Believe. It's a word on a sign in the Clemson football meeting room. It's a logo on a t-shirt given to Dabo Swinney, Clemson's head coach, by his wife. It's a mindset instilled in the Clemson football program and is a huge part of why they are playing in their second national championship game in a row.
When Dabo became the head coach in 2008, he knew Clemson had talent but they lacked belief. So, the man whose father left when he was young, was homeless for a time growing up, made the Alabama football team as a walk-on, and had come to believe anything was possible, knew his number one priority was to inspire his team to believe.
I've worked with Dabo and Clemson for the past five seasons and I've watched how Dabo believes in his team more than they believe in themselves. I've seen how his belief raises the level of belief in his coaches and players. Most of all, I've noticed that regardless of the circumstance, no matter the challenge, whatever the set-back, Dabo never stops believing and sharing his belief with his team.
Last year I sat in the locker room in Glendale Arizona after Clemson had lost the national championship game to Alabama and watched Dabo's Positive Leadership and belief in action. Dabo told the team that he was so proud of them and that they just didn’t make enough plays to beat a team as good as Alabama. He went on to praise his team and all they had accomplished and thanked the seniors for the legacy of excellence they would leave. Then he began talking about next year and how excited he was for the future. He shared the vision for the returning players and told them that we will be coming back next year. "You can count on it. We will be back." For the next few minutes he shared what the future looked like and all that they were going to do.
I was blown away. Here he and his team had just lost in the national championship and Dabo was already inspiring his team with a vision for the future and the belief that it would happen.
As I write this I'm in the Tampa area getting ready to go see Clemson play Alabama yet again, for the national championship. I don't know how the outcome will turn out, but I do know Dabo's belief is a big reason why they are here and when you believe anything is possible.
A few questions for you to consider:
What do you believe is possible for you and your team?
Are you pessimistic or optimistic?
What beliefs are you sharing with your team?
What could you and your team accomplish if you truly believed it was possible?
"To be an overachiever you have to be an over believer." - Coach Dabo Swinney