I know, you’re Super Bowl-ed out. If you never read another article about Richard Sherman, Peyton Manning, or Pete Carroll again, you’d probably be just fine. But, in the name of bettering our Fraternity, can you stomach just one more?
Lost in the wake of his NFC Championship post-game rant is the fact that Richard Sherman is a really intelligent young man. Before Superbowl 48 he penned a phenomenal essay called “A Love Letter to Coach Carroll” which inspired me to write this article. Simply put, Pete Carroll does some things that, if applied to your Alpha, would yield tremendous results. Here it goes.
1) Go TO people with a personalized approach
I was a high school junior when I first met him. I got pulled out of class unexpectedly to see him waiting in the hallway—Pete Carroll, national championship-winning head coach. We stood and talked there by the lockers for a few minutes. I’ll never forget that—USC’s head coach coming to recruit me at Dominguez High School in Compton in 2004. At the time, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. He said, “you’ve got the perfect size to be a lock-up corner.” I’d never heard that before: “lock-up” corner. I made ‘lockup2006’ my email address and used it until I got to college.
In whatever situation you find yourself right now, the way forward is through relationships. Need to grow your organization? Take a genuine interest in helping a young student find their way at your school. Need to broaden your social horizons? Have a sorority’s exec team over for dinner.
Too often as fraternity men we take the “go big or go home” approach and it backfires. Forget your blowout recruitment event and take a few recruits out to lunch. Ditch your grand scheme to pair up with the “best” sorority on campus and do something kind and thoughtful. Your personalized approach will be rewarded.
2) Culture is king
I get texts from guys across the league, which reminds me how good we’ve got it in Seattle. They ask, “Is (Coach Carroll) really as cool as he seems?” and “I hear you guys have fun at practice?” Yes and yes. All he asks is that we be ourselves and protect the team’s reputation by not saying anything controversial.
You know that term “bandwagon fan”? This is where that comes from. When you have a culture infused with fun, enthusiastic, and engaging people, others take notice and want to be a part of it.
Before I even thought about joining a fraternity at Miami a friend’s mom recommend that I join X fraternity because 25+ years ago, she thought the world of them. She didn’t marry anyone from that fraternity. She didn’t have any relatives from that fraternity. Yet, all those years later, she was happy to go to bat for them because she noticed them for the right reasons. THAT is getting noticed for the best reasons.
If you feel like your Alpha is on the other end of the spectrum (argumentative, divided into classes, disrespectful), shoot an email or Facebook message to your Alpha Visitor and ask them for some help. You can get things going in the right direction that easily. When your Alpha begins to do cool things that are out of the ordinary, people on your campus will notice and want to be a part of it.
3) Conversations create movement
He sees it as a learning experience, just like the games. He finds the positives when we lose, in addition to the things we can improve on. I’ve never been on a team where the coaching staff was so positive. There isn’t a lot of yelling and cursing at players. There’s no talking down to players. It’s about conversations, not aggression.
No yelling. No ruling with an iron fist. No intimidation. Just conversations.
As a leader in your Alpha, I challenge you to ask others around you about their Chi Psi experience. What are they thinking? What is going well? What do THEY want to see happen? When I was an Alpha Visitor, I saw too few leaders be facilitators for what their Brothers wanted, but instead would take it upon themselves to come up with ideas, implement them, etc. The best Alpha officers I saw were the ones who would act on their Brothers’ behalf, trying to shape a fraternal experience they wished to see.
Alumni Brothers—since you’re probably the ones still reading—think about things like this “How can I listen so that the undergrads want to talk to me? How can I communicate things in such a way that they will want to listen to me?” It’s tough, but it will help sustain a good balance.
4) What is your philosophy?
But he’s not coaching in the Super Bowl because he’s a nice guy. He’s here because he’s pulling off the most unique philosophy in football. Think about it. We use a power running game and press coverage—the oldest of the old school…The same coach who shows us clips of Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes playing press-man 30 years ago wants to know if we’re getting our proper REM sleep (and, in case you’re wondering, the sleep science has paid off for several guys).
Serious questions: what is your Alpha’s recruitment philosophy? Here’s another one: what is your Alpha’s pledge education philosophy? Do you have a philosophy?
We don’t need to hash this out here, but think about the old school elements of Chi Psi that can be blended with the new school in a way that positions your Alpha to be unique and successful. For my money, the best “old school” thing we have going is our Ritual. (Think about that for a second, has anyone in your Alpha ever said “I want our Alpha to run the best damn initiation in the country”? Cool thought, right?) The best new school thing we have is the Program for Excellence. Your job as an Alpha leader is to blend the old with the new in a meaningful way.
5) Bring it EVERY WEEK
But that’s coach. He never changes. Even this week, practice is just like it was back home because we’ve been playing championship football for him for 22 weeks now. And before that, when he finished 7-9 two seasons in a row in 2010 and 2011, coach Carroll stayed true to himself and the things he believed in.
You know what my least favorite Fraternity word is? Rush. I prefer recruitment instead. Despite its origins, Rush implies that you waited until the last minute and then hurried up and got a bunch of good guys. Recruitment is a process that happens day after day and week after week. You don’t become a great Alpha by giving away weeks. Have you ever cancelled your weekly meeting because “not much is going on”? Not cool. There is no such thing as a slow time for a Fraternity. Whether it’s initiation, recruitment, formal, alumni weekend, etc., there is always something you can be planning. Win each day, win every week, and the compounding of those wins will position your Alpha to be Super Bowl caliber.