Bill Parcells and the Power of Learning

Bill Parcells is a famous football coach who won two Super Bowls as head coach of the New York Giants.  Parcells is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Gordon Wood is also a football coach.  But he’s one you’ve probably never heard of.  Gordon Wood coached high school football in Texas for 43 years, winning 396 games, 25 district titles, and nine state championships.  At the time of his retirement, Wood’s 396 wins were a state and national record.  Woods passed away 10 years ago, but he left an indelible mark on Parcells.

When Parcells was a young assistant coach at Texas Tech University, Gordon Wood used to drive five hours every day to watch the Tech football team’s spring practice.  Wood was one of the most successful coaches in the country and he was driving five hours each day to watch another team practice.  Wood took advantage of any opportunity to learn more about football and to make himself an even better coach.

This helps us understand how Gordon Wood was so successful.  He was constantly pushing to learn more, to improve, to be a better coach, to be a better leader.  Wood was the best in the country, but he didn’t sit back and relax; he kept learning and growing so that his teams could be even more successful.

To be successful as leaders, we need to take advantage of any opportunities we have to learn.  Similarly, for our teams to get better, we need to encourage team members to grow and learn.  To promote learning in our organizations, show your team that learning is important by modeling learning behaviors – reading, asking questions, and educating yourself and others; develop a learning culture by challenging your team to read more, to inquire, to question, to investigate, and to analyze.  As you and your organization unleash the power of learning, you’ll move closer to becoming the best in the nation, just like Gordon Wood.

Thanks for reading,

Ways to follow Dr. Jim Earle:
Twitter – @jvearle
Blog –
Facebook – JVEarleConsulting
Book – 100 Yards of Success: Leadership Lessons from College Football,


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