Many things in life often can be related to an analogy or some sort of sport that we may have played or been involved in. We just watched the annual Big Dance, in which there were 68 teams picked to be a part of the field to see who has the muster, perseverance, urgency, talent, teamwork, determination and hustle to be college basketball’s national champion.
Out of over 4,500 players on a college scholarship in the Division 1 college basketball, only 884 of those players get the opportunity to advance from the initial rounds.
We sit back and watch, and every year there are Cinderella stories of teams advancing that should never have beaten their opponent. Watching an incredible upset can undoubtedly be a religious experience… and when David beats Goliath, people genuinely believe they are witnessing a miracle!
One such miracle was with the 1965-66 Texas Western Miners basketball team, now known as the University of Texas at El Paso. They had the first all-black starting lineup in a time when it was known that officials favored teams with white starting players. Fighting race issues and bad officiating all season, they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats for the National Championship, led by Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins, and assistant Moe Iba, son of legendary coach Henry Iba.
Then there was the Butler Bulldogs, led by head coach Brad Stevens. They were the first ever mid-major to reach the national championship in successive seasons since 1979, the smallest school to play for a national championship, and the first team from Indiana to reach back-to-back championship games. (Think about that for a minute… coming out of “The Basketball State.”)
And how about the 1983 NC State Wolfpack, led by legendary coach Jimmy Valvano. As a 6-seed, they defeated Houston, the best team in the country, which was led by the “Phi Slamma Jamma” group of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. NC State was supposed to be a speed bump on the road to Houston’s title, but a last-second basket as the clock ran out gave NC State the win. This sent Jimmy V on the unforgettable frantic search for someone to hug, giving reporters one of the most iconic images in sports history.
What Do They Have in Common?
These David beating Goliath stories all have gritty, hard-working, damn-the-torpedo-spirit players, who leave it all on the court. More importantly, they were led by a head coach of legendary proportions, who unified a team often of mediocre talent past many teams of extremely talented thoroughbreds. Of the 347 teams in Division 1 basketball, there is always an opportunity to reach sporting’s pinnacle called March Madness, but the team is limited by their leader.
Great coaches lead to create success through connection, conviction, purpose, and great relationships. They have created a culture of accountability, celebrate successes, give appreciation and recognition, and confront mediocrity. But probably most importantly, these coaches are extremely motivational, and provide a huge beacon of hope that all things are possible.
Be Their Biggest Fan
In our every day common world, we must be our people’s “Biggest Fan.” Whether it is our children, those we may be fortunate enough to lead, those we interact with, kids in the classroom, or those we volunteer with, we must be our people’s biggest fan so that we may inspire them to achieve all their inner greatness possible. If we are not good at that, those awesomely great people around us each day, can’t overcome our bad coaching.
We must be great inspirational and motivational coaches in all environments we may be in or a part of!! Happy Leadership Thursday!!!