Thursday, November 19, 2009

UnCommon Path

"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all"

Tony has been called both a "gentleman" and a "trailblazer".

In a career that lasted 31 years, leadership his style could be described as one of "quiet integrity", possessing a strength that did not require profanity-laced tirades or glittery showmanship to command the respect of players or peers.

He was the first and is still the only African-American coach to win the Super Bowl and in his latest book, he reveals uncommon life lessons learned along the way.

For example, in 1998, his team was confronted with a dilemma. Holding the top pick in the NFL draft that April, team president Bill Polian had to choose between two great quarterbacking talents. Both were big players with strong arms. One had set numerous records at Washington State University, the other had done the same at the University of Tennessee. Pro scouts felt both could win Super Bowls and wind up as Hall-of-Famers.

But which one to choose?

In hindsight, it seems obvious, but at the time media analysts and scouts were split evenly. In the end, Polian decided to select the tall kid from Tennessee and what tipped the scales were his work ethic, pure love for the game, his approach toward football as a job, and a quiet private life.

Ultimately, when faced with a choice that would define the future of their franchise, the Indianapolis Colts based that decision on character.

And that's how Peyton Manning wound up playing for head coach Tony Dungy, with the Colts going on to emerge as champions of Super Bowl 41 in 2006 over the Chicago Bears. Manning has become a three-time league MVP, a lock for the Hall of Fame and a highly marketable player outside of football. As for the other "sure bet" in '98 (and judged to have the better arm), he proved to be a bust in San Diego and was out of football within 4 years after stints with Dallas, Tampa Bay and Seattle. Regretfully, Ryan Leaf's NFL career was punctuated by questionable work habits, mediocre performance and poor relations with teammates and the media. At last report, Leaf was facing drug charges after a May 2009 incident in Texas.

The way Dungy sees it, character is a quality that can be measured just like height, weight, and speed. In fact, more emphasis is placed on this area than physical tools. Coaching ability or talent cannot make up for a lack of character. As Dungy explains in his new book, "Uncommon", there are only a few things that will knock a player out of consideration for our team, and this issue of character is one of them. There is a category on our evaluation form that is labeled "DNDC"—Do Not Draft because of Character. Many players labelled "DNDC" get drafted in the first round by other teams and some become household names in the NFL, but something in their character makes Dungy believe they are not worth the risk.

And more often than not, he is right.

Since retiring from coaching in 2008, Tony Dungy has leveraged his celebrity to inspire growth in character. His new book challenges young men especially to be distinctive in their behavior and not follow "the crowd". As Dungy explains, “The crowd isn’t always right. The crowd might not think school is important but the crowd doesn’t tell you that the person without a high school degree earns an average of one million dollars less than the high school graduate over their lifetime”.

Tony Dungy passionately believes there is a different path to significance — a path characterized by attitudes and faith that are all too rare but uncommonly rewarding. His brand, refreshingly uncommon in the world of professional sports, is defined by strength of character, which may be the most effective form of persuasion.

Everywhere you look, there are:

- Business weasels who talk too much and do too little.
- Rudderless drifters and perpetual drowners.
- Finger pointers and second guessers with all the answers - after the fact.
- Talented, but lazy souls wasting enormous gifts.
- Married people drinking doubles while acting single.
- Autopilot robots doing jobs they hate, working for companies they despise.
- Hot-tempered types, lighting quick to judge, without compassion or mercy.

The crowd is common.

Unless we choose to be uncommon.

"Our young men today are falling into a trap. Society is telling them material success is what’s important, but if we buy into that idea, we can spend a lifetime chasing that success and never really have the positive impact on people that would make our lives truly significant”

p.s... TSB salutes the kind of people Tony Dungy would applaud, the Uncommon Leaders who are part of the "Mission Possible" initiative in the Greater Moncton Area. Tonight, ECMA nominee and multiple award winning musician Stephanie Mainville and bestselling authors Paula Morand & Marlene Oulton are celebrating their CD and book launch through hosting a special fund-raising event at Studio 7 Hundred, 700 Main St., in Moncton. Doors open at 7 pm and proceeds will be donated to the Pregnancy Resource Centre of Moncton which continues to run programs and services that foster life skills development and employability skills training in order to give families the best support possible.

No comments: