I was sitting here contemplating what to write about when it occurred to me that I could give you a little background on my sport experience and put a "Sport is Life" spin on it at the same time. I played under the legendary Lou Holtz at the University of Notre Dame… any player who played under Coach Holtz can tell you we probably worked harder than any team in the country at that time, but it wasn’t without objective… we had a plan. As a matter of fact we had something called: “The Plan: How We Win.” That same plan that coach gave us to win in football can also be used as a catalyst for our success in life.
Each week when we had our team meeting Coach Holtz would go over “The Plan” with us to make sure we understood what it took to be a successful team. No matter who we played he would go over “The Plan” in our team meeting both at the beginning of the week and the night before the game (just to make sure we understood what it took). Here it is:
1. Out Hit – We had to be more physical than the team we played on Saturday. Being physical allowed us to impose our will on an opponent.
2. Fundamentals – Being fundamentally sound would allow us to gain an advantage over a team who was less focused on the little things.
3. Seven Areas: These were the meat of “The Plan” and were a critical part of our success.
a. Turnovers: Protect the ball on offense and get takeaways on defense
b. The Bomb: Don’t give up the big play on defense and create big plays on offense
c. Missed Assignments: Knowing what to do insured we didn’t make mental mistakes
d. Third Down: Convert third down on offense and get off the field by forcing a punt on defense after third down
e. Foolish Penalties: This one speaks for itself
f. Goal Line: Punch it in on offense and get stops on defense
g. Kicking Game: 25% of the game is special teams… we had to make a difference in this area
4. Togetherness: No one ever came between us. We won together… we lost (on occasion) together.
5. Don’t Flinch: No matter what happened we believed we would find a way to win… we believed in ourselves, our coaches and each other.
These same principles can be applied in our lives today….how? I’m glad you asked – lemme ‘splain again.
1. Out Hit: We can’t literally “Out hit” anyone in our daily lives but we can have a tenacious attitude and refuse to lose. At the end of the day this part of “The Plan” was all about attitude – period.
2. Fundamentals: Our fundamentals are nothing more than our core beliefs. Who are you as a person? What do you fundamentally believe to be right or wrong? Remember, integrity is who you are when no one’s watching.
3. Seven Areas:
a. Turnovers: when you have the ball, keep the ball. In other words, make the most of every situation. You never know when the opportunity will come again.
b. The Bomb: Big things happen, but not by accident. It takes hard work and preparation to make big things happen in life.
c. Missed Assignments: Seriously? How can you possibly not know everything there is to know about your craft? As professionals that’s what we’re paid to do. Get after it. Missing an assignment at work can cost you your job!
d. Third Down: Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, but you have make it happen. Whatever “it” is if “it’s” going to happen you have to make “it” happen.
e. Foolish Penalties: Well…err… guess there’s no easy way to say this – You can’t do DUMB stuff. Be smart, use common sense and keep your reputation intact.
f. Goal Line: When you get your chance... make the most of it. There are no free lunches.
g. Kicking Game: There's no such thing as small things when it comes to your livelihood. Take every opportunity seriously because little things add up. I mean it takes 100 pennies to make a dollar right?
4. Togetherness: As I said before sometimes life throws you a curve… you have to keep it together. Try to keep company with like-minded people. Like attracts like… there’s no question here.
5. Don’t Flinch: No matter how difficult things get, no matter how dire the situation you must keep the faith and believe that you can make it. Everyone has challenges in life, but there's no need to stress out… just get it done. Believe in yourself!
“The Plan” became part of my life in the fall of 1990 and has been part of my daily thought process since. Thank you Coach Holtz for sharing an infallible life plan with me. I didn't always understand as a young man what you meant... but now I am completely aware of the incredible guidance you gave.
Perhaps there is something in this post that gives you pause for consideration as you move forward in your life’s journey. Maybe personally...maybe professionally... maybe even in your relationships... who knows? Only you can answer those questions.
If nothing else, please always remember: “Sport if Life.”