He was a legend in the basketball world and in the hearts of the players he coached. He was, according to Michael Jordan (arguably the best basketball player in the history of the sport) like a second father. And, to the state of North Carolina and NCAA Basketball, a national treasure. To me, he was a winner on and off the court. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing him on a personal level, but I was well acquainted with the person he was by the way he lived his life. Legendary North Carolina Tarheels Coach Dean Smith was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.
Because he was a man of such character and wisdom, I felt it was only fair to share some of that with you all. The following “Ten Life Lessons” are derived from The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons from a Life in Coaching, a book he co-authored. May the following words champion the very best in you.
1. Stay humble, stay hungry.
“A lion never roars after a kill.”
2. What’s done is done.
“What to do with a mistake – recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”
3. Give credit where credit is due.
“I do believe in praising that which deserves to be praised.”
4. You’ve got to care to lead.
“The most important thing in good leadership is truly caring. The best leaders in any profession care about the people they lead, and the people who are being led know when the caring is genuine and when it’s faked or not there at all.”
5. Act with honor and integrity.
“Good people are happy when something good happens to someone else.”
6. At the end of the day, it’s just a game.
“If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.”
7. Surround yourself with winners.
“I would never recruit a player who yells at his teammates, disrespected his high school coach, or scores 33 points a game and his team goes 10-10.”
8. Value what’s most important.
“As soon as you try to describe a close friendship, it loses something.”
9. Lead by example.
“A leader’s job is to develop committed followers. Bad leaders destroy their followers’ sense of commitment.”
10. Never underestimate teamwork.
“Play hard. Play smart. Play together.”
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