Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics is widely regarded as one of the best and brightest minds in coaching today. Two articles in the last week have started to pull back some of the layers surrounding Brad and what makes him successful.

ESPN’s TrueHoop did this piece on him last week, and the Boston Globe profiled him yesterday.

Two things stand out to me from the articles. First, in the ESPN piece, Kyrie Irving made the statement that “…every single possession matters to him”. Second, Brad himself says in the Globe article that, “…the magic is in the work.”

Two small snippets from the stories that illustrate Brad’s commitment to work and his understanding that every detail matters.

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A Parable: John the Carpenter

Let me tell you a story about a carpenter from England named John. He had built hundreds of houses for his company over the last fifteen years, and his work was so good that the company became one of the premiere developers in the country. John worked extremely hard putting in overtime nearly every day, and paying special attention to detail on every project.

I came across this story in Burn Your Goals by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert. I highly recommend the book, but I thought I would share this short parable from it.
One day John decided he was going to retire. So he spoke with his boss about it and they decided he would work one last week. His boss called him in the next morning and asked if he would build just one more house for a friend of his. Half-heartedly, John agreed and began work on the house.
Though he had built excellent houses in the past, this build was different. Many times in the past John had pushed through days and months where he struggled to find motivation, but he just didn’t feel it on this project. Knowing this was his last go around, John showed up each day with less focus than usual. He bought materials and supplies that were second rate. He delegated a lot of tasks without providing supervision. he only worked the hours he was “supposed to.” He showed up everyday with little joy and without the drive to be better than he was the day before.
Despite the lack of desire and motivation, the house was built on time and was up to code, although not built to the standard he was used to. Walking into the office, beaming ear to ear, John meets with his boss to shake hands and say farewell. After saying thanks, John walks towards the door. His boss calls to him, “John, one last thing.” As John turns to face him, his boss hands him a small box with a ribbon around it. John opens the box and pulls out a set of shiny silver keys. His boss says, “The house is yours. You deserve it.” He gave him the keys to the house John just built.
Immediately, John’s heart sank. If only he knew that he was building his own house, he would have done it all differently. He would have worked with the utmost passion and precision. He would have spent twice the amount of time and would have showed up every day with a clear focus on the job at hand, knowing that he was going to reap what he was sowing.

You Never Know…

The truth is, You Never Know.

You Never Know when someone is watching.

You Never Know when someone is listening.

You Never Know who might be the person to give you your big break.

Represent yourself the best you can, every minute of every day. Bring your A game all the time. Put your best foot forward every chance you get. Because the truth is, You Never Know.

Content With Good?

So many people in the world today are content with good. They are satisfied with the way things are in life – comfortable, relatively successful, but not quite at their pinnacle. By continuing on this path, they will probably lead happy lives but always wonder “What If?” or “Was there something more?”

People that find the highest levels of success and happiness are those that can push themselves to achieve greatness. Those that are unhappy with just doing things at an average level. Those that are uncomfortable with what they have achieved  knowing there could have been something more. These people also surround themselves with those that will push them to greatness. Coaches, teachers and mentors who show areas of improvement and speak the truth about where things could have been better.

Given the choice between the easy road to mediocrity and the hard road to high level success, the brain will always take the easy way out. It is hard wired into our DNA – a survival instinct. The failures you encounter on the road to success are what causes the brain to want to settle. This is mental toughness. Are you content with good or are you pushing for greatness?

Windows vs Mirrors

Life is all about outlook. Do things happen to you or do you make things happen? The concept of windows vs mirrors is all about how you view events. Mirrors reflect back to you – how could I have changed the outcome? Windows are used to see outside – who else other than me is responsible for what happened?

I had a conversation a few nights ago that reminded me of the importance of outlook. I was baffled when I heard “I hate (blank) because he and his team stole state championships from me.” This outlook is everything that is wrong with the world today. Championships are not deserved, they are earned. Obviously not enough was done by the losing team to prevent what happened – there was a lack of work ethic/attention to detail/execution/talent/teaching/learning etc that caused the team to not win a championship. Whatever it was, championships are never “stolen”.

Too many people today have a mindset of “deserving” something. In my opinion, nothing is ever “deserved”. Everything in life is earned. You earn a job, you earn a paycheck, you earn results, etc. Even people on vacation don’t “deserve” a vacation – they earn it (hence most company’s policies towards 90 day probationary periods for new hires). Part of this “deserving” mindset may come from advertisements and commercials we see today – how many include the phrase “you deserve”?

Earning things in life is what makes life worthwhile. Things that are earned are much more valuable to the recipient than things that are taken for granted because they are “deserved”. Life is about the journey, not the destination. If it wasn’t challenging and didn’t require hard work and dedication, it wouldn’t be worth living. Approach life with a window mentality – earn everything you get and look to yourself to create the success you wish to have.

The Grind

A great promo video by TCU Baseball, and a FANTASTIC speech. “Welcome to The Grind”

Being a Hockey Player vs Playing Hockey

There are thousands of people in the world that play hockey at all levels. From youth up through college and pro, many people are participants in the game. For some, it comes easily and their skills have a level of natural talent. For others, hockey is just something they’ve always done and playing at the next level is a natural progression of their game. However, the truly successful don’t just play hockey, they are hockey players.

What’s the difference between playing hockey and being a hockey player? It’s simple. Hockey players eat, sleep and breathe the game. They are always looking to improve their game, take the next step and get an edge on their opponents. They watch hockey in their down time, looking for tips from the best on how to develop their skill set. They work out relentlessly and understand proper training and nutrition. Everything they do is geared towards building their brand and developing their game.

People who play hockey may like the sport and enjoy the activity, but they aren’t willing to do everything necessary for success. They workout because it’s what they are supposed to do. They go to practice and go through the drills. People who play hockey do all the surface level activities that show they participate, but they are not truly prepared to do what it takes to be successful.

As a coach and a recruiter, I look to fill my roster with hockey players. There are too many people out there who just play hockey but are not truly hockey players. This level of commitment and dedication makes for a successful team, a successful player and ultimately, a successful person down the road.