What Obama Could Learn from Dungy

This morning, USA Today posted a blog entry relating the recent presidental election and president-elect Obama with a sporting event and coach Tony Dungy (a Tyndale author). You may read the article below or see the entire entry at the USA Today website. Tyndale published Dungy’s best-selling book, Quiet Strength, and will be releasing his new book, Uncommon, in February.

What Obama could learn from Dungy
By Yolanda Young


In many ways, this past election felt like a sporting event. Stadium crowds, team colors (red and blue) and certainly Election Day parties. Yet in this political world, the winner has no time to celebrate. President-elect Barack Obama comes to the job facing an economy generously described as fragile and two wars still commanding this country’s attention — not to mention a litany of challenging domestic issues.

Before the election, Obama’s candidacy was undermined by two key questions: Was the country ready for a black president, and did he have enough experience to lead the nation?

Voters have answered the first question overwhelmingly, but the latter is still unknown. Even so, choosing Obama was no Hail Mary pass. Similar concerns were raised when the NFL’s Tony Dungy was hired to coach the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dungy eventually made history when he became the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl — but with the Indianapolis Coltsin 2007.

Though coaching in the NFL and leading the free world aren’t exactly peer positions, Obama could still learn a thing or two from Dungy.

Lesson 1: Winning is not enough. After Dungy led Tampa Bay to several playoff appearances, he was fired in 2002 for his failure to reach the Super Bowl. Yet, in his first book, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life, Dungy placed faith and family ahead of sports: “It’s the journey that matters. Learning is the more important test.”

Lesson 2: Lead with poise and purpose. Dungy is calm. No profanity. No sideline tantrums. Just grit and graciousness.
Says Dungy: “I try to get across to our players that a lot of people will admire you for how you play. But in the long run, it is more important to have them admire you for how you live.”

Lesson 3: Be a role model. In his upcoming book,
Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance, the coach says society tells young people to chase material success. As a result, Dungy fears, we “never really have the positive impact on people that would make our lives truly significant.”

During an interview on
ESPN’s Monday Night Football the eve of his election, Obama credited his high school basketball coach with giving him advice that he applied to his campaign and beyond. “This is not about you,” Obama said, “it’s about the team.”

Tony Dungy couldn’t have said it any better.

Yolanda Young is the founder of the website Onbeingablacklawyer.com.