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February 2, 2010 –

I had the privilege of going to the  2011 Pro Bowl this year. My company is a big NFL sponsor so this is an annual event for many, but this was the first time I got to go. Outside of seeing Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial, the best moment for me was hearing Sean Payton speak to a small group of us over breakfast. As the coach who brought the New Orleans Saints from the bottom of the league to NFL Champions last year, I was really looking forward to what he had to say.

The  part of his speech that I wanted to share can be summed up in one word: “Change”. It’s a story of transformation, not unlike what many of us have gone through.

When Sean was shopping for a head coaching position in 2006, he really wanted to go to Green Bay. He was raised in a Chicago Suburb and went to Eastern Illinois University. He was a midwest boy and although he grew up a Bears fan (Yeah!), he respected Green Bay’s heritage and what the franchise stood for. However. he was also being courted by the Saints. In 2005, the Saints had gone 3-13 and more importantly the city was still in a very painful state from Hurricane Katrina’s blast in August. To make a long story short (too late!), Green Bay never offered him the job and he and his family decided to take the head coaching job in New Orleans, despite the incredible challenges that lie ahead of him.

So, what do you with a team and city completely down and out? Change Everything! He had to change the culture and the way they did every little thing, even administrative tasks. “But Coach, this isn’t how we normally do it?”, he would hear. His response? “That’s right because the way you have done things has lead to this franchise having a losing record year after year”.

Change is hard. We all like our comfort zones. But insanity (no not that Insanity), is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So he gave the team a major wake up call at training camp and shut them out from everyone. It was like a start-up business and he needed to start from the ground up. He was just as nervous as anyone leading a massive organization through change, but he not only finished his first season as head coach in 2006 with a 10-6 record, he also brought the Saints to the NFC Championship.

Most importantly, he provided leadership and created confidence for the team. He said that that confidence in each other continued through the Super Bowl last year. You may remember that at the beginning of the 3rd Quarter, the Saints executed an on-side kick. A gutsy call when you are down 10-6 to the Colts. He said that the team had practiced this ad nauseum and had executed it perfectly every time. So he had the confidence to make the call and the team had the confidence to execute it just like in practice. Check it out below.

As you know, the Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV was a Cinderella story in the making. Not just from where they were as a football team, but the win meant so much to a city that is still recovering from Katrina.

So let’s bring this back to health and fitness. Transformation stories are inspirational because someone decided to change. And when you see drastic change, it usually means they changed alot of things very quickly. When you look at your goals and what you want to accomplish, do not fear change. Embrace it! For it is the only thing that will make you better…make you stronger…make you smarter…make you more patient…make you whatever you want to be. And if Sean can teach us one thing, do not fear a bad situation. For there is only one direction to go and change is the only discipline that will alter the current force of gravity.

The only constant is change. Embrace it and you will find success in whatever you do!


As a footnote, Sean is one of the nicest gentlemen I have ever met. When we took our picture with him, he spoke genuinely and thanked us for listening. I could hear him thanking others for waiting in line to see him as well. Great great guy.

2 Responses to “Change”

  1. Coach Wayne says:

    Thanks for sharing! Cool insights to the story behind the spotlight, and it ties in perfectly with what everyone wants when they decide to get off the couch and get in shape. “Don’t fear change. Embrace it!” I like that!

  2. Coach Mike Coach Mike says:

    Thanks Coach! There are fundamental common themes that come out in every success story. And change is one of those.

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