Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Power of Commitment

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New Year’s isn’t just about resolutions (or habits), but also college football bowl games.

In what is typically a heavily commercialized celebration of “amateur” athletics, a story that stands out in its uniqueness emerged amidst the typical fanfare.

One coach taught us to live better stories by being committed.

Coach Strong and his players celebrating their victory at the Sugar Bowl

Breaking the Cycle of Bigger and Better

Bowl season is a busy time. In addition to the football games being played, countless coaches make the switch from one team to another looking for something bigger and better.

Over the last 15 years, the University of Louisville football team has been hit hard by the disease of “bigger and better.”  After finding success under two different coaches, both left for a more prestigious job that paid more.

The program seemed stuck in this cycle of blossoming success and rebuilding, at least until one coach said no to the big pay day and said yes to his team.

After winning the Big East championship in his 3rd season, Coach Charlie Strong found himself in the opportunity to chase a dream. He received an offer for bigger and better. A high profile SEC team offered him a job.

There were promises of more money. A program with a history of championships. A bigger stadium that could seat over 100,000 screaming fans.

He would have been crazy not to take the job.

In fact this is what ESPN.com had to say about his decision to stay.

The moment Charlie Strong decided he wasn’t taking his talents to Knoxville, Tenn., many people around the college football world were stunned by his decision to spurn the SEC and remain at Louisville. He’d be making more money and would have a heck of a better chance at competing for a national championship in the sport’s best conference.

But Strong said no.

The reason? He was committed to his team and to his players.

The Power of Being Committed

In an age when commitment is hard to find, examples of its power are few.

We view many things in our lives as temporary. Stepping stones. Something we tolerate while we wait for something different, something better to show up.

Cars. Our jobs. Our favorite sports team. Our marriages. Our ideas. Our stories.

When Strong chose to stay with his team, he changed the way everyone looked at the program. His decision could prove to be the catalyst to lead his team to levels of achievement never thought possible before.

  • He said no to a bigger fan base, but energized his current fan base in ways never though possible.
  • He said no to the possibility of high ranked recruits, but enabled his current set of players to achieve more.
  • He said no to a historic program, and starting writing a new history of his own.
  • He said no to big money, but he is all the richer for it.

Better than Winning the Game

When the Cardinals played the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl last Wednesday night, I sensed something bigger going on than just a game.

I sensed a team that believed in their coach. A team that believed that they could compete. A team looking into the future.

The team did something even more important for their program than win a big game.

Empowered by the commitment of their coach, they started believing in their story.

Have you experienced the power of committment?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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14 Replies

  1. As a football fan, I absolutely love this story. The power of commitment is largely lost because we have lost the will-power to see it through, which is why these stories are so poignant.

    It’s been said that humans greatly overestimate what they can do in a year, but grossly underestimate what they can do in ten years. If a culture, and specifically a christian culture could adopt this kind of commitment, a nation would be changed.

    1. I agree. I think part of the problem is that our culture demands results now. Not only do coaches leave early, but teams fire coaches when a program struggles. Typically the programs are just as bad as the coaches.
      Part of commitment is waiting for the fruit of our labors to develop.

  2. I admire Coach Strong for sticking with his commitment…even if I am a fan of that other team he was looking at! I think it shows a lot about his character because coaches these days are usually only looking out for themselves. They want to go to the next big place to win championships. The fact that Strong wanted to invest in his current players says a lot for him.

    1. Honestly, I gave Louisville no chance. I think the difference in the game was this commitment. Louisville had more to play for than Florida.

  3. My wife shows me commitment all the time. It means everything to me knowing she is my best friend, and biggest supporter.

    1. That’s a really good story, DS. Better than football.

  4. great job Jeremy. thanks for creating.

  5. I wish more coaches understood the dynamic of commitment like Coach Strong,especially in light of the important place they have in the lives of the young men they are mentoring.

    That being said, I am blessed with a wonderful wife who is my biggest fan in everything I do.

    1. It’s good to have someone rooting for you. I bet she cheers when she feels committed to.

  6. The commitment of my parent’s prayer habits is the foundation for my success. God has truly listened to their hopes and dreams.

  7. Josh

    Ugh Jeremy! You nailed it on the head! I’m trying to decide on making a commitment to serving in the military in my country, and I just answered yes to both questions. I really needed to hear all of that. I am committed, and I wasn’t before because I was scared; scared of more responsibility, scared of abandoning “alternate endings” to my story in life. But I can only choose one, and I believe this will make me the best I can be! Thank you.

  8. DJ

    It dawned on me tonight, I think I have a commitment problem and don’t find much on the web to deal with it. I don’t fit categories that fits others. I waited until I was 40 y/o to marry, separated 9 months later and then divorced. We were together 8 years prior to marriage. He was 3 years older than me, we were successful professionals making a 3-digit salary. I will never commit to a marriage again. Ever.
    I’ve owned homes in the past but now can’t buy one because I’m afraid to commit (what if I change jobs? leave the area? leave Southern Cal?).
    I buy things at the store and ask a thousand questions about returning it…everything from a cell phone to a household item to a dress to make-up. Don’t want to get “stuck” with it, can’t commit.
    Can’t commit to investing the $250K sitting in my bank account, don’t want to tie it up, what if I loose it, what if, what if, what if…can’t commit…so I get 1/3% return. Pitiful.
    Invited to the company annual party. Always the last to RSVP, can’t commit, sometimes I even back out after I’ve said yes.
    Invited to lunch after church by a few friends who attend. I will let them know after the service. Can’t commit. Won’t concencrate, won’t get baptised, won’t commit.
    I’m responsible, reliable, successful, decisive (yes, decisive but just won’t commit), financially stable, stayed in jobs for years at a time just have issues with “certain” commitments.
    Any guidance that will work is appreciated.

  9. Mark

    Many men are reluctant to commit because they have been burned, or seen other men burned, by women. The woman’s world has no accountability, no responsibility. Women rarely lose their homes in divorce. Women rarely lose their retirement or pension, or get ordered to pay alimony or child support for a child the spouse refuses to let them spend time with. Women aren’t commonly falsely accused of abuse or child molestation.

    Men are reluctant to commit because the big head is finally in control over the small head. Why is the man supposed to, “Give his life to a woman”? The inverse of that sentence would raise protests in the street, from women. In a relationship, the lives of the parters should be shared. Offer an equitable agreement and men would commit in droves.

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