The Three Rs of Leadership

My long-time friend and mentor, Dick Wynn, used to always tell me that good leadership involved three ingredients:

1. Relationships
2. Results
3. Resilience

I understood the first two immediately. I’ve learned over time that successful schools, companies, NPOs, and churches always combine a healthy pursuit of relationships and results. The third word, resilience, was different. I understood it, but didn’t fully comprehend why it’s so important to great leadership. Now I know.

One leader showed me on Superbowl Sunday. His name is Drew Brees.

Drew has one of the best attitudes I have seen in a professional athlete. It is Humbition. He has a rare combination inside of him: he is humble and has ambition. Consider his story.

Challenge One. He was injured while playing for the San Diego Chargers in 2005. His rotator cuff was smashed. Quarterbacks sort of need those to play well. Most of us believed his football career was over. But, Drew has resilience. Humbition. He not only survived the injury, but thanks to surgeon, James Andrews, he is playing better than ever before. He tied a Superbowl record for most complete passes. Not bad.

Challenge Two. The Chargers gave up on him. They released Drew from the squad. Too risky. In fact, the Miami Dolphins felt the same way. It would have been easy to believe that even if his shoulder healed, no NFL team would want him. But Drew has resilience. Humbition. The Saints believed Dr. Andrews and gave him a chance. He now has a Superbowl ring. The Chargers and Dolphins didn’t get one this year.

Challenge Three. The city of New Orleans is still broken. One might think this was a consolation prize for an NFL player – go to this city, still devastated from Hurricane Katrina, and play there. While Drew and his wife, Brittney, drove through the pitiful Lower 9th District, they said it looked like a war torn city. Spirits were low, funds were low. Hope was low. But – Drew has resilience. Humbition. He said he felt he was supposed to move to New Orleans for more than just football. He was there for a reason more divine. He has given almost two million dollars to help rebuild portions of the city, and a Superbowl victory to lift the spirits of the residents.

Here’s what I believe. Succeeding isn’t merely about surviving your challenges. It is about turning them around and using them as a catalyst. The injury, the release from the Chargers, and the move to New Orleans all could’ve been downers. But not for a leader with resilience and “humbition.” Drew used them as a catapult.

Thanks Drew, for leading the way.


The Three Rs of Leadership