What message are you playing?

Published 9:03 am Saturday, August 17, 2013

Twice this week, seemingly without any action by me, I opened a front page from January on my computer.

The second time, I decided it must be happening for a reason – one of us needed to reread the message Dr. Kevin Elko delivered at the chamber banquet this year.

Elko is the peformance consultant who helped Alabama coach Nick Saban convince his Alabama Crimson Tide they could win the national championship this past year.

His bottom line was this: It’s all in your head.

“How do you talk to you?” he asked. “If you change that, you change everything.”

People, he said, either live in vision or circumstance.

“You are headed somewhere or you’re headed nowhere,” he said.

It’s all about attitude.

“Attitude’s not a gene. Attitude is a muscle,” he said. “You know what happens to a muscle if you don’t use it?”

Elko’s speech was peppered with anecdotes about the Crimson Tide’s championship year.

He used as an example Carson Tinker, the UA football player whose girlfriend died after she was ripped from his arms by the Tuscaloosa tornadoes.

“People ask him every day, ‘how do you keep going,” Elko said. “He said, ‘I’m not looking for blessing to come into my life, I’m looking to be a blessing in someone else’s life.’

“Every day he goes out with the attitude of ‘I’m going to help somebody.’

Elko said that before the national championship game, he said to the defensive line, “You made someone a Heisman trophy winner; are you going to make someone else the national champions?”

“I felt a little bad about that,” he said. “But they said it was just a little love tap compared to what Coach Saban said to them.

Elko closed with an anecdote about Fiorello La Guardia, a judge who later was mayor of New York City.

During the Depression, the story goes, a woman came before him for stealing bread. When he asked her why, she said it was to feed her children.

The store owner pleaded with the judge not to let her go. He said the message would be that anyone could steal a loaf of bread.

So the judge sentenced the woman to pay a fine. But then he fined everyone in the courtroom to pay a small fine to the woman who was accused.

“Shame on you,” he said, adding that he was fining each of them for letting a woman get to a place in life that she had to steal bread to feed her children.

“We need each other,” he said. “Every week, when I was leaving the Crimson Tide, we said this, ‘Each of us needs all of us.’ Say it. Because we do.”


You thought it was a tough week, too? Really, it was all in our heads.