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In February of 1991, Bill Belichick walked into the Browns facility on Bagley Road in Berea, Ohio and handed a piece of paper in his smallish perfectly straight printing that described exactly the kind of football team he wanted to build in Cleveland.  The thin-lined, three-ring border paper essentially was the beginning of the Browns Way, which manifested into the Patriot Way some ten years later. The words read “big, fast, athletic, mentally tough, capable of playing in any weather and can control the middle of the field.”  Simple, precise, and well thought out.   Clearly, Belichick spent many years thinking like a head coach. 

In the coming days, he would provide detailed job descriptions for every single person in the football operation, down to the ball boys with the traits required for each person.  There was no detail too small for Belichick, and all those offseasons in New York working for the Giants before becoming a head coach were spent thinking about  “when I get my chance.”

The example Belichick set applies to every walk of professional life, from business to sports, to anyone with a competitive spirit, or anyone who “wants to get their chance.”  It does not matter if you walk along an NFL sideline, Wall Street, or lead a small group of people in your office; preparation and detail always shine when your “chance” finally occurs.   If you have dreams and ambitions for upward movement, put pen to paper, and make a plan for when you will arrive and how you will behave once you’re there. There is no time like the present to work on your future regardless of your place on the company’s organizational chart. 

When you’re at a meeting today and observe something that impresses you, go back to your laptop, iPad or Surface and jot it down. Use One Note, or Evernote or any other note-taking method.  Keep a file titled “dream job,” and each day you learn, observe something good or bad, take notes. Divide the book into sections, for personnel, philosophy and general information, and each time you think of something, make a note. Don’t share this with anyone, keep your thoughts and beliefs on paper and to yourself.  In a short time, your awareness of things you might do well or won’t, will reach a higher level, and your notebook will flow with valuable information. That information will come in handy when it’s finally your chance.

When Belichick gets inducted into the Hall, I will hand over that piece of paper. 

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