Becoming & Remaining, Brilliant on the Basics

I grew up a Green Bay Packer fan and I have no clue why. I was born in California and grew up in Florida, but as a kid I had a hand painted Green Bay Packer helmet and a #15 Bart Starr jersey. Today. As a leadership consultant I am drawn to the leadership lessons from legendary Packer head coach Vince Lombardi. His philosophy on life and success have always impressed me.  

They Call it the Lombardi Trophy

As a coach, Lombardi was known for being a tough and demanding man and his reputation was that of a winner. In his time as head coach of the Green Bay Packers he was able to lead the Packers to five NFL Championships and two Super Bowl victories. He was known for winning. The championship trophy that the NFL plays for each season is named after him.

When you consider what makes a successful leader, it is easy to get theoretical and make things complex. Instead, consider the simplicity of the Lombardi approach. The coach was once asked what he was going to do to get back to the championship game in the coming season. He answered by saying, “We are not going to be flashy. We are going to be brilliant on the basics. We will run, throw, catch, tackle, and block better than every team in the league. That is how we will go to the championships this year.”

Simple, but Not Easy

Now, that sounds simple, “be brilliant on the basics”, but it is not easy, and I’ll tell you why: Once we taste success or enjoy a season of winning, we have a tendency to stop doing the things that made us great in the first place. “I did it!”, “I made it!” Success can breed complacency if we are not intentional in maintaining our disciplined approach to being brilliant on the basics. Being brilliant on the basics of your line of work will ensure you can repeat your remarkable performances.

Determine Your Basics

Coach Lombardi said, “Some people try to find things in this game that don't exist, but football is only two things - blocking and tackling.” We can all focus on things that are not important or are not relevant to our overall success. What are the “basics” in your line of work? Have you stepped away from them and begun focusing on the flashy or unimportant aspects of your work?

Take a few minutes this week to do the following exercise:

  1. Determine the two or three “basics” for your line of work. What is it that really successful people in your profession do day after day better than anyone else?

  2. Perform an honest evaluation of yourself on these basics. Do a simple evaluation. High=5 (I am doing really well in this area), Low=1 (I have no idea what the basics even are for me). Anything below a 5 will need some additional focus.

  3. Make a plan to return to the basics. What actions would you need to take each day to begin to strengthen your performance in the basics of your life?

  4. Set aside a few minutes each day to execute on that plan. (read, practice, study, think)

Coach Lombardi said, “Success demands singleness of purpose.” It is so easy to be distracted by the “flashy”. He also said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” It is also easy to wish and want for success without being willing to put in the work required to actually be successful.