Kevin Kelley plays the odds to win big

Whether you’re in business or sports, if you’re following the status quo and doing things the way they’ve always been done, you’re not going to get ahead. So, how do you truly become disruptive?

You have to ask why.

Pulaski Academy Head Football Coach Kevin Kelley did exactly that when he took the job in 2003. He looked at every part of the program – from the offseason program to the game itself – and asked, “Why?”

“If we don’t have a good reason [for doing something], or if it’s because [it’s what] everybody else does or if it’s because that’s what my high school or college coach does, that’s not good enough for me. If we cannot support it, how can we expect the kids to buy in? I think in the leadership world, you’ve got to get people to buy into your philosophy. There’s two ways to get people to do things. You can make them do it, or you can inspire them to want to do it. And that’s always the best way.” – Kevin Kelley

Kevin looked at the statistics behind the game and completely shook up how it’s always been played. He never punts, always goes for it on fourth down and always kicks on-side after a touchdown. His disruptive philosophy has led his team to five championship wins and counting.

“People keep saying, ‘You’ve got guts. You’re just such a gambler.’ I’m not. I’m the one that’s playing the odds. I’m the house in the casino world.” – Kevin Kelley

To me, risk is doing something the way it’s always been done. Traditionally, companies and coaches have punished people for doing things differently and making little mistakes. But the only way to lead change is to make little mistakes and learn from them. That’s how you have big wins.

“Be willing to try something different if you’ve got a good reason and you can back it up. Don’t be afraid to make small mistakes … Sometimes, you have to try a lot of different things to be able to have that overall success that you’re looking for. Have a reason and go give it a shot.” – Kevin Kelley

Listen to my conversation with Kevin on Extraordinary Happens. 

Lauren Grancio