You are the most powerful influencer in your success in work and life.
As we head into the final weeks of this year, we inevitably think of successes and setbacks; of lessons learned in the previous twelve months. We consider these as we make plans and set goals for the coming year.
As I look back on this past year, I realize that one of the highlights that improved my trajectory was a simple talk given by a legendary leader.
This past Summer one of our teenage sons attended the 5 day Duke University basketball camp under the tutelage of the legendary Coach K. Coach K – Mike Krzykewski – has coached 5 teams to winning the NCAA College Championship. In terms of games won, he is the United States’ college basketball “All Time Winningest Head Coach” with more career wins and percentage of wins than his peers.
Over 40 years of coaching, his teams have won 1,025 games and lost 311 games (they are 7-1 this season as of December 2nd).
Like all great leaders, and like any one of us, Coach K has had plenty of wins and losses, but decidedly more success than failure.
After hearing Coach K’s opening remarks at the basketball camp, I know why he has been so successful. During Coach K’s opening remarks, he shared his expectations of his participants and a few powerful pieces of advice on how to be successful. As I listened, I was inspired by the simplicity and power of his words and I was glad that hundreds of young men, parents, and I were there to hear them.
He said that in his 40 years as a coach at Duke, West Point, and as coach of the US Basketball team, he has led some of the most talented, celebrated athletes in history (LeBron James, and Stephen Curry, to name a few). His simple message to his athletes applies to all of us, every day. Here is what he said he expects of his team:
1. Energy – Every day, bring energy to all of your activities. It’s an attitude that says, “I’m all in, I’m holding nothing back.” Give it your all and push yourself to do your best.
2. Enthusiasm – Be positive, with intentional actions and reactions – you control this. Self-leadership is important and it has a direct impact on others. I’ve found that enthusiasm sparks or sustains its own momentum.
3. Emotion – Coach K gave an example from the 2015 Duke championship series when a player showed his disappointment over a play that should have gone better. It signaled to the team that they should, could, and would try harder next time.
And they did; they won that game & championship.
When Coach K started talking about the power of one’s emotions, I realized that we often mask emotions (or try to downplay them) in a professional setting. Coach K reminded me that we are not meant to hide our emotions, no matter what the circumstance. We can show them, manage them, and use them for positive leadership.
The best leaders use their emotions authentically. It’s a part of our humanity to express our emotions, and when we do so appropriately, it helps build trust.
Of course, as a member of a team, each of us is expected to do our homework, put in the time to practice and keep learning and doing to become better – following the three E’s is not a substitute for those actions. By putting the three E’s into practice you ensure there is a greater impact on your performance and it positively influences those around you and the outcome of your team’s efforts.
To wrap things up, Coach K said that there is also one critical thing that every champion has learned to master – listening. A true champion listens to their coaches, their parents, their teachers, and mentors.
He said, “listen to your parents and your coaches – they want the same things you do: what is best for you.”
Listening also inspires trust, which helps strengthen relationships with those you rely on to succeed – your teammates, colleagues, customers, and partners.
Coach K’s talk reminded me of how much we influence ourselves by the choices we make and our actions – especially when it comes to the three E’s: Energy, Enthusiasm, and Emotion.
As I considered the teams I’ve built and the people that I and other leaders love to recruit and work alongside, they possess these three attitudes, which are essentially attributes: energy, enthusiasm, and even emotion. These are strengths that are appealing and engaging when they are channeled wisely – and when thinking about how to be successful, these three attitudes are essential.
If these simple things are the foundation of a championship team, they can work for you and your team, too.