4 Success Habits I Learned From My College Coach

Success and habits go hand-in-hand.  I have not seen someone who is lazy all of a sudden become prosperous.  Nor have I seen many diligent people fall to the bottom and stay.  Their habits carry them and buoy or sink them.  Life is a beating, and the persistence of habits ultimately weigh heavily on our outcomes.  We are who we have been becoming.

Coach Tim Hale Rochester Cross-Country


Last fall, I had a trip back to my alma mater, the University of Rochester, to celebrate  Coach Timothy Hale‘s induction into the school’s athletic hall of fame.  He was a mentor of mine twenty years ago.  It was neat to reminisce on some great memories of pain, suffering and glory during those times.  I was a varsity cross-country and track and field distance runner in a nationally competitive program.

I can remember feeling overloaded during our conference championship meet and racing my guts out.  I remember being the first race on a barren track running 25 laps with onlooking students waking up from hangovers the night before gazing dumbfoundly as they went to brunch.  I remember many times thinking, “Are we nuts for doing this unnoticed and unrewarding sport?”

The rewards were happening inside me.  I was being equipped to take on life and go after my dreams.  The price we were paying was developing mindsets, habits and successes to come.

Here are 4 success habits I learned from Coach Hale and those years in cross-country and track:

1. Remarkable Systems Raise Performance

Coach Hale created a program that produced  a continuing tradition of success.  The long miles, grueling workouts and strategic recovery put us all on a track to getting stronger as upper classmen and having ridiculous stamina and strength.

Such is true for our businesses and life.  Great systems help everyone perform better, especially over time.  Build remarkable systems.

2. Leadership Starts With Respect

In my unchecked ambition and high goal orientation, I had to be reigned in.  So did several other teammates.  I can remember a time when I approached Coach Hale with a lack of respect for his leadership.  He put me in my place, and it stuck.  I was glad to learn the lesson.  I learned to respect him more.

Leadership is undermined without respect.  Keep your eye on this critical piece in relationships when it comes to egos, agendas and team dynamics.

3. Perseverance Is A Differentiator

I can remember morning workouts when noone was up.  Coach Hale had us logging 17 milers mornings after a hard race.

Many people are looking for shortcuts.  We live in a world of ninth graders.  We love the celebrity and spotlight of those we deem successful.  But read any success story, and you will always find a story of perseverance.    We don’t see the endless hours behind the scenes of perseverance and hard work.

Showing up and putting in the pain and effort always produce a result.  It may not be immediate, but it will come.  It may take months or years, but it will come.

4. Legacies Are Built Every Day

One day, you will either tally up all your accomplishments or have nothing to show.  It was remarkable to connect with a thirty year span of alumni at the hall of fame induction who all experienced Coach Hale and could connect around this man.   There were many stories and much gratitude.  As our lives unfolded into many amazing paths, it was obvious that we received great coaching, leadership and mentoring.  It is why were were all there – to show our gratitude for a common thread to our past.

To hear the accomplishments and the people who were part of the story was inspiring.  Coach Hale made a difference in the lives of many.  It put life in perspective.

Work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of people around you.  Everything else takes care  of itself.


I was touched by a personal thank you note from Coach Hale.  He wrote, “The memories that I carry with me each day are all the recognition I need,” in commentary of his own public recognition.

I, too, am grateful for the memories Coach Hale created for me personally and for the habits which drive me each day.  Many thanks, Coach.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

Leave a Reply

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Bi-weekly Newsletter:
%d bloggers like this: