“Your Most Formidable Opponent” originally appeared in the former Business is ART blog site on October 14, 2014. Leading in to Super Bowl weekend, it carries an appropriate message, whether you are a football/sports fan or not.
I once had opportunity to hear famed football coach and TV personality Lou Holtz speak at a business conference. He was inspiring, entertaining, educational and funny. Everything you’d want in a keynote speaker.
You would think a speech impediment might deter someone from being a big time coach, teacher, communicator and television commentator. But not Coach Holtz. In fact, he ultimately turned it in to something of a trademark. It’s almost a brand. When he speaks, you know it’s him without looking or seeing his name in print.
In his speech, he talked about it and dismissed it jokingly. Even though he only did so in somewhat passing fashion, and it wasn’t the focus of his speech, it sent a powerful message.
Limitations are Perceived
It said, “It doesn’t matter your perceived limitations. Take what you were given and mold it in to something better. Something that works for you, without changing who you are.”
One of my favorite parts of his speech was a joke he told about a time he was in town to coach his team in the national championship bowl game.
He and his wife were out for dinner when the waiter said to him, “Hey, Coach. Do you know the difference between cereal and Lou Holtz? The cereal belongs in a bowl.”
This really made Holtz mad, and the longer dinner went on, the more angry he got. He told his wife he was going to say something to this inconsiderate waiter, but she urged him to keep his cool. He acquiesced to her request for calm and they enjoyed a nice dinner together.
But when dinner was over and the waiter brought the check, Coach Holtz said to him, “Hey, do you know the difference between a bookie and Lou Holtz? The bookie will give you a tip.”
It’s All On you
In closing, a great quote from Coach Holtz, as well as a great summary for the speech I had the honor of hearing him give is as follows, “How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.”
And the most formidable opponent you will ever face is you.