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Now is the time for us to come together and believe in the power of chosen culture.
We’ve been on an exciting journey together, going through a unique lens of championship sports and looking at culture through the practicing of a shared belief system. We’ve talked about the 4 L’s – Listening, Learning, Language, and Love. And now we’re going to spend some time talking about the importance of building a culture around integrity and character. Integrity and character is something that I’m sure you hear discussed all the time. There’s a unique approach to this when you look at it through the lens of sports because of what it means.
I’ll never forget when I went to Coach Dungy’s office as I was preparing to go speak to a school in Indianapolis to talk to young kids about the importance of integrity. And I asked Coach Dungy,
“How would you define integrity?”
And without missing a beat, he said,
“It’s what you’re doing when no one is watching.”
And that’s a definition that we’ve widely accepted.
In fact, integrity and character was so important in the culture of Indianapolis that it was included in their decision making of drafting new players. If you’ve read Coach Dungy’s book UNCOMMON, he shared the truth that they had an evaluation section in their draft process that basically defined integrity as the most important personality trait in the hiring of a new player. That section was referred to as “do not draft based upon character.” It was a part of the belief system of our Hall of Fame General Manager, Bill Polian, who would often talk about this philosophy of building the right team. That they would rather choose a lower round player that has a high level of character – integrity and they were the captain of their football team. Over, let’s say, the first round talent that had a lot of off the field problems. Because you can build a team around integrity and character. And a part of that is connected to humility. With integrity and character comes humility. And that’s incredibly important in the building of a team.
So, what are the three foundations of integrity and character that I took away from my time in a Super Bowl championship locker room? Those three were:
Regarding honesty, I think sometimes, especially when we’re having to be honest with other, it’s easy for us to kind of skirt our way around the truth. Oftentimes because we don’t want to offend or hurt somebody. But at the core of integrity is the idea that truthfulness is the only way to peace and true growth. So whenever you’re in a situation where you’re faced with needing to be honest, take courage. Take the opportunity to choose truthfulness. Because it’s going to bear a lot of fruit in your life and in your business.
Now, we’ll move on to responsibility. This is a big one. Responsibility also takes courage. It’s really about taking ownership in everything that you’re doing. So when you’re given a task, or when you’re given a project, or when you’re in charge of a team, you carry a great amount of responsibility. And it’s your duty to take ownership of that, to grab that with everything that you have and pour yourself into your craft and to use responsibility as a powerful tool to build strong teams.
Lastly is stewardship. I think one of the best and really most profound ways to look at stewardship is its connection to time. When you’re being a good steward of your time, what it means is that you’re taking a look at all of the things that you have going on in your life and your goal is to improve yourself and to improve the others around you that are connected to the things that you need to do. And so you have an opportunity to choose to be a good steward with your time. This is connected to Coach Dungy’s definition of integrity, “What are you doing when no one is watching?” I would challenge you to take ownership, take responsibility about how important being a steward, a good steward of your time, truly is. How are you scheduling your days? What are you doing with your free time?
Just one example of this – having an opportunity to be around Peyton Manning, I was able to learn and experience how he prepared for every single game. And hearing about all of the different things that he practiced outside of the practice facility when no one was watching. He was always working. He was stewarding his time in order to be the best that he could be.
Our team was filled with incredible character. Guys like Dallas Clark, who was a leader in our tight ends room. He made me a better person because of the way that he lived his life through integrity, through character, through honesty, through responsibility and stewardship. It’s players like Dallas Clark that you build a franchise organization around.
I was so blessed to experience a culture that believed integrity and character were directly connected to performance.
Friends, now, more than ever, it’s time for us to come together and to believe in the power of chosen culture.
– Ben Utecht
Super Bowl XLI Champion
Culture & Leadership Speaker, Coach, and Corporate Ambassador