Brunch Session

Brunch Session

Former NFL great: ‘Prepare and be ready to be decisive’

Kentucky School Advocate

March 2016 

By Matt McCarty
Staff writer

Former Denver Broncos great Karl Mecklenburg wasn’t the biggest or the fastest player in the NFL. But that didn’t stop him from becoming a six-time Pro Bowl player and playing in three Super Bowls.

Mecklenburg reached his dream of becoming a great football player because he set the goal and worked every day to achieve it.

“If something’s important to you, you have to pursue it relentlessly,” Mecklenburg told board members and superintendents at the KSBA’s brunch session on the final day of the association’s annual conference.

He made an analogy to the karate lessons his children took. During karate training, students have to break a board with their fist. The key, Mecklenburg said, is to focus not on the board, but beyond it. He said the same concept applies to setting and achieving goals.

“You’re going to run into problems and obstacles,” he said. “Success is overcoming obstacles on the way to dreams. Think beyond the board and you’ll have a chance to be successful.”

Setting goals is one of six keys to success Mecklenburg discussed, along with teamwork, courage, dedication, desire, and honesty and forgiveness with others and in self-evaluation.

He said it was courage to try new things – including a position change during his NFL career – and courage to be decisive that helped him become great.

Mecklenburg said despite being slower than his opponents, he learned “if I took the first step in the right direction before anyone else does, the angles change in your favor.”

To do that, he said, “You have to prepare and be ready when it’s time to be decisive.”
While the Broncos had many winning seasons during his career, the former 12th-round draft choice also endured a few losing seasons, including his final NFL season.

He said the difference sometimes could be one player.

“A team is a teeter-totter,” Mecklenburg said. “You have leaders on one side and egos on the other. Everyone else is in the middle.”

One player, Mecklenburg cautioned, can tilt the balance and make the difference between having momentum toward success or momentum toward failure.

He advised attendees to take the lessons and ideas they learned during the three-day conference back to their school district and implement the changes needed.

“Unless you bring home some sort of action plan … it’s a waste of time,” he warned.
Change is inevitable, he said, but there are opportunities in change: “You’re either getting better or getting worse. You can’t stay the same.”

It all starts with having goals and then putting in the effort and refusing to quit, Mecklenburg said.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you can work really hard and not get there.”
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