As Rick and I talked about our spring Newsletter, our thoughts kept bringing us back to “March Madness.” Sports metaphors and sports as a learning, growing, teaching experience energize us and encourage us to aspire to greatness.
At Evergreen, we love March Madness and what it represents. In this issue we’re going to do our best to “connect the dots” on the characteristics of March Madness and how we experience them everyday in our professional lives.
We’re especially excited about our “Guest Q & A” which will feature Head Coach Gary Williams of the University of Maryland Terrapins. Gary is an amazing person. He embodies all the characteristics of a Champion. He is a young “65” (March 4th). When the day comes and “Coach” has taken his suits to the dry cleaner for the final time, he will be praised and recognized as one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball. It’s been almost 40 years since Gary first cut down the net as head coach at Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, NJ. It was his first head coaching job as he led the team to the state title and a perfect 27-0 season. Thanks, Coach.
We all see March Madness through our own individual “lives.” We love the underdog storyline, the one where a sixteen seed takes on a number one seed, David and Goliath…, the George Mason team going to the Final Four. The best in class, Duke or Kansas, desperately trying to maintain the highest level of excellence for an entire season, hopefully culminating on April 8th in Indianapolis.
Whether your favorite team is the first to go to the dance, the first to go home, or the one that will be cutting down the net, here are some of the characteristics of the field of 64 that resonate with us.
Character: A good friend of mine has a favorite expression, “Character is non-negotiable.” You can’t have some character. It’s All In or it doesn’t count. Dale Brown, former head coach of LSU, who had one of the great college players, Shaquille O’Neill, said this about character, “If you spend too much time shining your image, you’ll tarnish your character, and your character is what you are.”
Confidence: Be Prepared! You might recognize this as the Boy Scouts Motto. Mike Krzyzewski, known to the basketball world as Coach K, wrote a fabulous book, “Leading with the Heart.” In it he talks about the secret to being confident is preparation. Through practice and repetition we can accomplish things we didn’t dream we could do.
Competitiveness: Remember the great expression, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog.” In organizations (especially the great ones), the team takes on the personality of the coach. The 2009-1010 Maryland Basketball team has been a great example. Look at Gary, look at his players. His enthusiasm and intensity and their energy and tenaciousness have been remarkable.
Champions: There can be only one and it’s never by accident. It’s the culmination of a journey where individuals working as a team, never quitting, doing the little things, believing and trusting each other, pave the way to the “goal.” “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” Everyone wants to cut down the net but not everyone is prepared to make the sacrifice. Spend a day with a great company, a great sports team. Take note of their character, their confidence, their competitiveness. It’s easy to understand why they’re best in class. Champions.
Have a great Spring!
Mike and Rick