Embracing the process: The difference between Mike Mularkey and Gus Bradley

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Leadership is a funny thing. Leadership is most evident through the words and actions of the subordinates rather than the leader himself.

Throughout my years in the Marine Corps, I noticed that strong leaders can change or sway the language and behavior of those whom said leaders lead.

In the Marine Corps, for example, young Marines walk around post-bootcamp graduation and attempt to sound, scream, and call cadence while running just like their former leaders did over the past 13 weeks.

The young Marines are full of testosterone and truly believe that they are unbeatable. They refuse to look in the mirror and accept that they are 20 years old, physically exhausted, and trained for only 13 weeks in the very basics of hand-to-hand combat.

After flexing in the mirror for an hour, they are ready to go out to the local bars in Jacksonville, North Carolina or San Diego, California and get their asses kicked either by older Marines or people who have been fighting longer than 13 weeks of their life. You can't tell those young Marines anything, though. They made it. They aren't almost there. They made it. They are just like their drill instructors.

The young Marines get the highest and tightest of haircuts; the young Marines iron their uniform until the point of their shirts can pierce paper; the young Marines want to be their former leaders.

NFL players are no different. Mike Mularkey preached that the Jaguars were almost there. Always. 2-13 and the team was still "almost there." The "almost there" attitude is a killer in nearly every level of leadership, even in your job or schooling.

A majority of runners who are nearing the finish line slow up. The runners take the last few steps of the race leaning back and taking the gas off.

On the other hand, runners at the start of the race explode from the blocks.

Bradley, and leaders like him, teach that everyday we start from the blocks. Yesterday only matters in the vacuum that it helps to prepare for today.

It took years for those Marines drill instructors to get to that point. There is a process. People can skip the process. Bradley embraces the process more than any coach I can remember. I believe that the fans are embracing this process as well.

The bar for success is floating. The bar is never at the same height. Mularkey-type leaders, either intentionally or not, teach that if you see a bar you should do the limbo. You are almost there. Bradley-type leaders teach the high-jump. Knocked the bar down? Try harder. Never limbo. You aren't there.

Bloom where you are planted.

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