12 leadership tips I learned from a sport I never played

When a colleague sang the praises of Jay Wright’s book, Attitude, I was mildly interested because I typically devour business books. I wasn’t sure, however, if the story of the 2015 – 2016 Villanova Wildcats and their NCAA victory was for me. While I trusted the book delivered on its subtitle, Develop a Winning Mindset On and Off the Court, I did not feel I needed to add to the pile of books I had accumulated on my nightstand.

That changed when I asked my colleague if my high school classmate, Father Rob Hagan, was mentioned in the book. “Are you kidding?” he said. “Father Rob is mentioned throughout. The book is about more than basketball.”

At that point, I became very interested in the book. I did not know Rob well in high school but I remembered he was a smart student, and in recent years I learned that he had left his legal career to enter the priesthood. I found that admirable. I was curious to discover how he blended life experience with religious study to lead the men and women of Villanova U. So, I purchased the book and began reading it until life got in the way and it sat atop the pile on my nightstand.

About a month later, I received an email from my alma mater, asking if I’d participate in their Adopt-A-Book Program. This would entail choosing any book I wanted for advancing sophomores, juniors, and seniors to read, and then being a guest-lecturer for a class period in the fall. As part of their summer reading, each student would have to choose one book from the Adopt-A-Book list. On the day the dozens of choices were made available, students would have to decide quickly lest they risk a book “closing,” as participation was limited to a few dozen for each guest.

What a decision I had before me: should I choose Orwell, Thoreau, or go with an author that might prepare the students for business like Dale Carnegie or Napoleon Hill? Any one of those authors would have been fun for me but I wasn’t sure they would appeal to the students, and the purpose of the program was to entice kids to read.

Then it hit me. Why not Jay Wright’s book? The subject would definitely appeal to a lot of teens, and this would force me to work more reading time into my schedule.

To my surprise and delight, I was told my book closed in less than five minutes. In other words, some forty students signed up to read Attitude out of the gate. If they happen to read this article, they’ll get a sneak peek into some of the discussion points I plan to address this fall.

Admittedly, I’m confused by some of the basketball terminology but that really doesn’t matter. Like any of the fabulous business books I’ve read, Jay imparts nuggets of wisdom that any reader can apply to life, and many of these nuggets are direct quotes from Fr. Rob. I am impressed by the character of the young men who have participated in Jay’s program and the philosophy that guides Jay’s coaching.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” This famous quote from motivational sales speaker and author Zig Ziglar explains why constant edification is so important to individual and organizational success, which is why I’m eager to share a dozen of my favorite takeaways from Attitude: Develop a Winning Mindset On and Off the Court. I look forward to reading your favorite takeaways, too.

  • Attitude is the one thing you can control.
  • To be a great player, you have to be strong enough to live with the consequences when the shots don’t drop.
  • Be present. Be honest.
  • There is a sunrise after every sunset. Eventually, you’ll see the lessons you’ve learned from disappointments.
  • “Where you have grown pleased with yourself, there you shall remain. Keep pushing forward.” Fr. Rob quoting St. Augustine
  • Put God first in all that you do, and other things will fall into place.
  • What you do speaks so loudly, we can’t hear what you say.
  • To keep growing in any line of work, you must keep evolving.
  • Actors play to the crowd; players play for their teammates and coaches.
  • Emotional IQ is one of the most critical factors in someone being a good teammate.
  • No one knows your team better than your team itself. Don’t be afraid to hand over control to those you lead. Your trust in them will bolster their confidence and yours too.
  • “Keep on being you. Our lives are more than what the world tells us is important.” Fr. Rob
Lorraine Ranalli

Lorraine Ranalli

Lorraine Ranalli is Chief Storyteller & Communications Director, as well as published author. Her most recent work, Impact: Deliver Effective, Meaningful, and Memorable Presentations, is a pocket book of public ... Web: LorraineRanalli.com Details

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