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Guest opinion: The Lombardi Way


I am a die-hard, fourth-generation Green Bay Packers fan. My great-grandma Evelyn (Gertie) Adrian, born and raised in Winneconne, Wis., was a young woman when the Green Bay Packers were founded 100 years ago, and she became a fan.

Grandma Gertie passed on her love of “Titletown” to her children and grandchildren, and today multiple generations of our family, including her great-great-grandchildren, have spent many game days rooting for our beloved green and gold.

A touchstone for Packers Nation is Vince Lombardi, best known as the team’s head coach in the 1960s. Lombardi is considered by many as the greatest football coach in history, winning the first two National Football League’s Super Bowls and coaching multiple winning seasons. Let’s not forget the Super Bowl trophy is named after him.

Coach Lombardi’s gruff demeanor and iron discipline were the stuff of legends, and his leadership philosophies are still respected to this day. Coach Lombardi lost his battle with cancer almost 50 years ago, yet his legacy lives on in leadership, football and the Green Bay Packers.

As a leader and mentor, I often think about my favorite Coach Lombardi quotes to help myself and others find purpose, grit, focus and inspiration. I call it the “Lombardi Way,” a guiding light that has helped me through tough times, and in good times too.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
  • “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”
  • “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
  • “If you’ll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives.”
  • My No. 1 Lombardi quote: “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”

There have been many times in my life and career where I have felt like I’ve been knocked down by a 300-pound offensive lineman. The hits were hard and hurt a lot, and I wasn’t sure what to do next. As hard as it was, I got back up and moved on to the next play. The Lombardi Way has taught me to face my hurts, fears and challenges, and to rise above them with determination, confidence and grace. It has also taught me to strive for excellence and to always do my best.

My Grandma Gertie passed away when I was 4 years old. I have vivid memories of her, especially when she watched the Green Bay Packers on television. I wonder what she would think of her great-granddaughter finding leadership and inspiration with the Lombardi Way. I hope it would make her proud.

Cindy Hughes Anliker, a Business Record 2014 Forty Under 40 Honoree, was inspired to write this article during the National Football League’s season opener in September when the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears. Currently an associate director, general management for UnitedHealthcare, Cindy has spent most of her career in health-related marketing communications. She earned her Master of Science in organizational performance at Drake University in Des Moines, and a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Cindy lives in a divided house in West Des Moines with her husband, Clark Anliker, a Dallas Cowboys fan, and their two dogs, Lex and Mickey. Contact her via email.

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