3 Lessons From the Life of #JoePa

In case you didn’t hear, yesterday a legend in the sports world passed away.

Joe Paterno was the head coach for the Penn St Nittany Lions for 46 years… 46 very successful years.
He was with the university for a total of 61 years.

Joe Pa wasn’t perfect (none of us are) , but there are still things we can glean from his life…

1. Dedication is essential to success.

Joe Paterno was dedicated to the Penn St football program. His 40+ years proved that he believed commitment was important if he wanted to win. He was committed to building excellence and being a part of it… He never quit.

2. Be careful who you place around you.

Joe Paterno’s greatest tragedy was having people around him that would eventually ruin his reputation. Did Joe Pa handle him perfectly? Probably not, but he allowed Jerry Sandusky to stick around and have his name attached. Those around you will help or hurt you… Guaranteed!

3. Invest in others.

Joe Pa invested in other people. He sought to make the people around him better. The student athletes that he coached in his 40+ years will vouch for the fact that he made a difference in them… even beyond their time on his team.

What other things can we learn from Joe Pa?


  1. one lesson I think we can learn is “don’t assume other people have the same mind as you.” Joe Pa assumed the university would know what to do (from what I understand). he assumed he would hurt the university. One of the characters from Under Siege 2 says, “Assumption is the mother of (vulgar word deleted) ups.” I have to remind myself of that constantly. Don’t assume. Good wrap up Jonathan.

  2. It’s not enough just to do “the right thing”. We have to go beyond the minimum requirements, especially when we are elevated into such a visible and influential position of leadership.

  3. Longevity is key – you hit on this in your first point with dedication. Many times we take longevity for granted or want instant results/success. Stick-to-it-ness is underrated.

    Also, Joe Pa was passionate about his work. Passion for what you do makes a difference.


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