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Lessons from World Champion Tony Dungy

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A few weeks ago I attended a Get Motivated Business
Seminar in Indianapolis.

I got to see several successful and inspiring speakers
including Steve Forbes, Robert Schuler, Zig Ziglar and
General Colin Powell.

But being in Indianapolis, it was headlined by two
local heroes: Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning.

As a diehard New England Patriots fan (I used to teach
and coach right in Foxboro, the home of Gillette
Stadium and the New England Patriots) it was tough
to sit in the RCA dome and listen to all the diehards
go overboard everytime the Colts were mentioned.

Nevertheless, as part of my ongoing quest to evolve
as both a coach and a human being, I took advantage
of the opportunity to learn from both of these men.

So I thought I would share with you some of the key
points I learned from them and put them in the context
of how we can apply these pieces of wisdom to our

I’ll start with Tony Dungy, who is just as much of
a class act as people say he is.

Tony talked about leadership and as coaches, trainers
and parents, we simply can not expect our athletes
to follow us and meet their potential if we do not
display the following five characteristics.

Of course, what I’m talking about is dependent almost
entirely on the fact that you consistently apply
training strategies that will get results.

So let’s look at the first of the 5 points Tony
Dungy discussed:

1. Direction.

You have to know where you are going and how you plan
to get there.

Great leadership is not leadership at all if you don’t
know exactly how to get your athletes from Point A
to Point Z.

They depend on you to accomplish this task.

Just because you’re the adult and you’re in charge
does not mean you have the full attention and respect
of your team, group or clients.

I’ve had enough athletes (and parents) approach me in
various situations and ask for help or ask my advice
because they (parent and athlete) have lost faith in
the coaching they are getting.

The fact that you are reading this tells me that you
know there are holes in your system.

None of us (myself included) should be so arrogant as
to believe that just because athletes are doing what
we say, that it also means they believe in what we

Young people are incredibly perceptive. They pick up
on your mistakes. They know when you have no idea how
to fix technique, teach a drill or come up with workouts
that work. They dream of mutiny when their teammates
keep getting overuse injuries (shin splints, strains,
hamstring pulls, etc) year after year.

Tony said that the best leaders have the ability to
listen and get the opinions of others, not claim to
know it all.

This is critical. It’s the foundation of any success
you hope to have in any position of authority and all
other traits hinge on it.

It goes back to my recent articles on identifying the
‘World’s Greatest’ speed coach.

A few years ago, a particular team (and on paper a
successful one) had a disproportionate
number of athletes and parents coming to me for help.

In fact, several of them offered to match, out of
pocket, my coaching salary if I would jump ship and
come to this town to coach.

It was tempting because this town was overflowing with
underdeveloped talent and I always wanted to coach

I knew those coaches would never allow such a thing
to take place and I was happy with the progress of
my current program.

But I sent a ‘feeler’ email out to the Head Coach.

He told me, in no uncertain terms, that the way they
did things there wasn’t going to change and that they
were not interested in change.

His exact quote was ‘The (name of town) way is the
only way’.

And that’s why his athletes and their parents came to
me in droves.

He didn’t have the hearts and minds of his athletes
or their parents. And that is not the way to get the
most out of everyone.

Or anyone, for that matter.

If you want athletes to *want* to work hard for you,
it starts with clearly knowing where you want to go
and how you’re going to get there.

It’s why you need to be using Complete Speed Training
as the foundation of your speed and athletic
development program.

If not, you’re already lacking a strong sense of


And if you don’t have one, your athletes are already
going elsewhere to find someone who does.

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