by Niall Doherty

Back in April of this year I attended a Get Motivated seminar, at which Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, was a featured speaker. I already had a tremendous amount of respect for the man since he was just two months removed from leading the Saints to their first ever Super Bowl, but he still managed to wow me with his speech.

Brees shared with the audience what he called his 5 pillars to success, which were collectively represented by the acronym FAITH. Some notes and comments on each:

F is for Fortitude

Fortitude is defined as “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.” You could also define it as the mental and emotional strength to carry the 40-year-old hopes and dreams of a wounded city on your shoulders.

The Saints had a good run in 2006. They could have left it at that, figuring they’d done their part. But Brees and company wanted more than a good run. They wanted it all. They had to endure disappointing seasons in ’07 and ’08, but all the while they stayed strong and they believed in themselves. They knew that if they could persevere through the tough times, they’d eventually get what they deserved.

Do you have fortitude? Can you keep your head up when times are bad?

A is for Attitude

You have to have the attitude that adversity equals opportunity. Brees signed with the Saints after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans. Most people just saw adversity, Brees saw opportunity. New Orleans was where he would resurrect his career and help build something bigger than himself.

Brees mentioned guys on the team he loved being around because of their attitude (e.g. Billy Miller). If you want to win, what kind of people should you surround yourself with? Who are you most likely to succeed with? People with great attitudes of course.

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – W. Clement Stone

How’s your attitude? Would you want you as a teammate?

I is for Integrity

Brees spoke about keeping promises and doing your part. Be there early for practice if you say you will. Help your teammates get better rather than stand back and criticize them. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

A word from M. Scott Peck:

The word integrity comes from the same root as integrate. It means to achieve wholeness, which is the opposite of compartmentalize. Compartmentalization is easy. Integrity is painful. But without it there can be no wholeness. Integrity requires that we be fully open to the conflicting forces and ideas and stresses of life.

Would those who know you best describe you as a person of integrity?

T is for Trust

“Trust is the cornerstone of every meaningful relationship.” Brees paused after speaking those words, then repeated them. He has to trust his linemen to protect him. He has to trust his receivers to run the routes as practiced so they’re in the right place at the right time and the pass doesn’t get picked off.

The message: You can’t do it all yourself. Sooner or later, to really be at your best, you need to put your trust in others.

Do you trust others and work as part of a team to achieve great things?

H is for Humility

Brees quoted Harry S. Truman: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

A great leader never asks someone to do what he’s not willing to do himself. Brees stays back after practice and helps guys get better. He busts his ass on every sprint, leading by example. It makes a big difference to have your superstar going all out for every drill. The rest of the team follows suit.

Do you have humility? Are you willing to accept blame and share praise?


One other thing that stood out from Brees’ speech was his few words about goals and their importance. He has goals written on the inside cover of his notebook that he reviews every day. His goals are concrete and measurable, so he can evaluate his progress daily.

One of his daily goals is to show at least one small act of leadership, whether that be staying back at practice, offering a few encouraging words to a teammate, working harder than everyone else during drills, whatever.

Brees noted that it’s also important to have team goals, and everyone must know how their individual goals fit in with the team goals. Everyone must know their purpose.

If you don’t have goals or a purpose in life, these two articles from the archive may help you:

The 2010 NFL season starts this Thursday. Two Dat!