An inspiring leadership manifesto from Bill Courtney, the entrepreneur, motivational speaker, football coach, and subject of the 2011 Oscar-winning documentary, Undefeated.
Heralded by Bryan Burkhart of the New York Times as “a real leader who draws out the true character of his players,” Courtney has worked both on and off the field as a community football coach and firmly established himself as a preeminent motivational speaker. The documentary, which Variety called “enjoyably upbeat and intelligently inspiring,” follows the indefatigable coach as he tirelessly works to turn around a troubled inner-city football team, meanwhile putting out fires at his day job: a highly successful lumber company with over a hundred employees.
Now, in his first book, Bill Courtney provides hands-on lessons about what it means to be a truly great coach, leader, and mentor. He delves into topics such as forgiveness, leadership, determination, and teamwork, with pithy statements such as “True compassion is when you reach out to another person when there is no benefit to yourself,” and “How we treat those we disagree with says more about us than our opinions.” Through the personal stories of his players and employees, as well as his own private struggles, the coach and entrepreneur reveals how he has transformed so many lives both on and off the field, and shows the reader how to use these lessons in his or her own life and work.
Named Esquire magazine’s Coach of the Year in 2012, Bill Courtney offers an inspirational guide to overcoming challenges in the workplace as well as personal adversity. He shows us that winningboth on and off the fieldisn’t just about the score on the scoreboard at the end of a game. Ultimately, it is the measure of a person’s character.
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About the Author
Bill Courtney is a volunteer football coach and the owner and operator of Classic American Hardwoods, a $40 million lumber company and Memphis Small Business of the Year. He is a sought-after motivational speaker and consultant for organizations such as the USOC Paralympic Leadership Conference, the FedEx Leadership Live Conference, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Courtney lives with his wife and three children in Memphis, Tennessee.
Table of Contents
Foreword Phil Jackson ix
1 On the Value of Character 1
2 The Meaning of Commitment 17
3 Daring to Leave Your Comfort Zone 29
4 Service Is Not Someone Else's Job 45
5 How Leaders Are Denned 63
6 The Search for Civility 81
7 The Power of Dreams 97
8 The Relationship between Fear and Fortitude 115
9 Perseverance Never Takes a Break 129
10 The Dignity of Hard Work 143
11 Standing on a Firm Foundation 157
12 Responsibility for the Taking 171
13 Grace Appears in a Forgiving Heart 185
14 The Gift of a Legacy 199
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rating: 4 1/2 of 5 stars (excellent) Review: Bill Courtney gained fame and recognition as the assistant coach in the Oscar-winning documentary “Undefeated” about a Memphis high school football team that became a winning program through hard work, faith and the teachings of a volunteer part-time coach. That coach was Courtney who also turned an abandoned piece of property into a thriving business. These successes helped Courtney decide to write this book in order to “coach” even more people on his vies of character, faith and family. In the book, Courtney shares his values and reasons for his success in small doses. He shares many stories about his players at Manassas, his employees, his family and himself on many topics that other books of this nature will cover: hard work, keeping one’s word, service to others, dreams, responsibility and other similar topics. While reading the book, the reader will be caught up in the moment and feel the joy of success or the occasional heartbreak of failure as Courtney’s subject will either learn a valuable lesson or at times even make Courtney stop and think that maybe he could learn from the player or employee. My favorite story in the book is an example of Courtney pausing for a moment and thinking about these values he is trying to teach his players. I believe that makes the message that he is trying to deliver even more powerful, as it shows we all have room for growth in these areas. In the chapter about service, Courtney was having trouble connecting with his players and speaks privately to one of the seniors on the team, asking what he needs to do in order to get the team to listen to him. The player simply said to keep doing what he was doing. Pressing for details, the player eventually told the coach that the team was trying to figure out if he was a “turkey person.” The player went on to explain that he and his teammates would often see “folks who look just like you” drop off turkeys and other gifts and then leave, never to be seen again. Courtney’s players were trying to figure out if he was a turkey person, according to this player. It made Courtney reassess how he was coming across to his team and as a result, the team responded by playing some of its best football. Stories like that make this book a terrific read for anyone looking for a little positive news, for some uplifting and helpful advice or just some nice stories on football and life. I wish to thank the publisher for providing an advance review copy in exchange for an honest review. Did I skim? No. Pace of the book: Because the stories are fairly short, consistent throughout the book and are varied in topic, the reader will fly through the book. While I didn’t read it at one sitting due to other commitments, the total time to read all 206 pages was not very long at all. Book Format Read: Paperback
Bill Courtney writes, like he lives his life, from the heart. The young men Bill coached at Manassas were ultimate authenticators of Bill's values. Edgar Guest, in his poem, "Sermons We See", rightly notes that most of us would "rather see a sermon than hear one any day" and that the "best of all preachers are the men who live there creeds for to see good put in action is what everybody needs." Having coached with Bill at Manassas, I can attest to the fact that Bill walked his walk and that the values of character, commitment, discipline and servant leadership espoused in Against the Grain were lived out by Bill on and off the field.