Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance
by Tony Dungy
It’s easy to get swept along, borne by the current with no idea where you’re headed. Sometimes you find yourself miles out from shore with the lighthouse no longer visible. I’ve seen it over and over through the years, and I’ve even felt the pull myself. There have been plenty of times when I’ve looked around and wondered, Now how did I get here? Where is here? And who are these people floating alongside me? Unfortunately, that seems to be the path that way too many of us naturally take. We live in a world in which things are accepted as normal without any thought as to whether they should be or whether there might be a better way. Too often we resign ourselves to accepting that things just are the way they are. We get pulled in every direction by people and society. Everyone has a different expectation for us as men: be a provider, be tough, be sensitive, don’t cry, stay home, go to work, change diapers, go hang out with the boys, don’t go hang out with the boys, and so on. Young men today are told to demand respect, be a “gangsta,” take no prisoners whether on the streets or in bed, look out for number one. Some have said that being a man today means to be sensitive and caring, to be nurturing, quick to comfort, open to talk. Still others have said that we’ve been created to explore caves and beat our chests in some sort of masculine cosmic rhythm. But what does it really mean to be a man? I say this: being a man is more than leaving our wives husbandless, our children fatherless, our employers passionless, our families hopeless. You can be more. You were created to be more—and better. The messages of the world are a cop-out: the messages of sexual conquest, of financial achievement, of victory in general. Not only are these messages not fair, but they also fall so far short of what you can do—and more importantly, who you can be.
In football, we often speak in terms of keys. We’ll key on the quarterback or on a particularly dangerous and game changing running back. The strong safety keys off of the tight end. On offense, the center may use the middle linebacker as his key for determining whom to block, or the receiver may key off whether the cornerback is playing up on him or back, inside or outside, to determine which way he’s going to release from the line of scrimmage to run his route. Sometimes we refer to it as “finding our landmarks.” I’ve always loved that phrase, for all that it says about football and life. Defensive backs in particular have to find their landmarks in order to properly defend their territory. They are charged with being in a certain place that is dictated by both the offense and the field itself. Their “spot” is determined by how far they are from the end zone, how far from the sideline, and what kind of help they can expect from teammates. I think our journey as men is similar. We live in a world that is fluid: some of us are single, some are married, some have children at home, some have children away at school, and others see their children only on court-prescribed visitation days. Some of us are nearing the end of our time on earth (we assume), while others of us have our entire lives ahead of us (again, we assume!). The fundamentals, however, don’t change: the keys to life, those landmarks that we can use to find our footing and maintain our position and bearings, will always remain. In football, when our team isn’t playing well, I might say, “We have to get back to our fundamentals,” referring to those basic principles that allow us to play the game successfully— blocking, tackling, running, catching. Right now, our society also needs to get back to the fundamentals, those basic principles that will allow us to succeed as men. We can be certain there will always be obstacles along the way. However, having those fundamentals to fall back on will help us to overcome those obstacles. We are not only able to effect this change, but I think we need to.
Taken from Uncommon by Tony Dungy. Copyright © 2009 by Tony Dungy. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Lasting Legacy - Indianapolis Style
Q&A: Indianapolis Sports Strategy
Visionary Community Development Plan Earns Legacy Project
Indianapolis' Rx for Building a Better Community: Volunteers
Sports & Character
The Jersey Effect
Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance
Tim Tebow's Role Model
The Butler Way
From Hardscrabble Indy to the Super Bowl
From Leading the Nation in Foreclosures to Leading Edge Solutions
Building with a Purpose: Holistic Redevelopment in the Meadows
Extreme Home Makeover: Neighborhood Edition
The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football
Sports on the Silver Screen
Indy's First Sports Strategy