This is the second of a two-part series on the 2012 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team. Last week I discussed lessons learned from Coach K. This week I will focus on lessons from the players. The team consisted of all NBA players. Highlighting the group were current MVP and Champion, Lebron James, scoring champion Kevin Durant, and former MVP and Champion, Kobe Bryant.
The first lesson learned from this team is unselfishness. It was impressive how this group of All-Stars put aside all egos for a common purpose, to win the gold medal. It can be hard for players used to being the main option to be asked play in a different role. This group put aside everything and focused on how they could best help the team. Many players took on roles that they were unaccustomed to all for the good of the team. One quote that has stuck with me came from Carmelo Anthony. He was asked how he felt about not starting some games and replied, “I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team win. Whether it’s starting or not. Scoring or doing the dirty work.” This is a great example for us all. Be unselfish with whatever you’re doing. Teachers and coaches need to remember: it’s not about you, it’s about the kids. Put your ego aside and ask what you can do to make your colleagues, students, and athletes better. People in the business world need to remember that it is all about the customer. Be unselfish in the office and you will see a reward. Go out of your way to help a co-worker close a deal or get a new lead. Focus on helping others and you will see ten-fold return. This is very hard to do. I can honestly say the approach has made a difference in my life. In previous years, I was focused on me. It sounds bad and I feel bad now typing this, but you have to be able to acknowledge your flaws before you can fix them. Previously I was too concerned about how I was going to get my name out and move up in the ranks. Now I am focused on doing my absolute best to help as many as possible in whatever capacity it may be. By taking this approach I am much happier and can see the benefits in multiple facets of my life. Whether it’s in the office, classroom, or on the field, the unselfish approach is best! And in all walks of life remember this phrase, “do unto others.”
Pride is the second lesson to take from the players. It was awesome to see the pride this team had in representing their country. For the 12 men on the roster it was all about the three letters on their chest, USA. During training leading up to the Olympic Games NBA Commissioner David Stern brought up the topic of having players only 23 and younger represent the United States in future games. This angered many players including future hall of famer, Kobe Bryant. Kobe said a rule change like that “would be stupid.” He stated that he and his other teammates chose to be on the team and consider it an honor. Many of these players wouldn’t have the opportunity to represent their country if the new age rule were passed. They want to play for their country and take great pride in doing so. In the post game interview after winning the gold medal, LeBron James and Kevin Durant were asked about how it was for them to win a gold, given they had just faced off as opponents in the NBA Finals. Both answered that it was not about them; it was about the three letters on their chest. U.S.A. That is pride. We all must carry ourselves with pride. Take pride in your work. Not only are you representing yourself but you are also representing your team, school, or company. My high school football team always had three phrases on our t-shirts, pride, tradition, and hard work. Along with my teammates, I took the phrases to heart. We all had pride in who we were and what we represented. We were a family and were all proud of it. The pride we had as team gave us the motivation to work hard and carried us to many victories. You will not find a successful person who does not carry himself with pride. Having pride comes from hard work and it enables you to outwork the opposition. If your name is attached to something, make it the best it can be. If you are not proud of your product or what you have accomplished, how can anyone else be? As a fellow American I was proud of how these men represented their country and the pride they exuded in doing so. So have pride in your school, team and company. It will no doubt bring you continued success.
Confidence is a trait that is crucial for all leaders to possess and is the third lesson. Coach K and those on this team had it. What I’ll remember most is the confidence they had in each other and how they answered questions regarding whether or not they could beat the original ’92 Dream Team. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James both said, “Yeah, we could be them.” This sparked a media frenzy and a back forth exchange with some members of the Dream Team on who would win. It was great to see that confidence. If you want to be successful you must have confidence. If you’re a coach, have confidence in yourself and your team’s ability. Let your players know you have confidence in them; they need to know that you believe in them. I constantly tell my athletes that there is not a team we cannot beat. As a leader I have to show confidence in myself and in my players. If I don’t, then who will? As a high school athlete, I would always look at my coaches demeanor before games. I could tell through body language, tone, and through their eyes how confident they were. Athletes pick up on these things and often times base their performance off it. I have to constantly remind myself as a coach that I need to project confidence in my players and myself. Half the battle of winning is getting everyone on the team to believe they can. In the business world, go into the next meeting or sales call with strong confidence. In your mind, run through how you will make the next presentation your best to date. Walk into the building with confidence that you will get the job done. Own the room. Let your confidence permeate, it’s contagious. People will buy in and believe in you. No one will believe in you unless you first believe in yourself. Develop a strong confidence in yourself and your abilities and the sky is the limit!
The final thought to take from the team is ability to go for it. I am huge [amazon-product text=”Rocky” type=”text”]http://www.amazon.com/Rocky-Undisputed-Collection-Balboa-Blu-ray/dp/B002M9WW30/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1346408726&sr=8-2&keywords=Rocky[/amazon-product] fan and those of you who know the movies will identify with the phrase, “Go For It.” When the moment arrives, don’t shy away. Step up and go for it. The Olympic team was at its best with the game on the line. They stepped up and made the great plays to win the Gold. When the game or business deal is on the line, take it. Own the moment. Do not hold anything back. Do not leave your best play or pitch in the bag. Give it your best shot and be able to say you gave it your all. You might fail once, twice, or several times, but who cares. People don’t remember all the misses, they remember the game winners. Everybody fails. What separates the winners from the losers is the ability to step up to the moment. When you put in the hard work and preparation you are ready for the moment. All you have to do is put the practice into action.
Greatness is not elusive; it is something we can all attain. If you want to be great take these lessons on unselfishness, pride, confidence, the ability to go for it, and put them to use. If you do, you will experience growth and success will follow.
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