By: Jim Roddy, VP of Sales & Marketing at the RSPA
I missed basketball so much at the height of the COVID shutdown I found myself diving back into sports-themed leadership books I’ve read, including How Lucky You Can Be: The Story Of Coach Don Meyer by Buster Olney. Meyer, who passed away in 2014, coached basketball only at small colleges, but he made a life-changing impact on whoever he mentored.
This quote from How Lucky You Can Be arrested my attention because of the tumultuous times in our industry and in our world: “Meyer pushed his players to demand excellence of themselves, to handle trauma with accountability, and to answer challenges aggressively and gracefully. Do not dwell on things that you cannot change, he had told his players; focus on the next best action.”
That principle parallels many VAR and ISV conversations I’ve had during this incessant pandemic. The solution provider would ponder, “How bad is this going to get? How long is this going to go on? What’s going to happen to our industry?” Channeling Coach Meyer, I would respond, “Nobody knows. All you can do is the next right thing today and then the next right thing tomorrow.”
Before we discuss How Lucky You Can Be some more, let me share nine additional insightful passages:
- All that is worthwhile in life is done through improvement.
- If you think about losing, you will lose.
- If you worked hard, you deserved excellence. He pounded this philosophy into his players, making them feel they had control over the rest of their lives.
- He wanted his players to do each small thing with excellence — knowing that if they did that successfully, if they properly focused on the process and not the product, then the end result would be great. “Do the next right thing right.”
- Make every place better than it was before you arrived.
- Emotional Relentlessness: He attacked every day and every situation with the same demand for excellence.
- He was great in reminding you that life’s not all about you. If you want to be happy in life, you better learn to serve others.
- “I’ve learned from this odyssey that peace is not the absence of troubles, trials, and torment but calm in the midst of them.”
- The underlying message that I heard him present to his players: Every single day provides you with the opportunity to pursue excellence or not.
RSPA Recommended Read Rating: 9.5/10
Meyer won nearly 1,000 games in his coaching career, but his perseverance over health issues are remembered more. In 2008, a serious car accident landed him in the hospital … which resulted in his lower left leg being amputated … which is when doctors discovered Meyer had advanced cancer in his liver and intestines. After 35 years of preaching grace under fire, Meyer had to live it with his assistant coaches, his players, and thousands of fans watching.
Today, many VAR and ISV leaders are operating under significant duress. Revenue is down; their merchants are struggling for survival; their employees are worried about their jobs and their health; the pandemic wave won’t recede. What to do? Focus on the next best action.
Based on Meyer’s teachings, those actions would include:
- Stay calm
- Think positively
- Get better every day
- Serve others (your team, your merchants, your community); help them improve
- Work hard every day; deserve excellence
If you as a company leader act as outlined above, you will move your organization forward despite a seemingly perpetual crisis. Others will rally around you, and their momentum will advance your company further faster.
“Meyer relieved his players of the big-picture worries about potential wins and losses,” Olney wrote, “by relentlessly training them to think only about what they could do better in any given moment.”
Now is the time for your next best action.
Purchase your copy of How Lucky You Can Be: The Story Of Coach Don Meyer here.