What Champions Read

Vince LombardiIn my new book, OLD SCHOOL GRIT, the main character is an archetypal “old school” basketball coach entering the final days of his long and storied coaching career. While his team tries to advance through the NCAA postseason tournament, he uses his last days as a coach to write his grandchildren letters revealing the rules for a successful and happy life. These rules provide a clear path to success in any endeavor.

Because the coach in this book is a composite figure based on several of history’s greatest “old school” coaches, I think it’s important that we define exactly what an “old school” coach is.

Some people use the term “old school coach” in a negative way to mean someone who yells a lot or is too stubborn to adapt his strategies. That’s not the way I use it. I use the term “old school” in an affectionate and nostalgic way to mean someone who adheres to what may be called “old fashioned” values and principles.

While there have been some old school coaches like Vince Lombardi and Mike Ditka known for their hot tempers and loud personalities, I would argue that calm-demeanor leaders like John Wooden and Tony Dungy are also old school coaches.

So, what exactly makes an old school coach “old school”?

I offer the following four characteristics. [click to continue…]

Mike MathenyMike Matheny, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, is always looking to learn more about what it takes to succeed—in sports and in life. A dedicated student of history’s greatest coaches, Matheny has also learned invaluable lessons from role models outside of sports.

He once took the Cardinals players and coaches to visit the Naval Special Warfare Unit in Coronado, California. Their visit occurred during Navy SEAL training and Matheny called it one of the most “eye-opening experiences” he’s ever had.

To become a Navy SEAL, it requires a level of physical exertion few of us could ever imagine going through. The very few servicemen who survive the first four weeks of grueling training must then make it through one final week-long test in which they’re only allowed four hours of sleep (two hours on Wednesday and two hours of Thursday). It’s no wonder that the few who are honored with the SEAL name are considered some of the world’s most elite warriors.

During his visit, Matheny learned something very interesting about what it takes to become a Navy SEAL… [click to continue…]

John WoodenWhen John Wooden was growing up in the 1920s, one of the hardest obstacles he faced was when his father lost their family farm. In a perfect storm of negative events, a bad vaccination killed their hogs and a drought stunted their crops. This was a time before there was insurance for such things and the bank took the family farm.

The Wooden family was devastated.

But this horrible event ended up having a profoundly positive impact on the future basketball coach because of the way his father handled the adversity. Here’s what John Wooden said about the incident… [click to continue…]

Bobby BowdenBobby Bowden is one of the winningest coaches in college football history. In his 44 seasons as a head coach, Bowden won two national championships, 12 conference championships, three national Coach of the Year awards, and nearly 400 games.

When this legendary coach’s two sons, Terry and Tommy, became head coaches, Bobby sent them a list of his “35 Rules,” which served as the foundation for his coaching philosophy… [click to continue…]

Joe TorreJoe Torre was a nine-time All-Star as a baseball player and he won four World Series championships as a manager. Throughout his storied career, Torre was known for his calm and stoic demeanor in the face of intense situations.

While Torre admits that what he showed on the outside purposely hid the anxiety he was often feeling on the inside, he says that maintaining serenity—especially in the face of adversity—was one of his keys to success.

Torre offers this advice for maintaining your serenity no matter the situation… [click to continue…]

Rick PitinoA positive mindset is crucial to success. Study after study has confirmed that those who have a positive, can-do attitude are happier, more resilient, and more successful in life than those who don’t.

But building and maintaining a positive attitude isn’t always easy. Like anything else worthwhile, you must work hard to keep a positive outlook—especially when times get tough.

Rick Pitino knows the importance of maintaining a positive mindset and he follows a disciplined daily routine to ensure that he stays positive… [click to continue…]

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