The Coach's Corner

Three life lessons learned from team sports

March 17th, 2014 // Tom Doescher // 2 Comments

Recently I (Tom) was asked by a former Plante Moran colleague, Brian Kirby, to give a locker-room pep talk to the Sacred Heart School’s eighth-grade boys basketball team. After thinking about it for awhile, I realized that almost every week I find myself in a situation where I draw upon my team sports experience from decades ago. When it came time to meet with them, I told the student athletes that although their focus today is appropriately on basketball, the lessons they are learning will make them successful in life. The following are the three lessons I selected to highlight:

  1. Set goals and prepare. Those of you who regularly read our blogs know we are obsessed with being focused. I asked the student athletes if they were familiar with the famous line from Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” We also discussed the concept of “deliberate practice” from Geoff Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated, and the importance of practicing.
  2. Put the team’s interests first (as the cliche goes, there is no “I” in team). I told the young men that in so many companies today — like Google, Apple, etc. — associates frequently work on global project teams with co-workers who speak different languages and come from different cultures. The lessons they are learning from Coach Kirby at Sacred Heart are preparing them to be successful in today’s collaborative world.
  3. Win and lose gracefully (i.e., learn to overcome adversity). We discussed celebrating their victories appropriately and learning from their defeats, but never giving up.

Fortunately for me, this was a very mature group of 13-year-old young men. I could tell that thanks to the tutelage of Coach Kirby, their parents, and their school, these guys get it already!

I left really encouraged about the future generation and, as often happens, I may have learned more from them than they did from me.

Have you learned these three life lessons? Are you applying them in your company?

2 Responses

  1. Brian Kirby says:

    Thanks Tom. The boys really enjoyed your visit and it gave them some things to think about as they get old like you and me!

  2. Tim Cain says:

    Tom and Brian,
    Awesome stuff. Let me add that parents should also learn from their child’s experience on a team. As a youth sports coach, too many times I witness a parent reacting in an “unsportsmanlike” manner at an official’s call. This sets a terrible example for our young athletes. Especially as it relates to taking control of what you “can” control in your life. An official’s “bad call” is certainly not one of them. Winning and losing gracefully not only in the end result of the athletic event, but for each play, call, goal, out, score, etc. Thanks again guys!

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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