Wednesday, October 15, 2008


As the head coach, Tony Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl Victory on February 4, 2007. Dungy has been involved in a wide variety of charitable organizations. He and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of six children. The following are insights and principles from the life of Tony Dungy which he shares in his book Quiet Strength.

“My parents talked regularly about . . . their visions of what we could do. . . More than anything, my mom and dad focused on exercising our brains, building both knowledge and character. My mom and dad wouldn’t tell us, ‘Here are the steps: A, B, C, D.’ Instead they allowed us to figure things out for ourselves and to explore and grow. . . [My] parents encouraged us to follow our dreams and told us that if we wanted to do something, we could do it. And they said, if we did it the Lord’s way, for the right reasons, we would be successful. Not that we would win every game or be wealthy, but that we would be successful in God’s eyes if we did the things that glorify Him.”

Uncommon Talent
Tony Dungy’s coach while he was at the University of Minnesota taught him, “Success is uncommon and not to be enjoyed by the common man. I’m looking for uncommon people because we want to be successful, not average.” Dungy wrote of this teaching saying, “Listening to Coach Stoll, I knew I had a greater chance of becoming uncommon by my efforts than I did by my natural gifts. Some players are uncommon because of their God-given natural abilities . . . Others have to work to become uncommon. Steve Kerr of the Chicago Bulls shot five hundred free throws a day to make himself uncommon. The truth is that most people have a better chance to be uncommon by effort than by natural gifts. Anyone could give that effort in his or her chosen endeavor, but the typical person doesn’t, choosing to do only enough to get by.” Chuck Noll taught, “Champions are champions not because they do anything extraordinary but because they do the ordinary things better than anyone else.”

Power from God
In 1977, Tony Dungy signed as a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tony wrote of this team, “In addition to many great players, that team included some really solid Christians. Because of our physical and rough style of play, we weren’t necessarily seen as a group of believers. But even head coach Chuck Noll, who was a devout Catholic, often used Bible verses to inspire us. . . Larry Brown, Jon Kolb, Donnie Shell, and John Stallworth all really worked hard to put God first in everything they did, everyday. . . those Steelers invited me into their Bible study . . . There I was exposed to guys I respected who were constantly in God’s word—always praying and reading their Bibles together. These professional players were not the weak . . . they were some of the biggest, toughest guys I had ever met. And yet they were drawing their strength and purpose from God.”

Life Balance
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll often preached the importance of time away from the office, and we knew it wasn’t just lip service. Chuck lived out his message. . . His philosophy was “Get the work done so you can enjoy the other parts of your life.” While coaching at Kansas City, Dungy sometimes found himself on the job at 3 a.m. with the head coach watching film. Dungy wrote, “After those crazy hours, however, I vowed that if I ever had the chance to make the schedule myself, I wouldn’t spend or allow my assistants to spend that much time in the office. With Chuck Noll, I had seen firsthand that it was possible to work fewer hours and still be successful.”

“God’s definition of success is really one of significance—the significant difference our lives can make in the lives of others. This significance doesn’t show up in win-loss records, long resumes, or the trophies gathering dust on our mantels. It’s found in the hearts and lives of those we’ve come across who are in some way better because of the way we lived.”

“I knew from watching Coach Noll and Denny Green how I wanted to do things as a head coach. I hired top-notch people, trusted them to do their jobs, and then came to grips with the fact that I wouldn’t be coaching as much. I missed that; coaching was what I had always done, and now I had to fight the urge to coach everyone. If I wasn’t careful, I would end up coaching through or around some very good assistants, which would lessen their credibility with their players. I knew I had to make sure I didn’t inadvertently devalue the coaches in the players’ eyes by not letting them do their jobs.”

Benefits of Pain
Dungy’s son Jordan was diagnosed with congenital insensitivity to pain. “Jordan is missing a gene, it turns out, and therefore doesn’t feel pain the way other people do. Some experts think he might not feel any pain at all. For example, like most kids, Jordan loves cookies. . . Jordan would reach right in [the oven] to pull out the piping hot cookie sheet with his bare hands. Then he would begin to eat the cookies without even realizing he was burning his hands and mouth in the process. Even a trip to the emergency room didn’t help him understand he was injuring himself. . . I think at one time or another every one of our children has gone running through the house at full tilt. Looking backward at a sibling in hot pursuit or waiting for a pass, they inevitably slam into a wall with the side of their head. They’ve all done it—once—and then, because of the pain, they’re careful not to let it happen again. Jordan, on the other hand, does this kind of thing repeatedly and gets up smiling. Without the painful consequences, how is he to learn? . . . Before we had Jordan, I hadn’t thought much about the way God uses pain to protect us from further negative consequences down the road. With Jordan, this has become obvious. Pain prompts us to change behavior that is destructive to ourselves or to others. Pain can be a highly effective instructor.”

Personally Releases Players
“I have never liked cut days during training camp. Those are the days when we have to reduce our roster from eighty players down to sixty-five, and then finally to fifty-three. . . I actually make it worse on myself because I bring each player in to talk with me personally . . . it’s awkward and painful every time. I used to think that all head coaches did that, until I received a call from an agent who wanted to thank me for the way I had released his client. It was the player’s third time being cut, he told me, but the first time that a coach has ever spoken to him personally. That surprised me, but it also reinforced my resolve to continue doing it that way no matter how tough it was.”