Greetings. I don't write about sports very often even though I am a serious sports fan. And I rarely use sports analogies in my work even though I believe that sports offer important lessons for success in business and life. And I rarely ever quote the coaches of top teams even though they are often exemplary leaders with important things to say. Maybe it's because I realize that a significant percentage of readers and participants in my seminars and speeches are not sports fans and I don't want them to dismiss my ideas because they can't relate to sports.
But the remarkable story of the Butler University Bulldogs, who play tonight in the college basketball championship game against UConn (i.e., the University of Connecticut), is worth noting for several important reasons. Because it's a story about values, leadership, teaching, teamwork, grace and skill under pressure, and the genius in everyone. And that should be of interest to practically everyone who tunes in to this blog.
It seems that the heart of Butler's success in basketball over the past several years has not been a star player or players–though the team is not lacking for talent, but rather a set of values that are known affectionately as "The Butler Way." Five core principles that frame the way that players are recruited, coached, developed, and educated as team members and as people. And that frame how they interact with each other and everyone around them. These "core" values are passion, unity, servanthood, humility, and thankfulness–and they provide a clearer and more compelling framework for success than one might ever imagine seeing for a basketball team, corporation, or any organization doing work that truly matters. But more importantly, they are lived by everyone who has anything to do with the basketball team. And they are embodied by a coach with such high integrity that there is never a question about how to behave.
Passion. Unity. Servanthood. Humility. Thankfulness. And whether or not the Butler Bulldogs win tonight's game, they have changed our understanding of how to compete in basketball or any other highly-competitive "arena." And, in the process, they have created a legacy of what it means to unlock the true genius in each other.
We win in basketball, business, and life when we follow a set of values that matter. And when we challenge ourselves to believe in the real power of teamwork.
Cheers and enjoy the game!