One of the most incredible things about studying systems and habits is realizing just how common it is to rely on these concepts. The more I read the more I realize the connection.
The connection isn’t just from a few industries or a few biographies. Over and over as I try to learn about people I find the principles of systems and habits alive in their stories.
I am currently reading a book called Sidelined by Chuck Pagano. Pagano is the coach of the Indianapolis Colts NFL football team. But the book isn’t about his strategy on the field. It is about his incredible journey off the field.
Chuck was diagnosed with Leukemia during his first season as the head coach of the team. The book outlines his beliefs and his strength to keep fighting. But the more I read his story the more I realize how much of a focus he had on process and routine.
He mentions how he coached the team and said “Over and over again, we’d been telling them, ‘Stick to the process. It’s sixty minutes, all you got. One play at a time. Don’t judge. No matter what happens, good or bad, move on, next play. If you’re up or you’re down, whatever – just play one play at a time.’ As simple as it may sound, I firmly believe this is what commitment to excellence and dedication to our team are all about. This is what we do, week after week. We stick to the process. Win or lose, this is our routine. Stay the course.”
We can learn a lot from those who have faced adversity and kept fighting, those that did what we all hope we could do in those moments. Reading Chuck’s autobiography really highlights the fact that the things that helped him get through his cancer diagnosis were there long before he developed the disease.
Understanding this I always try to view where I am in order to improve. Knowing what he relied on in order to overcome cancer, what can we put in place to better improve ourselves?
The reality is that adversity makes us stronger. By facing adversity we can start to build a resolve that is only possible when we meet challenges head on. It may not be fun at the time but we can use these moments to improve and grow our commitment to what is important in our lives.
Chuck goes on to state three core values that he instills in his family and football team. He talks about trust, loyalty and respect.
But the difference between a corporate mission statement that gets developed but quickly ignored is that he emphasizes the importance of “walking the talk”. It isn’t about what sounds good; it is about who they are and how they go about their work.
He says “This is what we wanted, but anybody can talk about it, put those words on paper, and paint them on a wall. Trust, loyalty, and respect have to be earned. You can’t buy the value they carry. They’re earned by walking the talk, not talking the talk. Every one of us has to do the right things – players, coaches, everyone, and you do these things day in, day out.”
The reality is that most of us would like to attribute similar characteristics to us. We want to be trustworthy, loyal and respectable. But in order to have these really mean something and really attach to us we need to find a way to incorporate them in everything we do.
To me this is where the systems and habits principles really shine. This is how we develop the routines and processes that will move us towards who we want to become. This will give us the foundation and help to build the resolve so that we can continue to improve and pursue excellence.