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Don’t Be Insane: 2023 Will Be The Same Unless you Stop Making New Year Resolutions

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“Not me, we. I was where I was supposed to be because somebody else was where they were supposed to be. And If we’re going to win, that’s how we’re gonna win – Kevin Garnett

“I’m human. And I’m gonna make mistakes.” That statement got me hooked to Netflix for 35 minutes straight. Who said those words?

I was chatting with a friend while enjoying my team, Arsenal, winning their third consecutive game of the new season. I know but stay with me on this one. The halftime banter got us talking about the impact of coaches on their teams. Then my friend recommended I watch “The Playbook” series on Netflix. I am glad I did, albeit reluctantly at first.

“The Playbook” is a five-episode series showing “A Coach’s Rules for Life” from five remarkable coaches who have left an indelible legacy in their sports. Patrick Mouratoglou shared some profound rules on how he got one of the greatest tennis players of all times, Serena Williams, to up her game. After listening to Jose Mourinho, I begrudgingly agree that he is the “special one.” I could see that a coach like him would bring the best out of my son’s talent.

One of Mr Mourinho’s principles I will apply to my son for his games is this. Mourinho says he tells his players not to feel pressured to win a difficult match. But they should not lose.

But, the episode I have watched thrice now is the first of the five with one of the most respected and accomplished coaches in the history of US basketball.

The manner of the comeback in that final game and the handling of probably the biggest scandal in sporting history were the two things that drew me into “Doc” Rivers’ profound principles for success.

Glenn Anton “Doc” Rivers, a former player, won the 2000 NBA Coach of the Year in the second season of his coaching career. His most remarkable feat would be winning the 2008 NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics against Angeles Lakers. That year the Lakers had the late Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson who holds the record for most championships with 11 wins. Although the Celtics won 4-2, it was no easy win. With the series at 3-2 in favour of the Celtics, The final game was a must-win for both teams. The Lakers needed to win to stay in the series, while the Celtics needed to win to take the championship. It was the Celtics’ win after 22 years.

Then in 2013, “Doc” Rivers moved to coach the Los Angeles Clippers, leading them to a record 57 wins in his first season. Then, in his second season, “Doc” had to lead his team through a scandal that reverberated beyond the basketball field. He and his team had to deal with a leaked audiotape of their owner’s racist rant against blacks. And the scandal broke on the eve of one of their big playoff games.

How do you go on to work for a person who demeans people of your race and colour? It took courage, resilience, and a firm belief in one’s values and principles to look beyond insensitive remarks of what President Obama called “an ignorant folk.”

Here are my top five picks of “Doc” Rivers’ rules for life which we can adopt as life principles in our pursuit of purpose, success and happiness.

  • Finish the race

Rivers’ teacher sent him home as a kid because he wrote on the board that he wanted to be a pro basketball player. The teacher believed Rivers was too lazy to amount to anything. And his dad agreed with the teacher.

While his dad was taking him back to school, he said to Glenn, “Whatever goal you have; when you do settle on one, just finish the race.”

So, Glenn had a third chance to write his goal on the board with his dad watching. He chalked, “I want to be a pro basketball player.”


And he finished his race with aplomb.

  • Don’t be a victim

This rule guided his resolve in getting over the racist scandal of his employer. The world waited for his team’s reaction – will they play or not? Most called for the team to boycott the playoffs.

After using a “French” word I cannot repeat, Glenn Rivers said this to his players:

“… I will be damned if we’re gonna allow that guy to get into my dream and end that. So, it’s your choice. But; Donald Sterling wins if we don’t play.”

The players mounted a protest but went on the play. And pundits weighed in to validate their decision to play.

“You learn. You don’t forget. But you can never be a victim.” – Glenn “Doc” Rivers

  • Ubuntu

“You need to look this up and study it. It’s not a word, Doc. Look the word up and then become it.” A lady said to coach Rivers introducing him to “Ubuntu.”

“We have something in our African community. It is called Ubuntu. Ubuntu is the essence of being human. And it says a solitary being is a contradiction in terms. I have to learn from other human beings how to be human – Bishop Desmond Tutu

  • Pressure is a privilege

“Doc” Rivers focused a permanent spotlight on a bare spot on a wall where they would put a banner of they do win their 17th ttile. That unflinching light put pressure on the players whenever they walked into the arena. At the end of that season, they beat the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 to clinch their 17th title and put a banner on the spot where the spotlight shone.

“Why are we doing what we are doing if we are not trying to be successful? You should feel privileged that you’ve worked hard enough to put yourself in that situation. You should embrace it, you should enjoy it, and you should understand it’s hard.” – Glenn “Doc Rivers

  • Champions keep moving forward

Facing Phil Jackson in the 2008 NBA finals was classed a “heavyweight match-up.” Phil Jackson was probably the best basketball coach at the time. And the Lakers had Kobe Bryant. An unlikely contest for the Celtics.

“I figured, if I’m gonna beat him, I needed to get up, keep fighting and keep moving forward.” – Glenn “Doc” Rivers

The Celtics overturned a 24 points deficit in the 2nd quarter to pull off what the commentator called “one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NBA and win by six points in a 97-91scoreline.

At the end of that historic final, “Doc” recalled a great lesson he learned that day. “Whenever you try to win a title, you have to put your heart on the line.

If you want to succeed in your career, your business, and in life, you must finish whatever you start, don’t let anyone or anything pull you back or take your eyes off the prize. You are not an island, you need other people, and others need you. Embrace the pressure, get back up every time you fall and always wear your heart on your sleeve, giving your best.

No matter the outcome, you can hold your head up and say you gave your best. And that is success.

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