Win The Edges
Chuck Noll, long-time NFL coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was quoted as saying “Before you can win a game, you have to not lose it.” Few of those things required to ‘not lose it’ require significant talent.
I think understanding this is the first step on the path to excellence.
Far too often we become affixed by the allure of the most public, or popular, aspects of our job.
That’s not where you don’t lose …
You don’t lose by being faithful in the details of the foundational aspects of your job. As a coach, the winning play at the end of a game is on Sportscenter. It’s celebrated and lifted up as the difference in the game. But, that’s not where you don’t lose.
You don’t lose based on your habits and behaviors in practice leading up to the game. You don’t lose based on your mental preparation and your willingness to buy into your teammates. You don’t lose based on your discipline to apply what you did in practice to the game.
What Noll is talking about is considered ‘The Edges’ by most people.
To the people striving for excellence, it’s the core.
The core has to be priority number 1 and it needs to be clear to your team that this is the case.
Why Should We Care?
The pursuit of excellence isn’t a crowded path, but it’s a narrow one. It takes what it takes. There are no passes, no excused absences, and no good-enoughs.
Everyone on this path takes care of the core. That is no longer the separator. That’s the ticket for admission at the highest level. The leaders of these teams understand Noll’s warning and lead accordingly.
So, the question becomes, how do we separate ourselves?
How do we continue the pursuit of excellence?
This is where the true edges begin.
They don’t just become A factor. They become THE factor.
The thing that distinguishes excellence among teams is their ability, and willingness, to win the edges.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
They probably aren’t what you think.
They require little, to no, talent.
Not losing has to be first. We need that foundation. Don’t try to skip it and don’t forget about it. The things necessary to not lose are critical to revisit consistently. ‘The Edges’ can be thought of as more of a how than a what. As we continue to develop, ‘The Edges’ will take shape and become the difference.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.