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When Everything Seems Out of Control

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Find stability in the face of uncertainty with this simple call to action.

This is my fourth post in the "6 Life Lessons From a Hall of Fame Coach" series, paying tribute to Larry Haylor. Inspired by LinkedIn's blog to #ThankYourMentor, I'm sharing the principles I learned from Larry and how they have influenced my life. When followed they will yield success for anyone who embraces and applies them.

As I mentioned in part 3 of the series, this entry is about one of my favorite “Larry-isms”. My definition of Larry-isms are the famous quotes that could be heard across every decade he coached. No matter when, at a particular point in the season you would hear the classic Larry statement – and it would instantly invoke an understanding of what he expected.

We'll Play Them On The 401!


When Larry got particularly fired up he would often declare, “It doesn’t matter where we play, in fact, we’ll play them on the 401!” (For those unfamiliar with Southern Ontario, the 401 is the major highway travelling across the province). Picture it – a football team playing a game in the middle of the highway with officials on the guardrail, goal posts in the center lane, and both teams lined up against one another, ready to compete on the black asphalt. Every time Larry said it I imagined that scene, and felt the combination of conviction and dread (as a running back the thought of being tackled on pavement was not very appealing). 

"It doesn't matter where we play, in fact, we'll play them on the 401!" - Larry Haylor

Larry always delivered this statement with a defiance, as if he had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to impart that same attitude in us. But his real message was that he didn’t care what happened or how difficult the circumstance might appear – he wanted the chance to play the game! He believed in us, and “We’ll play them on the 401” was his call to action. It was a reminder to be ready for every game, every situation, and get excited about the chance to compete. Nothing else mattered. 

Motivational speaker and author Les Brown often states,

“It doesn’t matter what happens to you, what matters is – what are you going to do about it?!” 

Larry’s admonition that we would play a team anywhere – even on the 401 – was a reminder that circumstances would not always be in our favor. However, it was, and is up to us to make the most of the situation. We had to always take control of what we could (our attitude, focus, and effort) regardless of what happened around us. When we did that, the results often spoke for themselves.   

Assess yourself and apply this lesson:

  1. What areas of your life are you allowing circumstance to dictate your response?

  2. What is one area that you would benefit most from reversing that trend?

  3. How can you take control of your attitude, focus and effort to dictate the outcome vs being responsive to the situation?

What do you think? Add a comment, like and/or share this post, and join the conversation to #ThankYourMentor

In my fifth post I share three words Larry used to help his teams recover from losses. They are easy to understand, yet challenging to apply after a disappointing result.

Haven't read the previous posts, but curious to learn more? Check out the first three in the series:

6 Life Lessons From a Hall of Fame Coach - #ThankYourMentor Part 1 

1% Better Every Day - #ThankYourMentor Part 2

Dare Greatly - #ThankYourMentor Part 3

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