Mentors and Team

Mar 7, 2016 by


In an article in Success Magazine Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Affectionately known as Coach K), head coach of famed Duke University men’s basketball team, was interviewed about last year’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship season. Arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time, Coach K shared the challenges as well as the celebration and team effort to win it all.

For many of us we know that none of us get anywhere by ourselves. We really do need one another. Often we forget that we “made it” only by the help and investment of others in us and alongside us.

Team, helping one another on the journey, is important in the sports, business, AND family world.

Following are some excerpts from the article that not only show some amazing motivational and leadership skills, but also the importance of understanding “no one goes it alone.” A team effort in life is needed, as well as for us to remember who helped us get there. I have inserted a few thoughts/questions to make it applicable lessons for us (there are so many from this story)…

“In late January, for the first time in his 35 years running the Duke program, he had to dismiss a player for violating team rules. That followed a streak in which his once-undefeated and second-ranked team lost three of six games.

Suddenly a season that started with great promise teetered on the brink. Making matters worse, between injuries and the player dismissal, the Blue Devils were left with only eight scholarship players—the most talented athletes… the athletes you need in droves if you want to win anything.

What came next was a private coaching moment, and it led to a championship Coach K says is like none other. On Jan. 29, the Blue Devils staff assembled the team in the locker room and Coach K went to the whiteboard.

“Eight is what we have,” the winningest man in college basketball said as he drew the number on the board. “But eight is actually the perfect number. Look at it. Two perfect loops joined together. It’s connected. Turn it on its side and it is the symbol for infinity. Eight is never-ending.

“It is all we have… and it is all we need.”

One by one, the coach went around the room reminding each player why he was special and then he declared that the goal had not changed. Duke fully intended to be national champion.

  • Who is on your team?
  • Who needs to hear how important and critical they are as a part of the team?
  • How can you encourage your teammates? How have others on your team helped motivate and support you?
  • Who we have is who we have, and together we can make a difference! Obviously for Duke last season, Eight really was enough.

“Just before the NCAA Tournament, [associate head coach Jeff] Capel had an idea, and we brought out a ball that we didn’t let the public know about,” Coach K says, a sly smile washing over his face. “We told the team, ‘We are going to have this ball with us on our way through this tournament, and we would like for you to write on the ball the names of people who have made it possible for you to be here—people who mean something to you.’

“Then we told the team we would carry that ball everywhere we go, but we won’t have it out for the public, we don’t want it to be a publicity thing

“The coaches wrote down names, too.

We said that after we won the championship for those people, we would then send an autographed ball from all of us to each of the people on there and explain how they had helped carry us through.

“So when we did win, we prepared a letter that explained what we had done and then Quinn [Cook, senior captain] wrote a note to every person saying, ‘Thanks. You were with us every step of the way.’ It was a powerful reminder of how many people were responsible for us being in that moment.”

I have heard for a long time that we need to remember we are standing on the shoulders of someone else.

Who believed in you, encouraged you, disciplined you, coached you up, and mentored you to help you become who you are today?

Who are you investing in relationship today to make a difference in their life and help them achieve, accomplish, succeed in life? 

~ Jim and Jerolyn

Related Posts


Share This

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterCheck Our Feed