Home Ethics Sociology Leadership in Sports Toward a Championship

Leadership in Sports Toward a Championship


“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  -Jim Rohn

Coach Urban Meyer is one of only two coaches to win a National Championship at two different schools.  Meyer has some great ideas on leadership in sports in his latest book titled: Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Season published in 2015.

“An example of how Dan Gilbert’s mind works in his “Bullet Time” idea.  Every week he gives Quicken’s information technology department four hours of break time simply to think of ideas that might help the company.  One of the most successful businessmen in the country believes so strongly in the power of thinking that he frees up time to let his people do it.  He described how earlier in his career he used to drive his people just to find the broken things and fix them.  But as his companies have grown, he has shifted his train of thought to challenging his employees to come up with better ideas.  He described himself as being obsessed with finding a better way and said, “Even when things are going good, we constantly challenge our people to look through a different prism, be creative, be innovative and find a different way.” … “Here’s the bottom line: exceptional leaders think about common things in an uncommon way.”  (Meyer, p. 198-199).

A popular internet quote stated below summarizes the difference between a boss and leader well.

Difference Between A Boss (ego, mind centered) & Leader = Eagle (Spirit, Heart centered)

Finally, great leaders are Eagles = innovative, creative, up to date, generous, kind, humble and constantly improving (kaizen = “good change” or “continuous improvement”) their product with integrity.  The most dangerous phrase in our language is “we’ve always done it this way.”  Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results.  An old baseball adage states: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  We have to change what we do, or change what we are, to change what we get! Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” 

A Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren a story about life:

A fight is going on inside of me…It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves.  One wolf represents ego, mind = fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride, superiority, know it all, status quo, violent competition, separation, differences, narcissism, selfishness, control, ignorance, and service to self.  The other wolf stands for Spirit, Heart = Love, Joy, Peace, Hope, Sharing, Serenity, Humility, Kindness, Benevolence, Friendship, Empathy, Generosity, Truth, Compassion, Faith, Lifelong Learning, Progress, Cooperation, Unity, Oneness, Altruism, Freedom, Wisdom, and Service to Others.  The same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too.

The child asked:  Which wolf will win?  The elder replied: ‘The one I feed’ or give most attention to in my life. The Universe reveals its secrets to those who dare to follow their hearts! 

“Judge not by the eye but by the heart.”Native American Saying

“The way is not in the sky.  The way is in the heart.”  -Buddha

Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.”  -Native American Proverb


Meyer, U.  (2015). Above the line: Lessons in leadership and life from a championship season.  New York, NY: Penguin Press.

Dr.  Michael Fredrick is the Chair of Sport Studies at USSA. He can be contacted at mfredrick@ussa.edu. 



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