Always Compete

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I have had the great pleasure of meeting Pete Carroll on a few occasions and watching him both from the stands as well as the field during football games at the University of Southern California (USC).  My wife, Nancy, and I were on the team plane heading to South Bend one year when we hit rough weather right before the landing in South Bend. Here is a note of coverage from USA Today:

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The plane carrying USC’s football team to South Bend plummeted during a severe thunderstorm, forcing the pilot to abort his first landing attempt.

There were about 125 people, including 82 players, on the chartered flight Thursday night for the cross-country trip for Saturday’s game.

“That was terrifying,” fullback Stanley Havili told the Los Angeles Times. “I thought I was going to die.”

Some passengers were thrown from their seats by turbulence as lightning crackled around the storm-tossed plane, USC sports information director Tim Tessalone told The Associated Press on Friday. Safety Taylor Mays was screaming.

“It was a little bit of a roller coaster drop there for a minute,” Tessalone said. “We had some people fly out of some seats. Everybody is fine, but it was a frightening little dip there.”

The pilot aborted the approach and circled around the storm before landing without incident about 20 minutes later to the relief of the shaken team and the spouses of some staff members also on the flight, Tessalone said.

Having watched a number of USC coaches over the years from the stands (John McKay, John Robinson, Ted Tollner, Larry Smith, Paul Hackett, Pete Carroll, Lane Kiffin, and Ed Orgeron), I have seen some great coaches in action.  The things that Pete Carroll did as coach that I found most inspiring were that he was always “In” the game; he paid very close attention. His enthusiasm and positive attitude were infectious and it was always great to see how he greeted a player at the sideline once the player had done something really great on the field.  Pete lives the adage, praise in public.

As many of you know, Pete has written a book, “Win Forever: Live, Work and Play Like a Champion”.  One of the great sayings from Pete is, “Always Compete”. Pete dedicates a short chapter to the topic and here is the opening paragraph:

“Lots of people talk about competition, especially those who seek to achieve high performance no matter what the profession.  In my experience, however, the real essence of competing is often misunderstood. Competition to me is not about beating your competition.  It is about doing your best; it is about striving to reach your potential; it is about being in relentless pursuit of a competitive advantage in everything you do.”

Early in the book Coach Carroll talks about the influence on him of the work of Abraham Maslow.  Pete writes:

“What I learned from Maslow’s insights challenged me to start asking:  What if my job as coach isn’t so much to force or coerce performance as it is to create situations where players develop the confidence to set their talents free and pursue their potential to its full extent?  What if my job as coach is really to prove to these kids how good they already are, how good they could possibly become, and that they are truly capable of high level performance?”

At my alma mater, USC, Coach Carroll introduced the three rules:

Rule 1: Always Protect the Team, Rule 2: No Whining, No Complaining and No Excuses, And Rule 3: Be Early.”

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Have I Gotten Everything I Can Get Out of My Current Role?

Leadership Development

Early in my career with Abbott Laboratories (1990/1991), I met with the head of Human
Resources for the Hospital Products Division (HPD), which is now known as Hospira (Pfizer), to discuss how to advance at Abbott.  Tim Ring was the head of H.R. at the time and among other things he gave me the book, “The Lessons of Experience: How Successful Executives Develop on the Job.” That book changed my life and taught me the true lessons of experience….seek out diverse, challenging and turn around (risky) situations, opportunities and experiences.

Linda McCauley, a good friend and the current Dean of the Nursing School at Emory University once said in a meeting: “You cannot fast track experience and exposure.”

In many instances, the question one should be asking is not where and how do I get promoted from where I am today but rather what experiences do I have and what experiences do I lack and how can I get those experiences so one day I will be ready to do more. And, one should also ask, have I gotten everything I can get out of my current role?
By the way, Tim Ring went on to be the General Manager of an international operation at
Abbott which led him to an international position with C.R. Bard…..where he was CEO there for some 14 years.

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