I once worked for a Hall of Fame coach, a guy who could figure out answers to just about anything. One year, we had a team that just wasn't getting it. They weren't close-knit and they were always bickering. It was frustrating to say the least, and we were losing games because of it.

One day, the coach asked the players, other coaches, and strength coaches—everyone involved in the organization—to meet on the field at midnight. No one knew what was going on. We got there and the stadium lights were on, so we all just stood there. The coach rode up to the middle of the field in his golf cart, took out a rope, and placed it on the 50-yard line. He said that he needed the starting offense and starting defense to take opposite sides of the rope for tug of war. They began pulling, and no one could get the better of the other in what seemed like forever. The middle of the rope wouldn't move. He asked for them to stop and said, “If we keep pulling in opposite directions, we'll never get anywhere.” He then walked off the field. That night changed our entire outlook on things from a team perspective and we wound up winning five of our last six games.

I often think back on that night and how true it really is to the basis of teamwork and winning. So many times, so many seasons have gone by and no matter how big or small the “team” is, failure is usually caused by someone pulling in the opposite direction. Let’s face it—no one gets there alone. Even in an individual sport such as powerlifting, you always have training partners or handlers. I loved the archive article they pulled from Monster Garage gym about teamwork. The line about that guy being in charge of making sure that the CD was changed from song eight to song nine because everyone hated song eight is as true as the day is long. Everyone has a job, so just do it.

That's how I started—I was that guy in charge of loading plates and helping with gear. My lifting was secondary to my job within that lifting team. I had to take care of the accomplished lifters before myself. I learned to respect the entire process of powerlifting and the scene behind the scenes. That perspective has never left me, and I expect the same even now with new employees or interns. I expect them to load plates and take care of the older guys until they're good enough to move up in the rankings and have someone take care of them! This goes for any team or organization. Do your job, don’t bitch, and don’t complain or point fingers. Just do your job! How can you be the best at what you do if you're worrying about everyone else’s responsibilities?

For me, the formula for success is simple. Have a vision. Have the passion to carry out that vision. Hire the best, most qualified, and loyal staff who shares in that vision and matches your passion. If you do those three things, you can't fail. Show me anyone who is running a business, team, or a staff in that manner and I will show you a winner. Look at how coaches move up from the lower level coaching jobs to the BCS level. They have their vision of how they'll run their team and how they'll do it their way. Then they hire the right staff to implement that vision and carry out that vision with passion. They get that done as a staff and away they go. The ones who don’t hire the right staff to carry out that vision or have the correct vision but lack a head coach or staff with the passion to carry it don't succeed. You must have all three to be successful—vision, passion, and staff/team. No one ever started at the top.

I bet 99 percent of all successful people and organizations do it this way. Look at Westside. Do you think it's by chance that a bunch of guys who worked out under Louie have branched off from there and have been successful (e.g. Dave Tate and Jim Wendler)? No. It was Louie’s passion and vision that attracted the best of the best and everyone grew from there. It was a dog eat dog, top of the food chain environment that couldn't help but breed success. The guys who couldn't “do their job” (matching the intensity/drive of everyone else) couldn't survive.

Why do you think Apple is so successful? Do you think they just hire people off the street, put them in a cubicle, and say go get it? I don’t think so. They hire only people with the best and brightest minds filled with passion and drive and let them have at it. Could you imagine how great so many businesses could be if they followed this blueprint? How many times have you gone into a store filled with unmotivated employees and walked out saying that you will never go there again? Or how many times have you taken a professional day to visit another team and listened to the person bitch and moan about what he doesn't have (e.g. "I don't get enough gear") and how the coaches don't know what they're talking about and the team isn't going anywhere? I wonder why...

As strength coaches, we have to understand that we're a spoke in the wheel. The head coach is the hub of the wheel and has the vision to hold the wheel together. His entire staff make up the spokes—the coaches, trainers, and strength staff. The players are the outside of the wheel connecting all the spokes together. If done properly, the wheel is rolling in the right direction. Take out a spoke and some of the cover or the hub and you're in for a bumpy ride. What is your position on your team? Are you pulling in the right direction?