Yesterday I went for a run with Bobby Knight.
Actually I did all the running. He just spoke to me through his book. But it felt like he was there.
That’s the thing about reading (or listening); Some guy spends 40 years learning; and gives it all to you while you’re jogging.
Here’s what the second most winning coach in NCAA history taught me.
We have an “optimism” bias.
Something like 80% of the American people think they are in the top 20%. We think we are smarter, luckier, and better looking than what we usually are.
Since most people are overly optimistic they often take unnecessary risks. We lose our discipline and hope for luck. We smoke, we refuse to exercise, we fail to educate ourselves.
After all cancer, heart disease and poverty can’t happen to us…. right?
Bad habits are easier to avoid than quit.
I’ve never smoked. I’ve never even tried smoking (a few years ago a friend let me take a single puff.
It must be an acquired taste. But since it’s expensive, messy, and will kill you; why acquire it?
"No", "Don’t", and "Can’t" are Bobby Knight's favorite words. (As an old IU fan I remember he used to have another favorite; it was “Luck”, only he used an “F” instead of the “L”. Even Coach Knight has settled down with age.)
Knight means that preventing problems is more important than fixing things later. NO - don’t take that shot! DON'T pass the ball to the guy who can get trapped! You CAN't power through that guy who’s got position!
Discipline yourself to avoid challenges BEFORE they become problems.
Self Discipline is trying your best.
You can’t always perform your best; but you can try your best - no matter what.
You can’t always control your outcomes; but you can control your effort. If you did your preparation, gave it all you have, and you still lose it hurts. But the hurt will never go away when you lose and know you didn’t give your best.
Certain opportunities in life only give you one chance.
Coach Knight tells a great story about trying to educate his son Pat. When Pat was nine they decided to play a game of pool. Coach saw that Pat wasn’t really trying; so he quickly beat the boy.
Pat started to rack the balls up for a rematch. Bobby Knight said: “No thank you son; sometimes in life you only get one chance.”
Two weeks later Pat challenged his Dad to another game (he had been practicing in secret). This time he beat his Father. Coach said: “How about a rematch?”
The nine year old said: “I’m sorry Dad - in life sometimes you only get one chance”.
Don’t bring God into competition.
God has bigger things to do than help you win and make someone else lose. God’s isn’t responsible for shoring up your failure to prepare.
I used to know a woman who was always asking God for things. She would lay around, and not show up for work. But then she’d say “God; please help me with my bills.”
God’s help never arrived.
God was busy keeping the planets in their orbit. God was also busy helping people who were out working.
Practice is not “fun”; winning is.
The choice is yours.
Have fun when you practice, and mourn your loss…
practice hard; and have fun when you win.
Don’t use “positive thinking” to justify not doing the work.
Sometimes “positive thinking” becomes an excuse. It’s not positive thinking that makes the biggest difference; instead it’s accurate thinking. Design daily disciplines to accomplish your goals. Follow your plan, measure the results; keep adjusting and practicing.
Winners celebrate victories briefly.
Winners move on to the next match quickly and work to eliminate mistakes. Losers overly celebrate victory; they lose valuable preparation time by congratulating themselves far too long.
When you win quickly acknowledge it - but get back to work!
Thank you Coach Knight for the lessons.
Bobby Knight reminded me of the dangers of not getting the work done. Of using optimism as a crutch for a lack of discipline. Success is about discipline. It takes discipline to stay on the right course; it takes discipline to walk away from the wrong one.
Warren Buffett once said: “Average people say yes to everything; successful people say no to just about everything.”
Success is often more about saying no than anything else.
Say no to the extra glass of wine.
Say no to skipping class.
Say no to the voice in your head that tempts you to stop doing the work. (After all that guy over there has more and he’s not doing much.)
Don’t rely on luck; rely on discipline. Review the numbers. Stick with the plan.
Sometimes walk away.
Real positive thinking is like “Fight Club”. Real positive thinkers don’t talk about “Positive Thinking”. They live it.
Real positive thinking is hard work.
Be disciplined in your doing. Some of that doing is the daily practices to maintain your relationships, business and health. Some of that doing is to maintain your mind.
Llisten to great coaches and teachers. Go for a run with a few of them.
Bobby Knight is better company than you might think.