Bruce Lee meets Brady Hoke

“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”- Bruce Lee

In a world full of clutter, shiny objects, and excess, isn’t it refreshing to hear that simplicity still has a place?  The question I have for you today is this:  “Is your Alpha succeeding through simplicity?”


If you do NOTHING else today, what three things must you accomplish to feel like today was a success?  School work?  Exercise?  Job?  Fraternity stuff?  A date with a significant other?  It sounds pretty simple, right?  Three things.  Piece of cake.  Then why do so many days seem to pass in a blur as we try to keep up with the exercise wheel of our lives?

If your Alpha does NOTHING else this semester, what three things will you accomplish to feel like you made significant progress in your pursuit of excellence?  Three things.  Four months to accomplish them.  No big deal, right?  Well what are they?  Write them down NOW.

I recently read an article about the University of Michigan football coach, Brady Hoke, that I think provides an excellent, yet simple, blueprint for accomplishing your goals.

Keep the main thing the main thing.

Mind-numbingly simple, this motto reminds us to simplify and execute.  Many Alphas participate in an AMR early in the semester.  They map out goals.  Everyone sings kumbaya.  Things are going to be grrrreat!  But daily distractions arise. We forget to keep the main thing the main thing, and before you know it, it’s the end of the semester, and none of it got done.

If you’re trying to be a better student, you study every day, attend office hours, and maybe find a tutor.  If you’re trying to get in better shape, you eat better, exercise daily, and enlist a workout buddy.  Success in Alpha operations is not rocket science.  Set your goals.  Constantly discuss them.  Be ruthlessly effective and single-minded in your attainment of those goals.

Develop a routine.

His opening discussion with his team every day has become such a mantra — the greeting (hello), the team number (132), the Big Ten titles (42) and the primary rival (Ohio St) — that the assembled fans at the U-M Bust last month were able to repeat it as if they had spent every day in that meeting room themselves.

College is a crazy time.  So many different forces are acting upon your Brothers that it’s easy for them to get lost in the chaos.  BE A CALMING FORCE.  Establish a routine.  If you’ve got three main goals for the semester, why not talk about them EVERY MEETING?!?  Start the meeting off the same way.  I’d suggest preamble, roll call, and recitation of the three key goals.  Every meeting.  Keep them focused.  Keep it simple.  Keep it attainable.

Seniors set the example.

“It’s all about ownership,” said Koger, citing little things — such as seniors picking up dirty towels left in the locker room and keeping it a valuable space.

Read that again.  THE SENIORS PICK UP THE DIRTY TOWELS.  Not the freshman.  Not the men with the worst grades.  The seniors.

An Alpha’s senior class is a special thing.  These are the men that have been around the longest, know the most, and have the greatest capacity to lead.  Many times, underclassmen Brothers will write off seniors as “disconnected” or “disinterested.”  However, often times these men simply feel left out and forgotten about, which causes them to rebel.  Go to them.  Ask them for their vision.  Put the emphasis on them to lead from the top.  Challenge them to make a difference while they still can.

Be a man of the people, not above the people,

Hoke told them often this was their team, not his, it was their season, not his, and the results would emerge based on their leadership and their determination.

Ask your Brothers what they want to accomplish.  If you’re the #1, this can be general Alpha operations.  If you’re the social chairman, ask your Brothers about your Alpha’s social agenda.  The collective voice of the Alpha will always point in the right direction.  Use this voice to prioritize your goals and hold your Brothers accountable.  “Dude, you said you wanted this, here’s what you can do to make it a reality.”  This is not about you being a messiah, czar, or guru.  This is about you being a facilitator to make your Brothers’ vision a reality.

Remind them of their culture

His focus on the team number (132) reminded his players of the program’s history. His focus on the steadiest part of the game — technique and fundamentals — reminded them that little things can make a big difference.

At the end of the meeting, send your Brothers into the night with a closing message.  “Men, we represent the ___ year of Chi Psi‘s existence at the University of _____.  With respect to our alumni, we will strive to uphold the standard they have set.  With optimism for our future, we will do our best to make Chi Psi better this week than it was last week.”


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