Read an Excerpt
Winning the NFL Way
Leadership Lessons From Football's Top Head Coaches
A Winning Combination:
A Vision with a Strong
"Capital isn't scarce; vision is."
-- Sam Walton
"Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go
about achieving it and staying with that plan."
-- Tom Landry
Corporate legends abound about CEOs who have a vision assuring future market dominance. I recall that one such mogul, founder of a retail apparel chain, experienced his vision on a mountaintop in Colorado. Another visionary, the wealthy owner of automobile dealerships, was sailing alone at sea amidst a ferocious storm that nearly capsized his boat, when his revelation came. While visions of this nature enhance corporate folklore, I suspect they are dramatically exaggerated. I believe it more likely that a vision begins with a vague idea that slowly evolves over time, repeatedly changing form before fully crystallizing.
When Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, opened a small Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas, shortly after World War II, his aim was merely to outsell his across-the-street competition. His goal was to be the town's number one five-and-ten-cent store. When he lost his lease in 1950, he moved to Bentonville where he opened Walton's Five and Dime. Walton had no plans of grandeur -- the thought of becoming the world's largest retailer had not entered his mind. Walton just wanted the best five-and-dime store in Bentonville. After he opened other small stores, he gradually upgraded his vision to operating the biggest chain store in Arkansas. When one success followed another, Walton refined and elevated his purpose. Sam Walton didn't start out wanting to be the world's largest retailer, nor was it his ambition to be the world's largest company. Yet, at the end of 2003, that's exactly what Wal-Mart had become.
I have read the biographies of many Fortune 500 CEOs, and I don't recall a single one who started out with a lofty vision of someday being the top honcho. People who have low entry jobs are more focused on their current position, and only after doing well do they set their sights on advancement. They repeat this process as they advance up the corporate ladder. Having a grand vision of the future is a good thing, but it's more realistic to establish a series of smaller goals, and as you achieve one, set your sights higher on yet another. Remember too, you can alter your vision as you go along.
So, rarely does one start out with a well-defined, giant-sized vision. More often, an individual begins with an attainable vision followed by a series of still more attainable visions, and continually raises the bar with each achievement along the way. In the beginning stages, their visions are nothing more than abstract thinking. However, with a game plan, men and women implement such visions into something quite concrete. Think about it. Doesn't every success start in one's mind? More than 10 million copies have been sold since Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937. In his classic book, Hill stated, "What the mind can conceive, man can achieve." He espoused that every achievement begins with an idea.
For example, when our forefathers founded our nation in 1776, they didn't have a vision of America in the 21st century. How could they? They did, however, have a conceptual vision about the freedom that future generations would enjoy. Likewise, when the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company was founded in 1911, a firm that later changed its name to IBM, founder Thomas Watson Sr. could not have possibly envisioned that his business would evolve into today's multibillion-dollar international computer company.
Certainly having a vision provides direction. The vision by itself, however, must be followed up with a game plan. And it is the game plan that provides a road map for how to move forward to one's destination. Bear in mind that there is an important difference between a vision and a game plan. Your game plan pertains to the specifics of how to achieve your vision. Hence it is about implementation.
In my case, there was no dream in the middle of the night. No light bulb suddenly came on revealing how I could someday be a sports agent for NFL coaches. In fact, nothing in my life remotely suggested this was my calling. I played varsity football for two years at Santa Clara University, making football my number one priority. Then something happened to me in my sophomore year that replaced my thoughts of football. I took a history course taught by Professor George Giacomini, a brilliant educator who made me want to be a historian. That's right, he made me. He was so excited about history that I figured, "If anyone can be so enthusiastic, so committed, and so passionate about something, I've got to know more about it."
I majored in United States history, and for the next 25 years, I taught history to several thousand high school and junior college students. If I have impacted a single student the way Professor Giacomini influenced my life, I will consider myself to have had a successful teaching career.
I will spare you the blow-by-blow details of my first years out of college. Let's fast-forward to my life as a married man with children when I was teaching high school at Santa Teresa High School, a public high school in San Jose, California. At this point, I was also chairman of the history department. Those were very good years for me. I taught history, which I loved, and to supplement my income I also coached football -- my second passion. I loved my work. There was only one hitch. With a growing family, we had to budget our money and watch every penny. To make ends meet, I opted to receive my teaching salary over a 10-month period, and I taught history courses at junior college and high school during the summer months to supplement my income ...Winning the NFL Way
Leadership Lessons From Football's Top Head Coaches. Copyright © by Bob LaMonte. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.