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A Greatness lesson live from Duke and Coach K!

Inner Fire
They Use Adversity as Fuel

I know this newsletter is about developing Greatness in our hearts and minds, but this month it is about the Greatest birthday gift I’ve ever received. As you read this today, I am in Durham, North Carolina on the campus of Duke where Coach Mike Krzyzewski is running me and a group of 79 other business people through drills on the floor at famed Cameron Indoor Stadium. The trip—a dream for me—was a birthday gift from my wife!

Apply this Characteristic:

Is there a past mistake that has been haunting you, but that you’ve had trouble letting go? Try getting rid of it in a very literal way: Write it on an index card and then crumble it up or even drop it into the shredder. Think of it as clearing your mind for the next play so that you can move forward unhindered.

Coach K and a slew of his former players are here teaching us fundamentals of a game I love…then coaching us old guys as we play against one another through the week. The fundamental I’m most enjoying, though, has nothing to do with dribbling or passing. It is Coach K’s love of the phrase “Next play.” And trust me, Coach believes that developing this mindset IS a fundamental.

No matter what we do—hitting an amazing shot or throwing the ball out of bounds (I’ll let you guess which one is happening most often!)—Coach K yells “Next play!” as we make our way down the court. His point? What just happened is finished—good or bad—and now it is time to move on. Next play! Don’t revel. Don’t wallow. Move on, because the next play is what’s important.

Mike KrzyzewskiWhat an enormous lesson in success. If you want to win consistently, as Coach K has done for 30-plus years at Duke, you cannot get too high after any win or too low after any loss. We have to move on and let neither success nor failure keep us from doing the right thing while running our next play.

When my amazing wife Jeanette and I return home, I won’t just be a better basketball player (Look out, guys in my church league!), but I’m going to be a better leader because I’m going to focus on Coach K’s lesson.
Tips From the Great Ones

No matter what happens, no matter how our last endeavor turned out, the thing we need to stay focused on is our next play. It’s true on the basketball court and it’s true in life.

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”

– H.G. Wells

Do you ever feel yourself getting bogged down by a previous failure? Try instead to shake off whatever was negative, take note of what you can learn for your next attempt, and then fix your eyes on whatever is ahead. Most importantly, do it quickly. Try to think like a Great one by constantly moving forward. In this way, we ensure that our mistakes stay in the past instead of allowing them to creep into the present…and maybe even negatively impact the future.

Mike KrzyzewskiBut it is just as important not to spend too much time basking in the glow of a success. How many great opportunities have been missed because people couldn’t see the moment through delirious eyes?? I know I have experienced this in my past.

Bring on the next play!

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About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

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