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Life Lessons from Coach Richt

August 30, 2022

College football starts this weekend!

Well, technically it started last weekend. But the games that I care about start later this week, and I can’t wait!

A few weeks ago, we had our ADDO retreat in Athens, GA. 

We have a group of University of Georgia graduates on our team, but we also have quite a few who aren’t. So the last thing we wanted was for this to feel like a UGA fan’s retreat. However, there is one UGA legend I knew I wanted to speak to our team: former head football coach Mark Richt. 

His message was impactful and powerful, and he was one of the highlights of our retreat—even for those who have no affinity for the Georgia Bulldogs! You can see a highlight of our time with him in the video below.


Here are three insights I took away from Coach Richt’s message to our team:

1. The power of self-deprecating humor.

This is less about his content and more about his approach. It is natural to put someone like Mark Richt on a pedestal. He is nationally known for his success and prominence on and off the football field, but the way he spoke to our team and told stories about his own life made him feel so approachable. He put himself on our level through self-deprecating humor. 

Here’s an example: Coach Richt said that when he was growing up, his plan was to go to college to play football. He thought he would start his freshman year, win all American his sophomore year, win the Heisman trophy junior year, and then graduate early to go start in the NFL! But in reality, he was the back-up quarterback to “lucky” Jim Kelly in college, who was so “lucky” he beat Richt out for the starting position. He then went on to chronicle his time in the NFL playing back-up to “lucky” John Elway and “lucky” Dan Marino. He said he was probably the fourth best quarterback in all of America, but had the unlucky misfortune of playing behind the three best.

By not taking himself too seriously, he captured our team’s attention immediately and created a genuine connection with his audience. 

If you truly care about people, you should work to connect with them. When done correctly, and not manipulatively, self-deprecating humor can disarm others and level the playing field. 

2. Decision making in light of eternity.

One question Coach Richt asked himself regularly throughout his life is, “What is going to be the right decision for eternity?” When he got hired at UGA, he asked then-Athletic Director Vince Dooley if you could win in the SEC without cheating. Dooley confirmed that you could; yet, Richt had a coach on his staff tell him that he didn’t agree. Coach Richt knew he wouldn’t change who he was or how he coached just to win a game. He cared more about the eternal implications of his actions and desired to honor God with his work. 

Ask yourself this week, Am I making decisions based on what’s expedient for this week, month, or quarter, or am I making decisions in light of eternity?

3. Maintaining an eternal perspective.

This sounds like the last point, but it has a different twist. 

As we neared the end of our time with Coach Richt, I asked him to share how he has faced his battle with Parkinson’s disease, and I so appreciated his honesty. He admitted that it’s not easy, but quoted Paul in 2 Corinthians saying his suffering is “a light and momentary affliction compared to the weight of glory that awaits us.” He went on to say that when he considers the fullness of time, his struggle with Parkinson’s is such a small moment. 

Looking at his circumstances with an eternal perspective made it possible for Coach to consistently make decisions that honor God and the people around him.

I’m grateful for Coach Richt, for his investment in me and in our ADDO team. He is a great example of what it looks like to lead well in every season, and I’m honored to have had a chance to learn from him personally.

My challenge for you this week:

make decisions and lead in light of eternity.


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