Overcomer is the latest film from the Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen. They produce movies under the company of Kendrick Brothers Productions. Since they’ve begun working on movies, the Kendrick brothers have released multiple films including War Room, Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing The Giants.
Their faith-based approach to movie making is astonishing. They began creating movies with their church, Sherwood Baptist Church because they discovered many people said a movie leaves a more lasting impact than a church sermon. This is also one of the reasons I created the Reel Leadership series. Passing on leadership lessons from movies because a movie is easier to remember than a seminar or leadership conference.
Overcomer tells the story of Coach John Harrison (Alex Kendrick) as his basketball program shuts down at Brookshire Christian School. He is then recruited by principal Olivia Brooks (Priscilla Shirer) to take over the cross country team.
Coach Harrison is up for a huge challenge as he discovers there’s not a cross country team at the school. Rather, there is one young girl named Hannah Scott (Aryn Wright-Thompson) who wants to try out. To top it off, Hannah is an asthmatic!
With these challenges in front of him, Coach Harrison has his work cut out for him. Yet, Overcomer is a touching story. One with a clear message you won’t forget when you walk away from the theater.
Along with the clear, faith-based message of Overcomer, you won’t walk away without taking away multiple leadership lessons.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Overcomer The Movie
1. Give a clear plan:
Coach Harrison gave the basketball team at Brookshire Christian a pep talk at the last game of their season. There were seconds remaining and the team was down 6 points. That’s two 3-point shots to tie the game.
Coach Harrison pulled his team together. He shared a plan that would keep the pressure on the visiting team. A plan he hoped would win the championship.
The plan was clear. The team knew what to do.
After the talk, the team went out and executed the plan.
When sharing our plans for our organization, we can easily muddy the plan. We can give extraneous details that won’t help communicate the plan.
We need to get rid of the fluff. To be effective, we have to make sure the plans we lay out are clear and understandable by our teams.
2. Tell your team you’re proud of them:
Despite the clear plan, Coach Harrison’s team lost the championship game. They walked away as losers.
Yet, in Coach Harrison’s eyes, the boys weren’t losers. They had played a great game and he was proud of them.
Coach Harrison shared his pride with his team. He let them know how proud of them he was and how thankful he was to be their coach.
Great leaders know they have to share how proud they are of their team with their team. You may think it is superficial or fluff but it is not.
The people on your team are people. They long to be told how good they’re doing or how proud of them you are. Don’t hold back your positive feelings about your team. They need to hear it from their leader.
3. Go the extra mile:
The city where Overcomer is set in lost a major manufacturer. A plant was closing down and people were moving away. This meant the school was going to lose a large portion of the student body.
It also meant teachers and faculty were going to leave. Uh oh!
Because of the loss of students and faculty, principal Brooks asked Coach Harrison to step in to coach the cross country team. They needed someone to coach and he was there.
He reluctantly accepted the position. Not because he wanted to but because he was a leader who went the extra mile when needed.
You will be called upon to do things outside of your title and role. Will you be willing to step up and go the extra mile?
Great leaders are willing to step up and go the extra mile when required. They often know this won’t be a permanent thing but a temporary sacrifice. Be willing to go the extra mile.
4. Principal Olivia Brooks:
One runner matters.
When Coach Harrison discovered there was only one runner willing to try out for the cross country team, he was disappointed. He felt like coaching a team of one wouldn’t be worth it.
Principal Brooks knew differently. She knew every single person mattered. Even if you were only speaking or teaching or leading one person. They mattered.
Do you get discouraged when your team dwindles or there doesn’t seem to be much of an impact? Know that your work matters.
If you touch one person in your leadership position, they matter. Your work matters.
Be willing to impact one person.
5. Don’t let disabilities stop you:
Hannah had a pretty debilitating ailment for an athlete. Her asthma could sideline her… or worse.
Still, Hannah wanted to run. She was good at the sport and she was willing to live with the risks.
You might have a disability. I’m not sure what yours may be. It could be a stutter or heart disease or a mental disorder.
If you were called to be a leader, don’t let the disability stop you. Figure out a way to lead through your disability. Hannah did this by carrying her inhaler while she ran. You can find a way to work through yours.
6. Amy Harrison (Shari Rigby):
This sport is about endurance.
The Harrison’s learned a huge lesson about cross country running. Running isn’t about being the fastest. Running cross country is about endurance.
You have to push through fatigue, pain, mental barriers to reach the finish line. You have to endure.
While cross country running is an endurance sport, leadership is an endurance position.
You won’t have to be the fastest leader. You won’t even have to be the best leader. To be a great leader, you have to endure for the long term.
Then, and only then, will you see the impact of what you’re doing. Be an endurance leader.
7. Listen to learn:
Coach Harrison went to the hospital with his pastor. His pastor needed someone to go with him to do hospital visits. While his pastor went into a congregant’s hospital room, Coach Harrison accidentally opened the door to another patient.
This patient’s name was Thomas Hill (Cameron Arnett). Thomas had been a runner when he was healthy. He was a darn good runner at that.
When Coach Harrison discovered Thomas had been a runner, he asked Thomas for advice in coaching runners. This was something new to Coach Harrison but old hat to Thomas.
As Coach Harrison listened, he learned what it took to coach runners. He learned running tips and tricks. More than that, he learned he needed to listen to learn.
Are you listening like Coach Harrison did? You need to be willing to listen to those with more experience than you.
They will be able to pour into your life and help you lead your organization better. You can learn so much by listening.
8. Amy Harrison:
Can this wait or do you need more time to pout?
Coach Harrison was upset. He went outside and began cleaning a pile of bricks that had sat outside for months. He needed time to cool off and chill.
Amy went out to talk to him and realized what he was doing. Coach Harrison was pouting. She saw this and called him out.
Sometimes we will do things that seem important. We might push papers or write up a new vision statement. All the while, we’re not focused on the task. We’re actually pouting because of a difficult battle at work or home.
The next time you go do busywork, think about the reason behind it. Are you doing it because the work needs to be done or are you pouting?
9. Real isn’t polished:
The Kendrick brothers movies aren’t the most polished movies. They don’t contain big explosion or fancy sets.
Instead, they try to capture the real world. The people are real and the dialogue can be spotty but it is real.
That’s the magic behind their Christian films. They’re not polished. They’re well done but not perfect.
People prefer things that are real. There can be mistakes made in your leadership. Most people won’t care as long as you are real.
Look to be real rather than looking good. That’s what people want in a leader.
10. Know who YOU are when all is stripped away:
Thomas asked Coach Harrison who he was. When Coach responded that he was a coach, Thomas knew coach was just skimming the surface.
A coach wasn’t who John was. John was more than that. As Thomas and John began to strip back the layers, John discovered an ugly truth. He wasn’t living out who he was.
John and Thomas went through many layers. John was a:
- Basketball Coach
- History teacher
If all was stripped away, John believed he would still be a Christian. Then Thomas smacked him upside the head with his next question. The question was: Why did it take so many titles to get to the title of Christian? Was John really living out a Christian life?
Do you know who you truly are when all is stripped away? It is easy to say you are the leader of Boeing or the Vice President of Sales at Xerox. Those are just titles. If the titles were all stripped away, who would you be?
Think about this. Get to the root of who you are. You need to know this to stay grounded.
11. Thomas Hill:
Your identity will be tied to whatever you give your heart to
This quote followed Thomas and John’s talk. Thomas realized after all the junk he’d gone through (being a drug addict, leaving his family behind, getting his girlfriend hooked on drugs, etc…) that knowing your identity was important.
You can tell who you are by what you give your heart to. So, my question to you is, what are you giving your heart to?
12. John Harrison:
We need to pray.
John learned something startling about Thomas and Hannah. Hannah was the daughter Thomas had given to her grandmother, Barbara Scott (Denise Armstrong), 15 years ago. This created a conundrum for John and Amy.
Do they reveal the truth to Hannah? Do they introduce them to each other? What should be done?
The questions raced through their minds. They eventually realized what they must do. They needed to pray.
I know every great leader needs to do this as well. Praying to God will give you clarity. It will give you a line of communication with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Prayer will move mountains and give you insights into areas you may be struggling. Don’t be afraid to pray. Real leaders pray.
13. Encourage your team members:
Ethan Harrison (Jack Sterner) was one of John and Amy’s sons. He did his parents proud by showing up at one of the cross country meets.
Not only did he show up, but he also brought along other students from the school. He and his fellow classmates chose to cheer on and encourage Hannah as she ran.
This was a powerful moment for Coach Harrison, Hannah, and the school. The encouragement everyone brought touched Hannah. It encouraged her to continue running.
Encouragement is a powerful tool in leadership. People need to hear they’re doing a good job. But we can take this a step further.
Your team members need to hear encouragement from you. They also need to hear it from each other.
Learn to create an environment where team members encourage one another.
14. Coach John Harrison:
Maybe we take the day off.
Hannah was having a rough day. When Coach Harrison asked if she was ready to practice, she said she didn’t feel like running.
Being a runner, I know how Hannah felt. There are days where you just don’t feel like running.
Coach Harrison realized he shouldn’t force her to run. Instead, he asked her if she would like to take the day off of running.
There will be days where you don’t feel like leading. You will feel burned out or frustrated.
Know you can take a day off. The organization won’t collapse on itself because you miss a day. You need time to recharge and refresh.
Be willing to take the day off.
15. Make a list of who you are:
Principal Brooks helped lead Hannah to the Lord. Afterward, she encouraged Hannah to go and read Ephesians 1 and 2.
She told Hannah to read these scriptures and begin to write down what these scriptures said she was. The list Hannah came up with was long. The list was also powerful.
Hannah’s list in Overcomer breaks down to the following statement she gave to Coach Harrison:
I am created by God. He designed me, so I’m not a mistake. His Son died for me, just so I could be forgiven. He picked me to be his own, so I’m chosen. He redeemed me, so I am wanted. He showed me grace, just so I could be saved. He has a future for me because He loves me. So I don’t wonder anymore, Coach Harrison. I am a child of God.
Wow, just wow.
I want to encourage you as Principal Brooks did to Hannah. Go, take a look at Ephesians 1 and 2. Read the verses. Soak them in. Let the words penetrate your mind.
Once you’ve meditated on the words, write out who you are in Christ. Keep this front and center so you can remember who you are.
16. Make things right:
Hannah had a rough upbringing. Before she became a Christian, she was a cleptomaniac. She would steal things that were out in the open.
There were headphones, jewelry, watches, etc that were stolen by her. She had quite the collection.
Once she became a Christian, she knew she had to make things right. She began to bring back all of the stolen goods to the ones she had taken them from.
You have done people wrong in your life. There’s no denying that.
I want to encourage you to go and make things right with these people. Offer an apology. Repay what was stolen. Do what is right.
17. Barbara Scott:
I need your help God…
Barbara was very upset when she found out Hannah’s father was back in her life. She hadn’t forgiven him for getting her daughter addicted to drugs and leaving Hannah with her.
The bitterness and unforgiveness had made Barbara a very angry woman. Having Thomas back in the picture only made it worse.
Barbara knew the only way she could move on was to forgive Thomas. To do this, she needed God’s help.
Great leaders call on God on a daily basis. They know they need His guidance and providence in their lives. Without Him, they are nothing.
Don’t be afraid to ask God to come in and help with your business and those you lead. He will listen and He will come and help you.
18. It’s never too late to leave a legacy:
Thomas screwed up a lot of his life. The biggest was leaving his daughter. Yet he had a great 6 weeks with Hannah before he passed away.
In this time, Thomas did something that was bigger than himself. He began recording messages for his daughter. They would be gentle reminders of how much he loved her and how much he changed.
These messages were his legacy to the daughter he only knew for a short time. He left a positive legacy even though he wasn’t able to spend much time with Hannah.
You may have messed up majorly in your life. You may feel like you’re the biggest screwup in history. You’re not. It’s also not too late to make up for your mistakes and leave a positive legacy.
You can begin changing the legacy you will leave today. All you have to do is work on being better today than you were yesterday.
Question: If you’ve watched Overcomer, what leadership lessons did you take away from the movie? If you haven’t seen the movie, what Reel Leadership lessons from Overcomer the movie that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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