Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) is known as one of the most successful coaches in professional football history. He was the head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he lead the team to three straight and five total NFL Championships in seven years. They also won the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967. He became an American icon, known as a national symbol of determination and grit.
Since then, Vince Lombardi’s famous inspirational quotes have been documented and talked about for over four decades now. They have served not only as inspiration to athletes and coaches, but to business leaders and entrepreneurs. But what most people don’t know and fail to realize, is who Vince Lombardi really was. Just how did he get all of this wisdom and character?
Here are ten of his famous quotes:
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
“Winning is a habit. Watch your thoughts, they become your beliefs. Watch your beliefs, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become your character.”
“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
“I derived my strength from daily mass and communion.”
“When we place our dependence in God, we are unencumbered, and we have no worry. In fact, we may even be reckless, insofar as our part in the production is concerned. This confidence, this sureness of action, is both contagious and an aid to the perfect action. The rest is in the hands of God – and this is the same God, gentlemen, who has won all His battles up to now.”
“I learned that character is built by training yourself to use your powers of thought, emotion and action to do good and avoid evil — and to help others pursue the common good instead of following their own selfish desires.”
Indeed those are some very profound words. Where most people fail to make the connection is with regards to Vince Lombardi’s devotion to his Catholic faith. Lombardi’s childhood was steeped in a life dominated by the Catholic Church. Mass was a daily ritual for the Lombardi family, and Vince continued this daily practice throughout his entire life. At the age of 15, he enrolled into the Cathedral College of Immaculate Conception, where he intended to study to become a priest. Two years later, he changed his mind and transferred to the St. Francis Preparatory School which is when he got involved in football.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Once we make the connection to Lombardi’s deep and strong faith, the famous quotes and the amazing results he had start to take on a different light. We can use this to better understand the faith and how it relates to success on any playing field (be it sports, school, our careers, or in our homes).
If we look at the quote about perfection, as Christians, we are called to imitate Christ knowing full well that we will likely never truly be able to. But by placing Christ as the bar (the ultimate bar); our overarching goal becomes to strive to live the way he did and to treat others as he did.
Decades later, similar messages are gaining traction in social media, but worded in a secular way with no mention of Christianity. You may have seen slogans like “Be the strongest version of yourself” or “be the best you today”.
When we try to be the best version of ourselves, where exactly is the bar being set?
As cited in the Confiteor prayer that is said at every Sunday mass where we apologize to God, part of the prayer states that we are judged not only for our sins, but also for the things that we did not do. Indeed the bar is set high. But by chasing a higher bar, we will inevitably reach greater levels of performance than if we set the bar low.
The first quote listed above regarding perfection is strikingly similar with one of Jesus’ commandments written in Matthew 5:48: “You are to be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” It is likely that the translation of this quote somehow got misinterpreted. It is more likely that Jesus meant “you are to strive to be perfect”.
When we live with this type of mindset, the innate design of us is for excellence.
Vince Lombardi will be remembered for a long time. Hopefully, more people will come to realize where he drew his winning ways from, and to emulate and benefit from that part of his legend.
To visit the official Vince Lombardi website, click here
To read more of Vince Lombardi’s quotes, here is a collection at BrainyQuote.com
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