Oliver Wendell Holmes

Listen to history, apply it to the future.

listen-to-historyKevin Love played one year of college basketball for the UCLA Bruins in the 2007-2008 season where he led the team to a final four appearance. He was a First Team All-American, Pac 10 player of the year, First Team All-Pac 10.

As a Freshman in UCLA in 2007-2008, Love often reached out to John Wooden for advice. John Wooden was the head coach at UCLA from 1948 – 1975. During his tenure, the Bruins won 620 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons. During his freshman year Love said of Wooden, “I just turned 19 and I know my history. He’s not only the best coach of any coach of all time, but he’s also one of the best human beings you’ll ever meet.”

Drafted after his Freshman year in college, he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves where he was a three-time NBA All-Star and the Cleveland Cavaliers where he was part of the team that won the NBA Championship in 2016. And when he became an NBA player, Love remembered what he learned from Wooden, “Coach Wooden, when he speaks you listen. I’ve taken a lot of things from him… It’s not just about basketball, it’s about life as well.”

United States Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. summarized the importance of listening to history, and then applying it to the future when he said, “It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”

Those who want to have a positive impact on the future, must first seek to become wise about the past. In the story of Kevin Love and John Wooden, the result was learning the steps that Wooden took so that they could be repeated. In studying history, it is also just as likely that one may learn of the past mistakes to know what not to repeat.

I’ve heard it said this way, “Make sure you understand why the fence was put up before you take it down.” You may have equal chance to leave the fence up as you do in taking it down, but your decision will be made based on knowledge of the history of the reason for its placement in the first place.


How to help your team believe in themselves

i-believe-in-youYou are a leader with experience. You’ve accomplished a lot in your career and want to give back and help encourage your team to achieve the success that you have. You can see their potential and believe in them – you know they can do it.

Just because you can do it, and believe they can do it, that doesn’t lead to your team’s belief in themselves. For your team to believe in themselves, your belief needs to lead to their belief. They won’t believe until they learn it, know it and experience it. Your part is to teach them, develop them, then let them.

In The Last Lecture, Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch talked about believing in yourself (he called it self-esteem). He said you can’t give it to someone; it has to be developed. His process for developing belief is this, “You give them something they can’t do, they work hard until they find they can do it.”

Here is that process laid out in three steps. Follow these and your team will believe in themselves.

Individuals learn when leaders teach them.

What am I supposed to do to be successful? In order to believe in yourself you have to know what is expected so you understand the definition of success. The only way that this happens is when the individual listens to what is being taught by the leader.

“I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.” – Ernest Hemingway

Individuals know when leaders develop them.

How do I do what I am supposed to do to be successful? Knowing what is expected doesn’t mean you know how to achieve it. This is where leaders show the individuals through side-by-side coaching and mentoring.

“A man only learns in two ways, one is by reading, and the other by associating with smarter people.” – Will Rogers

Individuals experience, when leaders let them.

What does it feel like when I do what I am supposed to do to be successful? Knowing what to do and how to do it is cemented in when you actually do it. Leaders let their team do it on their own so they work through their mistakes and get it right.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

How do you lead when the rules change?

Everyone wants to perform up to expectations.  That’s why it’s so important to know the rules. Leaders must, therefore, be very clear to explain the expectations they have for their team.

Some might say that the rules they will be judged against should be detailed, exact, straightforward, and never ever change during the middle of the game. If you have been in business for any number of years, you might want to respond with, “Can I have that?”

We can’t always control the rules that govern our businesses, or our day to day lives in some cases.  Anyone who just lived through – or is living through – the impacts of the Great Recession knows that the rules can change quickly when outside forces move.

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