When Lombardi joined the Green Bay Packers in 1959, the team had gone eleven straight seasons without a winning record.
Upon arriving at training camp as their new head coach, Lombardi made an immediate and indelible first impression.
After leading the players to a meeting room, Lombardi waited in front of a portable blackboard as the players sat down. He picked up a piece of chalk and began to speak.
"Gentlemen, we have a great deal of ground to cover. We're going to do things a lot differently than they've been done here before. We're going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because perfection is not attainable. But we are going to relentlessly chase it because, in the process, we will catch excellence."
He paused and stared, his eyes moving from player to player. The room was silent. "I'm not remotely interested in being just good," he said with an intensity that startled them all.
Lombardi soon followed up with a clear-cut description of the specific thing they would perfect. One play. One single running play.
"Gentlemen, this is the most important play we have. It's the play we must make go. It's the play that we will make go. It's the play that we will run again, and again, and again."
You wouldn't think that there was so much to say about a single running play but John Madden described attending a coaching clinic where Lombardi talked about the Power Sweep, and only the Power Sweep, for eight hours.
Through practice after practice, drill after drill, game after game, and season after season, the Packers honed and refined Lombardi's Power Sweep.
Even though opposing teams knew the play was coming, they couldn't stop it.
Lombardi built his victories on an openly declared challenge. To beat the Packers, you must beat the Power Sweep.
Over the following seven years, the Packers won five championships, a step by-step, year-by-year progression through the ranks from worst to best to legends, all built on the foundations of one humble running play, initially described on the blackboard and then executed exquisitely on the field over and over again.
In any complex effort, communicating a well-arțiculated vision for what you're trying to do is the starting point for figuring out how to do it.
“The enemy of Mastery is not mediocrity. It is distractions. The addiction to distractions ruins many potentially awesome lives.”