CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN’T LOSE — What FNL Taught Me About Leadership:

Leading Requires Making the Tough Calls.

Being a leader is not a title or a position….it’s a mindset and influence. There are many core traits that an effective leader must have. One important one is the ability to do the right thing, even when you’re pressured to do what is popular.

This concept was clearly illustrated on an episode of the popular TV show — Friday Night Lights; episode 5 of season 1, “Get Er Done” set the stage for Coach Taylor to make a difficult decision.

Coach Taylor was the new head coach, who was expected to take the local high school football team to state and win. In the first game of the season the star Quarterback is severely injured. The backup QB, Matt Saracen, was showing potential, but his ability to execute was still questionable.

There was a lot of pressure to get another amazing quarterback on the team to help lead them to State. The president of the booster club brought in a high performing QB, nicknamed Voodoo, who was forced out of his home in Louisiana due to Hurricane Katrina.

Coach Taylor had to decide who to start in Friday’s game: Saracen or Voodoo. On the one hand Saracen is a team player, is willing to do what the coach tells him to do, leads the team, and has a great attitude; but his skills as a QB are still questionable. On the other hand, Voodoo has a proven track record of getting results, but had an issue with authority, is sarcastic, and was only looking out for himself and not the team.

The influencer’s in the town expected Coach Taylor to start Voodoo; they wanted a win on Friday. Coach Taylor felt this pressure, but deep down he wanted to start Saracen. In one scene, he states “The team will play for Matt”.

Coach Taylor made a mistake that we all have. He ended up giving into the pressure, and focused more on winning than on doing what was right. Voodoo ended up starting, but only made it through the first half of the game. He went rogue, ignored the plays the coach called and the results were not good. At half time things came to head and after a brief altercation, Voodoo was thrown off the team. Saracen played the 2nd half and lead the team to victory. Matt was not the flashy superstar, but he worked hard, played for team, and was coach-able.

In the end, Coach Taylor ended up with the QB in the game that he initially wanted.


The lesson here is that if Coach Taylor would have trusted himself from the start and started Saracen like wanted, he could have saved himself, the team, and the town a lot of stress and frustration.

In life we will all be faced with decisions similar to Coach Taylor's. In high states moments, we will know what we need to do, while others will pressure us to do what they want. In order to lead, it will be imperative to trust your gut and do what you think is right. Don’t be the one who is too focused on winning. Yes, winning is important. But the more impactful victory will be do what you feel is right, even when others want you compromise your integrity in order to win.

What will you choose: what is right, or what others think is best? Choose wisely and lead on!