Recently, I began to read Urban’s Meyers latest book entitled, Above the Line, chronicling the 2014 national championship run by the Ohio State football team. Meyer, their head coach, details his leadership philosophies, thoughts, and life lessons over a quarter century of coaching and I must say this book is surprisingly good.
What caught my eye from the beginning was this book is not a football how-to-guide or a coaches manual on how to run a successful football team. The book offers solid teaching points and takeaways about leadership and how it works, how to develop leadership and how leadership can break down especially with negative attitudes and how negative people as part of your culture can easily undermine your success. These leadership points can be taken into other sports enviroments, educational systems or even high profile businesses and can be easily applicable. For example, in my full time job, we have began a book club in the last two months (at my insistence–over four years ago–but better late than never) to discuss this very book and the classroom discussions, brainstorming sessions and give and take between departments have been very good resulting in many thought provoking ideas being implemented on how to improve our business culture and performance.
Two major points I want to highlight in this post:
“The defining characteristic of every championship team is leadership. Leadership isn’t a difference maker, it is the difference maker. Talent will get you about seven or eight wins. Discipline pushes it to nine wins, maybe. But when you add leadership, that’s when magic happens.“
Leadership is a skill that is honed over time much like when we workout to build our muscles, reduce fat, increase our stamina and improve our general overall health. Leadership requires deliberate practice in workshops, personal development reading, leading by example while out in front of your team, cultivating mentorships with those who you trust around you, and doing the hard work necessary to learn the skills of leadership. An aspect of leadership is proper mindset and behavior. Urban calls this Above the Line thinking and behavior.
Above the Line thinking and behavior
“The performance of a team rises or falls on behavior. Winning behavior is intentional on purpose and skillful. It is Above the Line. But it’s easier to be impulsive, on autopilot, and resistant. This is Below the Line. Below the Line is dangerous because it is comfortable and convenient. It is the path of least resistance. Below the Line takes a little effort or skill, and the best it can produce is “just OK.”. Eventually, it produces failure.”
To live with excellence or Areté, as the Greeks called it, is difficult. To choose every day to live with intention. And with purpose. And with skill. Is it living “Above the Line.” This is the very definition of Above the Line behavior by living with excellence moment to moment to moment. Below the Line thinking or behavior is essentially mailing it in from moment to moment to moment or not living with excellence. Essentially living on autopilot from one decision to the next decision. Urban has said, the type of person that could never play for him is “a lazy person.”
How can we avoid being lazy? How can we display leadership to our families? Businesses? Communities? States? And our country? How can we live with Above the Line thinking and behavior? This book explores many of the answers to these questions and its ideas are worth a tumble if you like personal development reading and especially if you like Ohio State football. If you are subscribing member to Team MOJO *Above the Line* will becoming as Beta Note in the next month so be on the look out. If you are not, please check how to become a member of Team MOJO.
Until then, Let’s Roll!