Quotes for March Madness–And Life

Well, I had Villanova going all the way this March. Sigh. My dreams of winning the office bracket pool were busted early on. I felt very smart crowning Northwestern as my “Cinderella.” Sigh again. That vision quickly morphed into a pumpkin. I could go on. Sadly, my hoops hopes evaporated quickly–as did my vision of  impressing my colleagues (not to mention my 17 year old son.)

Despite my lack of bracket prowess, I’ve still found plenty of inspiration in this most-awesome time of year. If you’ve ever watched The Journey on The Big Ten Network, you know there is more to March Madness than the outcomes of basketball games.  The “human” stories behind the madness are fascinating–the athletes who overcame obstacles, the parents who made sacrifices, and the coaches who inspire.

Inspiration from Coaches

The coaches who inspire… Their words can certainly be applied to basketball, leadership, and life. And, as a collector of quotes, here are a few of my favorites from the pillars of March Madness.

First, there’s Duke University’s Coach K. (side note: I had them making it to the Final Four…):

“I get a group of people who are talented to commit to excellence and to work together as one.  That’s where it starts.  Different talents, same commitment.”

That sounds like our organization–hopefully yours as well.  Each of my colleagues brings a different strength to the table, and we are all committed to- and rally around– empowering organizations to grow.

Here’s another good one from him–

“Confrontation simply means meeting the truth head-on.”

Healthy conflict makes organizations stronger and is key to a great culture. Don’t be afraid of it.

Then there’s “The General,” Bobby Knight’s, wise words:

“Your biggest opponent isn’t the other guy. It’s human nature.”

When I was in consumer product sales, I used to think a lot about the “other guy.”  I reflect with regret on all the energy I wasted worrying about their sales and not mine.  That’s human nature. Imagine if I directed all that energy toward my product. Hmmm…Would I now be running the company? I doubt that. But, it was my first job out of Miami University, chock full of growth opportunities. I certainly did learn a lot.

Don’t Give Up.  Make It a Full Day

My favorite coach, however, is NC State’s Jim Valvano“Don’t give up.  Don’t ever give up.”  That’s one I carry in my wallet.  He shared that advice in his renowned acceptance speech for the inaugural Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award.  He also shared,  “To me, there are three things we all should do every day. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”   Wise words indeed.

Two questions for you:  How is your bracket?  And, which coaches inspire you and why?

Here’s to you and your leadership!

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