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

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