According to NFL player Adam Vinatieri, “There was a perception of kickers not being athletes.” The reason for his success? He’s learned to operate on automatic.

Adam Vinatieri has been a place kicker in the National Football League for 21 years. Vinatieri has been selected to play in the Pro Bowl on three occasions. Vinatieri spent the first 10 years of his NFL career with the New England Patriots, and he has been an Indianapolis Colt for the last 11 seasons. Vinatieri has been on four Super Bowl winning teams; three with the Patriots and one with the Colts. And he’s an amazing player: Adam Vinatieri holds the NFL record for consecutive field goals with 44.

This is a family that has had good fortune as well as a tradition of hard work. Adam Vinatieri’s great, great grandfather, Felix Vinatieri, was General George Custer’s Bandmaster. Fortunately, General Custer told Felix Vinatieri “to stay back” and not accompany him to Little Bighorn!

Adam Vinatieri has a great work ethic, and he is very self-confident. These two qualities are critical for sustained success. When Vinatieri came out of South Dakota State no NFL team drafted him! For many athletes, that would be the end of his professional career.

But he had this “belief in himself” and went over to Europe and kicked for a team in Amsterdam. After a year in Europe, the Patriots signed him as a non-drafted free agent. He had to prove himself to coach Bill Parcells. As any fan of the game knows, Parcells is a tough guy. He was not easy on Adam. But Vinatieri persevered and we can say with absolute certainty that the “rest is history.”

Vinatieri also is known as “Mr. Clutch” for his very important Post Season Field Goals—one of which won a Super Bowl. Furthermore, Adam Vinatieri is currently the oldest player in the NFL at age 44! He is so prolific that he has played in more winning games than any other player in NFL history! Vinatieri will join Jan Stenerud, as the only man who strictly was a place kicker to be inducted into Pro Football’s Hall of Fame. Kickers Lou Groza (tackle) and George Blanda (quarterback) are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but each played other positions. Ray Guy is the only punter in the Hall of Fame.

Adam Vinatieri keeps himself in outstanding physical condition, and going back to his high school days in South Dakota, he always wanted to be “the man”. He is quoted as saying “There was a perception of kickers not being athletes. That’s in the past.” After 21 years in the NFL, we can absolutely say with great certainty that he is “the man!”

Success in football, like success in life, requires perseverance. You may need to work harder to get noticed or to have others respect your specialty. But you also have to be so good at what you do it doesn’t appear like you’re working. That’s what it means to be on “automatic.” And that’s the reason they call him “Automatic Adam.”

What are you trying to achieve in your life? Is your practice allowing you to run on automatic? Take a lesson from one of the best and longest lasting players in the game. Learn to do what you do so well that it becomes second nature. Never give up, even if there are roadblocks in your path. Don’t let other people tell you that you aren’t committed or a “real” player. Master your craft and become known as the person “on automatic” by your colleagues, peers, and friends.

Howard Kellman is the long-time broadcasting voice of the Indianapolis Indians. He has been inducted into two Indiana Sports Halls of Fame. Howard is also a keynote speaker with AccelaWork.

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