Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When it comes to discipline, it's more important to be right than consistent

Brad Adler's book "Coaching Matters" has a good passage with Bill Parcells and his approach to consistency as it relates to discipline.

It describes Coach Parcells' instense "desire for and commitment to consistency."

According to the author, "he required it in every aspect of the game. You had to practice consistently, play consistently, even rehab consistently. Indeed, as coach of the team, Parcells believed that even he had to be consistent, at least with most aspects of his leadership routine."

"The only thing you don't have to be consistent in is your discipline," Coach Parcells said of his coaching methods. "I know that sounds crazy, but what's important with discipline is to be right. I don't want to be consistent there, I want to be right."

It reminds me of a story a coaching friend told me recently about a high school coach who'd led his team to the state title game.

The night before the game, a group of his players had gone to dinner. On their way back to the team's hotel, one player -- the team's star player and a good kid who'd never had any problems -- realized that he'd left his wallet on the table, and had to run back to the restaurant to get it. He made it back to the hotel a few minutes later, but missed curfew.

According to the coach's rules, any player who missed curfew couldn't play in the next game. So, feeling like he had to be consistent with his discipline, the coach benched him. At the next day's championship game, with his best player in street clothes, they lost the game.

I've searched far and wide for this story online and haven't been able to find it. Regardless, even as a parable, it supports Coach Parcells' point about how when it comes to discipline, it's better to be right than consistent.