Phil Jackson Wisdom

It has long been known that the same traits, characteristics and attitudes that make an athlete, or a team, successful in sports are necessary for a person, or a company, or an organization, or a family, to be successful in business, or in life. Leadership, motivation and teamwork are just as important in business and life as in, say, basketball. In his book, Sacred Hoops, Phil Jackson says that by tapping into team members’ need to participate in something larger than themselves you begin to build an effective organization

When Phil Jackson was named head coach of the Chicago Bulls, more than a few basketball experts scoffed at the selection. He had a reputation as a 60s flower child and a flake during his 13 year playing career, however, with a fresh approach to the game emphasizing selflessness, teamwork and compassion over intimidation and individual effort, Jackson's Bulls became the first team in 30 years to ”three-peat,” winning three straight NBA titles. He also believes that losing is as integral a part of the dance as winning. He says, ”Only by acknowledging the possibility of defeat can you fully experience the joy of competition.”

Obsessing about winning adds an unnecessary layer of pressure that robs you of the freedom to do your best.” Here, from his book, are Jackson's suggestions for mindful leadership - in whatever you want to do.

“1. Listen without judgment. No matter what the stakes and the situation, practice listening with impartial, awareness. Key on your team members’ body language and the silence between words. As a result you will better understand their concerns and receive improved performance. (ed. note: your team could be your family or your company)

2. Treat all members of the team equally. Everyone, from the superstar to the occasional performer, contributes to the team's success. If you communicate this, your people will work together to accomplish goals as a unit.

3. Be patient. We often feel people should learn at our pace, not theirs. But if you have confidence in your principles and the means you've chosen to succeed, you must give a team time to evolve. There's no percentage in trying to push the river or speed up the harvest. 

4. Understand your anger. If you lose your cool, accept it and move on. Sometimes blowing up can provide the necessary spark to get a team moving. Most importantly, when you do get angry, direct your feelings at the whole team, not just one or two individuals.

5. Retain perspective. You should do your work because it brings you joy. When things are tough, encourage people to tap into those feelings of inner harmony and make the work enjoyable.”

I believe these tips can be applied to parents, teachers, supervisors, community members, and spouses. We all want our “team” to succeed. By following these suggestions we can help make that happen.

But wait, there’s more:  

Faith is not necessarily the power to make things the way we want them to be; it is the courage to face things as they are.

And from Carl Jung: “Life is something that has to be lived and not just talked about.”


t the la     © Dick Caldwell 2012