Friday, December 2, 2022
This week, while visiting the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio as part of a team‐building exercise with some of the leaders of our company, I noticed a quote projected on a wall from the legendary coach of the Miami Dolphins, Don Shula. Shula, who coached from 1963 to 1995 (most of those years with the Dolphins) holds the distinction of being the only coach to have ever led a team to an undefeated season – going 14‐0, then winning the 1973 Super Bowl. Shula, who died just two years ago, was a hero to many of my generation, including me, not only for what he did in football, but for the way he lived his life and led other human beings. So, as I saw his words projected on the smooth, concrete wall, though I’d seen it before, I found myself reading it over, and over again:
“I don’t know any other way to lead but by example.”
What Don Shula understood intrinsically is that people follow the example of their leaders. They don’t do what they say … they do what they do. They watch them carefully. Imitating them. Wanting to be like them. Believing that if they do the things their leaders do, they can be like them someday. And because of this Don Shula understood something else – something far more important even. He understood that the sort of example he set was a choice. He knew that the only person who determines whether a leader creates a positive example or something other than that is the leader themself and no one else.
And that’s the point for the week.
See, what Don Shula knew, maybe better than any other coach of his generation, is that life is a choice. Every day of our life is a beautiful, wonderful choice between happiness and sadness, between giving our all or giving in, between bringing our whole heart or bringing something less, between doing the right thing or the wrong one, between helping a neighbor or walking right on by, … or between setting the right example or the wrong one. And this goes for all of us. Each of us is faced with a hundred chances each day to decide what sort of example we’ll set. Each one of us is a leader of something – even if it’s just our own future self. Each of us has an opportunity to choose.
And when more and more of us, then, ultimately, all of us, choose to lead, to set an example for good more often, the lives of everyone around us will improve – here at Turbo, in our homes, and in our communities. It can’t work any other way. It won’t work any other way. For every person here to achieve whatever the “more” is that they seek in their lives, every single person who works here must believe in, exhibit, and be willing to fight for a kinder, more positive example of leadership. And when we do, almost nothing will be able to stop us; because exactly none of our energy will be wasted on negativity, dissent, half‐heartedness, or indifference.
See, what Don Shula proved, beyond any doubt, is that winning, that having more of whatever matters to the people on a team, requires that no room be left anywhere for anyone except those who choose a better way. And because every single person in that organization, beginning with him, chose something better, they never lost a game.
That’s what’s available to us … if we choose a better way … if we choose to set a better example for those around us to follow.
So be like Coach Shula. Lead by example.