Football season is getting close. In spite of all the controversy around the sport, I can’t imagine fall without the hype videos and documentaries about the interesting personalities who play the game. Last weekend, I started watching an ESPN series about P.J. Fleck, the new head coach of Minnesota. My beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers will face him this year, so I wanted to find out what we’ll be up against.
Fleck was a hard-working player that has gone on to coach at Ohio State, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, and for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In December 2012, he landed the head coaching position at Western Michigan. He credits Greg Schiano as the most influential person in his coaching style, but wears a tie on the sidelines because of Jim Tressel and Mike Nolan. He’s the kind of guy who is quick to give credit to the men who molded him into the coach he’s become.
In case you haven’t kept up with the meteoric rise of Western Michigan football, the 2013 WMU season ended 1-11. By 2016, Fleck lead WMU to an undefeated regular season at 12-0, their first undefeated regular season since 1941, and then they went on to win the MAC Football Championship, their first since 1988, earning Fleck the title of MAC Coach of the Year.
His transition to Minnesota will be a huge test, but one of the key things that propelled him to victory at Western Michigan was his ability to accept adversity and success from the same vantage point – find the lesson in the moment, learn it, and move on. That attitude is represented in his mantra: “Row the Boat.”
Here’s Fleck in his own words explaining what that means:
- The oar is the energy you bring to your life, your family, your spiritual life, your academic life. It’s what you bring to life. You choose whether your oar is in the water or out of the water. If your oar is out of the water, you’re not going to go anywhere. The boat is the sacrifice – what are you willing to give up for something you’ve never had. The compass is the direction of your life set by the leader.
- When you’re rowing a boat, you can’t see where you’re going… Your back is toward the future, you can’t control it. You’re rowing in the present, which is the only thing you can control. But you’re looking at the past, which is the only thing you can’t change — but you have to learn from it.
I like that perspective a lot. One thing I know about life is that you’re either coming out of a trial, in the middle of one, or about to go through a new one. That’s the nature of living, and even if I’m never going to root for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, I can absolutely get behind Fleck’s idea of rowing the boat.
Related: The Expectation of Perfection
My team (Mineral, not the Huskers) is currently exploring ideas about how to mark our accomplishments, take stock of our failures, and keep rowing the boat. I’ll keep you posted on how we’re going to do it. In the meantime, I’d love to hear how your team takes stock, adjusts, and keeps going.
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