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The Power of One

Tom Brady just won his 7th Superbowl ring. Incredible, right? Here’s what his coach, Bruce Arians, said of him and what his arrival to Tampa Bay meant to the team.

Arians said that he thought the 2019 Buccaneers were “a very, very talented football team, but we really didn’t know how to win.” Then Brady arrived as a game changer for everyone. He called Brady a “winner” who ran the ship for the team and said that his leadership “permeated through our whole locker room. Knowing that he’d been there and done this, our guys believed it. It changed our entire football team,” Arians said.

Everybody wants to talk about and debate Brady vs. Belichik from his days with the Patriots, but the fact of the matter is you cannot establish a culture unless you have someone other than the head coach deeply concerned about it, making sure the culture is in place. For sure, the coach, the CEO, has a very important role. Culture starts with him or her, but it has to be lived out in the locker room or the field, throughout the offices and production floor.

I remember having a conversation with an employee who said he was dissatisfied with our culture. He went on to mention something that he thought was wrong and needed to be addressed. I asked him if he knew who was responsible for the offensive action. “Oh yes!”, he said. “I know exactly who.” I then asked him why he didn’t address the issue himself. He said, “Well, he is a good friend, and he would not receive it very well if I said something to him about what he did.” I looked at him for just a moment and said, “Do you realize that YOU are creating the very culture you are railing against?”

When Tom Brady came to the Buccaneers, he brought a sense of accountability and culture that was needed among the teammates. They had a good coach, one who had already won coach of the year. What they didn’t have and sorely needed was a leader among the players, a leader on the team, who had great competency without feeling entitled, who valued the team and also had the courage, character, and commitment to give his utmost. Then, that gave him the moral authority to act with courage and call people out when their actions, their words, and their attitudes were detrimental to the goals and potential of the team.

So it is in your company, business, church, organization. The POWER OF ONE is huge. You just have to have the desire to be respected as more than “one of the boys.” You have to want to be a true contributor to the team effort more than being “in charge.” Individuals have the power to drive change and inspire others to strive for better. Individuals can change an entire group by changing the culture through their actions, attitude, and moral authority.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Most of us have heard this quote by Mahatma Gandhi and perhaps even been inspired by it. It's a beautiful sentiment and one that reminds us how everyone has the power to make an impact. You can only have moral authority if you actually display the changes and the culture that is needed in your own life.

One person CAN make a difference, one action CAN transform a relationship, one word CAN change the conversation, one person CAN shape the culture. Tom Brady did, according to his own coach.

People always remember the first time they met Tom. Tom pays attention to other people and doesn’t expect them to pay attention to him, in spite of his monumental success. Tom walks across the room to introduce himself to his teammates. Even though everyone knows who he is, Tom still introduces himself. Even though he is the oldest and best player on the team, Tom still takes the time to learn all of his teammates’ names. Tom comes across as just one of the guys. Tom is proactively kind to players, many who can probably do nothing to help him. He pays attention to them. What might happen in your team culture if you would decide to be the one person to take that responsibility on the team? As Coach Arians says, it can’t happen through the coach alone. He/she is the “authority” figure. Team members must take responsibility to build the team culture to assist the coach so the team can win.

Virtually every culture has some potentially toxic people or actively toxic people in it. They may have convinced you that things can’t ever change or be good. Let them talk. Let them complain. Let them pass the buck for change. Let anyone who wants to say it will never change say it. Just know you can never make a difference until you make sure you are operating with moral authority, and then pick up the challenge to try.

  • Believe. Have faith that one person can make a difference, and that one person is you.

  • Act. There are opportunities all around you. Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move. Choose one and do something about it.

  • Lead. Be the change that you want to see in the world. Don’t just talk a good game. Lead the way.

  • Transform. Start. Be accountable yourself and expect it of others. Little wins create momentum; consistency can turn into lasting change. The culture can actually become healthy, and your whole team can win!

As far as the Buccaneers are concerned, Arians and Brady will be back for another try in 2021, and Arians said he believes the offense can be even better with a year under their belts. They have a team where the individuals now think and act like winners. They also hope to have more of an offseason program than last year’s COVID-19 permitted, but the way this season turned out should provide reassurance that things can go well regardless. They’ve got the culture.

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