Resiliency Rule 06 - Good Things Take Time
On a sports team there are two different types of character… “Performance Character” and “Moral Character.” Both of these are essential to develop as you coach your athletes. John Wooden famously said “good things take time.” As you coach remember that you will know you have been successful 20 years from now when your athletes are husbands and fathers and wives and mothers. Good things take time. Let’s not confuse our coaching goals with our coaching purpose. Goals have a beginning and an end. Coaching purpose is what we do to be transformational in the lives of our athletes. Good things take time.
Check out this video of Jason Garrett as he talks about his transformational coach and take a moment to read Les Steckle’s story of “Good Things Take Time.
Good Things Take Time by Les Steckle
It was the dream of a lifetime. In 1984 I was named head coach of the
Minnesota Vikings and at the time was the second youngest head coach
in the NFL. My coaching career was barely a decade old and after five
seasons as an assistant, I had replaced the retiring Bud Grant.
But in four short months, I went from being a popular assistant to
filling the dreaded role of hated head coach. My Marine style of
leadership and discipline and my failure to nurture relationships with
my coaching staff set the tone for a rough campaign. After the team
finished 3-13, my dream quickly turned into a nightmare. I was fired
after just one season.
Since that time, I've come to appreciate the wisdom of Coach Wooden's
famous words: "Good things take time." Did I deserve more time to
prove myself in Minnesota? I don’t know. But I've been encouraged by a
legendary head coach who did get that chance and who I believe best
illustrates Coach Wooden's saying. His name is Tom Landry.
Shortly after I left the Vikings, I spent some with Coach Landry in
his home. As we sat in his living room, he told me an interesting
story about his early years coaching the Dallas Cowboys. His team won
five or fewer games in each of his first five seasons including a
0-11-1 start as a rookie coach in 1960.
"Les, you weren’t as fortunate as I was," he told me. "You won three
games your first year. I didn't win any."
Naturally, the Dallas fans were impatient and wanted results. The
legendary general manager, Tex Schramm, called the team owner, Clint
Murchison, Jr., and told him they needed to make a change: Coach
Landry would be fired. Murchison told Schramm that he would call him
back after the weekend. Murchison called on the following Monday and
surprised his general manager by giving Coach Landry a 10-year
“We have the right man," Murchison said. Good things are going to
happen. But it takes time."
Coach Landry eventually proved Murchison right and led the Dallas
Cowboys for 29 seasons. During that time, Dallas won two Super Bowls,
five NFC titles, 13 Divisional titles, and compiled a 270-178-6
That scenario likely wouldn't happen in today's day and age. Our
society is conditioned to be impatient and expect instant results.
We live by two words: performance and pressure. If you can't
perform, you're out, and the pressure to succeed is intense.
We need to substitute another word: patience. Very few people exercise
patience today. Even Coach Wooden admitted once in an interview that
if he had coached today, who knows what would have happened to his
career. He didn't launch his first few years at UCLA by winning, and
it took him 14 years before he won his first championship there.
Can you imagine what we might have missed out on if coaches like Tom
Landry and John Wooden had not been given time to build the foundation
for their successful programs? Many innovations to the games of
football and basketball might not have been conceived. And, more
importantly, two of the greatest coaches of all time might not have
been afforded the sizable platforms that have impacted countless
Coach Wooden modeled this principle of patience in his coaching. When
I became a coach, I found myself watching him during games and wanting
to emulate him . He was always so calm and poised when he was on the
bench. He was fiercely competitive, yet he exuded a gentle spirit.
You could tell he had such passion for his players. I wanted to be
But the journey to understanding Coach Wooden's principle of patience
was difficult at times . I think about when I was the offensive
coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. In 1997, when the team moved
from Houston to Nashville, our stadium was not yet finished. Our home
games during the first season were at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis .
The city of Memphis wanted the franchise, but it went to Nashville
instead. As a result, the fans there were bitter. They made a point to
boo us during games and cheer for the opposing team.
The next season, we played our home games at Vanderbilt University in
Nashville where the city said it would fully support us. But at each
game, only a fraction of the crowd would cheer for us while 30,000
others rallied for the visiting teams. Three years later, after
struggling to gain a faithful fan base, we finally got to play in our
own stadium “The Coliseum.” That year, we went undefeated before
losing to St Louis 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV. Good things take time.
In 1984, I was devastated when the Vikings fired me. It wouldn’t be
the last time I lost a job that I really loved. I've learned it takes
patience and courage to get through tough circumstances.
Coach Wooden's legacy was built over a 100-year period of time .
Imagine how his impact might have diminished had he not understood the
truth behind his own words: "Good things take time.
“Before success comes patience... When we add to our accomplishments the
element of hard work over a long period of time, we place a far
greater value on the outcome. When we are patient, we'll have a
greater appreciation of our success.”
- John Wooden