Ten year NFL veteran and world champion with the New Orleans Saints, Heath Evans, recently moderated the 5AM Call to share a few stories about the man he calls the best coach on planet Earth, Bill Belichick.
One level of accountability
“There is only one level of accountability, and that’s accountable – matter-of-fact accountable. There are no [other] levels.”
Oftentimes, in his NFL career, and in his college career before that, Heath noticed there were different rules for different people. And that created all kinds of instability and resentment within organizations.
Well, in New England, there was only one level of accountability. And Patriots coach Bill Belichick was committed to holding everyone accountable. That accountability looked the same for Tom Brady, for Heath, and for everyone else on the team.
That’s the unifying principle behind the two stories Heath shared during the 5AM Call: if accountability matters – for our marriages, for our kids, for our business, even for our own personal success – it has to set the same standards for everyone.
No one – not even Coach Belichick himself – gets a pass.
The lowlight reel
In 2007, after the New England Patriots destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they went to Indianapolis, played badly, but won by a thin margin.
As Heath tells it, every other team had highlight reels. In New England, they had lowlight reels. Everything you didn’t do well that you were coached to do – that you were prepared to do and had promised to do – ended up in these lowlight reels. And even famed quarterback Tom Brady, who by this time had three Super Bowl rings, was not immune.
Coach Belichick tore into Brady after a mistake he made that nearly cost them the game. The rest of the team were dying with laughter as Bill verbally flayed him. Because each one of them knew no one would escape accountability for the mistakes they made on the field.
And no one wanted to.
“Watching Brady just squirm in his seat as Bill’s just railing him with the details that he fell short, and even though he’s the greatest quarterback, Bill wasn’t gonna allow him to escape accountability. The standard that was set is why that team was great year in and year out. There’s only one level of accountability… And it has to be across the board.”
Everyone has blind spots
Heath introduced the next story with his second takeaway: “Dysfunctional doesn’t look dysfunctional to the dysfunctional.”
Another New England Patriots coach, Ernie Adams, could stop practice and even get Bill’s ear in the middle of a game. He would often be in Bill’s office at around 4:18 am.
The reason? Bill knew there were things in himself and in his behavior that he was blind to. He knew he had blind spots.
He knew there were areas of dysfunction that he couldn’t see – not because he was more dysfunctional than most but because he was human. And he could only pay attention to so many things at once.
So, Bill gave Ernie full authority to call him out for the things he was missing and to call his attention to anything that was out of place.
“Great leaders, great fathers, great husbands are gonna have people in their lives that hold them accountable – that come to them, and don’t have to tiptoe around tough things, and say, ‘Hey, brother, sister, this is dysfunctional. It’s out of place. It’s gonna hurt you.”
The best leaders, coaches, and doers out there recognize the need for an accountability partner. What will you do this week to fill that gap if you haven’t already?
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