Tag Archives: Preparation

Hustling Errors

In 1992, Jimmy Johnson, then coach of the Dallas Cowboys, cut running back “Swervin’” Curvin Richards after he fumbled in the last game of the regular season.  That in itself wasn’t so surprising.  Coach Johnson had a temper, and he didn’t suffer fumblers lightly.  But what was surprising was that Johnson would cut Richards but defend two other players who made similar mistakes in the same quarter of the same game.

Truth be told, all three mistakes were inconsequential.  Dallas would go on to win the game 27-14 over the Chicago Bears.  They had already secured a bye for the first weekend of the playoffs.  The game was nothing more than a notation in the record books as this particular Dallas team went on to win its third Super Bowl in dominating fashion.

The problem was not that mistakes had been made.  Richards’ fumble did result in a touchdown for the opposing team, but so did Steve Beuerlein’s interception.  Alvin Harper also turned the ball over…and all these happened in the fourth quarter.  So, why didn’t Johnson cut all three players?  Why did Richards alone incur Johnson’s wrath?

According to Johnson, it was because Beuerlein and Harper committed “hustling errors” while Richards simply showed the sloppiness that comes from a poor work ethic.  Beuerlein and Harper were forgiven because they were hustling; they were trying to make something happen.  They were taking risks and trying to get the momentum back for an offensive team that had started to focus their attention on the playoffs before the game had even ended.

Richards, on the other hand, failed to execute one of the fundamentals of his job.  Had he shown more diligence on the practice field, he might have been spared.  But Johnson was irritated with the running back for his lackluster approach to the game.  Johnson used this opportunity to teach his team an important lesson.  There are mistakes, and then there are mistakes.  Mistakes made while taking risks and trying new approaches will be forgiven.  Mistakes made because of poor preparation will not.


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Filed under coaching, failure, forgiveness, grace, justice, leadership, management, mentoring, mistakes

Pakistan – Day 4

Today was the day to set up the games for tomorrow.  One of the games requires a semi-large flat surface, and the organizers of the event picked this plot of grass.

It was almost perfect, but it hadn’t been mowed in some time.  That’s why this gentleman was out there.  He was assigned the unwelcome task of mowing the lawn.

As you may notice, there is an old-fashioned lawn mower in the yard, but it didn’t work properly, so the poor man was left no choice but to mow the lawn with this:

I felt really bad for him and tried several times to communicate that it would be just fine if he just cut the really tall grass and plants.  I think I was making progress when the second mower showed up.

This mower needed a little bit of work, and then it was put into service….or….not.  It didn’t work, either.  So, after 15-20 minutes of fiddling with it, the original “lawn mower” (the man with the knife) went back to work.  I tried again to convince him that he didn’t need to cut all the grass.  This time, he understood me and just cut the highest parts.  Then, he swept up all the clippings and put them on a large tarp so that he could carry them to a place where he could dump them.

Unfortunately, by the time he got back, the third mower had arrived.

These guys were fully committed to making one of these mowers work!

The third mower was called a “Weed Eater,” but it didn’t look like any Weed Eater I had ever seen.  It worked better than the previous two mowers, but it required an incredible amount of force and momentum to get the blades to turn.  I suppose the original “lawn mower” man felt guilty watching the man push the Weed Eater around in his business suit, so he went back to work cutting with his knife.

Between the two of them, this is what the lawn looked like a few hours later (after we had laid out the rope for the game I had planned).

All-in-all, it was sooooo much more effort than I needed or expected out of these guys, but they take such pride in doing the job well, that it’s impossible to talk them out of it.

The game went really well the next day, and not a single person complained about the grass

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Filed under culture, Culture Shock, funny, humor

Sharpening the Saw

Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a large tree.

“What are doing?” you ask.
“Can’t you see?” comes the exhausted reply. “I am cutting down this tree.”

“You look exhausted. How long have you been at it?”
“Over five hours now,” he returns, “and I am beat! This is hard work.”

“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes, and while you’re sitting down, sharpen that saw?” you inquire with concern. “I’m sure that it would go easier.”
“I don’t have time for that,” the man says. “I’m too busy sawing down this tree.”

Sounds ridiculous, right? Everyone knows sharper saws accomplish the task with much less effort.

Not so fast… we are all guilty of failing to sharpen our saws. Your “saw” is your set of resources that you use to be productive. Stephen Covey groups these resources into four categories: Physical, Social/Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. When you fail to sharpen the saw in one of these categories, your productivity will suffer.

For example, when you fail to sharpen your Physical saw by getting enough sleep, you aren’t as “sharp.” It’s harder to think conceptually and make decisions. The longer you go without sharpening this saw, the more mistakes you make.

When you fail to sharpen your Mental saw by attending training, reading books and learning new ways of doing things, you become less effective in your ministry. Others, who have more relevant knowledge, begin to outpace you.

It’s okay to take a break, and it’s okay to invest some time, energy and resources into yourself.  Why not set some daily goals to incorporate a few saw sharpening habits regularly in the coming year?

If the ax is dull,

And one does not sharpen the edge,

Then he must use more strength;

But wisdom brings success.

(Ecclesiastes 10:10)

(S – Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People )

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Filed under growth, habits, learning, planning, Preparation, Productivity, Sharpening the Saw, spiritual disciplines