Pete Carroll and 5 Writing Lessons

A figure posed with head resting on hand with a headache caused by loud talkers around him

5 writing lessons

5 writing lessons

Pete Carroll as a Coach of writers or supplier of 5 writing lessons is not well known. For good reason because football coaches don’t teach others how to write, they teach others how to play football. And yet Carroll’s coaching philosophy, one which landed him and the Seattle Seahawks into two successive Super Bowls, is directly applicable to writers and probably to almost all other endeavors. Carroll’s philosophy and his route to its development was fraught with mistakes, failures and disappointment. Exactly the trajectory of any writing career- any career, in truth.

Finally, today, I read an article called The Game Changer , published in Mindful last December. The delay in the read was not due to lack of interest, merely the need to meet my deadline for completing my next book. Now that the manuscript is done, awaiting editorial suggestions, I can take time off to read and write about topics totally unrelated to the book.

At least that’s what I expected  when I read this article. Perhaps because my brain attempts to synthesize everything into one neat package, I found Carroll’s experience and the way he expresses it to be wholly relevant to the craft of being a writer.

Here are the five lessons I learned, some relearned while reading this intriguing piece.

  1. Getting fired from the Patriots in 2002 was the catalyst for Pete Carroll’s decision to develop his own coaching philosophy. Crisis, whether losing our job, our health, a marriage or any of the tragedies that can befall us, can be interpreted as an opportunity or as an invitation to give up. If we look at the event as an opportunity, it can catapult us from mediocrity to excellence. Like Pete Carroll.
  2. Excellence requires that we step out of the herd. Whether the herd is other coaches, other writers or other volunteers, the decision to step away from the reassuring crowd is risky, is lonely, is frightening. But essential. Why?
  3. The nature of excellence is unique. Often misused, the word unique means ‘one of its kind’, like you and like me. The nature of excellence is unique, I’m repeating the simple declarative statement because we think too often that we can assimilate the skills, lessons and aptitudes of recognized experts. When we do this we become mediocre facsimiles of others. We miss the unique selves residing dormant within ourselves.
  4. Excellence requires competition but on a field where there is only one player, only one writer. Our goal? To dig down, more deeply with each game, each book so that we produce better and more uplifting versions of ourselves.
  5. Our focus must on our art. And it’s all art. Whether our art is quilting or basketball or teaching, we are given these days, these months and these years for the art of composing our life. Essential in keeping the focus is prayer, meditation, some method of getting out of our heads and into those other areas, heart, soul, psyche, where the best of ourselves resides.

One of the many reasons I enjoy sports and reading about the leaders in sports is the very clear reminder that it’s all the same. Whether our  field is athletics, the classroom or  the stock market, the principles are the same. In the end, our lives and our happiness are directly proportional to our thoughts. What we think, what we permit to reside in our psyches. When our focus is on those who have ‘made it’, or mimicking the experts, we are just wasting our time, precious time.

 

 

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