OAKLAND CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks looks on against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 2 2010 in Oakland California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Last Thursday night, I was able to attend the Nike WinForever Workshop at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC). Here's what I took away from the experience.
After Pete Carroll was fired from the head coaching position of the New England Patriots, he knew he had to step back and look at his career from every possible angle. That's when Pete found his philosophy. The "Win Forever, Always Compete" mantra was born.
Pete created the college football dynasty of the 2000's at USC. I'll be honest, when he left USC and was hired by the Seahawks, my initial thoughts were filled with skepticism and doubt. Sure, Pete won at USC, but this is the NFL. Plenty of premier college coaches have flopped at the NFL level and I was expecting Pete to be another Nick Saban flop.
I'm not just being a homer here, but the more I've learned about Pete and the more I've had a chance to see the results of his philosophy and effort, the more I've bought into what Pete is selling. Not only have fans bought into what Pete preaches, but his players also seem to have a genuine belief in the philosophy and concepts that Pete is applying to the team.
Competition breeds success. But success can also be attained by the simple things. Confidence, trust, and focus are all parts of the Win Forever philosophy.
Another aspect of the WinForever campaign is the conscience reminder of the influence and impact of your words. During the WinForever seminar on Thursday night, Pete was adamant that the impact of words and the use of those words, can have a monumental impact on the results you hope to achieve and the accomplishments you will achieve. I was fortunate to have a chance to actually interview Pete and I asked him specifically how he deviates his words and the delivery of them in different moments.
"Well, hopefully through the process, the message is really consistent and the message encompasses all of the situations," he replied. "Meaning, that you know we are going to go out and play like we are capable of playing. If we go out and we win and we play like that, then the message is okay - that's exactly what we tried to get done. If we lose and play like we are capable of playing, then the message is we did everything we could, but they were better on this day. We can live with that. The message is really consistent.
"I may shock them that I'm not affected by the situation (a loss) like they would think. I may be, because I stay so tight to the message. That's where philosophy is so powerful. They think "okay, alright, he does believe what he's saying. He does believe what he's all about. He does continue to emphasize the things he emphasizes when it was easy in the meeting room and it's happening here in the locker room at half-time." So there is a staging all the way through the process of thoughts that encompass the situation no matter what they are.
"Hopefully, I've done a good job, then I just remind them - "This is how we act now. This is what we expect now." If you are responding to the moment and trying to figure it out, then you are going to screw it up. I've done that plenty of times."
What to take from this answer?
Consistency. The consistency of the message is what's important. If you believe and stand for certain principles and always maintain and uphold your philosophy, then the team will buy into the message.
Another thing I asked Pete about was confidence. How does he build a player that might be struggling or having a difficult time's confidence? How does he keep other players from becoming overconfident or too cocky?
"It's so important for us, to figure each guy out - to find out where they are, who they are, so we have a sense," said Carroll. "It's about learning who they are, figuring out who the players are so that we have a sense to gauge that.
"Take Donny (Lisowski), for instance (an undrafted free agent who earned a contract with Seattle). He may not be very confident (Pete was being hypothetical), but he plays like he is. He's a hell of a kid out there - and Doug Baldwin, he just screams confidence. He's got a chip on his shoulder, and that's huge, you know. He isn't backing down from anyone or anybody and so those guys you just gotta stay out of their way a little bit. Other guys you have to build up. You can just sense by their body language, the way they speak, the way they take their opportunities and stuff, they need to be bolstered you know. That's the guy you put your arms around and show them why you need to believe in yourself. It's just a process that comes from interchanging analysis to figure them out. Once you figure them out, hopefully you can scope the message to them that helps them."
Instilling confidence in a player is absolutely crucial. An athlete cannot perform at their maximum level without confidence in themselves. The belief of the coaching staff and teammates can also have a positive impact on performance. Take Richard Sherman, for example. He was so confident last year that he was talking trash to other players that were first round draft picks, the famous example being Cincinnati's A.J. Green. Pete believed in Sherman enough to put him in the starting lineup as a rookie, and Sherman excelled and rewarded Pete's trust.
A question Pete posed to the audience (many of which were current coaches) was, 'how have coaches had an effect on you?' 'Have you had coaches that have had a negative or positive impact on you?' Pete always tries to give off a positive presence and he tries to create a competitive, yet positive atmosphere where his players can compete to their utmost potential.
Pete clearly has established his own identity as a coach and he has found a permanent philosophy to always apply to the team. He has a consistent message and that message of "Win Forever. Always Compete" has had a positive impact on the entire Seattle Seahawks program.
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