Provision #282: Success

Laser Provision


This Provision pulls together and summarizes the Ten Strategies for Success that we have explored during the past ten weeks with the help of some great American sports’ coaches. Their wisdom has become our wisdom, as this Provision makes plain.

LifeTrek Provision


As we begin this issue of Provisions, concluding our most recent series on ten strategies for success, I want to celebrate nature’s annual display of autumn colors. Those who live in parts of the world where the leaves do not change colors are missing an unparalleled display of natural beauty. Here in southeast Virginia, the autumn colors are in full swing. The trees hold every color imaginable, from bright green to deep red and everything in between. When the sun hits them just right and they come alive in all their glory, there’s no way to go on about business as usual. You just have to stop what you’re doing and say, “Wow!”

Fortunately, we included such celebrative expressions of appreciation and joy in the series on success that we are now bringing to a close. We built this series around the interviews that Billy Packer did with great American sports’ coaches, exploring their strategies for success in sports and life. Judging from your enthusiastic and thoughtful replies over the past three months, this series has been eye opening and valuable. To make them clear in one broad stroke, we now present a quick review of all ten strategies.

1. TELL THE TRUTH: We started our series with basketball Coach Mike Krzyewski, from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. There’s no way to be successful if we don’t tell the truth to ourselves and to those we work with. The real art, when the truth is hard to tell, is learning how to give honest feedback with positive regard • so it motivates people to achieve rather than destroys their self-esteem. Coach “K,” as he is affectionately called, has mastered the art of telling the truth to achieve consistent success.

2. LOVE THE BASTARDS: This Provision caused a few of the corporate spam filters to reject our weekly distribution, because they didn’t like the affectionate epithet that legendary coach Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics used to describe his players. “How do we do it?” Auerbach quipped at one point. “I’ll tell you how we do it. We love the bastards!” That pretty much says it all. If you don’t love the people you’re working with, as exasperating as they can be, there’s no other way to be successful. It’s that simple.

3. LOVE THE GAME: Of course, it’s not enough just to love the people who play the game. To be successful, you also have to love the game itself (whatever that game may be, from parenting to project management). Unfortunately, many people do just that, committing what Malcolm Forbes calls “the biggest mistake people make in life,” namely “not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy.” No one could ever say that Pat Head Summitt, women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee since 1974, has committed that mistake. Only tremendous passion would keep someone in the game, so successfully, for almost 30 years. Perhaps that’s why she built such an incredible winning record. She’s not only a student of the game; she’s a lover of the game.

4. READ YOUR PEOPLE: Although loving your people is an essential precondition for this strategy, our next Provision highlighted an important and often overlooked dynamic. It’s not enough to be a student of the game. One also has to be student of your people. This is a matter of paying attention, often to very subtle dynamics, and then trusting your gut to make the right decision on a case-by-case basis. Joe Gibbs, head coach for the Washington Redskins during the 1980s, applied this to recruiting as well as coaching. To be successful, you have to get the right people into the right position and then you have to know when to bring them down and when to lift them up. It’s an art, not science, which has everything to do with intuition and attention.

5. BE ENTHUSIASTIC: Truth be told, there are going to be far more times when the occasion calls for us to lift people up than to bring them down. If you want to be successful, the coach will often have to double as the cheerleader. When the going gets tough • and it will get tough • successful people manage to keep their own spirits up and to lift the spirits of others. Tommy Lasorda, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ baseball team from 1976-1996, identified this as a key strategy for success. He spoke in terms of wisdom, perspective, understanding, and grace as he spoke about the importance of being enthusiastic in the face of adversity. Perhaps that’s why the root meaning of “enthusiasm” is “to be filled with God.” It ultimately comes from within.

6. HUMBLE YOURSELF: Anson Dorrance was not a name that I was familiar with before starting this series. He ended up giving us material for three Provisions. Dorrance is the winningest college coach in any sport after more than 20 years of coaching. His women soccer players have come as close to total domination as any program could ever come. With that legacy, one might assume there was room for a little strut and swagger. If so, and as with most assumptions, one would be wrong. Dorrance spoke in terms of humility as the key to greatness. The team becomes a team when the players stop thinking of themselves and start thinking of each other. It’s a breaking down process that leads, season after to season, to unparalleled greatness.

7. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: This was a tricky strategy to describe, because you can generate as many problems by taking too much responsibility as by taking too little. Still, there’s no way to be successful without taking responsibility. Successful people don’t pass the buck. They know what belongs to them and they take responsibility for getting the job done. They also take responsibility when things go wrong. For Dorrance, this means that his entire coaching staff walks the walk and talks the talk, both on and off the field, on a year round basis. When things don’t work out, they take the responsibility to change and improve. Perhaps that’s why they have been so successful.

8. DELEGATE: Learning how to delegate is perhaps the key to not taking too much responsibility. No one can be successful all by themselves. Unfortunately, many people have not learned how to delegate and to work with others. Either they make assignments and then hover around like a mother hen or they pass out work and then forget all about it. Dorrance suggests five principles of delegation that are critical to success: involve people in the decision-making process; make them feel important because they are important; take responsibility with them, rather than blaming them, when things don’t go well; praise and support them, regardless of the size of their contribution; and treat them with respect.

9. COMMUNICATE: In all of these strategies, the willingness, ability, and practice of communication stand at the heart of success. If we need others to be successful, and we do, then there’s no way to be successful without communication. But in this day and age, communication entails far more than just barking orders and expecting people to do your bidding. Lenny Wilkens, an NBA coach with a strong record of accomplishment, put it this way. “Today communication has to do more. It has to teach fundamentals, develop maturity, and build trust. If you build that trust, then people are receptive to what you’re talking about.” Without that trust, people will listen to nothing you have to say. Successful people understand this point and learn how to be master communicators.

10. CELEBRATE: Last week we came to the end of our series by focusing on one last strategy for success: celebrate! It’s interesting to note that this is a strategy for success, not just a result of success. Anyone can celebrate after they win the big game and the season is over. But successful people learn to celebrate every step of the way. They recognize and reward good work, whether the final score was in their favor or not. That was certainly part of the secret of Dean Smith, who coached Michael Jordan and many other basketball luminaries over the course of 36 seasons at the University of North Carolina. Smith was more inclined to celebrate the process of playing the game well than of winning any particular game. By so doing, he won plenty • and so will you if you learn to celebrate the process more than product.

I hope these ten strategies will assist you to be successful in your own life and work. If you want to make them come alive with the assistance of a LifeTrek coach, send us an email or give us a call. There’s nothing we enjoy more than working with people on the art of passionate and successful living.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Excellent & directly wonderful article. I will practice it. “Process rather than outcome.” Greetings from tropical Malaysia. Cheers


This was an uplifting provision which I really enjoyed! Thank you for your thought and prayers, they were very helpful. Would you please send the Provision on Delegating again? (Ed. Note: Every Provision is archived on our Web site at http://www.LifeTrekCoaching.com/provisions.)


Once again, brilliant article on Leadership! I hope there are companies utilizing your insightful Wisdom when it comes to Leading. People follow Leaders not titles! (Braveheart) (Ed. Note: We’re happy to take referrals.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #281: Celebrate

Laser Provision


People have a hard time celebrating life. It’s easier to be critical than complimentary. Mistakes and problems receive far too much attention. Ironically, it’s only when we forget about winning that we improve our chances of winning. Celebrate the journey, every step of the way, and the results will follow.

LifeTrek Provision


Have you noticed the dearth of encouragement and appreciation in our world today? Does it seem as though people are more demanding and rude? Are you concerned about the lack of civility and about how seldom we truly enjoy each other’s company? Consider two familiar scenarios:

* You take on a challenging project at work, putting in extra hours and really killing yourself in order to get everything done by the deadline. Unfortunately, something comes up which delays consideration of your work. No one acknowledges or even seems to care about the sacrifices you made to meet the original timetable. When it is finally dealt with, no one says thank you for the good work that’s been done. They just tell you to make some changes and send you back to work.

* You knock yourself out to do something special for your spouse or partner. You’re sure it’s something they will really enjoy. But instead of appreciating it fully and unconditionally, they make some comment about how one thing or another could have been different. The message of “Yes, but” turns into an argument which ruins the entire occasion. So much for that celebration of love! It’s back to business as usual.

Scenarios such as these abound in our world today. People have trouble feeling optimistic and expressing affirmation. Giving someone an unabashed, unconditional, and unqualified compliment for a job well done is the exception rather than the rule. I know people who can’t bring themselves to do this, no matter what. When it comes to their subordinates at work or family members at home, it’s their job to point out the shortcomings and failures. Isn’t that how people learn?

Unfortunately, such attitudes are self-fulfilling prophecies. Criticism, even when it’s meant to be constructive, always destroys some portion of a person’s self-esteem. Viewing any situation as half-empty, with a crack at the bottom, always interferes with our ability to carry on. To be successful, we have to find ways to recognize and celebrate our people and the journey we’re on together. Otherwise, we’re in for a difficult time of it, to be sure.

If anyone understood this critical dimension of success, it was Dean Smith, the legendary coach of Michael Jordan when he was at the University of North Carolina. When Smith stepped down as Carolina’s head coach on October 9, 1997, after 36 seasons, he had become the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history. What was his secret? It may be that he understood the true nature of success, which enabled him to enjoy and celebrate the process of playing the game more than any particular outcome.

“The reality of team competition,” Smith observes, “is that one team is always going to lose. You’re going to go out there and you’re going to lose. Now what do you define as failure? I worked hard to evaluate every possession on its own merit • did we get the shot we wanted? Did the other team get a shot we wanted them to take? We even kept score in scrimmages with that in mind. We gave points not for the baskets made, but for how well our players learned and played our game. We were trying to emphasize that it’s not the outcome, but it’s the process of each possession. Keep in mind that failure is not so terrible. I don’t think there’s been anyone who hasn’t learned from failure.”

It’s ironic that the winningest coach in college basketball history would remind us that failure is not so terrible. Every executive and manager, every parent and partner, every Board member and volunteer would do well to remember these words. Failure is not so terrible. Focus on the process rather than the outcome. Celebrate the learning and the playing, rather than the shots made and missed.

This has huge application to life and work. It frees us from an obsessive focus on the results. Somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose. That much we know. The question is how well do we learn and play the game? The better we do that, the more times we’ll end up going away with a victory.

In order to learn and play the game well, we need to relax and enjoy ourselves along the way. Constructive criticism adds tension rather than enjoyment to the game. As such, constructive criticism usually does more harm than good. In order to learn from failure, we need feedback that doesn’t set us back. We need a clear affirmation of our abilities and our efforts. We need the confidence that comes from knowing we have a winning strategy and a winning coach who believes in our abilities.

I saw that dynamic play itself out at the Baltimore marathon. There were about 30 people in my pace group and they counted on me to not only set the pace but to free the mind. For many, this was their first marathon ever. They were understandably nervous and intimidated by the prospect of running 26.2 miles. My job was to make sure they were never wrong, as they put away one mile after another. Helpful hints, stupid jokes, and heartfelt enthusiasm made for a successful experience along the way, straight through to the end.

Take that into the week ahead. Find ways to celebrate rather than to criticize the people around you and the flow of life. Don’t focus on the shortcomings and failures. Focus on the learning and the playing. When you change your relationship to the process, the results will take care of themselves.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


This week’s Provision on communication stimulated me greatly as I begin preparation for our Christmastime community-service at church. This year we already made early decisions and I will communicate with most of the leaders through e-mail. Everyone seems eager to do specific jobs and I believe it will go more smoothly than last year.


I have read a number of the archived Provision articles on your Web site, which I have on my PDA via AvantGo. They are very informative and empowering. I look forward to speaking with you about coaching.


I wanted to write a quick message to say that it was a pleasure running with you at the Baltimore Marathon. You were an inspiration to all of those who ran with you. I visited your Web site and found it very interesting. I have always been intrigued by the Life Coach idea. Good luck in your endeavors.


The service the volunteer pacers provide is one that people would pay for… it’s like having a personal coach at the event with you. It certainly felt that way with how you led our group. The volunteer pacers should all feel so great for taking the time out their own lives, their free time and their training schedules to help give novice runners like myself such an overwhelmingly positive experience. (Ed. Note: We do! Thanks.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #280: Communicate

Laser Provision


The world is different today. To be successful, a leader can no longer just set a course and order people around. People expect a different quality and quantity of communication. Be honest and redundant. When it comes to communication, there’s no way to do too much.

LifeTrek Provision


This past week I have been in Atlanta, attending the annual meeting of the International Coach Federation. As always, it has been a fun-filled time with lots of great opportunities to meet people, attend workshops, and hear excellent speakers. The theme of this year’s conference has been Partnering with People: Building Connections that Change the World. It has certainly lived up to that billing, with participation from people representing at least 18 countries.

As I listened to the speakers and presenters at this event, I was struck by how many practiced, with true artistry, the three cardinal rules of communication: tell them what’s you’re going to say, say it, then tell them what you said. In other words, like the three secrets of real estate (location, location, location), great speakers communicate, communicate, communicate.

The same can be said of successful people everywhere. They communicate early and often. This truth came home to me recently in another context, as I was the 4:30 pace team leader for the Baltimore marathon. Pace teams exist to assist runners who want to achieve a particular marathon finish time. The participants do not have to worry about whether they are running too fast at the start or too slow at the end. All they have to do is follow the leader.

The pace teams at the Baltimore marathon, ranging from 3:10 to five hours, were very well organized. Pace team leaders and participants alike knew exactly what to expect, beginning months before the event. As a result, everyone had a positive and successful experience. What made it work so well was communication. The organizer used email and snail mail to keep everyone up to date, informed, and appreciated. The communications were frequent and clear.

I’ve taken part in other pace team programs that were not as well organized. Occasional, delayed, or absent communication generates negative energy. Fewer people participate and there is less momentum from year to year. When people don’t know what to expect and what’s going on, they will not achieve their full potential. The lack of communication precipitates internal as well as external interference, which gets in the way of success.

Perhaps that’s why Lenny Wilkens asserts that communication is a key ingredient to successful leadership. Wilkens, an NBA coach with a strong record of accomplishment as well as the head coach of the gold medal winning Olympic men’s basketball team in 1996, observes that for coaches to be successful, “they’ve got to be able to communicate. They’ve got to be able to get everyone on the same wavelength.”

In this day and age communication goes beyond direction. Perhaps there was a time when people could get things done by barking orders. Leaders could get away with being autocratic. If that day ever was, it is no more. The changes in society have shifted what communication is all about, even when it comes to such traditionally hierarchical organizations as professional sports teams. The coach can no longer afford to be the boss.

Failing to understand that is part of why Bobby Knight, the quintessential dictator, got into so much trouble in Indiana. Wilkens, on the other hand, understands that “society in general and the athlete in particular are a little different today. Things have changed. Communication remains one of the keys in coaching. But today communication has to do more. It has to teach fundamentals, develop maturity, and build trust. If you build that trust, then people are receptive to what you’re talking about.” Without that trust, people will listen to nothing you have to say.

Anyone who wants to be successful in today’s world would do well to heed Wilkens’ advice. The powerful tyrant is out; the trustworthy leader is in. If we don’t communicate in ways that build trust, people will neither work for us nor with us. Things will degenerate into politics and resistance until people end up shooting down themselves, each other, and the things they care about.

How do we communicate as trustworthy leaders? We do it early and often, so people have the time to process the communication and influence the outcome. We do it clearly and openly, so people have the ability to understand the communication and provide feedback. We do it honestly and reliably, so people have the inclination to trust the communication and as well as the communicator.

When those ingredients are present, when they mark the communication quality of a leader, relationship, or organization, the chances for success go way up. More resources are brought to bear on the challenge at hand. Better ideas and strategies are generated. Morale can reach all-time highs. When those ingredients are absent, the chances for success go way down. Anger, fear, and confusion become an unfortunate part of everything that happens. More often than not, people end up failing to get the job done.

How will it be for you? If you want to be successful, communicate, communicate, communicate. In today’s world, there’s no other way to win.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I was in your pace group for the Baltimore marathon and wanted to say thank you! Your tips and tricks for hitting the hills, breathing easy, and maintaining pace were great and the jokes really kept everyone … groaning 🙂 It was my first marathon and I had a great experience. I dropped out of the group at about mile 21 when my head started spinning, but I still finished at 4:33 and was very happy with the time (luckily you mentioned your web address early in the race while my brain was still capable of absorbing info!). Thanks again and best of luck with your coaching practice. (Ed. Note: Thank you! Read more on the Baltimore marathon next week.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #279: Delegate

ings they’ve done. Treating your people with this kind of respect is what generates extraordinary effort and achievement.”

Did you capture the heart of delegation in Dorrance’s words? Delegation is not just giving someone a job to do. It’s involving them in the decision-making process. It’s making them feel important because they are important. It’s taking responsibility with them, rather than blaming them, when things aren’t going well. It’s praising and supporting them, regardless of the size of their contribution. It’s treating them with respect.

It behooves us to filter all our responsibility relationships through these five principles of delegation. Whether it’s something we’ve given our children, spouse, partner, subordinates, peers, or boss to do, we can enhance the power and effectiveness of that delegation by asking if they’ve been involved in the decision-making process, if they feel important, if we share the responsibility for failure, if we praise and support them, and if we treat them with respect.

When those five principles are operative, our delegation will not only be more successful it will also be more common. One reason that we do not delegate more responsibility, one reason that we drive ourselves crazy by keeping so much on our own plates, is that we fail to develop functional camaraderie. In the absence of trust and shared decision making, in a vacuum of responsibility and support, in a world of CYA and disrespect, delegation will not only never work well. It will also rarely even be tried. People will be off doing their own thing, hoping against hope that will somehow all come together in the end.

Does that sound like your home, workplace, or volunteer organization? It doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to learn how to delegate and to lead. Not only that, it is critical. Master the art of delegation and you will achieve your goals with less stress and more consistency. You will be well on your way to success.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I loved your “Be Enthusiastic” Provision. I would love to incorporate it into some of my coaching if that is OK with you. (Ed. Note: Permission granted! I’m glad to think that even more people will soon be packing this important provision!)


I’m with you in your comments about the debate in Congress over the Iraq situation. Byrd was eloquent. Congress might as well hang a sign out that says, “Out to Lunch.” So much for their oath to hold up the Constitution.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #278: Take Responsibility

Laser Provision


You can’t be successful without taking responsibility. But the question of responsibility is fraught with danger. Taking too much responsibility can cause as many problems as taking too little. This Provision assists you to accept, change, and know what you can do. It will make you more able to respond.

LifeTrek Provision


This week, the United States’ Congress debated and approved the use of military force against Iraq. Or did they? The Constitution of the United States is clear as to the balance of powers: the Congress decides whether to wage war, the President decides how to wage war. The resolution approved by Congress does not declare war against Iraq. It cedes that decision to the President, if diplomacy fails, in what some • most notably Senator Robert C. Byrd from West Virginia • have called an unconstitutional abdication of Congressional responsibility.

Regardless of what you may think about how best to handle the world situation, we would all do well to think about the question of responsibility (as Senator Byrd has exhorted). When people fail to step up to the plate, when they sidestep or avoid their rightful responsibility, they are ditching a critical strategy for success. Successful people take responsibility. They don’t take too much and they don’t take too little. They take what belongs to them, what they can do something about, and what they can make the most of.

If anyone understands the importance of taking responsibility, it’s Anson Dorrance, the women’s soccer coach at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, who I introduced you to in last week’s Provision. “Everyone on this team, coaches as well as players, takes responsibility for our success,” Dorrance observes. “We believe in maintaining a year-round fitness base, so we, as coaches, participate in that. We believe in striving to be the best you can be, so we try to do that in all parts of our lives.”

“And we also believe in taking responsibility for any loss. Any time our team loses, as a coaching staff, we take full responsibility. And what ends up happening, we feel over time, is that all of us collectively take responsibility for our failures. By so doing, we’re basically making a statement that we’re going to change and improve.”

“Too often, in not just athletics, but in all walks of life, everyone claims to either be a victim or blames their circumstances on something beyond their control. And as soon as you do that, you relinquish the opportunity to change your circumstances. If you want to be successful you have to take responsibility. And that starts with the coach, the leader of the team, as a role model.”

It happened again this past week as Dorrance’s number-one ranked team did something they’ve never done before: they lost their Conference opener. That was on Thursday night. On Saturday, they bounced back to win a hard-fought second Conference game, bringing their overall record for the season up to 11-1-2. Dorrance’s team was losing at half time. “I told my team at the half not to walk away without trying,” Dorrance says. “They really tried in the second half and in the overtime periods and they came away with the win.”

What a simple interpretation of taking responsibility: try. Although the notion of trying can be a copout and a game that we play with ourselves (“I’m trying to lose weight,” we say as we overeat.), it can also capture the wisdom of not being a helpless victim. Victims stop trying. Why bother to try if the outcome is beyond our control? Better to disassociate ourselves from the situation.

Winners try. They take responsibility. They embody the wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr’s now-famous Serenity prayer, written in 1932 during the Great Depression: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

In other words, winners take responsibility for what rightfully belongs to them and what they can do something about. They don’t take too much responsibility; they take just enough responsibility to catalyze a much larger reaction. In his excellent book, Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership, Joseph Jaworski writes about the problem of taking too much responsibility as the most vicious trap he faced in founding the American Leadership Forum.

“I began to feel I was indispensable to the whole process, that I was responsible for all the people involved, and that everyone was depending on me. The focus was on me instead of on the larger calling.”

What did this sense of over responsibility produce? A nervous wreck. “I began clamping down, working twelve-, fifteen-, and eighteen-hour days all week, and eventually on weekends as well. I would wake up in the middle of the night dripping with sweat, thinking of all the people whose jobs depended on me, and worrying about where the necessary operating capital would come from. I felt overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed, and eventually, my obsessive worry led to panic and anxiety attacks.”

How did Jaworski get out of this trap? A mental shift. “I had to learn to distinguish between concern and obsessive worry. I had to begin seeing things the way they really are: I am operating in the flow of the universe. I had to change the way I think in order for this trap to disappear.” In other words, Jaworski had to learn the wisdom of the Serenity prayer. It was not up to him to make things happen. It was up to him to participate fully in the unfolding of the universe.

That’s the irony of responsibility. It’s bad when you take too little and it’s bad when you take too much. But when you take just enough responsibility, when you have the wisdom to know the difference, you become the vortex around which life begins to turn. It’s not unlike the shift which happens in many athletic contests between the first and second halves. One team dominates until the other team takes responsibility. They try, try, again until they find something that works.

This isn’t so much about trying harder or smarter; it’s more about trying new strategies, especially when things aren’t going your way. It’s about the root meaning of the word “responsible” • being able to respond, being flexible in the face of adversity, being creative and experimental until something works. Too often, Jaworski notes, people get fixated on one particular game plan. They think they have to stick with the plan at all costs. That kind of all-or-nothing thinking leads to the problem of either over- or under-responsibility. And it often leads to failure.

Don’t let that happen to you. Take responsibility. Accept, change, and know what you can do. Chances are it’s more than you know and less than you think. When you make that mental shift • from being neither a victim who can do nothing nor a rescuer who can do everything to a response-able person who can do something — you’ll end up being ever more successful in the flow of life.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


There were no reader replies to be included this week.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #277: Humble Yourself

Laser Provision


This Provision includes a reflection from the winningest college coach of all time. Read on to find out who he is as well as the secret of his success. It’s not having super stars on the team. It’s cultivating a spirit of humility in which learning and sacrifice come first.

LifeTrek Provision


If I was to ask you to name the college coach who, after more than 20 years of coaching, has the highest winning percentage of all time, what name would you come up with? Chances are you would not come up with Anson Dorrance.

Who is Anson Dorrance? He is a world citizen, having lived in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Singapore, Belgium, and Switzerland as a youth. He is a husband and father of three children. He is a published author, including a book published this past summer entitled “The Vision of a Champion.” But all this pales in comparison to his real claim to fame: he is the head women’s soccer (or what the world outside of the USA calls football) coach at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Since taking over the program in 1979, Carolina has mounted a 520-23-13 record. That’s a staggering percentage of approximately 95%. No other college program in any sport has come close to such total domination, ever. “Anson’s accomplishments on the field are unparalleled. He may well be the single most successful coach in intercollegiate athletics,” says Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford.

So what’s the secret of his success? It will take us more than one week in this series on Ten Strategies for Success to plumb the depths of what this man knows. He certainly wouldn’t disagree with any of the strategies we have already gleaned from the other coaches featured in this series. No one can be successful if they don’t tell the truth, love the players, love the game, read their people, and be enthusiastic. These things are fundamental.

But Dorrance introduces a critical new dimension of success when he identifies the need to be humbled and humble. Here’s Dorrance in his own words:

“To be successful a team has to have a collective will,” Dorrance observes. “The best teams we’ve ever had here had a sort of collective power that was almost unbeatable. And we had this collective power, irrespective of talent. There were some teams with very average talent that collectively were just so overwhelming. That was the key. It’s tied into team chemistry, really. And it’s tied into a philosophy that we’ve encouraged from the beginning • the concept of playing for each other.”

“I think most people don’t understand this. Playing for championships or titles is very overrated. It always stuns me when someone outside our team fabric comes up before a critical game and assumes that the team’s going to be motivated because of the event.”

“In my experience, teams aren’t motivated for championship games; they’re motivated for each other. And the motivational factors go beyond the event they’re playing for. They basically relate to connecting with all the people that surround them on the team. Team chemistry is a critical element • perhaps the most critical element in a championship season.”

“That’s why the first thing we do, especially in my environment where we are losing and gaining players every year, is to reestablish the connection, the chemistry. It’s almost like a rite of passage for a new player to come in and be accepted by the group that’s won before.”

“For that to happen, every player that comes in really has to humble herself for the task. It’s impossible to be a consistent winner without humility. And a lot of the humility is accepting first of all that you can get better • the player herself, can get better, and also that you’re going to sacrifice yourself for the team.”

“So that’s really what happens in our preseason. When any player comes in, regardless of their accolades before they get here, there’s a wonderful humbling process as they realize the environment that they’ve entered. After that’s done, then almost the opposite occurs.”

“Once players and the group have been humbled individually, then we try to create a collective confidence where everyone plays a certain role to help the team win. That’s why it’s so critical for everyone in the organization to have a role and for everyone to be valued for their humanity. It’s not a hierarchy of talent within the team fabric; it’s a collection of human beings. Understanding that has been the key to our success.”

“Perhaps that’s why my greatest satisfaction in coaching has not been winning championships but just listening to what my players have to say. This was a real epiphany for me. Early on, I thought winning would make me feel on the top of the world. But even winning a world championship didn’t do that.”

“A few years ago, however, after our 400th win, a local radio station went around and interviewed all the players about their experiences on the team while playing for me and my staff. And the things they said were just absolutely overwhelming. I have never felt as exhilarated following something as when I finished listening to that tape. The things they said were incredibly connective, and they just made me feel unbelievable.”

That’s a very powerful statement which can be applied to any group project. The project will fail and the organization will suffer if the individuals lack humility. And what is humility? It’s the recognition that we have something to learn and that we may have to sacrifice ourselves for the good of the group.

Talk of the learning organization is all the rage these days, as consultants and systems theorists seek to assist their clients and constituencies with understanding and navigating the at times frantic pace of change. It is not often recognized that learning implies and requires humility. If I have something to learn, then I don’t know it all. May sound good • who doesn’t want to learn? • but it’s a blow to the ego all the same.

Sacrificing ourselves for the good of the project or the organization is an equally problematic dynamic. Once again it sounds good, but who • other than an extremist • wants to be a martyr? This one requires judgment in order to avoid being a stressed-out workaholic in the name of self-sacrifice and team spirit. It is possible for both learning and sacrifice to be a healthy part of leadership and life.

If you want to be successful, you would do well to consider the words of Anson Dorrance. Forget about “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” In the end, those do not win the day. Focus instead on the culture and chemistry of your group. An atmosphere of trust and commitment • where people play for each other more than they play for the prize • may produce more success than anyone thinks possible.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Thank you for the wonderful article on enthusiasm. Very interesting to know the true meaning.


Bananas may be a high-glycemic food (although they are hardly the highest) but they also contain fiber, iron, potassium, vitamins, and trypotophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier. They also help settle the stomach. There are many reasons to eat bananas! (Ed. Note: OK, the readers win. Eat bananas! I do.)


An old college friend sent me info on your organization, since I expressed interest in pursuing a training program in coach training. What do you folks think of other coach certification programs vs. programs accredited through the International Coach Federation? Please advise. Thanks. (Ed. Note: All LifeTrek Coaches have gone through ICF accredited programs, so we support and know those best. The field is too young and diverse, however, for the ICF to capture it all. I would check out the credentials of the individuals involved with alternative training programs.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #276: Be Enthusiastic

Laser Provision


To be successful we need to be enthusiastic in the face of adversity. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when everything is going well. But what about when things are going poorly? That’s when it’s more important than ever to be enthusiastic. Take it from one who knows. Take it from Tommy Lasorda.

LifeTrek Provision


The word “enthusiasm” first appeared in the English language in the year 1603, with a meaning derived from its Greek etymology • to be filled with God. Through four hundred years of use, the word has shifted to mean being filled with excitement for or interest in any subject or cause. Hence, enthusiasm has come to be associated with some of the greatest accomplishments as well as some of the greatest tragedies of history.

Understanding this irony full well, the very quotable Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed that, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” If you want to be truly successful at just about anything, you’re going to need to find enthusiasm for the task. That’s equally true whether it’s a solitary or group project. There’s just no way to successfully weather the ups and downs of life without enthusiasm. Because ups and downs there will inevitably be.

If anyone has understood and successfully worked this principle, it’s been Tommy Lasorda, the manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1976 to 1996 and of the gold-medal winning United States’ Olympic baseball team in 2000. “No matter how good you are,” Lasorda once said, “you are going to lose one third of your games. No matter how bad you are you are going to lose one third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

Lasorda understood that to be successful one has to manage the impact of the results on yourself and on your people. From day to day, there will be victories and defeats. That’s the nature of the game. That’s the nature of life. How we handle those victories and defeats, especially the defeats, determines the outcome of “the other third” • the ones that can go either way.

“When we lose,” Lasorda observes, “the most important thing is that when I walk into the clubhouse the next day, no matter how dejected or tired or depressed I might be, I have to put on a new face. I have to put on a winning face. I have to put on an enthusiastic face. I’ve got to put on a self-confident face, because if I walk into the clubhouse dejected, tired, and depressed, the attitude and the atmosphere of the clubhouse and the club is going to be that way. But if I go in with enthusiasm and self-confidence, all of those things are contagious, and I can help spread them.”

“I want everyone on this team to believe that we will be the world champions of baseball. If you believe it, then you will practice like a number-one team, and if you practice like a number-one team, then you’ll play like a number-one team. And if you play like a number-one team, that’s exactly where you’ll finish.”

“Motivation is very, very important as far as the leader of the team is concerned. I classify a leader as someone who walks out in front of his people, but who doesn’t get so far out in front to where he cannot hear their footsteps.”

“I believe that everybody in this country, at some time or another, needs to be motivated. Because there are times when we think we’re doing the best we can when, in reality, we aren’t. Something has to motivate us. Something has to get us to a higher degree of competition and a higher degree of performance.”

That something, Lasorda concludes, is not always power or money. “Even the President of the United States or guys making six million dollars a year sometimes need to be motivated.” That something is rather “love, respect, and a good personal relationship.” When things aren’t going well, that something is “an understanding heart.” In defeat, every manager or coach needs to understand that the players probably feel worse than anybody. If they don’t understand that, they will just make matters worse.

Lasorda takes his cue here from the biblical story of King Solomon, the paragon of truth, who asked God for “an understanding heart” when he could have had anything in the world. “An understanding heart” was the key to everything else. With that, nothing was beyond his reach. Without that, nothing was attainable.

Such understanding can only come from a place of deep wisdom and maturity. It is enthusiasm in the original and best sense of the word, of “being filled with God.” This is not a shallow backslap saying, “Hey, kid, things will get better.” Because they may get worse. This is a deep understanding of life, to know that it’s always worth getting up again and brushing yourself off after being knocked down.

Sometimes we get knocked down in our own individual pursuits. We set out to accomplish something, all by ourselves, and it just doesn’t work out. Only enthusiasm can help us hang in and overcome in the face of such discouragement. Sometimes we get knocked down in our group endeavors. Tasks and relationships get mired in politics, egos, and hostility. Only enthusiasm can see the silver lining behind such ominous storm clouds.

Are you enthusiastic? I hope so, because it holds the key to success. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when things are going well. We can hardly wait to face the day. Entire cities get swept up when a favorite sports team is winning. The same is true at work, when everything is purring along, or in our personal lives when everything seems right with the world.

But there’s more to enthusiasm than being optimistic and happy in the wake of success. That’s why I think the root meaning of the word is so important. No one is successful all of the time. In the real world, no one has the Midas touch forever. We need enthusiasm to carry us through those tough times, to motivate us, to pick us back up, and to generate that higher level of competition and performance. Tommy Lasorda knows how it works. And now I hope you do too.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Thank you for the use of your Bridge Line. It worked great. I appreciate what you’re doing, and what you’re modeling.


Hmmm, I need some help understanding why someone who runs marathons and advocates healthy eating choices would be taking a “handful of vitamins, minerals, and other supplements” on a daily basis. Care to share more detail? (Ed. Note: My research and experience indicate that supplemental vitamins, minerals, and herbs can optimize health. Athletes are in special need of antioxidants. In addition, certain health conditions suggest certain supplemental protocols. Watch these Wellness Pathways to learn more over time.)


“Read Your People” was an excellent provision!!! I keep in my PDA the likes, preferences and family members of people I’m interested in. The Chinese horoscope is also an alternative to understand the people around us. I never believed it until I tried • Argentina



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #275: Read Your People

Laser Provision


Does the “Peter principle” play itself out in your organization? Are people promoted to their highest level of incompetence? It doesn’t have to be that way. In this Provision, Coach Joe Gibbs of the Washington Redskins talks about the importance of learning how to read, position, and motivate people for success.

LifeTrek Provision


This week’s featured coach is Joe Gibbs, who at the age of 40 had never held a head coaching job. At that point, and in that profession, there was a good chance it might never happen at all. But a successful 1980 season as the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers made him the head coaching choice for the Washington Redskins in 1981. Two seasons later, Gibbs drove the Redskins to their first Super Bowl victory.

Let that be a lesson to us all! It’s never too late to be successful. Good work does not go unrecognized forever. Those who handle small things well end up being asked to handle bigger things. And those who handle big things well end up being asked to handle really big things.

When this continues indefinitely, we see the “Peter principle” coming into play: successful people keep getting promoted to higher levels of authority and responsibility until they end up being promoted just once too often, beyond their highest level of competence. Here they become more of a sticky problem than a star performer.

But it doesn’t have to work that way. The “Peter principle,” named after its formulator, Laurence J. Peter, describes a common but not inevitable scenario. People promote people. Knowing how to read people can help you position and motivate people so as to stop the “Peter principle” dead in its tracks.

That’s apparently what happened with Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins. When the owner and general manager decided to make Gibbs as the head coach, they saw something in him • let’s call it the right stuff • that would produce a ten-year dynasty with three Super Bowl victories. Interestingly, when Gibbs was later asked about the secret of his success he pointed to the same ability • you have to know how to read, position, and motivate people.

“You don’t win with X’s and O’s,” Gibbs observes, “you win with people. You’ve got to pick the right players to fit your system. That’s what makes a player great. It’s not just raw talent. It’s talent in the right role. That’s when the whole becomes a lot better than the part, and having a star. It’s very important the way everything fits together, and many times it’s the role player that for us was a real key. He couldn’t even play for somebody else, but we found a way to use him and let him do his one thing for us.”

Talk about stopping the “Peter principle” dead in its tracks! This man knew how to recruit and position people for success. A running back would not become the quarterback just because he was a great running back. Success in one area would not automatically lead to promotion in another area. Gibbs promoted people to their highest level of competence, and no further. The challenge is to keep people motivated to perform their best in those positions, day after day and season after season. Gibbs understood and rose to this challenge as well.

“To be successful,” Gibbs reflects, “we had to be able to lift people up at the right time and to knock them down at the right time. Chew their rear at the right time. There’s got to be a feel to that, and that’s one thing lots of times where we miss as coaches.”

“I tell people, it doesn’t matter how good they look, what kind of a coordinator they are, how well they are with X’s and O’s, what their background is. Because when they get shifted into that role of being a head coach, what they now have to be able to do, one of the most important things is to talk to the team, communicate to that team, and you’ve got to have a feel. It’s just a natural feel of when to get on them and when to back off; when they need to be lifted up. A team is a lot like a person. Sometimes they’re suffering from a lack of self-confidence. They just don’t think they can do it. You’ve got to be able to pick them up.”

“Sometimes, they’re over confident. You’ve got to be able to knock them down. Sometimes they need their butt chewed. You’ve got to chew it. And you can’t teach that in coaches. That’s not written someplace, and you’re not going to get that. You either have that with people, or you don’t. And if you don’t, you may reach a certain plateau, but I don’t think you’re going to be an exceptional coach unless you have that ability.”

To really defeat the “Peter principle” you have to learn how to read, position, and motivate your people. When you put people in the right place at the right time, when they know, deep down, that they have what it takes to handle a challenging job, when they embrace their position as the position from which they can make a great contribution, it’s easy to motivate them to give their very best. When you position people too high or low in an organization, they either end up filled with anxiety (because it’s too challenging) or with boredom (because it’s not challenging enough). That’s when motivation becomes a real problem and productivity dips.

So how do you apply this wisdom in order to become more successful in your own life? You learn how to read people. You don’t just learn how to assess their skills and character; you also learn how to read their emotional intelligence, behavioral style, and cognitive ability. You learn how to read their way of being in the world. Joe Gibbs thinks this can’t be taught. And he may be right about that. But it can be learned.

By identifying and paying attention to critical variables, most people can learn how to read people better. Listening is a habit that can be developed and improved over time. LifeTrek coaches often work with people in this regard. We don’t teach them to read people better; we simply assist them to better identify, pay attention to, and listen for the critical variables. We assist them to see a bigger picture. Once that happens, the learning curve ramps up and success is often right around the corner.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


This week’s issue was EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!! I like your suggestions to stay away from the Whites • they did a study and found in Canada that white flour led to “insanity” in rats. Hmm. Enough said. Anyway • the only one that seemed odd on the list was “banana” • high index or not • there are a great deal of benefits in the banana. Thanks so much for sharing • it was great! (Ed. note: I debated about throwing the banana into the list, because there certainly are benefits. But I wanted people to know that some fruits are high glycemic foods.)


Regarding your “White Flight #142” Wellness Pathway I would add that high glycemic index foods aren’t always bad guys related to health. In fact, there are times where a high glycemic index food is desirable…during and after endurance sports comes to mind where you need a quick boost of blood sugar and to speed the recovery process. As you know, bagels and bananas are staples at the finish line area of most endurance events. (Ed. note: Indeed, I do know about finish line food! Note, however, that protein is better after endurance sports, for recovery, while high glycemic foods are better during and before the event, for energy.


I enjoyed reading your weekly provision. Good motivating thoughts. Sometime back I delivered an inspirational speech here in Saudi Arabia entitled “The Pentagon Pyramid,” based on five important qualities required in life: “Practice, Passion, Persistence, Patience and Politeness.” Your last Provision, “Love the Game,” reminded me of what I said on passion:

Proverbs says, “He freezes who does not burn” and that speaks about the second aspect of my pyramid, i.e., “passion.” Passion is the tinder that ignites action. A man without passion is spiritually dead. He has no glow or spark within him. Do you know how peasants buy cattle? They simply lift the tail. The cattle who have no mettle in them offer no resistance. But those who have mettle jump at them in protest. The peasants choose the latter. Similarly, those who have no grit and passion within them are like rice soaked in milk, soft and cringing. No strength within! No capacity for sustained effort! No power of will. They become failures in life.


I have been enjoying LifeTrek on my Palm for the last year and love. It is a great inspiration!



May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #274: Love the Game

Laser Provision


To be successful, a person needs to love the game they’re playing (whatever game that may be). They need to love the whole game: winning, losing, and all the preparation that goes on before. This week our strategy for success comes from Pat Head Summitt at the University of Tennessee. No one loves the game more than her.

LifeTrek Provision


Last week I discovered something new about corporate e-mail systems. Their spam filters don’t like Red Auerbach! Whereas a kinder, gentler coach might have said, “Love the Players,” cigar-chewing Auerbach • with a flare for the dramatic • was inclined to put the matter this way: “Love the bastards.” He was actually making an important point. To be successful, we have to love our people even when they’re being a pain in the neck.

Unfortunately for some of you, when I put the word Auerbach chose in the Subject line of the weekly Provision, a few corporate spam filters rejected the e-mail because it had a prohibited word. Sorry about that folks! If you want to read last week’s Provision in its uncensored entirety, visit our Provision archive (Click)

Between last week’s Provision and this week’s, we capture two of the most critical elements to success in leadership and life. We have to both love our people and love the game. We need both compassion and passion. That’s a winning combination, each and every time.

If there’s any coach that embodies such a combination it’s Pat Head Summitt, the woman whose passion for the game launched the NCAA women’s basketball program into the modern era. When she started in 1974 at the University of Tennessee she was a mere graduate assistant and her pay was a stipend ($250 a month). She obviously she didn’t do it then, and she doesn’t do it now, for the money. She coaches college basketball • and continues to coach college basketball (rather than move to the pros) • for the love of the game.

“To be successful, year after year,” she puts it quite plainly, “you have to love the game. I have a tremendous passion for the game, for working with young people, and for winning. It’s something that motivates me to go out and work on a daily basis with individuals, and watch them develop • and to see their game, obviously, to see them get better, to see the results right there.”

“You get instant feedback in this profession. And I like that, whether it’s good or bad. We’re constantly being reinforced for what we’re doing on a daily basis. I love working with kids. I mean I just love it. If I was not coaching • and I’ve often wondered this • I’d be in a classroom somewhere. I’d be working with kids on a playground. I’d be, obviously, somewhere spending my time with young people. They give me energy. I just love it. It’s in my system so that’s why I keep on doing it.”

“Besides, I hate to lose. I do. I just absolutely get physically sick. It’s particularly bad when it comes down to something we can control • we being the players and the staff. If it’s effort, then obviously I’m upset with the players and everyone else. If it’s execution, I’m the first to take blame for that because that’s my job, to prepare to be ready to execute and to hope that a team will go out and respond.”

Now that’s someone who loves the game! To get physically sick when the game doesn’t go according to plan is to make the game part and parcel of your very being. Such passion sure motivates a person to get out of bed every morning, for the past 30 years and counting.

Notice that Summitt loves two dimensions about the game: getting better and winning. Both are important, because no one wins the game all the time • not even those who master all ten strategies for success. That’s why Summitt talks about loving the game • the whole game. By focusing not only on the end product, the so-called “thrill of victory,” but also on the developmental process, Summitt has figured out a way to love the game in good times and bad.

Do you receive the bad times in this spirit? Do you see them as opportunities for learning? Do you enjoy the lessons they have to offer? Or do they simply discourage you, as distasteful reminders of how you don’t quite measure up?

Unfortunately, many people experience setbacks and defeat in such strictly negative terms. There’s no joy over the opportunity to learn and grow. There’s only anger and despair over how anyone or any group could be so stupid. Stress levels rise exponentially. When deadlines and shots are missed, when contracts and games are lost, people at the top, who do not understand the opportunity, look for scapegoats while people at the bottom, who may not have the opportunity, feel the heat.

Stop the craziness; it’s time to get off! Successful people love the game. Of course, they love winning more than losing. And more often than not, they win. But when they lose, successful people enjoy the opportunity to rebuild, relearn, and retool. Ever wonder what keeps some of these coaching legends going, year after year, decade after decade? It’s not the money. It’s the challenge and the opportunity to pick up the pieces and move forward with new strategies, systems, and situations. They roll up their sleeves, go back to the drawing boards, and get to work, all for the love of the game.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I subscribe to Provisions through AvantGo. Might it be possible to allow forwarding by e-mail a single Provision or Wellness Pathway ? The tip on Alzheimer’s today would have been quite interesting to a friend who has a family history of the disease. She worries about having it herself, and might have been well served to learn of the seeming connection with excessive television watching. (Ed. Note: Every Wellness Pathway and every Provision (some 300 pages of content) is archived at our Web site (Click). Also, I would recommend that you subscribe by e-mail rather than just through your handheld device.)


Thanks for sharing your new audio about your company. I enjoyed hearing it and looking at all the goodies that you have online.


LifeTrek • What a discovery! I can’t wait to share this. You are a positive force. Keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to getting your newsletter regularly. Thanks so much.


Great Article about Red and his leadership style! Packed with wisdom!!! Thanks.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #273: Love the Bastards

Laser Provision


From this week’s title, you can bet we’re gleaning our next success tip from a “real coach.” This week we feature the words and musings of Red Auerbach, who coached the Boston Celtics to eight straight NBA championships (1959-66). How do you achieve such consistent and outstanding success? You love the bastards.

LifeTrek Provision


In 1999, master coach W. Timothy Gallwey spoke to the annual gathering of the International Coach Federation in Orlando, Florida. He gave one of the best speeches I ever heard on the art of coaching people to success and fulfillment in life and work.

At one point in the speech, he talked about the opportunity he had in the mid 1980s to participate in a panel discussion with three coaching legends on what athletic coaches could teach business leaders about motivating people and getting them to achieve their very best. In addition to Gallwey, the coaches on the panel were George Allen of the Washington Redskins, John Wooden of UCLA, and Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics.

Gallwey observed that these highly successful athletic coaches had apparently not thought much about how they did what they did. They just did it and they did it well. All they could come up with, as the interviewer pressed them repeatedly for wisdom, were anecdotes but no real principles for coaching people to the top. Finally, Auerbach, puffing on a cigar and getting increasingly frustrated, stopped the banter with the following remark, “How do I do it? Goddamn it, I’ll tell you how I do it. I love the bastards.”

At which point George Allen, an even meaner hombre than Red Auerbach, blinked in surprise and said to the interviewer, “Nothing we’ve said so far is important, until now.” Auerbach thought for a second and continued, “And I’ll tell you how I know that’s how I do it. Because five years later, after these guys are no longer on the team, they’re calling me up to tell me how things are going.”

That, Gallwey suggested in his speech, might be a good question for leaders to ask themselves if they want to make themselves, their companies, or their organizations more successful. How many people call you up, five years after they’ve left your operation, just to tell you how things are going?

If that sounds as though Auerbach wants you to make everyone you work with your friend, then you may be missing the point. In an interview with Billy Packer, Auerbach summarized the same recipe for success in very different words.

“The best advice I have,” Auerbach said,” is do some listening. Don’t be so domineering that you want to show and prove that you’re the boss every day. You’re a head coach, fine. Organize your staff. Do your job. But listen to people. Listen to people.”

“Don’t get to the point • and there are a lot of coaches that do this • where you absolutely have to prove that you’re in complete command at all times. And try not to hold grudges. If you get down on a player for anything specific that he’s done, call him in and talk to him. Lay it on the line. There’s no better way to do it than that. Just talk to him, but don’t hold grudges.”

“And don’t let the rules make you do something stupid. What you want is to have rules with no specific penalty laid out. That way you can apply punishments in a way that makes sense. I coached for 20 years and I only fined a guy once, five dollars. And I never collected it. I don’t believe in it. There are other ways, than to do that.”

“You’ve got get the players to owe you. Rather than antagonize them to show who’s boss, you have them owe you. You do them a favor without showing two sets of standards or anything like that. You do a favor for one. You do a favor for another. You do a favor and they owe you.”

“Also, you learn there are certain players you don’t yell at. Certain players, you don’t bawl out. Certain players, you know, you slap on the back • nice going. Some other players, not as much. But you study your players. You listen to people.”

Those are not the words of a buddy-buddy, everybody’s-my-friend kind of guy. Those are the words of a cigar-puffing coach who knows how to love. Listen to people. Don’t be a control freak. Don’t hold grudges. Use common sense. Do favors for people. Yell at the ones who need yelling at; compliment the ones who need compliments. Be an astute observer of your people in order to what they need and what motivates each one.

When I look at that advice in one sweep, I understand exactly why Auerbach put “love” and “bastard” into the same sentence. People are people. They can be ornery, obnoxious, and hard to figure out. But if you listen to them, really listen to them, and if you have enough sense to care for them in a way that respects their basic dignity as human beings and that touches a chord somewhere deep down inside them, then you will have a much better chance at getting things done and done well.

Think about your own opportunities to work with people. They may be in the home or in the classroom, in the office or on the playing field, in the board room or in the locker room, on a non-profit board or service club. Whatever the context, if you want to be more successful and fulfilled, you won’t go wrong if you heed Red Auerbach’s advice. Love the bastards. But watch out. Once you master the art, you may begin hearing from people in a whole new way.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services