Two days ago, the New England Patriots scored their 4th Super Bowl title, the most in the salary cap era. Tom Brady is now in the discussion for being the greatest QB of all time, and Bill Belichick is in the discussion for being the greatest coach of all time. Whether you like them or hate them or even think they are running vast conspiracies of cheating to beat other teams, there is little to argue that that they are currently best run franchise in professional sports.
This isn’t a fluke or something that is happening by chance either. For the entire Patriots organization, there have philosophies, ideologies and ways of doing things that have caused them to stay at the top for so long. And as a Mason, there are things that they do that we can all learn from and hopefully emulate.
1. Do Your Job.
It’s common in society today for people to talk the talk but not walk the walk. It’s also common for people to half-ass their work, to mail it in or to not follow directions. For the Patriots, this motto of Do Your Job means that you do exactly what is commanded of you in practice to the letter. You have a job to do, the team is relying on you. Go out and do it.
As Masons this message is something that we’re familiar with. It brings us back to our Operative Masonic roots, where Masons worked together in teams to create many of the iconic structures that we see around the world today. When working together to build a great structure, each Mason had a job to do. Whether it was perfecting stones, artistically designing edifices, spreading cement, measuring balance, each Mason had one job and the entire lodge relied on them to do it. Yet how the Patriots approach the team aspect is actually very individualistic. Do Your Job. That is a message to each person that their focus is singular and internal. It’s about what that individual has to do. This is entirely Masonic. When we come to Masonry, we come because we are working on subduing out passions, learning and improving ourselves in Masonry. It’s about our individual work. It’s about you and how you perfect your own stone.
Yet Do Your Job is also understood within the team philosophy. If each player does their job, the whole team works as a cohesive unit and is able to do incredible things. Masonry is the same way. Even though the work is individual, we are all together in a unified lodge. While we have each individually come to search for light, it is understood that it is found through other brothers as well.
If each player does their job then the team will succeed wildly and be as great as the Patriots are. And if each individual Mason does their job, then the lodge as a whole succeeds wildly. On the other hand as we saw in the Super Bowl, Tharold Simon struggled and it allowed the Patriots to pick on him and move the ball against one of the better defenses of all time. All it takes is one bad player for the entire team to collapse. The lodge is the same way. All it takes is one bad member for the lodge to become weakened and to collapse. Simon didn’t do his job, either through bad coaching or lack of working himself. A Mason show doesn’t do their job to make themselves perfect runs the risk of making the lodge weak and having the whole fall apart.
2. A Championship Leader
The Patriots win because they have a great coach in Bill Belichick who knows how to run the show. To say that Belichick is tireless in his commitment to winning is an understatement. He puts all of his energy and effort into breaking down film, working with his players and being involved with almost every aspect of the organization. Every player and coach looks to him and follows his lead. He is admired because of his relentless external commitment to results and being able to achieving those results.
In Masonry we want the Worshipful Master to be the same. We want someone who is tireless in their commitment to making a great lodge. Every Mason is part of that lodge and a Worshipful Master knows how to rule over his Brothers with a relentless commitment to results and to being able to achieve those results. Now each lodge and each individual Mason has their own set of goals, so what your results are definitely depends on the place and brother. Yet finding what each lodge and brother needs requires research. And Bill Belichick spends hours and hours watching game film to find out how to best change and tailor his approach to each individual team and opponent. A great Worshipful Master will spends his time with his brothers to find out what each of them needs and what best works for the lodge.
Bill Belichick is the undisputed leader of The Patriots team. He is the one who draws up the game plans and put them into action. He teachers the players the best way to execute it, and then guides them as they put the plan into action. Masonry again is the same way. Masons need a leader who lays out a plan and brings everyone together to make that plan work. This springs from our Operative History where a Chief Architect put together the blueprint for the structure and then directed his Masons on how to build it. Behind every great building was a legendary Grand Master who makes sure each Mason did their job and worked as a cohesive unit. They looked to God to draw up the blueprint, they set it into actions, they handled personalities and made sure each Mason was put in the best possible place to succeed.
In addition a great leader also listens to the people that work for him. You will often see Belichick roam the sidelines and talk to his other players and coaches asking them how things are going. What are they seeing? What is happening? How is the game plan working. Belichick has his blueprint but he also makes sure to listen to the players to figure out ways to improve on that blueprint. A great Worshipful Master makes sure to always consult with his fellow Masons to make sure things are being done right and to ask how things can be done better.
Also Bill Belichick is very flexible. He has his plans that he takes into the game but if the plan isn’t working his team he’ll quickly go to a new plan of attack. The Patriots are legendary for changing things up on the fly to find different ways to challenge an opponent. In Masonry we find the tools that are given to us are open for our own interpretation. And like any Mason, sometimes the first approach to something isn’t actually the right one and you find yourself seeing things differently later. For Worshipful Masters, that means the plans you put into place aren’t dogma. They need to be open to change. Your leadership styles, your plans for the year and even ways you help to improve brothers has to be flexible. You have to know that if something isn’t working you need to have a plan B, C and D.
3. The Patriots embody our Masonic tools.
Think of the Square and Compass. Is there a team out there that better follows them both? No! The Patriots always square their actions. No player gets special treatment. In Training Camp the player that works out the hardest gets the best parking spots. Tom Brady was normally this guy until he slowed down a bit for a few years and didn’t train as hard. He lost his preferential parking spots. Another example, Jonas Gray ran for 200 yards again the Colts in the regular season. A few days later he was late for practice. He was sent to the bench and he barely played since. Bill Belichick treats his players the same no matter who they are or what they do. This weeds out the primadonna players while also creating the fairest system for talent to rise. It also brings players together knowing that they are all being treated as equals. If every stone is squared the same, they are much more likely to fit together.
As for The Compass, it calls for us to circumscribe our desires and to keep our passions within due bounds toward all mankind. The Patriots are perfect examples of this. Each player has something they want. It could be the big contract. Or more playing time. Or more masses. Or more media exposure. Whatever. But the Patriots players deep their desires in check. They sacrifice for the team. If they each went after what they wanted they would have turned into the Oakland Raiders a long time ago. They can still have desires and many of them do, but by keeping things in check it allows for everyone to fit in with each other and become a cohesive unit.
They are also excellent at keeping their passions within due bounds. Watch them at the podium when speaking to the media. They constantly talk about the respect they have for other teams and players. When asked about winning they say they want it but they will say that it’s a lot of hard work and mental focus. Do these players want to win? Of course. These are some of the most competitive players in the world. But they again keep their passions in control. Engaging in a chest puffing “who is better” war or words with another team will only lead to distractions and for the other team to get bulletin board material. By keeping their passion to a controlled burn, it allows them to stay focused and disciplined in practice all the way through the game. And the Patriots are extremely passionate during the game, throwing every ounce of energy out onto the field. But they also keep their passions within due bounds on the field by never letting the other team’s trash talk get to them. They also make sure to not get to emotional and let the emotion of the moment cloud their heads. They each have a job to do and too much emotion can cloud their judgement. When Russell Wilson was driving for the score, Malcolm Butler had just let up a miracle catch to Jermaine Kearse. He could have let his negative emotions get to him. He could have let the momentum swing of the Seahawks driving to bring him out of his focus. But he kept his passions within due bounds, stayed focused, did his job and intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass two plays later. And the rest is history.
The Patriots are currently the greatest run in professional sports. And as we learn from the Trowel, the only contention that should exist among us is who can best work and agree. The Patriots are the best. They are the masters and as we continue on our journey of self-improvement, consider their work and how their methods could assist you.