Sunday, September 27, 2009

You Still Have to Play The Game

The fall season is typically the start of a busy period for me.

But my daughter's involvement on two teams this year should dramatically raise the busyness factor.

There's guranteed to be a ton of practices, lots of driving and a few overnight tournaments.

Not to mention my co-hosting responsibilities on The NBA Breakdown which will kick off the new season on October 25, 2009.

This should prove to be quite the year.

Her school team played in their first tournament (it was in town) this week.

They did well for a relatively new team and finished third.

Vanessa managed to get on the score sheet with a few baskets and some pretty solid defensive play.

Let's just say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


As the two teams were getting ready for their first game, I was really impressed with her opponents.

They looked sharp in their slick red uniforms and ran some pretty crisp warm-up drills.

There was a lot of height on the team and it was obvious that many of the players were natural athletes.

They struck me as one of those teams that liked to push the ball as much as they could and signaled to me that there probably was going to be a lot of running up and down the floor.

Their marquee player was a centre who was at least 6 feet tall which is rather impressive for a girl in her early teens.

Not only did she look like a player but she seemed to quite comfortably embrace the role of team leader.

She got everyone organized during warm-up and did a good job of directing traffic as they were practicing a couple of their plays.

However, once the game started, my perception of what I thought became much clearer.

I was surprised at the fact that the team in red, despite having so many athletes played so poorly.

Many of the players didn't have the fundamentals of the game meaning they couldn't dribble!

The star centre was the worst offender with countless traveling calls against her.

Needless to say, the slick looking team in red lost the game.


One of the things that's always fascinated me about sports is that no matter how good things look on the outside, you still have to go out and play the game.

It makes no difference how tall the other team is, how organized their warm up drills are or how loud the team cheer is.

None of these directly contribute to the outcome of the game.

We sometimes get so caught up with the optics of things that we let our assumptions or perceptions become reality.

We do the same thing with leadership. We assume that because someone is in a leadership role that they "should" or "shouldn't" behave in a certain manner.

We want them to have all the answers, never make a mistake and always take our feelings into account when they decide on something.

The moment they fail to meet our expectations, we're shocked, appalled and are left asking how they became a leader in the first place.

I had a discussion with international leadership expert, Mark Sanborn on this very same topic and he said. "Unfortunately, we sometimes see people moved into leadership position who can't lead,"

The reality for a lot of managers/ supervisors is that they're "learning on the job".

They didn't necessarily land into the role because of the demonstrated good leadership skills. A number of leaders are anointed the position because of how they performed in an entirely different job.

The natural leaders or the quick learners will figure things out in no time whereas the others fall victim to our assumptions.


No matter how great we perceive a team or leader to be, they still have to perform at some at some point.

Resist the temptation of making decisions based on assumptions.

Wait until the final buzzer and evaluate at the end of the game.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

The Foul Call

Getting fouled in the game of basketball and life are natural.

Fouls are those "not nice" things that can happen that throw us off our game plan, they usually appear in our lives in the form of adversity.

To best cope, we need to come to the understanding that the fouls will come and we need to learn how to leverage those experiences to make us stronger individuals.

The big difference between basketball and life is that there aren't any refs in life who'll blow the whistle and stop the game so we can get a break.

Stuff just keeps coming!

So, to move forward we have to play through the foul.

These day to day challenges may be tough to overcome but if we want a chance at winning then giving up isn't an option.

Joining me on the next episode of HCL Radio is a woman who understands this concept far too well.

In her latest book, Play Through The Foul - Basketball Lessons for the Game of Life, Vera Jones helps readers to better understand the importance of standing in the face of adversity and the kinds of things we can do to overcome them.

Vera said, "Life's experiences are meaningful despite whatever fouls they encounter."

As a former basketball player, coach and now motivational speaker, Vera`s unique approach gives her some great insight on how we all can deal with the challenges of the life.

Note: Free show reminders are available by visiting the show page and clicking on the "Remind Me" button.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Takin' It To New Heights

New Heights is a non-profit educational organization based in New York City that uses basketball and athletics to help young people think about their futures from an educational standpoint.

But let’s get something straight here folks, New Heights isn’t just a basketball program.

Its clear and direct mission is to inspire inner-city youth to be the leaders and champions that our society needs them to be. New Heights empowers young people to be successful in high school, college and life.

I had an opportunity to catch up and chat with the founder and president of New Heights, Mr. Nick Blatchford.

Listen to the interview.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Being Remarkable

I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.
Michael Jordan

The basketball universe and the rest of the world witnessed history when Michael Jordan joined the greatest players in the game in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

In his case, it never was a question of “if” he'd get in but more about “when”.

Jordan truly was a special player and considered by many to be one the greatest to ever step on the basketball court.

But the question is: What made him so remarkable?

Certainly talent and skill had a lot to do with it but he also possessed an intangible drive to succeed that separated him from his competitors.

As my friend, Don Yaeger puts it, "he had a deep hatred of losing".

This was the same drive that pushed him to become a better player after being cut from his high school basketball team for being "too short."

Remarkable Leadership

While not everyone can be Like Mike in the context of leadership, we all have the capacity to be remarkable leaders.

The key is being open and committed to being a continual learner.

Kevin Eikenberry is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group and joins me on the next episode of HCL Radio to discuss what Remarkable Leadership is and the importance of being open to learn new things.

Kevin said, "Leadership is a complex enough thing that there's always something we can be learning and getting better at."

Join us as Kevin explains how you can achieve remarkable results and reach your potential.

Note: Free show reminders are available by visiting the show page and clicking on the "Remind Me" button.

Thanks for reading!

Where developing leaders in more than just a game.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

1st Annual John Wooden Pyramid of Success Awards

On September 12, 2009, the basketball courts at The Hangar Athletic Xchange(HAX) training facility in Hawthorne, CA, was transformed into an elegant backdrop for the gala reception of the 1st Annual John Wooden Pyramid of Success Awards.

The event was created by the HAX Foundation to honor successful community leaders and raise money to provide scholarships to student athletes in need so they could attend HAX athletic and educational programs.

Boston Celtics Forward /Inglewood native Paul Pierce and World Champion Boxer, Health & Body correspondent and mom Laila Ali received the first ever Competitive Greatness Awards.

Other honorees included ESPN’s Dick Vitale, CEO of McDonald’s Jim Skinner and “Say No Classic” Founder Rod Smith.

Jayson Barry, a recipient of a HAX Foundation scholarship was also on hand and said, “When you have a team behind you it makes you want to work harder not only for yourself but for them.”

If that wasn't enough, the awards also paid homage to the legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden with the Lifetime Achievement Award who was named by Sporting News as the "Greatest Coach of All Time."

HAX CEO, Jeff Herdman
was a guest on HCL Radio and provided some insights on HAX, the HAX Foundation and the 1st Annual John Wooden Pyramid of Success Awards.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Thanks for reading!

Where developing leaders in more than just a game.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Influence - Pull Not Push

Leaders are often judged on their ability to effectively persuade and influence those around them.

However, the act of influencing others is more than just getting people to do what you want.

It's about having an open line of communication and sharing information on both sides. Leaders must also possess the capacity to effectively and positively affect their followers to be successful.

Heath Slawner is an experienced trainer and management consultant on the science of influence and persuasion and joins the next episode of HCL Radio.

When asked about the topic of influence, Heath said, "The best influencers listen a lot and are open to be influenced as they do seek to influence other people, it's a two way street."

Heath is the only professional in Canada certified to deliver the Principles of Persuasion workshop (“PoP”), which is based on the lifelong work of Dr. Robert Cialdini and focuses on the ethical uses of influence tactics.

Join us on the next episode of HCL Radio and listen as Heath breaks down the six principles of persuasion and provides some great examples of their uses.

Heath invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Click here for more information about the Principles of Persuasion workshop.

Note: Free show reminders are available by visiting the show page and clicking on the "Remind Me" button.

Click here to listen.

Thanks for reading!

Where developing leaders in more than just a game.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Match-Ups

One of the things coaches pay particular attention to during the preparation process for a game is the match-ups.

As a coach, you'll want to take full advantage and exploit any and all opportunities that exist in your favour.

One of the ways you can do this is by examining the skill sets of your players and maximizing their strengths.

For example, if your team had a dominant offensive player in the centre position like Shaquille O'Neal, you'll want to design as many of the right scoring plays to give him the opportunity to fully take advantage of his strengths.

Conversely, it should be recognized that the opposing coach may try and exploit the very same match-up at the defensive end by forcing your dominant centre to cover a smaller quicker player.


If you're leading a team towards completing a project, assignment or task, you'll want to try and go through a similar evaluation process.

This may prove to be challenging if time constraints exist however, the pay-offs are enormous.

It's also important to try and balance the needs of the group with the needs of the individual where at all possible.

As opposed to assigning someone the same task because they're good at it, try exposing them to something different as a way of developing new skills.

Mixing up the experiences also increases the likelihood of keeping your group engaged and the interest level up.

Through the process, you're fostering an environment of continuous learning which will reduce the risk of stagnation and boredom.


The point is that understanding your team and knowing how to evaluate their individual strengths and weaknesses is necessary when drawing up a game plan.

Once you've properly evaluated your people, you can now align their skill sets with the right situation to achieve optimum performance.

Thanks for reading!

Where developing leaders is more than just a game.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Importance of Giving To Others

We often times don't realize how much power exists in the act of giving, those that give also receive huge benefits when they freely do something that is of benefit to others.

We'll focus on the act of giving on the next edition of HCL Radio. The impact of this often time overlooked leadership trait is enormous and I've asked Azim Jamal to join us to walk us through the importance of giving to others.

Azim Jamal is a leading inspirational speaker, management consultant & executive coach. He has three professional financial qualifications but made a life-changing career switch from "accounting for business" to "accounting for life" during a soul-stirring experience while volunteering in the developing world.

Azim has a clear philosophy on the importance of giving, "When you stop giving, you stop living"

He also is the author of the best selling book, "The Power of Giving"

There's a great deal of value when give our time, talents and energy and the benefits to others is greater than any monetary gain.

Tune in to the next episode of Hard Court Lessons Radio and Azim will provide further insights into the importance of giving to others.

Note: Free show reminders are available by visiting the show page and clicking on the "Remind Me" button.

Click here to listen to the episode!

Thanks for reading!

Where developing leaders is more than just a game.

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