Coach Meyer has been a central influence in my life for the past 30 years. I was blessed to play for Coach during his epic Lipscomb run. While I didn’t always practice what he preached, I did my best to take his principles forward in the organizations I’ve led over the past two decades.
It is safe to say Coach Meyer’s influence was baked into our culture with everything we tried to do at Rivals.com – and are now doing at 247Sports.
I could write a book on what I learned from Coach – and I may do that someday. For now, I’ve narrowed it down to my top three most important lessons:
- “Get In, or Get Out”
After beating rival Belmont on Jan. 29, 1990, Coach Meyer drew a circle on the whiteboard after the game. “Get in, or get out.”
What Coach Meyer knew well before Jim Collins penned it in his best-selling book is “good is the enemy of great.”
It is much harder for most people to handle success than deal with adversity.
As soon as we have some degree of success or achievement, we have a tendency to become complacent, selfish, not as focused and start allowing outside influences (family, friends) to dictate our actions.
Coach knew that the greatest threats to successful organizations where from within. He always made it a point to emphasize, “no one was bigger than the team.”
Get in, or get out.
- “Hard, Smart and Together”
Whether it was a central theme of Coach Meyer’s teachings or just something that resonated with me personally, the phrase “play hard, smart and together” filled my player notebooks from 1988-92.
From the inception of 247Sports in August 2010, we tagged “work hard, smart and together” in most of our internal memos and public messages.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve learned there is no greater challenge as a leader than getting an organization to consistently work hard, smart and together.
1) Hard because it takes daily and consistent effort to reach a goal
2) Smart because we need to execute a common plan
3) Together because excellence can only be achieved when everyone is working toward a goal greater than self.
Coach frequently quoted John Wooden’s, “happiness begins where selfishness ends,” because he knew that it takes an unselfish person to work hard, smart and together.
- The journey is better than the inn
Spanish novelist and poet Miguel de Cervantes, who is best known for his novel Don Quixote, said, “the journey is better than the inn.”
If I learned anything from Coach, it was that the treasures of life come from the experiences, trials and hard work to get to your destination – not the destination itself.
Coach Meyer was able to sustain greatness for such a long period of time because his “Super Bowl” was working hard, smart and together on a daily basis.
He competed just as hard during a Monday morning practice as he did in front of a sold-out arena against his archrival.
It was that passion to “do the next right thing, right” that fueled him to reach the top of Wooden’s Pyramid – “Competitive Greatness.”