Chasing Greatness Blog

Weekly inspirational examples of greatness that we can apply to our every day lives.

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Embrace High Expectations: Lessons From Joe Maddon And The Chicago Cubs

The National League Division Series starts tonight and the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908, are one of the favorites to win it all.

Since the final out last year when they lost to the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series, almost everyone has expected the Cubs to be the team to beat this year.

Unlike most teams, which too often play down expectations, the Cubs have embraced them. Under manager Joe Maddon, one of the best in the game, the Cubs have aimed high this season despite the 108-year World Series drought.

College Football’s Hottest Coach Shows You Don’t Need To Change Jobs To Be Successful

College football fans saw a major upset on Saturday in Texas thanks in part to a coach who is more focused on his current job than bigger opportunities down to road.

The Oklahoma University Sooners, a perennial powerhouse ranked number four in the nation, came down to Texas to play the University of Houston Cougars who are outside the Power Five conferences that dominate college football. But, on Saturday, Houston, which had not been in the top five since 1990, pulled off the upset, winning 33-23 with a strong outing from quarterback Greg Ward Jr. and the continued successful leadership of Coach Tom Herman.

Under Herman, one of the hottest names in college football, Houston is on a roll. Last year, Herman’s first season in charge of the Cougars, Houston impressed. The Cougars went 13-1 and won their first American Athletic Conference title. Capping off the season, Houston upset Florida State University, one of the top programs in the game, in the Peach Bowl to finish in the AP Top 10 for the first time since 1979. Houston has loftier ambitions this year and the Cougars are off to a great start with their win over Oklahoma.

Even The Fastest Man On Earth Needs To Be Pushed

After two weeks of exciting competition, the Summer Olympics in Rio have ended. But while the flame might be out, the stories from Rio–and the lessons they offer–should stay with us for some time to come.

There were many powerful moments in Rio. Distance runners Abbey D’Agostino from the U.S. and Nikki Hamblin from New Zealand offered a memorable reminder of what the Olympics are all about as they helped each other after a tumble. Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain won the men’s triathlon and collapsed on the ground after winning the gold and was quickly joined by the man who chased him the entire race and won the silver: his brother Jonny.

Of course one of the major stories of the Rio Games was the continued dominance of one of the greatest Olympic athletes ever. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt might be just as well known for his post race victory pose as for his blazing speed but he continued to produce astounding results on the track. For the third time in as many Olympics, Bolt won gold medals in the 100 meter and 200 meter races and was part of the gold medal winning Jamaican team in the 4×100 relay. No one else has come close to record three triple-triples on the track.

Paralympic Champion Follows Her Dreams With Unstoppable Determination

One of America’s most inspiring athletes is about to compete for the gold in Rio and once again live up to the words her father would say to her when he tucked her in each night in her childhood. “You’re the best, you can make a difference, you can change the world.”

Of course, the Summer Olympics ended last month but the Paralympics kicked off last week, and American swimmer Mallory Weggemann is set to shine. Yet as remarkable as her abilities in the pool are, what makes Mallory truly special is her incredible story of determination. Her story is a challenge to each of us as we consider the ways that we handle disappointments and setbacks in our own lives.

Mallory was a stand-out varsity swimmer in high school but never set her sights on making a career of it. Instead she always imagined her future would look quite typical: a career, a family, a quiet life in suburbia. But on January 21, 2008, that future was forever changed when she walked into a clinic for a routine procedure . . . and she never walked out.

Ned Yost’s Leadership Has The Kansas City Royals Surging

Don’t look now but the Kansas City Royals, the defending World Series champions, are roaring back into contention thanks in part to a leader who knows how to manage change.

On August 5, the Royals looked out of the playoff hunt with a 51-58 record. But after winning 17 of their last 21 games, the Royals are back from the brink, surging to a 68-62 record and are now five games behind in the wild card chase.

Manager Ned Yost knows how tough it is for a team to defend its crown. From 1991 to 2002, Yost was with the Atlanta Braves, serving as bullpen coach and third base coach under Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox as the team contended every season and won the World Series in 1995.

Looking back to his time in Atlanta, Yost said he learned important lessons from Cox and GM John Schuerholz as the Braves lineup often featured new players each season.

USA Olympic Basketball Rebounds Thanks To Championship Culture

As the Olympic basketball competition begins in Rio, Team USA is favored for a third consecutive Gold Medal under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. This will be the last Olympics with Coach K in charge and the turnaround he engineered after a disastrous 2004 Olympics (where Team USA opened those games by suffering a 19-point loss to Puerto Rico!) is worth studying. Here is an excerpt from my new book, Great Teams, on how Team USA found its way back...

When it came time to choose a new coach, Jerry Colangelo, the managing director of USA Basketball, selected Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke University Blue Devils to lead the team. Krzyzewski agreed with his new boss that Team USA’s problem wasn’t one of talent but of culture. The players had stopped appreciating the importance of what they were doing and why it mattered that they show up every day prepared to play like champions.

Krzyzewski— a West Point graduate and US Army veteran— suggested that the team needed “feel- it moments” to drive home that players were now involved in something greater than themselves and to fortify the foundation of the team.

Some of the Winning Teams Don Yaeger works with

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