Words of a Legend

Earlier this year I got the chance to spend a couple days in Knoxville, Tennessee for the NASC annual board retreat at the following year’s symposium host destination. I hadn’t been to the land of Rocky Top in over a decade and was thoroughly impressed with the town (except for the humidity, but I digress).

When I was a kid, growing up in the mid-west, playing shooting guard all summer for my AAU team, I dreamed of playing basketball for Pat Summitt. Me and every other young girl in the country! Clearly that dream didn’t pan out for most of us…though I did know a girl who played at Tennessee. One time her high school team beat mine 63-8. That was the real score of a varsity game. You can’t make that up. To our credit, they had a starting roster that all went to top DI institutions, we had, as our coach frequently reminded, “a ragtag bunch of misfits”. Ahhh, those were the days…
He actually showed us this clip to reinforce our identity!

Jumping back to Pat Summitt, unfortunately the legend lost her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016. But, even though me and millions of other aspiring young girls did not get the opportunity to play for “that gawdy orange” team (cue Blindside), her legacy allows for every person, from every walk of life, to learn from one of the best.

Pat’s “Definite Dozen” (Pat Summitt Leadership Group, 2018) should resonate with us all. Her matras collectively forming her blueprint for success include things such as the importance of change, taking responsibility, and cultivating a winning attitude (Pat Summitt Leadership Group, 2018).
This commemorative poster of the ’97 WFF hung in my room for years.

Today, I’m going to address one of the spokes in this wheel of success: “Put the team before yourself”.

All to often in our hurried culture we are reminded to focus on the “what’s in it for me?” mentality. We deserve everything without having to work hard for anything. I hear this all the time with my toddlers too, “she got it, but I didn’t”, “he got 2 and I got 1”. It’s pervasive. And I’d contend adults can be worse than kids in this regard.
The funny paradox about life is the more you give, the more you get. Deflection off of yourself actually equals more coming back your way. Sow to reap. This is true in sports, in business, in personal relationships, in every aspect of life. 
12 keys to success worth slapping on your bathroom mirror. Photo: Pat Summitt Leadership Group

I made a mistake the other day. Scratch that. I inspired “a learning opportunity” that really had me down. I called a friend who was busy at work. She dropped everything and met me for coffee to talk through it, reassured me of my true identity, and offered much needed encouragement. To top it off, she texted me today and told me how thankful she was for my friendship. Huh? She helped me, not the other way around.

The more you give, the more you get.
In sports, it’s the unselfish players that make the team work. In the business of sport, it’s focusing on the needs of others, clients, consumers, employees, stakeholders, before yourself that leads to success. I can assure you, being outwardly focused is not a waste of time, you get it back in spades due to the loyalty you build among others.
So in the busyness of life, and the chaos of our to-do lists, take a few minutes to put yourself aside and search out an opportunity to put another person before you. I guarantee it will make the work you do more enjoyable and more successful.

Write a thank you card. Shoot someone a text to let them know you’re thinking about them. Hold the door. Ask the clerk how her day is going and listen to the response. Be genuine. 

As the great Pat Summitt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
I hope when my friend, or anyone else for that matter, needs me to drop everything and be there, I have the courage to put my “team” before myself and step up to the plate. Doing THAT consistently builds a legacy worth celebrating. This is Stoll on Sports

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