Tag Archives: Peyton Manning

From Roger Staubach to Title IX Babies – Athletic Endeavor Really Can Lead to Business Success

Roger Staubach: Super Bowl Winner in Football -- Super Bowl winner in Business (Real Estate)

Legendary is not a strong enough word.  Here in Dallas, whatever punch the word “legendary” carries, it is not enough to describe the name Roger Staubach.  The winner of two Super Bowls for the Dallas Cowboys, Roger Staubach is simply the man.  And his success on the field carried over into a vast Real Estate success.  When I moved to Dallas in 1987, it seemed that the name Roger Staubach was always staring at me from one corner or another.

We have always known that athletic contests build some kind of inner something that carries over into life in ways that are almost too numerous to mention, or even fully grasp.  Now researchers are trying to find those ways.

And it is true for women as well as men.  In a fascinating article on the Daily Beast, Female Jocks Rule the World by Danielle Friedman, we learn quite a bit about this.  Here are a number of excerpts.  (I will follow with a few observations of my own).

Athletic women make more money and hold more upper-management positions than those who shun sports—and their numbers are growing. Danielle Friedman on why it pays to play.

But the young entrepreneurs have undoubtedly carried lessons from their days as varsity athletes into the boardroom, attributing many of their managerial skills to their sporty pasts.

“Our coach always had us write our goals on the back of our hands to be constantly reminded of them, to give one example,” says Jenny Carter Fleiss, who was captain of her track team in Riverdale, New York. “Today, I still keep a list of my personal goals posted right in front of me—and encourage everyone else at Rent the Runway to do this—as a constant reminder of the bigger-picture things we’re working on.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, Carter Fleiss and Hyman are in good company. Former high school and college athletes of all abilities hold positions of power in an array of arenas, from Sarah Palin (basketball) to Ellen DeGeneres (tennis). Eight-two percent of executive businesswomen played organized sports after elementary school, according to a 2002 study by mutual fund company Oppenheimer, and evidence suggests that figure will likely rise over the next few decades, as more post-Title IX babies enter the workforce.

“There’s a whole lot of anecdotal evidence that disparities between women and men in the workplace are caused by a lack of athletic training and experience,” says Kathryn Kolbert, director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College. “We’d now like to do the research to prove it.”

In addition to gaining valuable skills, women who played (or passionately follow, for that matter) sports gain unique access to “boys” networks that they’d otherwise be excluded from, experts say. Also compelling: The Oppenheimer study found that one in six adult women identify themselves as athletic—but the figure rises to almost half of women who make more than $75,000.

Stevenson found that ramping up girls’ participation in sports had a direct effect on their education and employment, explaining about 20 percent of the increase in education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for women ages 25 to 34,

“It’s not just that the people who are going to do well in life play sports, but that sports help people do better in life,” Stevenson told Parker-Pope. “While I only show this for girls, it’s reasonable to believe it’s true for boys as well.”

…evidence suggests that participating in an organized sport can benefit nearly all women, deeply instilling lessons from the value of practice to teamwork, says Kolbert. It provides participants with a peer group, and a feeling of inclusion. And perhaps most importantly, it helps cultivate resilience.

My observations:
I was a tennis player.  (The operative word is “was”).  I was ranked fairly high in Texas my Senior year in high school, had a great, great experience on my tennis teams, both in high school and in college, and my college degree was substantially paid for by my tennis scholarship.  I was good – not anywhere near great (I could not challenge the best – and in my years, the best was Trinity University), but good.

To this day, when I run into an old tennis buddy or opponent, my heart beats faster, and the conversation just starts flying.

In my years studying business success, the wisdom of a good coach or athlete seems to lift the level of the thought and conversation.  On this blog, the single most viewed article we’ve ever had (fueled somewhat by his death) was about John Wooden – simply the greatest coach who ever lived.  (Here’s the article: Wisdom from Coach Wooden: “A coach is someone who can give correction without creating resentment”).  And blog posts about Peyton Manning, Coach Bear Bryant, Tony Dungy, John Madden, all have brought more than the average number of page views than articles about the other mere mortals in business seem to generate.

And in one area of business endeavor, the illustrations just seem to come in an avalanche:  the 10,000 hour rule, and the need for deliberate practice, is simply best explained by athletic discipline success stories (though music stories, dance stories, and many others, could certainly make the point in powerful ways also).  Though Malcolm Gladwell includes stories of Bill Gates and the Beatles in his discussion of the 10,000 hour rule in Outliers, he begins it with stories of Canadian Junior Hockey and international junior soccer competition.

And if you want to understand the impact of, the power of, work ethic and discipline and the need for constant improvement, you may as well just bow down to the legendary practices of such athletes as Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice and Peyton Manning and Nolan Ryan and…

And if you want the best cautionary tales, just check into stories of athletes who could have been great, but lacked those qualities that could have kept them on the path to such greatness.  (For one such cautionary tale, just consider the tale of one-game-wonder Clint Longley, the “mad bomber.”  A great quarterback that never was…)

The article I quoted above offers a lot to help us understand the power of such athletic undergirdings to business success.  But here’s something else to throw in the mix.  When I read about deliberate practice, the place/role of a good coach, the 10,000 hour rule, I do look back on my athletic successes, but my athletic failures and disappointments are what I really remember.  And in remembering those, I feel somewhat driven to do better at this chapter of my life.  Maybe the challenge of athletic disappointment drives us to do better at doing better later in life.

I guess all of this is my way of saying that I am not surprised at the evidence that athletic endeavor — practice, teamwork, competition, the role of a good coach — all help lead to success later in life.

And for women to rise as fast as they have after the adoption of Title IX — well, let’s just say we shouldn’t be surprised.

A Good Leader Recognizes His/Her Own Strengths, And Weaknesses – Wisdom From Coach Dungy

There are not many men who have coached the winning team in a Super Bowl.  (Here’s the list).  Tony Dungy is one such coach.  Admittedly, he had Peyton Manning at his best, and even at a coach and players best, a lot has to come together for such a rare height to be reached.  But the coach certainly deserves plenty of the credit.

Tony Dungy is one such coach.  Coach Dungy is now a football analyst for NBC, one of a small circle of counselors for the troubled Michael Vick, the national spokesman for the fatherhood program All Pro Dad, and author of the new book The Mentor Leader.

Steve Inskeep recently interviewed Coach Dungy for NPR’s Morning Edition.  (Listen here.  Read the transcript here).  Here a key excerpt that jumped out at me:

INSKEEP: I was fascinated. You write about Chuck Noll, the great coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers who led them to four Super Bowls, and with whom you worked. And you say that he was a quiet guy, not very emotional, not a guy to give a motivational speech, so he had to contract that out.

Mr. DUNGY: He did. He knew how he could help people. He was a teacher. He was a guy that was very good at selecting people, getting them to fit in. He wasn’t the guy that was going to sit there and motivate you, intrinsically. That wasn’t what he was best at. So he hired people that were good at that.

And he had a well-rounded staff that way. And that’s part of I think being a good leader as well, recognizing your strengths and making sure you utilize them, but also recognizing your weaknesses and coming up with ways to overcome that.

And, the interview offered this insight about staying on top once you reach such a height:

INSKEEP: Why is it so hard to repeat?

Mr. DUNGY: Well, what happens is you have a shorter off season because you have all the accolades coming to you from winning.

INSKEEP: All the distractions, sure.

Mr. DUNGY: All the distractions, that comes. And then the schedule gets you, because every team circles you on their schedule – you get everybody’s best shot. So the combination of those two things, you have to really be focused to be able to deal with that and it becomes difficult.

From every indication, Tony Dungy is a genuinely good man, and a fine coach.  If you lead people at all, I suspect this will be a book worth reading.  It’ s going on my list…

Peyton Manning is Exhibit A of the 10,000 hour rule

It had to happen.  And Slate.com has done it.  Peyton Manning is truly exhibit A of the 10,000 hour rule.  And who wouldn’t think of him?

First, a reminder.  Malcolm Gladwell (borrowing the idea from Dr. Ericsson), popularized the finding that it takes 10,000 hours to get really good at something.  And his book, Outliers, is filled with examples, Bill Gates and the Beatles notable among them.  (It also has to do with the age at which a person starts playing a sport, and the birthdate of the kid dictating when he/she starts).  It is a fascinating concept, one of those “blinding flash of the fricking obvious” concepts.  Well, of course, this makes sense.  People who work the hardest, and the longest, at something are going to be better at it than those who do not work as long or as hard…

So – here is Stefan Fatsis (a “sports voice” I know and love through NPR) writing Peyton Manning Is a Genius:  The Super Bowl quarterback is also a huge pain in the ass.  The very title of the article sounds just like Fatsis.

The article describes how Manning can be a pain, a hard guy to like, but not a hard guy to respect.  He simply works his way into the respect column of friend and foe alike.  (I heard that on the flight to the Pro Bowl, he spent the entire flight watching video of the Saints defense).

He apparently started all this by at least the 6th grade.  And here’s the best quote from the article:

“He lives, eats, breathes, smokes, snorts, chews football,” says Adam Meadows, a starter on the Colts’ offensive line during Manning’s first five pro seasons. “He’s just a machine. That’s all he wants to do.

Now – here’s a question:  why does the 10,000 hour rule lend itself so strongly to athletic illustrations of the rule?  Maybe because we all know athletes, and we know that there are so few truly great ones, and so many mediocre ones.  When one rises to the top of the top, as in the case of Manning, we are rightly wowed.  (Even if we think they are borderline, or not so borderline, unbalanced).

For those mere mortals among us, the 10,000 hour rule always seems  so abstract.  I don’t have video to watch of my opponent…  I don’t have training camp…  I don’t have the week-after-week test of a game…

So,  here is the question that we all have to ask:  “what do I care about enough to invest my heart, my soul, my energy into getting really, really good at it?  (What am I willing to eat, smoke, snort and chew…?)

With Manning it is football.  What is it with you?