When Do The Oregon Ducks Football Team Play Again The Road Less Traveled

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The Road Less Traveled

I often talk about the importance of culture and character in building a team, whether in sports or in business. Despite overwhelming evidence pointing to the importance of both of these factors in sustained success, very few teams and businesses pay more than lip service to either. More often than not, they fall into the trap of doing things the way everyone else in their industry is doing them.

Have you ever wondered why so many consensus All-American players who were selected at the top of various sports drafts are washed up? I’ve seen professional sports teams make the same mistakes year after year. There are several reasons why these errors keep recurring. Probably the most common has to do with covering the ass. If you draft the consensus best player at his position out of Michigan State University and he pans out, you can justify it by pointing out that everyone else was wrong about him, too.

But what if you find a guy at Mississippi Valley State University at the same position who you think has the ability to dominate the league and you take him with your top pick and he pans out? If you answered that you are losing your job, you are most likely correct. This creates an atmosphere/culture where very few are brave enough to trust their own judgments. You will never reach your potential in what you do if you are more concerned about not making a mistake than hitting a home run.

Another factor in these mistakes is the failure to consider, or more commonly, the willingness to overlook, the player’s character. If a guy is 6’3″ 220 lbs, runs like the wind and catches everything thrown at him, there’s no point in running him if he has a terrible work ethic, is a “me” guy, or is a top college coach (who won a national championship) once told me about recruiting, “It’s not who you sign, it’s who you keep and develop.”

Another fairly common factor is the infatuation with physical strength. When you reach the highest level in a sport, the difference in physical ability is small, but the difference in heart, mind and character can be huge. That’s mostly what separates the men from the boys, not their physical gifts. It’s no coincidence that when you play a team filled with players who possess great heart, mind and character, you’re likely to play much more cohesively and consistently prove the “experts” wrong.

Professional and college football are filled with teams that possess great physical talent but struggle on the field (eg, the Philadelphia Eagles or the California Bears). I find it far more impressive to watch teams that bring in players that fit their team culture and beat those physically gifted teams (eg New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers and Oregon Ducks).

The best player at his position out of Michigan State that I mentioned was Charles Rodgers, a 6’3″ 220 lbs wide receiver who caught everything and ran a 4.4 40 yard dash. He was the second overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. draft and accumulated career stats of 36 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns Mississippi Valley State guy named Jerry Rice 6’2″ 210 lbs wide receiver who worked (too slow for an NFL wide receiver) 4.71 40-yard dash and became arguably the greatest receiver in NFL history.

Not surprisingly, after Rice’s slow 40 time was revealed, only a handful of teams remained in contact with him before the draft. But legendary coach Bill Walsh trusted Rice’s own judgment, despite all the detractors, and traded up to select him with the 16th pick in the first round. The rest is history.

I always tell my clients, whether they are athletes, coaches or business leaders, that if you can’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to believe in you? Unfortunately, very few coaches and general managers trust their judgments above those of the crowd, to their own detriment.

You can follow Sam on Twitter @SuperTaoInc

Posted on The Mind Side blog

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