In The Huddle with Fran Tarkenton

To Win, Be Yourself

senior-business-work-happyWe all want to deal with people who are authentic. When someone tries to be something they’re not, it never works. They’re inevitably awkward, and everyone can tell that they’re not comfortable in their own skin.

A great example of this comes from my time in the NFL. Vince Lombardi was, and is to this day, the most legendary coach in NFL history. In 1959, he took over as the head coach for the Green Bay Packers. They were a struggling team at the time, trying to make it in a small town competing against the teams from the big cities—the New York Giants, the Los Angeles Rams, the Chicago Bears. In an era without television contracts and revenue sharing, it just didn’t seem possible to be able to compete.

But Lombardi was a genius of a head coach. He knew how to put together a winning team. He knew how to find great players, how to build a culture, and how to put it all together. The results spoke for themselves. He and the Packers won 5 NFL Championships, and the first 2 Super Bowls. They were the dominant team of the 1960s.


Naturally, every team in the league wanted to replicate the Packers’ formula. So they tried hiring Lombardi’s assistant coaches. Four of them got hired by other teams between 1966 and 1968, coaches from both the offense and the defense. But here’s the surprising thing: every single one of them failed. None of them finished with a winning record for their coaching careers, or even a single playoff appearance.

Why did they all fail? I suggest that it’s because they all tried to be Vince Lombardi. Instead of being themselves, and being authentic, they tried to be someone else. There were lessons they could learn from Lombardi about coaching a team, but to make it work you have to apply those lessons while still being yourself. Lombardi’s assistants got caught up trying to be Vince Lombardi, and they failed.

It’s so true in business today, as it was in football then. We like to do business with people who are comfortable in their skin, and who clearly believe in what they’re saying and doing. People do business with people they know, like, and trust—how can you trust someone who isn’t even willing to show their true self? That relationship needs authenticity at its heart, and you build from there.


If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Read more articles by Fran Tarkenton

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Terrance Conder

Sometimes is hard to be one’s self, i.e., authentic. However, at the age of 64 (now 65), I discover that it’s not only the best thing to do and be, but the ‘only’ thing. It’s so much better than attempting to create an “impression” to the point you feel you must always ‘maintain’ that impression. And yes, others truly sense when something isn’t truly and spontaneously coming from within you. God made each of us different from one another. We are all truly unique—TRULY unique. Just trust Him and relax about yourself. It really does pay in the long run, often in the short run too.

Patricia Kuhlman

This is the email I sent to Bill O’Reilly – Hello Bill, My husband and I have watched you for years and really appreciate your giving us the news and the facts without the spin. I must tell you first that we are both conservative Republicans. While watching you the other evening, you said you are a member of AARP. My husband is 84 and I am 77 and we were both members of AARP for a long time until they became so liberal and were right in step with Obama on everything including ObamaCare. It appeared to us that Obama had AARP in his pocket. There were other things besides just that but that was the tipping point for us and that is when we switched to AMAC. I think for you to be fair and balanced, you should have someone representing AMAC to be on the Factor. Patricia… Read more »