(originally posted on April 1, 2016)
I admit it. I like Geno Auriemma.
On Sunday, Geno will lead his UConn team as they play in the NCAA Women’s Final Four located in Indianapolis this year. The Huskies are going for their 4th straight National Championship.
Many people do not like Geno. Many people do not like UConn. Many people say that their dominance is bad for the game. I say excellence and the quest for perfection is not bad.
Shouldn’t we all be trying to do what Geno has done with UConn? Shouldn’t we all be seeking to be the best we can be regardless of circumstance or opponent. All of the motivational quotes that we like to spout about making ourselves better, persevering, and being self-disciplined are apparently fine and good except when we are talking about UCONN and Geno Auriemma. When they put all of those quotes into practice then they are not praised but rather vilified or dismissed.
Going into this year’s Final Four, UCONN has won 73 straight games. Every game this year has been won by double digits. Auriemma has a total of 10 National Championships, of which 5 were perfect seasons.
In the movie Creed, there is a popular line when Rocky says to a young Adonis Creed,”See this guy here” pointing to his reflection in a mirror, “That’s the toughest opponent you’re ever going to have to face. I believe that is true in the ring and I think that’s true in life. Now show me something.”
As a college coach, I would tell my team that so-and-so was the next team on our scheduled but we were our next opponent. In fact, we were always our next opponent. The true test was not to measure ourselves against someone else but rather against what we are capable of. If this were not the case, then why would a young team keep playing games when they weren’t winning every night? If this were not the case, then why would any player keep coming to practice if they were not a regular in the lineup? If this were not the case, why would millions of Americans read self-help books and seek personal growth?
Sure, Geno has amazing talent but so do the other Top-10 programs. He has built a culture that is unlike any other in that good is not enough. What you did yesterday is not sufficient. The successes you experienced earlier are part of the past that might shape the future but are not exactly who you are today. He has created a culture that sets the highest possible expectations. What are those expectations? Quite simply to be the best you can be all the time.
Bobby Knight once was credited with saying that the definition of discipline is “Doing what has to be done, when it has to be done, as well as it can be done and then do it that way every time.”
We constantly criticize teams that are inconsistent or don’t utilize their potential. Geno’s teams consistently realize their potential. Instead of making excuses or downplaying their accomplishments, we should be holding them up for what they are…amazing motivational examples.
Jamy Bechler is a John Maxwell Certified Leadership Speaker and Coach. He was a college basketball coach for nearly 20 years. Contact him at CoachBechler@CoachBechler.com to find out how you or your team can be more successful.