Years ago, Vince Lombardi was the coach of the Green Bay Packers professional football team. Most people have heard of him and his legendary coaching methods. He was extremely hard on his players, but they learned to love and respect him. In the ’50s and ’60s, Vince Lombardi took the Green Bay Packers from being a little-known team in a relatively small town in Wisconsin to world champion status. Because of his great acclaim, the victory trophy was named after him, and it is awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl each year. He was indeed a legend who will remain forever in the Professional Football Hall of Fame.
Lombardi was uniquely persuasive with his players. He could convince them to see things they were not able to see before. He encouraged them and took them to a place they could not have achieved on their own. One of his players, Willie Davis, said, “I owe everything to that man! He made me believe I could do things I never could have done without his help.”
In the early 1960’s, the Green Bay Packers were an outstanding football team. They had won enough games to go to the playoffs and had one last game to play. Before that game, the players were in the locker room joking around, asking, “What will the ‘old man’ say to us today? How is he going to motivate us? If we win today, it will not help us, and if we lose today, it will not hurt us. We are still going to the playoffs in two weeks. Today really does not even matter.” They continued their joking and laughing.
Suddenly, the door to Vince Lombardi’s office opened, and he stepped into the dressing room. The men got very quiet. Coach Lombardi walked around, looking each player in the eyes. One by one, he stopped in front of them and stared at them. He never said a word; he just looked into their eyes. Finally, after several minutes, he looked at all the men and said, “You men have had an outstanding season. Today’s game really does not matter. If you win, it is not going to help you. And, if you lose today’s game, it isn’t going to hurt you either. You are going to the playoffs in two weeks regardless of what happens today.”
Then Lombardi said something that his team would never forget. He said, “I was sitting in my office trying to think what I could say to you men that would motivate you today to go out and have another great game. And then, I realized there was nothing I could say. But suddenly, I began to wonder if I could go back and have a young man’s body that was healthy and strong, if I could go back to being your age and play football just one more time if I could choose any game to play in, what game would that be?” Then, he said, “I realized it would be today’s game. Today is the day I would want to play because, you see, today, you are not playing for the Green Bay Packers. Today, you are playing for yourselves, your wives, and your children. You are showing them the true champions you really are, even when you don’t have to be!” Paul Hornung, a running back for the team, later said, “If they had not opened the door to let us out on the field, our entire team would have run through the brick wall to get out there and play!”
That story touched me very deeply because I wondered how Vince Lombardi knew how to do that. What school did he attend? What books did he read to learn how to motivate people? How do you become persuasive enough to help people see things from a different perspective? How is it possible to continually guide vital truths around other people’s mental roadblocks? After thinking about it for years, I believe I understand the answer to that question, at least in part. Lombardi got it from looking into his own life. He must have asked himself questions like, “What would motivate me? What would I like to do? How would I like to be remembered? What scenarios or thoughts can I create in people’s minds that will help them want to achieve greatness?”
Anyone who has ever run a business, parented children, been married, or taught school realizes that there are some things in life that you have learned that could help other people. Others need to understand certain things you know, and you need to be the one to convince them! That is being persuasive. I am not talking about being pushy or trying to talk somebody into doing something they do not want to do. I am talking about trying to help someone step up a level, trying to help them be better than they are, trying to bring somebody along and help them see things they have not seen before, or doing things they have never done before.
I want to be a persuasive person. I want to convince people to have a better life. I want to talk them into working harder and achieving more. I want to be the one who encourages them to be more responsible. I want to persuade people to have a life that they will look back on one day and be glad they achieved success. I want to help them realize that, although they faced challenges, like everyone else, their life turned out to be productive and created more good experiences than bad ones.
I do not want to be average. Anyone can be average. Remember, average is just as near the bottom as it is the top. I want to be above average! I do not want to just rock along in life and let everyone believe whatever they want, whether it is right or wrong. I want to persuade people to believe that better things can happen, that they can achieve new heights they never thought possible, and they can experience rewards and greatness beyond their wildest dreams.
Are there some things in life that you feel are vital for you to pass along to your children, friends, or co-workers? Are there some things that you believe that you could do at work that would make a difference? Let me encourage you this week to begin being a more persuasive person. Look for ways to be persuasive in a positive, uplifting way, to bring people to places they have never been before, to do things they have never done before. Isn’t that an important goal worthy of pursuing? I know it is!
Tip: Be persuasive!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm