Three Keys to Pete Carroll’s Success

Without a strong allegiance to either team, I just wanted Super Bowl XLVIII to be a close, fun game to watch. It wasn’t, but during the media maelstrom I’ve learned more about Pete Carroll and his journey to becoming a Super Bowl Champion. In reading a number of different articles, three keys stood out to me that all leaders can keep in mind on the journey toward success:

 1—Carroll experienced failure. And well-documented failure at that. Fired by both the Jets and the Patriots. Left USC under controversy. He had every reason to stop trying. It would have been less painful to call it quits and enter the broadcasting booth like so many others. But rather than letting failure define him, he allowed it to make him stronger. Better. More focused.

Successful coaches aren’t derailed by failure, but rather use failure as an opportunity for growth and learning.


2—Carroll took time for honest self-evaluation. Those 10 months between his firing from the Patriots and hiring at USC proved crucial. It gave him time and space to solidify his philosophy. With the collegiate hiring season coming up, he felt an increased sense of urgency and competitiveness to get it right the next time. As Carroll commented, “[USC] gave me an opportunity through that transition to go ahead and bring out the philosophy and approach and the language and the whole outlook that had just come through the years of experience but I had a chance to collect it.”

Successful coaches aren’t afraid to step back and honestly evaluate where they are, where they want to go and how to bridge the gap.


3—Carroll stayed true to himself. He weathered lots of critics who said his style wouldn’t work, that he was too rah rah for the NFL. That big, strong men wouldn’t go for the meditation, yoga and relentless positivity. But rather than second-guess himself, Carroll took the advice of long-time Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant who once told him, “Do what you feel is right and don’t worry about who likes it.”

Current Seahawk, Richard Sherman commented that “He’s here because he’s pulling off the most unique philosophy in football…Even when he finished 7-9 two seasons in a row in 2010 and 2011, coach Carroll stayed true to himself and the things he believed in, because it was finally his chance to do things his way.”

Successful coaches develop philosophies that authentically reflect their truest selves, and then stay true to those philosophies no matter what.

What leadership qualities did you gain from this year’s Super Bowl?