September 27, 2010
Staff Picks: Pete Carroll and the Grateful Dead
Now, reading through NFL coach Pete Carroll's new book, Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion, I see the following passage:
Growing up outside San Francisco, I was a casual fan of the Grateful Dead. I remember hearing an interview with the late, great guitar player and leader of the band, Jerry Garcia.
I can't remember exactly what question the interviewer asked him, but it was something along the lines of "How do you feel about being possibly the greatest rock-and-roll band of all time?" A classic softball question, but rather than responding with the usual fluff, Jerry said something I'll never forget. "No, man," he answered, ever so relaxed. "That's not how we think of ourselves at all. We don't want to be the best ones doing something—we want to be the only ones doing it."
Win Forever is about Carroll's journey to success as a coach and his larger philosophy of life. And the book comes at an interesting time in his career—the beginning of a new chapter. You see, Carroll recently left behind the wild success he had for nearly a decade at USC for the chance to lead the Seattle Seahawks. This leads to some odd passages in the book where he follows up explanations of his successful approach at USC with a promise to do the same thing in Seattle, such as: "[O]ur staff treated every practice as an individual event in and of itself, and we will do the same thing with the Seahawks." The second to last paragraph of the book takes this talk further, letting us know that he intends to have his new team stand out:
As you watch our organization in Seattle take on new challenges this fall, I want you to watch for specifics. Follow our team during training camp and into our first game and, I hope, into the play-offs You will know how we operate, how we speak, how we train, and how we compete. It won't be magic and it won't change the world, but it will be unique. We will be uniquely us.
So far, so good. They're leading the NFC West with a record of 2-1. It came down to the wire yesterday. San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers had a few shots at the end zone to tie the game as the clock ticked down, each of which barely missed. So, Carroll won (despite an odd decision not to stop the clock at the end of the first half to kick a field goal). But, as Carroll says often in his book, it's not about winning as much as simply competing, because competing "lasts longer." Or, as Carroll writes in a poem near the end of the book, "Compete to be the greatest you, and that will always be enough and that will be a lifetime!"
In other words, "Keep on Truckin'."
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.