5 Lessons I learned at Training Camp
I am a student first and a teacher second. One of the things I love most about my work is that I get to learn from many great leaders and successful people and then share what I learn. In this spirit I want to share some lessons I learned from my Training Camp visits the last few weeks.
1. Dabo Swinney, the head football coach of Clemson University, has a book about 18 inches thick with ideas, principles, beliefs, cultural values, etc that he reviews with his coaching staff during a 4 day retreat before the season. Every year, for 4 full days, Dabo goes through the book, page by page, with his staff. He said, "You can't assume they know it or remember it. You can't forget all the little things that made and make you successful. You have to go back to the basics and that's what we do for 4 full days. This book represents the foundation of what we are all about."
2. I learned that the 49ers head coach, Chip Kelly is always thinking outside the box and looking for ways to develop a competitive advantage. He said, "All the teams have the same amount of time to teach their players so we decided to improve the way we teach." Chip brought in innovative teachers to teach his coaches how to teach better. The coaches were humble, had a growth mindset and were willing to learn new teaching techniques. I sat in on the defensive coordinator's meeting with the defense and it was the most impressive, rapid paced, productive session I've ever witnessed. The humility and brilliance to do this is incredible.
3. I learned from David Cutcliffe, the head football coach at Duke University, that when you keep investing in the root, keep doing things the right way, keep sharing your vision, keep believing and keep working hard you'll see the fruit. David said that even when they went 3-9 in 2010 and 2011 he knew they were doing the right things the right way and believed it would turn around...and it did. Now they are a perennial contender in the ACC and have made it to a bowl game the last four seasons.
4. I learned from Phil Dawson, the kicker for the 49ers, that you can accomplish great things even when you don't feel confident. He said some of his best kicks happened when he felt the least amount of confidence. The point is that you won't always feel confident. You won't always be able to think positive thoughts. Sometimes negativity, fear and doubt fill your mind. The key is to keep moving forward regardless of what you are thinking and give it your best shot.
5. I leaned that Dick LeBeau, the Hall of Fame coach and legendary defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, is one of the nicest people on the planet. And he also knows the Cornell Alma Mater. When he found out I went to Cornell he just started singing it to me from memory. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Learning is a lot of fun.