealthy?"
  • "Why am I not loved by many?"
  • "Why and I financially unstable?"
  • "Why and I disrespected?"

When we ask disempowering questions, consciously or not, we tend to manifest what we focus on.

In other words, when we ask negative questions, we get negative results!

To flip the switch in a positive light, when we ask empowering questions, we cause our minds to focus on what we have vs. what we lack - our mind automatically creates a sense of a positive self-image and aligns our beliefs with what is right about us vs. what is wrong with us. Our brains bypass the true/false filter and begins to search for the answers to the questions we ask ourselves.

Asking empowering questions leads us to answer THE TRUTH about who we really are as individuals.

Coach Carroll also states that "self-talk can be powerful and ultimately can create anticipated outcomes."

He also mentions that if any of his players had a direct problem, he wanted to hear about it rather than let things manifest in a negative way thus affecting and impacting the player, the staff, and the entire team.

Instead of sweeping things under the rug, dealing with issues head-on while having open, clear and transparent communication is the key to positive outcomes while discouraging any complaints and/or making excuses.

Rule #3 - "Be Early"

I can really appreciate Coach Carroll's third rule on so many levels. The reason I say this is because my mom & dad taught me and both of my younger brothers about organizational skills and respect at a very young age.

I guess a lot of it was due to growing up as a firehouse kid as my dad was employed as a firefighter/EMT for over 30 years. As you would have it, every time I'd step foot into the firehouse, it was always organized, clean and spotless. There was always a sense of pride, respect, organization, and honor that permeated throughout the station.

Coach Carroll's rule of 'Be Early' is just about that - being organized and showing respect.

Here's an excerpt that coach emphasizes as it pertains to his third rule:

"We wanted our players to in meetings before they started, and more important, we wanted them there with their playbooks open and minds ready to learn. To be early, you must have your priorities in order. You have to be organized to the point where you have a plan and can execute it effectively. Part of teaching players to execute on the field is teaching them to execute off the field as well. We wanted them to understand that by being organized they demonstrated respect for the coaches who called the meeting, for their teammates, and ultimately for themselves."

I vividly remember my parents telling me that no matter what by any circumstances to ever be late for 3 things:
  1. Church
  2. School 
  3. Work
In other words, showing up late to any of the three listed above was demonstrating disrespect which would not be tolerated - and it would only lead to negative consequences and problems thus impacting our minds, our thoughts, our self-talk and beliefs; all things that tie into the what was discussed earlier above. 

By practicing the art and skill of 'being early', we can make every aspect of our lives easier.

By being organized, we can make increases our level of confidence.

By always having an open mind that is ready to learn, we can take notes on the things of importance and improve our level of peak performance and preparedness for any and all situations that we encounter. 

No matter if you're a student, business owner, retired, belong to an organization such as a gym, social club, church, work for a firm or corporation, or play an integral part on an athletic team, collegiate or professional, Coach Carroll's "Three Rules" are guaranteed to have a positive impact in your life as long as you so desire to implement them and adhere by them as part of your existence.

By adopting the three rules as I have done into my personal and professional life, I've allowed myself to embrace and appreciate the outcomes of my actions and my mindset to assist me in becoming a better version of myself each and every day.

I hope that you can do the same and reap the rewards of upgrading your quality of life all by applying the life lessons/rules from a great NFL football coach so that you may also experience the great gifts that life has to offer, both on and off the field.

In doing so, we can truly WIN FOREVER!


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