Winning With Values

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! 

At the Heart of Business

Greetings.  It’s Valentine’s Day here in the U.S. and the one date on the calendar when many of us make a special point of thinking about the power of love, caring, passion, romance, and matters of the heart.  A day for thoughtful and sappy cards, heart-shaped boxes of candy, flowers, romantic lunches and dinners, and chances to show those we care about that they are at the top of our minds.  While the origin of this day has been traced to St. Valentine, who lived in Rome in the 3rd century A.D., many people believe that it was the kind and caring folks at Hallmark Cards, possibly in collaboration with some of the nation's leading confection companies, who really unlocked the full potential of this holiday…noticing perhaps that there were no significant card giving celebrations between Christmas and Easter.  Sure there's "Groundhog Day" and "St. Patrick’s Day" but there just aren’t enough card sales in either of these holidays to keep shareholders happy.

But there is a vital business message in Valentine’s Day as you begin this week of work.  A message about the importance of passion and heart in the success of our companies and organizations.  The passion that we have for a vision and purpose that really matter.  And the passion that underlies our values and what we believe in.  Values that demonstrate our strong commitment to our customers, employees, and the community and world that we are part of.  Values that focus attention on learning, collaborating, growing and innovating tied to a belief in our people and their ability to do remarkable things.  Values that strike at the heart of what it means to be a caring and remarkable organization.

So why not spend part of today thinking about the essential role that passion and heart should play in your business.  And, about whether you and your colleagues are doing enough to capture the real commitment of your newest and your longest-tenured team members.  Because while success is all about winning customers and returning a profit, it's also all about caring, doing work that matters and making a difference.

And if you really want to make this notion come to life, why not take the time to let everyone you work with know that you love them?  That you love their ideas, their hard work, their commitment to customers, their desire to innovate and their hope for the future.  That you realize how important they are to your success, and that this truth is essential more than simply this one day.

We win in business and in life when we strive to get to the real heart of the things that matter.  And when we see the power of passion in being as innovative and remarkable as we can be.  


Ideas Worth Thinking About

Greetings.  Today is the Martin Luther King holiday here in the U.S. and many schools and workplaces are closed in observance of Dr. King's life and legacy in creating a more just, caring, open, and hopeful society.  A society that values more fully the real genius in everyone and the power of diversity when viewed as more than simply a set of words and quotas in a press release, on a web page, or in an annual report.  While he wasn't focused specifically on the challenges we face today in our companies and organizations, many of his words should cause us to think–in more compelling ways–about our true potential as individuals, leaders, businesses, and communities.

And here are a few quotes that might strike at the heart of your vision, values, and hopes for the future…

"If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep the streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

"The time is always right to do what is right."

Martin luther king

We win in business and in life when we see the brilliance in everyone around us.  And when we pause to recall those who gave their energy and lives to the values we all hold dear.