The Greatest Enemy of Future Success is Past Success

In the 2009 NFL Draft, the following are the top 5 USC selections:
Mark Sanchez – New York Jets, Round 1, No. 5 overall
Brian Cushing -Houston Texans, Round 1, No. 15 overall
Clay Matthews – Green Bay Packers, Round 1, No. 26 overall
Rey Maualuga – Cincinnati Bengals, Round 2, No. 38 overall
Fili Moala – Indianapolis Colts, Round 2, No. 56 overall

In the 2010 NFL Draft, the following are the top 5 USC selections:
Taylor Mays – San Francisco 49ers, Round 2, No. 49 overall
Charles Brown – New Orleans Saints, 2nd round, No. 64 overall
Damian Williams – Tennessee Titans, 3rd round, No. 77 overall
Kevin Thomas – Indianapolis Colts, 3rd round, No. 94 overall
Everson Griffen – Minnesota Vikings, 4th round, No. 100 overall

One huge question jumps at you – What happened? These were equally heralded recruits developed in a similar culture of success by the same head coach and many of the same positional coaches. In addition, they had the advantage of learning under that amazing 2009 draft class.

The answer – The Greatest Enemy to Future Success is Past Success.

Here’s why:

  1. The Gift of Struggle – Have you ever noticed how few successful people have equally successful children? Now some do but most don’t. The sacrifices made by the previous generation do not have to be made but the current one. It is a biblical principle that struggle is neccesary for strength.
  2. Entitlement – Because struggle does not have to take place on the same level, a sense of entitlement is embedded into their DNA. I’m sure many of the players listed, whose talent and measureables are much better than those drafted before them, assumed “We’re USC” and “I’m a 5-star recruit” would be enough. It wasn’t.
  3. Competition – When the bar of excellence is established, as it was from Carson Palmer to Mark Sanchez, others will catch up. The 1992 USA men’s basketball team won each game and the Gold Medal by an average of 44 points per game. The 2004 USA team won the Bronze.
  4. Leadership Transitions – Assistant Coaches have earned the right to have additional responsibility. Norm Chow, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, and Nick Holt have all moved on. Those closest to leader determine that leader’s success. It is easier to re-load the players than it is the coaches.

As I write this post, I am already looking ahead to next year’s NFL Draft and wondering where many of the players from the Florida Gators will be landing.

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

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