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How to Win

Motivational Principles

Really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great. ~ Mark Twain

If  you coach, you’re in the motivation business.

And chances are that you’ve asked yourself, “What do I say?”

Jimmy Valvano, the late, great basketball coach, gave us all the blueprint during his speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards. Battling cancer and facing death, he stole the show. He listed three things that everyone should do every day. Those three things can also stand as principles for motivating others. They are:

Laugh. Think. Be moved to tears.

As Valvano said, if you can do these three things every day, you will have a full life.

And if you use Valvano’s ideas when addressing your team, you can make an impression with your pre-game talks or at your practices.

Another approach to motivation comes from yesterday’s celebration of Patriots Day in New England. According to tradition, Captain John Parker told his men, “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

Thus began the battles of Lexington and Concord, and with them the Revolutionary War. Parker’s words sound like a battle cry. If you can create a battle cry, or a sense of mission, you will have gone far in motivating your team.

Whitey Herzog used a sense of mission during his years as a successful manager of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Locked in a rivalry with the New York Mets, Herzog led small-town underdogs against the big-city boys and won the National League pennant in 1985 and 1987.

Laughter. Thinking. Being moved to tears. A battle cry. A sense of mission. All are ways to motivate. Take whatever you wish to say, then put it in one of these forms, and you will improve your chances of pushing others to greater heights.


One comment for “Motivational Principles”

  1. These are great tips for motivating teams. The triad is especially valuable, I think, if it leads to self-knowledge.

    Posted by Peter Hirsch | April 21, 2009, 8:03 am

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