Sticking with Problems

Today I got the random chance to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the 1983 NC State Basketball team. That remarkable team was coached by the late Jim Valvano. If you have not seen this special program, I encourage you to do so. It is not only an unbelievable story of a team and coach stacked against what seemed to be insurmountable odds, but it is also a story full of life lessons that apply to all facets of life.

Daily I am fortunate to be able to work with many business owners and team members that are just as passionate about their journey as Jim Valvano was about his own. Like Coach V, many businesses set a course or a game plan and proceed towards a goal.  For Coach V, that was a National Championship.

What happens along the journey defines the character, culture and ultimately the success of the team. There is one thing for sure. Whatever your pre-determined goal is, circumstances that arise along the way will inevitably bring you and your team to a crossroads. The best laid plans get off track for a multitude of reasons but I continuously see one issue that is controllable by your actions.

Far too often, businesses, leaders and team members just give up when the going gets tough. For so many, today’s culture is about instant gratification and easy wins. When the going gets tough on a project, goal or a task, it has become okay to give up and justify the reason for failure. We are conditioned for excuse making and explaining away poor performance.

Here is what I see time and time again from highly successful people and the businesses they operate. They do not give up on problems. They stick with problems to a reasonable conclusion and always believe there is a way to achieve a positive outcome. And when the going gets tough leaders that are able to adjust tactics and share the adjustments with enthusiasm gain buy-in from their team members.

The margin between success and failure can be razor thin. In 1983, Coach V’s NC State team faced elimination multiple times before ultimately winning the championship. Coach V adjusted his tactics constantly in real time to keep pushing towards the goal. Enthusiastically, he shared the tactics with his team and told them exactly how they were going to overcome problems.
In business, there are not too many problems that cannot be solved. But we have to stick with it. Leaders must not only create the vision, they must consistently measure progress, play the cards they are dealt and lead the team through challenges. We must stick with problems until they are solved.

“Don’t give up, don’t ever give up." - Jim Valvano, March 3, 1993

Well Coached