Success On and Off the Court

In his 37 years as a head basketball coach at the University of North Carolina Dean Smith won more games then any other coach (879). He also won two national championships and had the coliseum on campus named after him. He was able to enjoy overwhelming success at a very competitive level because he had a philosophy that employed every step of the way.

In Dean Smith’s book, “The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons From a Life in Coaching,” written with Gerald Bell and John Kligo Dean outlines his strategies and why he was so successful.

Five of his core beliefs are so powerful that they can make an immediate difference in your business and in your life.

1. Embracing Change

As successful as Dean Smith was, he realized that change was a powerful force. “Even if you’re successful, you can’t keep doing the same things all the time,” he said. “You have different personnel, and there are always rule changes. You must be able to embrace change.”

Many times in business and in life we resist change. It is natural to want to do things the way you have done them in the past. After all, you probably have mastered that system. But, as elements around you change, you must change to stay competitive.

Think about technology for a minute. When the fax machine was first made available to the public I bought one for $3,500.00. My partner thought I was crazy. We acquired a new account that purchased over two million dollars a year because we could reduce production turn-around time due to being able to instantly receive orders over the fax.

Think back before email. Today most of us couldn’t be in the game without the ability of immediately communicating and transferring files through the Internet.

What changes are you fighting or resisting that if embraced could help you move forward? Make a list of three and then begin working on the first one.

2. Plan for the Future

Dean Smith liked to plan for the future. Instead of waiting for things to happen, he anticipated them and made sure he was ready. This forward sightedness was as very powerful trait.

When Smith knew that the rules were going to change, he would start recruiting the types of players who would excel under the new rules. He was ready while the other coaches were always playing catch-up.

Taking the time to look to the future and strategically plan will be the difference between a mediocre organization and one that explodes as new opportunities present themselves moving forward.

3. History is a Great Teacher

As a basketball player long before he became a coach, Smith accumulated many experiences. Some were positive. Others were not. His college coach used to pull a player off of the court whenever he made a mistake. Smith decided that he would rather applaud the player for trying something that was a good idea even if the execution wasn’t perfect. By rewarding the intent and effort, Smith’s players were more apt to keep trying to do the right things until they could perfect the needed skills. Playing it safe over time would not develop high-level players.

Looking back in your business, what has worked? What hasn’t worked? Are you still doing things that have not worked in the past? Are there sales, marketing, or business management ideas that have worked in the past that you should think about revisiting?

4. The Power of Positive Reinforcement

“You praise action you wish to see repeated, ” Smith said. “I don’t believe in phony praise. I believe hard work equals success equals confidence.”

When others on your team do well, let them know how you feel. But, here’s the key. Don’t limit “your team” to those employed by your company. The UPS delivery person is a part of your team. So is your bank teller, the associate at the office supply store, and your mail person.

You have many people in your day that can impact your performance. They can make your life easier and help make you look great. Let them know you appreciate their performance and that they are a valued part of your team!

5. Practice

Dean Smith feels that is crucial to success. Smith would break a game down into its components and then have his team practice each minor component until perfected. When a critical situation in a game came up Smith wanted to be able to huddle his players and say, “We’ve done this before in practice. Let’s go out and repeat it now.”

Do you practice your sales presentations? Have you isolated each objection you could possibly hear and then write a logical response for that objection? Do you map out how you will handle specific person-to-person situations so when they occur you’re prepared?

Work on these five potent concepts. Bring them into your business and into your life, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!


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