Avoid Jumping To Conclusions

Jumping to conclusions is something we are all very good at. We see something and we make an assumption. We may be right or we may be wrong. The video below is compilation of advertisements from Ameriquest from a few years ago. Very funny clips but also very important reminders that things are not always what they appear to be. In today's rush to judgment world where throngs of people provide instant condemnation through various social media outlets it is important that you are as leader remain above the fray.

The Coaching and Leadership Journal 
Volume One--2013 Back Issues

This lasting material is a terrific resource and will be a great addition to your professional library. Whether you are subscriber or you simply want to have a full year’s worth of our motivating leadership reports all in one place, you can order the entire 2013 season.

Learn more about our Journal

Success Tips

Have a burning desire. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, said, “The starting point of all achievement is desire. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”

Build the discipline to do what is difficult, what is scary, and what is risky. Working hard with no promise of being paid. It’s the faithfulness in fulfilling the little uncomfortable things along the way that separate those who succeed and those who don’t.

Surround yourself with doers. Jim Rohn says "you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." If your friends are ambitious people of action who don’t make excuses, you’re likely to follow suit.

Dream better dreams. If your dreams don’t spur you forward, then they’re not worth keeping around. If your dreams don't make you excited about possibilities then, it’s time to trade your old dreams in for some better ones.

Thoughts On Turning A Dream Into Reality

There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.
--Douglas H. Everett

The only thing worse than starting something and failing is not starting something.
--Seth Godin

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.
--Paulo Coelho

Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.
 --Napoleon Hill

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
--T. E. Lawrence

Anyone can dream, but few will put in the work to see those dreams come to fruition. Dreams give an illusion of ambition without the discomfort of risks and effort. Dreams are safe in your head. That’s why few dreams ever see the light of day. You might be waiting for your stars to align when you actually have the ability to move the stars yourself.

Dream On!


How To Avoid Discouragement From The Happiest Girl In The USA

Donna Fargo is a country singer-songwriter from Mount Airy, North Carolina who is best known for a series of Top 10 country hits in the 1970s including Happiest Girl In The Whole USA. 
  1.  Look at life as a journey and enjoy the ride.  Get the most out of the detours and realize they're sometimes necessary.
  2.  Do your best, but if what you're doing has caused you discouragement, try a different approach.  Be passionate about the process, but don't be so attached to the outcome.
  3. Wish the best for everyone, with no personal strings attached.  Applaud someone else's win as much as you would your own.
  4. Trust that there's a divine plan, that we don't always know what's best for us.  A disappointment now could mean a victory later, so don't be disappointed.  There is usually a reason.
  5. Ask no more of yourself than the best that you can do, and be satisfied with that.  Be compassionate towards yourself as well as others. Know your calling, your gift, and do it well.
  6.  Don't worry about something after it's done; it's out of your hands then, too late, over!  Learn the lesson and move on.
  7. Have the attitude that no one, except you, owes you anything.  Give without expecting a thank-you in return.  But when someone does something for you, be appreciative of even the smallest gesture.
  8. Choose your thoughts or your thoughts will choose you; they will free you or keep you bound.  Educate your spirit and give it authority over your feelings.
  9. Judge no one, and disappointment and forgiveness won't be an issue.  No one can let you down if you're not leaning on them.  People can't hurt you unless you allow them to.
  10.  Love anyway. . . for no reason. . . and give. . . just because.

Tom Izzo On Specialization

Tom Izzo thinks we have taken aways the crucial formative years from the ages 12-21 and distorted them. "We obsess over career paths; play one sport, study one subject, focus on one goal," he says.

He would rather see athletes play three sports and play fewer games in the summer. "You’re not getting quite as good maybe, but you’re more well-rounded. We’re putting so much pressure on these kids. And it’s not just athletes. I saw a TV segment on a 15-year-old who went to Harvard and I felt bad for her. How will she ever have a life? "

--Adapted from sportsillustrated.com


Is Arguing With Passion The Most Effective Way To Persuade Opponents?

Passion may hurt you more than help you in your next disagreement. Passion, often highly prized by leaders, may actually work against that leader if he or she is trying to reach out to someone who may not agree with them. That’s a conclusion of new research into persuasion by a pair of university academics and reported by Shankar Vedantam of NPR.
This new research into persuasion really is confirmation of what all good leaders do when seeking consensus; they first seek to understand what the other is thinking and why they are thinking it.

To become more persuasive consider these three questions:
  1. How does the other person see the world? This question addresses the other person’s value system.
  2. How can I frame my argument in terms my opposite understands? Relate your values to the others. When you scratch the surface many people can agree on what is good for others – love, security, opportunity and integrity.
  3. How can we find common ground? Know what you know about the other person you have a foundation upon which to build your argument. Focus on the values the other person holds and relate them to values you hold.
--Adapted from npr.org

Components To Coaching Mental Toughness

Design practice environments that stretch athletes just beyond their comfort zone. Some reports suggest that placing athletes in activities that are 4% beyond their current skill level is just the right amount of ‘stretch’.

Ensure the proper amount of stretch by making workouts ‘hard fun.’ A hard fun practice includes novelty, unpredictability, and complexity, and strikes the right balance between an athlete’s current skill level and demands of the training activity. Training that includes these characteristics prevents complacency, boredom, and off-task thinking and behavior.

Arrange high failure, pressure training conditions that increase athletes’ pattern recognition and decision-making ability. It is normal for athletes to fear failure. Yet, it is widely recognized that failure is a normal and critical ingredient for achieving long-term success. The most successful coaches deliberately create training environments where failure is inevitable. Steven Kotler, in his book The Rise of Superman, aptly refers to it as “the ability to keep cool when all hell breaks loose.”

Support and encourage athletes through the struggles they will face in a very challenging training environment. Simply putting athletes in unpredictable, high failure training activities without a clear plan for providing strategic feedback will only lead to heightened anxiety and frustration. Before placing athletes in high pressure training situations, be sure to plan for how and when to provide feedback and support. The simplest and most effective way to recognize small gains and athlete effort is to give regular and immediate feedback.

Counter-balance high pressure practice environments with fun and predictable activities. The path to excellence rests equally on ability and durability. The gains achieved from training under pressure will quickly be lost unless practice activities also are included that allow athletes to recover and prepare for the next challenge.

--Adapted from asep.com


Championship Behaviors

Brett Ledbetter interviewed college basketball coaches and in his book What Drives Winning he compiled a list of performance skills deemed critical to winning.
  • Hardworking: they pay the price with effort.
  • Competitive: thestrive to be their best at all times.
  • Positive: They remain positive especially during critical times.
  • Focused: They eliminate distractions.
  • Resilient: They bounce back from setbacks.
  • Confident: They trust in themselves and their teammates.
  • Enthusiastic: They express enjoyment and know that enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Disciplined: They remain in control.
  • Curious: They are always eager to explore and learn more.
  • Creative: They have an open mindset.
  • Motivated: They demonstrate strong purpose and desire.
  • Courageous: They express fortitude in face of challenges
  • Accountable: They take responsibility for own actions.

A Few Insights About Anson Dorrance

Anson Dorrance is the winningest team sport coach in collegiate history with a  92% winning percentage in the past 41 years coaching the University of North Carolina’s women’s soccer team.  In 2009, Dorrance became the first coach in NCAA history to win 20 championships coaching a single sport. Here are some excerpts from a 2016 interview with Dr. Wade Gilbert:
  • Constantly grow as a coach. “I want my life to be one of never-ending ascension” Coach Dorrance loves to learn. He regularly attends coaching and leadership seminar  both as a speaker and as attendee
  • His approach to learning reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, “When one person teaches, two people learn.” He shared that one of the reasons he so enjoys speaking at events is that it gives him an opportunity to learn through the questions that are posed to him. The questions keep him sharp and force him to explain and reflect on how he coaches. He firmly believes that he grows as a coach each time he answers a question.
  • He is a voracious reader, always on the search for a great book on leadership or coaching. Early in his career he identified five great coaches and selected the five most prominent qualities of each. He then used these qualities to create his own model of effective coaching that became the foundation for his coaching philosophy.
  • He keeps a comic strip from Calvin & Hobbes (his favorite) on his office door that reinforces constant growth. In the strip the main character shouts out “I want my life to be one of never-ending ascension” 
  • He acknowledges that he certainly has evolved as a coach over his career and continues to evolve as he recently past the 40 year mark of coaching. For example, at the start of his career he viewed athletes as chess pieces that he controlled in a giant chess match with an overriding goal of winning. His mindset has changed over time and he now places much greater emphasis on building meaningful connections with his athletes and developing successful people through soccer.

--Adapted from asep.com


Two Terrific Thoughts From Chuck Daly On Coaching and Loyalty

  • Coaching is like flying an airplane. There’s going to be a lot of turbulence. Your job is to land the plane safely.
  • Some nights, you got to lose with your star player. You don’t always win with him. You got to lose with him. So if Isiah Thomas had lost the game for us tonight, that’s okay because he has won me a lot of games. So I’m going to stay loyal to him even if he’s having a rough night.


What The Best Does Better Than Everyone Else

  1. The best know what they truly want. At some point in their lives, the best have a “Aha!” moment when their vision becomes clear. Suddenly they realize what they really, truly want to achieve. They find their passion. When that happens they are ready to pay the price that greatness requires.
  2. The best want it more. We all want to be great. But the best of the best are willing to do what it takes to be great. The best don’t just think about their desire for greatness; they act on it. They work hard and do the things that others won’t do, and they spend more time doing it.
  3. The best are always striving to get better. They are always looking for ways to learn, apply, improve, and grow. They stay humble and hungry and are lifelong learners.
  4. The best do ordinary things better than everyone else. For all their greatness, the best aren’t that much better than everyone else. They are simply a little better at a lot of things. They work hard to master the fundamentals. They don’t do anything different. They just do the ordinary things better.
  5. The best zoom focus. The best focus on what matters most and tune out distractions. Distractions are the enemy of greatness and the best don't let distractions get in the way of their growth and improvement.
  6. The best are mentally stronger. Life is not a sprint or a marathon. It’s a series of sprints combined with a boxing match. You’re not just running; you are getting hit along the way. The best are able to overcome adversity and challenges. with mental and emotional toughness.
  7. The best overcome their fear. Everyone has fears. The best of the best all have fear, but they overcome it. To beat your enemy, you must know your enemy. Average people shy away from their fears. They either ignore them or hide from them. However, the best seek them out and face them with the intent of conquering them.
  8. The best seize the moment. When the best are in the middle of their performance, they are not thinking “What if I win?” or “What if I lose?” They are not thinking “What if I make a mistake or miss the shot?” They are not interested in what the moment produces but are concerned only with what they produce in the moment. The best define the moment rather than letting the moment define them.
  9. The best tap into a power greater than themselves. The best are conductors, not resistors. When the best look back on their life and accomplishments they know they didn't accomplish it alone. They know a higher and greater power guided and fueled them on their journey.
  10. The best leave a legacy. The best live and work with a bigger purpose. They leave a legacy by making their lives about more than them.
  11. The best make everyone around them better. They do this through their own pursuit of excellence and in the excellence they inspire in others. One person in pursuit of excellence raises the standards of everyone around them. And as they strive for greatness they bring out the greatness in others.
--Adapted from Training Camp by Jon Gordon


TEACH Your People Through Difficult Times

The following comes from "Be A People Person," by John Maxwell: 

What can you do to help people with their problems? First of all, encourage them to face their problems. Too often people would rather flee them, fight them, or forget them. Second, encourage them to solve their problems. Use the following acronym to teach yourself to help other people with difficulties.

Tell them it takes time.

Expose yourself to their problems in order to relate to them.

Assure them of your confidence in them.

Creatively show them how to deal with their problems.

Hope offered to them through the process.

Five Attributes Of True Competitors

The following was written by Florida State Associate Head Coach Stan Jones, the longest tenured assistant coach in the ACC.

It has been my experience from coaching at all different levels, the teams with the most talent win a high percentage of all games, but if you evaluate their roster, you also find the team with the most competitive talent wins the championship. There are five attributes that I have observed over my career in true competitors:
  1. They play at the same level every game.
  2. They handle mistakes – their own and the mistakes of others.
  3. They show enthusiasm and desire for every game.
  4. They are the team catalyst.
  5. They never quit, no matter what.

Play at the same level every game: This behavior is easily observable but what most people aren’t able to see is that they play that way almost every day in practice. The year I coached in the NBA, veteran coach Johnny Bach, told me how when he was coaching the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan would not ever let his team have a bad practice. He demanded everything be competitive and got more focused if it appeared the coaching staff was stacking the competition against him. I truly believe this saying that I tell our players continually, “Good players show up in big games, the best players show up in every game.”

Handles mistakes – his own and those of others:  My dad always told me that the best lessons in life were learned from your own mistakes. But he also added to that, that a person will not live long enough to make enough mistakes to prepare themselves for great success so the truly great successes were wise to observe and to learn from the mistakes those around them were making. Legendary football coach,Jimmy Johnson once said, “A losing team looks for excuses. A championship team looks for solutions.” And I truly believe when you lock in on studying great competitors you will see a different look in their eyes and with their countenance that ‘ok’, you got me on that one but let’s see what happens on the next play. I also believe that when a teammate makes a mistake the great competitor knows how to channel that mistake toward the betterment of himself and the betterment of his team.

Shows enthusiasm and desire for the game: It has been my experience that the great competitors truly love the game and rarely get enough of it. They are constantly watching others play. They cannot go too many days with working on their own game.  And when you watch them play, you can see that they are purely passionate and take great enjoyment from being in the competition. I tell our players all the time, the great entertainers before a performance, no matter how many nights they were on the road, before the curtain went up found a way to get amped and loved putting on a show for their audience. They took no performances off because of the love of their craft and not wanting to let down anyone who would take time to come be a part of their performance.  Vince Lombardi put it like this, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength or a lack of knowledge but rather a lack of will and desire.” I agree with the old Packer coach!

Is the team catalyst: The dictionary defines the word catalyst as, a person or thing that precipitates an event or change.  As well as a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.  I don’t think I have ever seen a great competitor who was unwilling to step to the front to do what it took for his team to be in a position to win. A great moment that I observed,  happened in the ACC tournament back in the 90’s when Wake Forest was locked up in a classic battle with North Carolina that would determine the conference champion. Deacon great, Randolph Childress was having a terrific game and during the overtime period one of his teammates took somewhat of an ill-advised shot that caromed out of bounds leading to a time out. And as the camera panned to head to the commercial, Childress is shown talking to his teammate and you can read his lips as he said, “Give me the ball and I will decide if we win or lose.” That comment took the pressure off his teammate and they went on to win the game for the ACC title. A great quote to share with a player you have that is growing into a catalyst was said by NBA player, Shane Battier, “One day I had an epiphany. I said to myself yes I am different. But instead of that being a bad thing I can have the best of both worlds. I learned to love to be unique.” Words of a great competitor.

Never quits, no matter what:  Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said, “The difference between average teams and the very good teams is that good teams do not surrender to fatigue.”  That is also true of great competitors. They have a motor that does not let them get tired, either physically or mentally. In fact, when the struggle gets this most intense or the more desperate, great competitive people find almost a superhuman resolve. They become more resilient to adversity and more inspirational to the people they are in the battle with. When you find this characteristic in your team or in one of your team members, cherish it. It is the rarest of all the characteristics of great competitors. This never say die attitude usually carries a team through those moments in tournament play where you are taking the very best shot of your opponent and you have to find a way to survive and advance. Look back on those championship seasons you have enjoyed, you will find this characteristic will jump out at you along the journey of that season and it will bring a smile to your face.

So having said all that, I truly believe competitiveness is a talent. I do believe that it can be developed but that process must start at a young age. In today’s basketball, I think we are losing some of this talent due to the playing of too many meaningless games with no emphasis being placed on becoming competitively great. My challenge to those coaches reading this blog is to lead by example with your own competitive spirit and by developing a teaching method in your program that demands your team members to maximize their competitive talent. Be the best!

---Stan Jones

Want back issues of our Journal? We are pleased to announce you can now have every issue from 2013 in one book. This lasting material is a terrific resource and will be a great addition to your professional library. Whether you are subscriber or you simply want to have a full year’s worth of our motivating leadership reports all in one place, you can order the entire 2013 season.

The Coaching and Leadership Journal 

Volume One--2013 Back Issues

John Maxwell's 5 Levels of Leadership


The lowest level of leadership—the entry level, if you will—is Position. It’s the only level that requires no ability or effort to achieve. After all, anyone can be appointed to a position! While nothing is wrong with having a leadership position, everything is wrong with relying only on that position to get people to follow. That’s because it only works if you have leverage (such as job security or a paycheck) over your followers. At Level 1, people only follow if they believe that they have to.

People who remain on the position level may find it difficult to work with volunteers. Why? Because position does not automatically result in influence, and volunteers are aware that they don’t have to follow anyone. They truly only follow if they want to.

But the news is not all bad about this level. It is a prime place for you to begin investing in your growth and potential as a leader. Use your time at this level learning to lead yourself – through priorities and self-discipline – and you’ll be ready to move to the next level.


Level 2 is based on relationship. At this level, people choose to follow because they want to. In other words, they give the leader Permission to lead them. To grow at this level, leaders work on getting to know their people and connecting with them. You can’t lead without people, which means you need to learn to like people if you want to lead well!

When you like people and treat them as individuals who have value, you begin to develop positive influence with them. Trust grows, which usually leads to respect. And the environment becomes much more positive—whether at home, on the job, at play, or while volunteering. Level 2 is where solid, lasting relationships are built that create the foundation for the next level.


The best leaders know how to motivate their people to GTD – get things done! And getting things done is what Level 3 is all about. On this level, leaders who produce results build their influence and credibility. People still follow because they want to, but they do it because of more than the relationship. People follow Level 3 leaders because of their track record.

The Production level is where leaders can become change agents. Work gets done, morale improves, profits go up, turnover goes down, and goals are achieved. The more you produce, the more you’re able to tackle tough problems and face thorny issues. Leading and influencing others becomes fun, because when everyone is moving forward together, the team rises to another level of effectiveness.

It’s important to note here that the goal with the 5 Levels is not to move away from one level to grow at a new level. Instead, these 5 levels of leadership build upon each other. In other words, Level 3 leaders still need to do the things that make Level 2 happen. They just add Level 3 strategies to the mix. And as they become effective at Level 3, they are ready to layer on the goals of the next levels.


Level 4 can be summed up in one word: reproduction. Your goal at this level is to identify and develop as many leaders as you can by investing in them and helping them grow.

The reason is simple: When there are more leaders, more of the organization’s mission can be accomplished. The people you choose to develop may show great potential for leadership, or they may be diamonds in the rough, but the main idea is the same: When you invest in them, you can reproduce yourself.

The more you raise up new leaders, the more you will change the lives of all members of the team. As a result, people will follow you because of what you’ve done for them personally. And as an added bonus, some of those mentoring relationships are likely to last a lifetime.

So to grow at the people development level, you need to make investing in leaders a priority, and take intentional steps every day to help them grow. Do that consistently, for long enough, and you may begin to reap the rewards of the next level.


The highest level of leadership is also the most challenging to attain. It requires longevity as well as intentionality. You simply can’t reach Level 5 unless you are willing to invest your life into the lives of others for the long haul. But if you stick with it, if you continually focus on both growing yourself at every level, and developing leaders who are willing and able to develop other leaders, you may find yourself at the Pinnacle.

The commitment to becoming a Pinnacle leader is sizeable, but so are the payoffs. Level 5 leaders develop Level 5 organizations. They create opportunities other leaders don’t. They create a legacy in what they do. People follow them because of who they are and what they represent. In other words, their leadership gains a positive reputation. As a result, Level 5 leaders often transcend their position, their organization, and sometimes their industry.