This week I am beginning a 5-part series dedicated to team themes. Each week I will cover two themes and a few quotes in support of them.

For many years I have established, taught, and developed themes with my teams. Whether it be our team’s core covenants, values, & standards, Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, or just random life lessons that I believe are important to discuss with our kids, I have had various themes that we focused on throughout the season.

For our discussions of those team themes, I always had quotes in support of the themes. Those of you who follow me and are on my email list know that I also have a podcast called “Great Quotes for Coaches.” You know that each week I devote an episode to inspirational and impactful quotes that are in support of some kind of team theme. Like performance coach, trainer, & keynote speaker, Alan Stein, Jr. said about himself at the 12:25 mark of Episode 31 of the podcast, I am a “self-diagnosed quote nerd.”

As it is now graduation time, I thought this would be a good time to do these posts because all of the themes and quotes that you will see in these posts make up the ten sections of my gift book for graduating seniors called Inspiration for the Graduate. The book is an excellent gift for coaches, teachers, and parents to give to graduating seniors. While the book covers the themes in more detail, and it has more quotes supporting the themes, these posts will give you a glimpse into what the book is like.

Work Ethic

No matter where you go or what you do in life, you must have a strong work ethic. Whether you are continuing your education, you are going into the military, or you are joining the work force, the ability to work hard is going to be crucial to your success. Athletes are expected to give their best effort every day to help their team have its best chance at success.

Most often when we think of work ethic, we think of some physical labor. But along with the physical part of having a strong work ethic comes focus, initiative, and attention to detail. When you develop strong work habits, you can accomplish so much more in life, both individually and as a team.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”  Vince Lombardi – Professional Football Coach

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison – American Inventor

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson – US President

“Working hard becomes a habit, a serious kind of fun. You get self-satisfaction from pushing yourself to the limit, knowing that all the effort is going to pay off.” Mary Lou Retton – US Olympic Gold-Medal Gymnast


Discipline is doing what needs to be done, doing it the proper way to accomplish the task at hand, and doing it that way every time one is working to accomplish that task. Sometimes, though, there is no task – there is just living your life. When speaking of discipline in this situation, one has to have the discipline to live one’s life as one should in order to be all that one can be.

Discipline is a choice. One who has discipline has chosen to do all that is necessary to succeed, whatever that entails. The disciplined worker shows up at the job site on time, knows what needs to be done, does it without being told or reminded, and sees the job through until its completion.  Discipline carries people and it carries teams to heights unattainable without it.

“Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work. Discipline yourself, so no one else has to.” Pat Summitt – College Basketball Coach

“I believe in discipline. You can forgive incompetence. You can forgive lack of ability. But one thing you cannot forgive is a lack of discipline.” Forrest Gregg – NFL Lineman

“It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s all a matter of discipline.” Wilma Rudolph – US Olympic Gold-Medal Sprinter

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible . . . period.” Lou Holtz – College Football Coach

This is just a sampling of the kinds of themes you can use with your teams and a glimpse of some of the ideas you can talk about with your teams when discussing these themes. Next week I will cover the next two themes in the book – Poise & Enthusiasm.

As I said above, each of the ten themes in this series is discussed in my gift book, Inspiration for the Graduate. There are also many more quotes in support of each of the ten team themes covered in the book. Also, the first page is set up for you to write your own personal message to your graduate. The cost of the book is just $7.95 plus shipping, or you can get a 10-Pack Bundle for just $70.00 plus shipping. Click here to order Inspiration for the Graduate.