Vince Lombardi was a great leader who knew how to motivate men. He was an American football coach, winning many championships. He was the head coach of the Green Bay Packers when they won the first Super Bowl. In fact, the Super Bowl trophy is named after him. Lombardi was famous for his inspirational speeches. One of his most famous speeches is “What It Takes to Be Number One.”
Lombardi was known for his drive and determination, but he is remembered for his leadership. Lombardi was driven to be the best and demanded the same from his players. “What It Takes to Be Number One” was first given in the locker room at halftime. Since then, Lombardi gave this speech many times to businesses and at political conventions.
I have always admired Vince Lombardi. You could say, he is my “go-to” guy for inspiration. “What It Takes to Be Number One” is one of my favorite Lombardi speeches. I have it on a card hanging up in my office. Every now and then, I take it down and read it. Vince Lombardi has been such an inspiration to me I even married a girl named Lombardi. That’s Sofia’s maiden name.
The Speech “What It Takes To Be Number One”
“Winning is not a sometimes thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
By doing the right things all the time you will find yourself winning more often than not. Develop the habit of winning in everything that you do
“There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. I have finished second twice in my time at Green Bay, and I don’t ever want to finish second again. There is a second-place ballgame, but it is a game for losers played by losers. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win.”
You won’t win every time, nobody does. When you don’t win it should drive you to come in first the next time. Only one team is having fun at the end of a championship game. The winning team.
“Every time a football player goes to ply his trade he’s got to play from the ground up, from the soles of his feet right up to his head. Every inch of him has to play. Some guys play with their heads. That’s O.K. You’ve got to be smart to be number one in any business. But more importantly, you’ve got to play with your heart, with every fiber of your body. If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.”
Giving it everything you’ve got is how you win. You cannot do things halfway.
“Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization, an army, a political party, or a business. The principles are the same. The object is to win and to beat the other guy. Maybe that sounds hard or cruel. I don’t think it is.”
The objective of any business is all the same. It is to make a profit. If you are not making money in your business, you have a hobby.
“It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there, to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The object is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules, but to win.”
Competition makes everyone better. It doesn’t have to be nasty and you don’t have to cheat. Do your best and win fairly.
“And in truth, I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline. There is something in good men that really yearns for discipline and the harsh reality of head-to-head combat.”
Embrace the grind and everyday challenges. Learn to love the daily routine of making yourself better. Championship teams put more emphasis on practice. They embrace the difficulties of the daily grind. Championships are won during these times.
The final paragraph of his speech is the most important part for me. It sums up what it takes to be number one. Read it many times and let his words take hold of you.
“I don’t say these things because I believe in the “brute” nature of man or that men must be brutalized to be combative. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear, is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he’s exhausted on the field of battle, victorious.”