Chapter 1Culture

Culture drives expectations and beliefs; expectations and beliefs drive behavior; behavior drives habits; and habits create the future. It all starts with culture.

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Create a Winning Culture

Mike Smith

In January of 2008 I was hired as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Most of the time when head coaches are hired, they are not coming into a very good or stable situation. It is not the norm to replace a coach who has just won the Super Bowl and is riding off into the sunset, like Bill Walsh after Super Bowl XXXIII or Bill Cowher who only coached one more season after Super Bowl XL. When I was named the coach of the Atlanta Falcons, they were a team that had been through quite a bit of recent turmoil and struggled to win consistently throughout the history of the franchise. In their 42 years, the Atlanta Falcons had never had back-to-back winning seasons. They had always for some reason or another struggled with consistency and sustainability. For example, from 2000 to 2007 the Falcons had five different men stand on the sideline in the role of head coach. The 2007 season had been an extremely difficult one, in which the first-year head coach had resigned after 12 games—three-quarters through the season—to return to coach at the college level. The quarterback, who was not only the face of the franchise but also without a doubt one of the most popular players ...

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