Beyond the Build


The 7-D’s of Success

This month has been a rough one for the Auburn family, as we lost legendary quarterback Pat Sullivan. He played under coach Shug Jordan, along with my friend Dick Schmalz, one of Sullivan’s favorite receivers.

I had a conversation with Dick this week about Coach Jordan. He served in the Army as a Captain during WWII and was wounded during landings of D-Day at Omaha Beach. He went on the serve in Okinawa, where he received another Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Just five years later, Jordan became the football coach at Auburn where he served for almost a quarter of a century and holds the distinction of having the football program’s best record. Dick shared with me Coach Jordan’s “7-D’s of Success.”

  • Discipline. Discipline yourself before others, and learn to accept discipline. He notes this as the most important trait on the list.
  • Desire to Excel. Whatever you do, from football to the boardroom, you must have a hunger to be good at it.
  • Determination. Keep on keeping on. Continue giving it your best until you eventually succeed.
  • Dedication. Nothing should distract you from your ultimate goal.
  • Dependability. You are only as good as your word, and you should never give anyone room to doubt what you say.
  • Desperation. How we perform under stress is often the ultimate indicator of success or failure.
  • Damn It Anyway. If your back is to the wall, you must reach deep down inside and do something. As he said, “You’re not going to win by accepting overwhelming odds.”

While this list is more than 50 years old, to me, it rings more true than ever. It may be a list to keep in mind when the waters get choppy.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.