“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus
I used to play ball with a guy who was really intense on the mound. If you booted a ball when he was pitching, he’d glare at you or make some comment about stepping your game up. I remember feeling like I had to be perfect each time I went out to my position. What generally ended up happening was that, when he toed the rubber, everyone played a little tighter which made us all a little more error-prone.
Fast forward to Monday night’s college football championship game featuring Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota from Oregon University. Mariota is expected to be a high draft pick and have a successful NFL career. Without question, the stakes for Mariota’s championship game were a lot higher than my baseball games years ago. However, when faced with adversity, he reacted much differently than the aforementioned pitcher. Multiple times, Mariota did his job extremely well but that effort wasn’t reciprocated on the other end. On two specific occasions, Mariota made tremendous throws only to have them dropped in critical situations.
Football is a horse of a different color. In a sport where testosterone and manliness are held in high regard, we respect guys who yell at other guys. We praise quarterbacks who jump all over guys for not doing their jobs. We call them tough and fearless leaders. We admire their tenacity. However, when Marcus Mariota’s teammates dropped important passes, he took a different route. He sought those players out and patted them on the helmet and told them to get the next one. He didn’t scream at them and tell them to catch the damn ball. He encouraged them and instilled a confidence in them that they would make that play when given the opportunity.
Personally, I find this route far more admirable that the emotional outburst route. It shows maturity and leadership. It tells someone that you have their back and that you are confident that they will do a better job next time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for mediocrity. We should hold ourselves and our teammates accountable for our performances. What I am pushing for is better leadership, which was exhibited by Oregon’s QB Monday night. In the biggest game on the biggest stage, he chose to be a leader who supported his teammates even in the toughest of situations. To me, that speaks volumes about character and leadership.
It should be noted that I’ve never been a fan of the type of coaching that we often see in the game of football. That’s my personality. I was never motivated by someone screaming directly into my face. That does it for some, but not for me. Maybe that skews why I was so impressed with Mariota the other night. However, I do believe that his style is not only effective, but compassionate and representative of true leadership.
Further, this type of leadership is contagious and is certainly an example worth setting. Thanks to Mr. Mariota for exemplifying this trait.
Have an awesome Wednesday,