A few weeks ago, I wrote a Tip referencing the famous coach, Vince Lombardi, of the Green Bay Packers. Anytime I mention him, I always have several people write to me saying that he was a very important influence in their personal life. I can say the same thing for myself. Although I have never been the coach of a professional team, I have had the opportunity to play football in high school and college. I now understand the importance of self-discipline, motivation, and hard work better because of my experiences with many good coaches. Perhaps there was none greater than Vince Lombardi. As you probably already know, the Super Bowl winner each year receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The Super Bowl winners are the football champions of the world!
Paul Hornung has gone down in history as one of the great running backs from Notre Dame who went on to play for the Green Bay Packers. On one occasion in the early 1960s, a set of circumstances took place that seemed almost insurmountable. Because Hornung was in the National Guard, whenever he was required, he had to go to Guard Duty. Fortunately, guard duty often fell when he did not have a football game. But, on one occasion, the inevitable happened. He was called to go to Guard Duty, but he also had a football game that same weekend with the Green Bay Packers. Paul Hornung went to Coach Lombardi and told him of his predicament. He said, “Coach, there is nothing more important in my life than playing football, but if I don’t go to Guard Duty, I will be put in jail! They have called me up, and I don’t know what to do.”
Every time Paul Hornung recounts the story, he always says, “What happened next was one of the most powerful things I have ever witnessed in my life.” He said Coach Lombardi just sat there silently for a minute as though he were in deep thought. He knew he was in a predicament himself. He could not tell his running-back to avoid Guard Duty and thus face prison, yet he knew he must have his running back for the game that same weekend.
Then Vince Lombardi did something Paul Hornung would never forget. He reached over, picked up the phone, and called the White House! He said, “This is Head Coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. I would like to speak to President Kennedy.” Hornung said, “I didn’t know what to say! I was dumbfounded! I had never seen anyone pick up a phone and call the President of the United States.” The ironic thing was that in just a minute, President Kennedy was on the phone talking to Coach Lombardi. After the coach explained the situation and how he needed his running-back that Sunday, John Kennedy, the Commander-in-Chief of all branches of the military, said to Coach Lombardi, “You tell Mr. Hornung that he is excused from Guard Duty this week, and I hope he has a great game.”
Lombardi thanked the President, hung up the phone, looked at Paul Hornung, and said, “Do you have any other problems?” Hornung sheepishly said, “No sir, that was the only one. I guess I will just go ahead and get dressed out for practice today.” He walked out of Coach Lombardi’s office amazed and amused. You see, one of the things that made Coach Lombardi so great was that he was a decision-maker. And he knew how to find other decision-makers when he needed them.
I have seen it happen over and over in business. We talked to someone for hours only to find out later that they had no decision-making ability within their organization. If you need a decision to be made, it would be wise to make sure you are talking to the decision-maker. That is the only solution that will ever cause anything to get done, whether it is on a football team, in a church, in a business, or in your own family. Decision-makers know how to make decisions!
It is unfortunate that many of us have not experienced having someone like Vince Lombardi to show us how to make a decision or to get in touch with a decision-maker. Leadership is influence. Everything rises or falls on leadership, and good leaders know how to make decisions.
Open your eyes this week and look around. You can be a decision-maker, and you can find others who also know how to make a decision. That is the way to succeed in all that you do!
Tip: If you want to get something done, go to the decision-maker.
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm