Remember the Titans

(Originally written in November, 2000)

Davidene and I saw a movie recently that made us feel good about ourselves and our fellow man. In a day and age in which very little can be found that is positive and uplifting on the big screen, “Remember the Titans” was a joy to watch. It is about a school and a football team that have to adjust to busing and integration. The former successful “white” coach must become an assistant to a new African-American head coach. Players and coaches of different colors must put aside their differences and join together for a common purpose. They were asked to pay a heavy price of conditioning and discipline and to set aside some of their own cultural backgrounds in order to be united as a team.

I was reminded of the late 70’s when I was suddenly thrust into a new environment. As a “white” businessman I was quickly brought into the “black” hair care industry as a distributor. I entered a different culture and soon learned that there were far more differences between the black and white communities than just skin color. I began to understand the discrimination that African-American consumers and businesses had endured for many years. This was only a decade after the marches and riots of the 60’s. Small businesses that were owned by African-American families were thrown into a huge new competitive environment. I gained many new friends over the next twenty years and soon felt as comfortable having a business lunch with a black supplier as with a general market firm. As a fellow African-American friend commented, “it takes white plus black to make green”.

Yesterday, I was reminded of these truths when our Oklahoma Sooners were able to defeat their long-time rival, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In college football today you see young men from very different backgrounds joined together for a common purpose. There are black and white, rich and poor, big city and small town, big and not so big, slow and fast, extremely talented and those with just some talent but with a great work ethic. The coach of the Sooners was able to do what the three previous coaches were not successful in doing. Bob Stoops is a leader who knows how to get young men to believe in themselves and to work together like a finely turned engine to achieve a common purpose. Much of the team’s talent was there for a couple of years before but lacked the leadership to bring it together.

Today many tell us to forget our backgrounds and our uniqueness and become just like everyone else. I don’t think that is the answer. Each of us has a unique background, personality, talent, racial heritage, and other differences. The wise leader does not ask us to ignore our differences, but to find common goals and pursue them together using the unique God given abilities that each of us has. A football team needs fast receivers and big linemen, hard-hitting linebackers, and quarterbacks that exhibit leadership. One gets to carry the ball while another blocks. Each must sacrifice for the common goal.

Whether you are in a business, school, family, or any other organization, you must give yourself to a purpose which can only be achieved by teams. Personal achievement is satisfying but when a group joins together to reach a goal, after the hard work, the reward is fulfilling. Sometimes, we selfish adults can learn some valuable lessons from a bunch of high school football players.

Playing with Purpose,

Kent Humphreys

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples — when they see the love you have for each other.”

John 13:34-35 (Message)


About kenthumphreys
Kent Humphreys has been a business leader for over forty years. He also served as CEO of FCCI/Christ@Work for six years and now serves as their worldwide ambassador, speaking, writing, and mentoring young leaders. He continues to be active in distribution, private equities, and real estate. Kent and his wife Davidene have written six books together. They have three children and eight grand-children.

2 Responses to Remember the Titans

  1. Cathy Westm says:

    Timeless wisdom & great advice. Thank you for sharing! Blessings.

  2. news says:

    Is it fine to place a portion of this in my website if perhaps I publish a reference point to this web site?

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