Leading, Writing, Learning

Terrific article in the WaPo by Dan Steinberg on UMD’s new football coach.  It grabbed my eye initially because of its take on leadership (I was converting to school), but it’s also got some nice thoughts on writing process.  Definitely worth a read, and easily reached with some Google-fu if that link dies.  I hit it with the old C&P hex so I could sift it for quotes and ideas later.

I have toyed with the notion of keeping a “When I Am King” file that would be similar to this, except I have no delusions of grandeur (pertaining to running a school, at least!).  But still, I am inspired:


Durkin never discussed the spiral notebook he began keeping with that head coach, a guy named Urban Meyer. He didn’t discuss it with his fellow assistants either. As Durkin flew through the coaching ranks — from Bowling Green to Notre Dame back to Bowling Green, and then to Stanford and Florida and Michigan — his original notebook became two, and then four, and then 10.

The lessons from Meyer were soon supplemented with the thoughts of Jim Harbaugh and Will Muschamp, Tyrone Willingham and Gregg Brandon, and with observations from outside of football, too. The notebooks went in a bin that accompanied Durkin and his family as they moved around the country, with the most recent ones remaining in his office. And before he interviewed for the Maryland opening, Durkin did what he always figured he would: He took out his old notebooks to review those lessons about building a college football program he’d been storing up for 15 years.

“I’m going into a meeting and talking about how I’m going to run a program; I’ve got to gather my thoughts, and so it forces you to go back through some things,” the 38-year old Durkin said on a recent morning in his office. “It’s like: ‘Here are my thoughts, here’s what I believe in.’ … You’ve got to have a clean viewpoint in your own mind of how this thing’s going to go, a baseline of core values and organization that you’re always going to go back to.”

The lessons cover all sorts of topics: running staff meetings and dealing with players, handling recruiting and dishing out discipline, creating handouts and crafting talking points. He always has used his notes as a coaching reference point, but it’s happened even more frequently in the hectic months since his hiring.

Want to get good at something?  Write things down.




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