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What We're Reading Now

Finding Your Way

24 January 2017

Rachel read a selection of articles about the New England Patriots and reflected on how a football team’s culture translates to life outside the locker room.

Tags: balance, rachel read, sports, teams

Among the words on our office wall—right outside my door, in fact—is the phrase stay married. It’s not a political, social, or religious statement; between our team and our clients, we could check almost any ‘marital status’ box on a tax form and we’re strong believers in healthy relationships of all shapes and sizes. For us, staying married is a metaphor for making choices that preserve the things you cherish. It’s about translating a value into action, with a focus not on the big gestures that sweep us away, but on the little actions and habits and promises that have transformative cumulative effect. It’s knowing when to turn your face, and how to resist the tempting distraction that might pull your attention away.

I wasn’t trying to think about work when I read some of the recent articles about the New England Patriots and what’s commonly known as the “Patriot Way.” Kevin Faulk, a former player, wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune: “The Patriot Way.” Lars Anderson, a 20-year veteran of Sports Illustrated, wrote “Secrets of the Patriot Way” for the Bleacher Report. There are books like War Room and Patriot Reign and The Education of a Coach that explore the approach and philosophy of head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, and a team and coaching staff that has spent the better part of the last 15 years demonstrating that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. (I know, I know—that hasn’t been without controversy like deflategate; you probably don’t want to talk to me about air pressure and the ideal gas law.)

Coach Belichick doesn’t do much publicly to spread the Patriot Way; he’s more likely to deny its existence when asked about it at a press conference. But former players and others describe it as an unflinching, unfailing focus on winning through individual commitment and execution. It’s doing your job, not worrying about the next guy doing his. It’s keeping your attention on the immediate next thing, not what might happen if this leads to that and this other thing. It’s steadfastness to a common goal that unites players whose lives and stories and personalities and reputations are about as varied as one can imagine but who regularly make choices (and plays) that contribute to team success.

So, in a lot of ways, staying married is the Patriot way. Know your thing. Make sure it’s a worthwhile one—something that inspires you on dark days, motivates your extra effort, satisfies you in moments of achievement. Something sticky and durable. And then, once you know your thing, put it at the center. Know the rules, the boundaries, the edges, and play by them. Every. Single. Day.

Why? It’s the Patriot way. (Go, team!)


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