Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

The Psychology of Success

Posted by admin February - 6 - 2010 - Saturday

I want to share another point that Gladwell makes in his book Outliers.  First, perhaps, I should define what he means by an “outlier.”  Gladwell says that it’s a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience.  People, who are outliers, are so accomplished… so extraordinary… in their field that we are in awe of their accomplishments. 

Most of us won’t have the good fortune of coaching a Lawrence Taylor, Jerry Rice or Brett Favre… just as we probably won’t have a Bill Gates in our Computer Science class nor a John Lennon in our school band.  Gladwell’s point is that, in explaining these people’s enormous success or wealth, our tendency is to focus on the individual.  We describe their characteristics and habits and traits that propel that person to the heights they have attained.  Herein lies the problem.

Gladwell says that to understand an individual’s success, you need to look around them more than you look inside them.  People say that Gates or Lennon or Favre are “really smart or gifted”…. but Gladwell says that he knows LOTS of people who are really smart or talented… and they aren’t worth 60 billion dollars like Gates is!

You need to look at the culture they were reared in and the community, family and the generation they were born into.  We, as coaches, are part of that culture and community.  We, whether we realize it or not,  have a major impact on the development of the  success that our athletes can potentially have.  I had a player a decade ago who has now played in the NFL for 10 years and has been All Pro twice and has a Super Bowl ring, Dre Bly of the 49’ers.  As a freshman in HS, Dre was performing so poorly academically that his parents (who were both teachers) were ready to pull him from all sports.  They graciously gave me the opportunity to work with him both in the off season weight program but I also met with him weekly to learn study skills, work habits and talk about what success in the classroom meant to his future.  As they say… the rest is history.  All State high school football player.  3 time 1st team All American at UNC and he still holds the NCAA record for career interceptions… and now a long, excellent (and lucrative!) pro career.  His parents still thank me for being that “spark” that their son needed.

Who knows… maybe that future NFL star is in your weight room right now!  It is imperative that you invest the time in these young men’s lives both on and off the field.  Bill Gates was given permission to use a computer lab at the local university right as his interest in computers was igniting.  Gladwell makes the point:  suppose that opportunity hadn’t been presented to Gates at just the right time and place?  But it was… and look what he’s accomplished!

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