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Now is the time when we must come together to believe in the power of chosen culture.
Over the last couple of videos, I’ve introduced to you the culture of the four L’s – listening, learning, language, and love.
Today we’re going to focus on the culture of language. What does it mean to be a Champion Language user? Someone who communicates effectively. Someone who communicates with tremendous clarity. And what was that Super Bowl championship culture that was created in Indianapolis to practice a belief system around being a great communicator?
It became so apparent to me, because I was a part of one of the greatest NFL offenses with one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks who had one of the most intricate audible systems in the history of football. I call it the language of Manning. And here’s what it taught me. It taught me that every single word matters as a communicator. Every single word. We shouldn’t assume that our team members will understand what we want them to. We need to go above and beyond to be very clear about every word we choose to use.
And so there was a culture created around that. And it’s so true in life and in other industries. I mean look at music. Music has its own vocabulary. Words that describe exactly how a musical arrangement or a score is supposed to sound. Or as a husband and as a father. I have four beautiful daughters. And so every day of my life is about communicating with them using words. Using language that I know they’ll understand. And hopefully it will have the impact on their lives in the way that I want it to.
And so language becomes one of the most effective tools that we can use as leaders. Now, playing for the Indianapolis Colts, like I described, in this incredibly intricate offense, about 75 times a game, we would get information from Peyton Manning. And he would give us plays like dice, right, ice cream, 654, Jose, on nothing. That was an actual call in the game. That was an actual play. And every single one of those words means something. But there was one word in that cadence that was the most important. Dice, right, ice cream, 654, Jose, on nothing. What do you think the most important word was in that play?
It was the word nothing. Because it told us exactly what Peyton was thinking. He was going to try and draw the defense offsides. So he was telling us,
“Guys, the play doesn’t exist. Don’t move at the line of scrimmage. I’m going to try to draw the defense offsides and see what they’re doing.”
And it worked. The defense revealed their strategy and then the master chess player, Peyton Manning, went to work. And that resulted in a touchdown to Reggie Wayne. But every single one of those words meant something. And as he created the new play and distributed the information to the team, it meant something. It told the offensive lineman exactly who to block. It told the receivers on the right exactly what route to run. It told the running back in the backfield exactly what route to run. And it told the individual member who scored the touchdown, Reggie Wayne, exactly what route he wanted him to run on the left side.
Every word matters. And it’s our job as leaders to distribute it in a way that our team fully understands.
So the three truths that came out of the culture of language in Indianapolis revolved around content, purpose, and delivery.
So, as leaders, if you can practice a culture of communication that revolves around content, purpose, and delivery – “What am I saying?”, “Why am I saying it?”, and “How am I saying it?” – if you can answer those three questions, you will build a culture of language, a culture of communication, that will be highly effective and give your team members the best chance to perform to the highest of their capabilities.
Now, more than ever, is the time for us to come together and choose to believe in the power chosen culture.
– Ben Utecht
Super Bowl XLI Champion
Culture & Leadership Speaker, Coach, and Corporate Ambassador