Greatness. Occasionally we get a glimpse.

In the moment it can be hard to appreciate a true artist – one who masters his craft. But for the past couple of decades we have been witnesses of the greatness of Mozart on a football field, Peyton Manning.

On Sunday, “The Sheriff” broke the N.F.L. record for the number of touchdown passes in a career. Considering it took Peyton three and a half seasons less to eclipse former record holder Brett Favre’s mark of 508 TD passes, I would say greatness is the correct word.

Watching Manning grind away at greatness has been awesome. He has been criticized, scrutinized, injured, and doubted to the point of being fired by his former team, and yet he continues to perform at the highest level of any QB in history.

As leaders, I wonder what would happen if we approached our opportunities the same way Manning has his? Is it possible we could break records too?

I have a friend who is a record breaker in business. He continually outperforms others in his industry, and he is someone I am challenged by every time we are together. A few years ago he shared the following acrostic with me on how to break a r.e.c.o.r.d. Perhaps Manning was eavesdropping, because he has demonstrated each of these practices.

Risk more – After sitting out an entire season injured and having endured four neck surgeries, Manning’s likelihood of reaching the record seemed impossible. Yet here he is because of his willingness to risk whatever was required to reach his full potential. Leaders who break records risk more than others.

Expect more – Stories abound of Manning’s reach for perfection. He has expected more of himself and his teammates than anyone who has ever played. If you hope to achieve something great it will be up to you to set the bar for yourself and your team. Expect more and watch what happens.

Care more – Peyton has been the most conscientious guy in the league for years, taking pride in his pursuit of excellence at unprecedented levels. Record breakers care more than the competition. 

Organize more – Watching Manning orchestrate an offense is like watching a conductor lead a symphony. He is always the most prepared player on the field on either side of the ball. Leaders need to set the pace for their teams, consistently modeling what it means to be prepared for every challenge.

Reevaluate more – Perhaps the best thing #18 has done through the years is become a student of the game. Manning has studied film and made adjustments better than everyone else. He has risen from failure and gotten better throughout his career. Do you go back and evaluate your work, seeking to improve every day? Record breakers do.

Do more – In an age of big contracts and free agency, no one has ever questioned Manning’s work ethic. He has been the first one in the building and the last one to leave for nearly two decades. Leaders who break records show up more consistently and passionately do the work.

The interesting thing about each of these steps is they are all available to anyone who is willing to discipline himself and go after them.

I encourage you to implement all six into your game plan. If you do, I’m convinced you will be on your way to setting records, just like old #18.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is the biggest goal you have your sights set on between now and the end of 2014?

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