The inglorious marks of a champion

SELF | Brian Tome | 4 mins

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Learning has become a crutch. I’m here to kick it out from under you.

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Our culture is obsessed with learning. Want to write a New York Times Best Seller? Invent a new and easy way to do something. It’ll shoot right to the top. Here’s the truth: you already know everything you need to live a remarkable life. That’s because the secret sauce to life isn’t what you know—it’s what you do.

Learning is important. I actually like it. But so many people I know use the need to “learn more” as an excuse for not doing more. They think more research or deeper insights or some secret knowledge will turn their life around. But it won’t.

Vince Lombardi is a legend. The head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, he led the team to three straight (and five total) NFL Championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967. Even more prestigious than those numbers is this bombshell: Lombardi never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL. In our current culture of here-today, gone-tomorrow coaching changes, that statistic is mind boggling.

Lombardi had unparalleled success, not because he was on the cutting edge of new football techniques, but because he forced his players to perfect what they already knew.

On the first day of training camp, before the start of every new season, Lombardi would begin the same way. He’d sit all his players down and hold up a pigskin. “Gentlemen,” he’d say, “This is a football.” Despite working with professional athletes, Lombardi took nothing for granted. Every year, his teams would begin on page one of the playbook. They practiced blocking. They practiced tackling. They reviewed the rules. Lombardi forced them to focus on the fundamentals, day in and day out. And they won. Big time.

Are you married? Practice the fundamentals. Respect your spouse. Make them feel special. Carry your weight. Surprise them with a date night. Book the babysitter yourself. Be kind. Do more than your fair share. Kiss. Be pleasant in the morning. Take out the trash.

Do you have a job? Practice the fundamentals. Get to work on time. Be a problem-solver. Smile at your coworkers. Assist those who could use it. Encourage your boss. Don’t scroll Instagram on company time. Be present in your meetings. Don’t multitask. Don’t skip out early.

Do you have kids? Practice the fundamentals. Be present. Ask about their day. Encourage their passions. Correct their mistakes. Give second chances. Give third chances. Know their friends by name. Celebrate their wins. Stand with them in their losses.

Want to lose weight? Work out. Drink water. Stop eating Snickers for lunch. Choose vegetables. Want to save money? Budget. Talk to a financial advisor. Cut off Netflix. Stop eating out. Want to run a marathon? Strap on your shoes and put one foot in the front of the other.

Culture sells us “sexy” answers our problems. It’s the new book with the secret to losing weight. The podcast with the quick fix to your financial woes. The blog with the top three things you need to do to keep the spark in your marriage.

It’s all crap. There is no easy button in life. There are no quick fixes. It’s the “unsexy” work, day in and day out, hitting the same nail of the fundamentals, that will change your life. It’s what you do when no one’s watching that sets the trajectory for your future. Hit your inglorious marks—doing good work, being present, carrying your weight—and I believe the glory will follow.

Champions are born from doing the fundamentals. Reject the lie that new information will change your life. What you know and believe is only step one. The trajectory of your life will begin to shift when you actually act on what you believe…when you start moving.

Throw down your crutch. Hit your inglorious marks. Do the unsexy work. Be a champion.


Every other Friday, thousands of people get unfiltered encouragement and challenge from me delivered to their inboxes. If you enjoyed or were challenged by this, subscribe for more at the bottom of the page or at briantome.com. To quote the great John McClane… “Welcome to the party, pal.”


Written by

Brian Tome

Guiding you to the adventurous life you were made for. Adventurer, Author, Senior Pastor of Crossroads Church. More about Brian Tome.

Published on Dec 4, 2019