The Second Winning Tool - Hard Work

hard work leadership winning tools Jan 17, 2024

Hey there! Okay, time for a quick check-in. We are just over halfway through the first month of a brand new year. How are you feeling? I have a feeling today’s topic is going to be right on time. When we make new commitments and the excitement of beginning a new chapter wears off, we have to commit to doing the hard work it takes to staying on track. And with that, it’s time to dive into the second Winning Tool – Hard Work! 

Learning the Winning Tools system is all about putting tools in our toolbox but like some of the other concepts, this might be a little different than other definitions of Hard Work you’ve heard in the past. If you’ve read past posts, I’ve shared the origin story of The Winning Tools, where I took over the program at Morehead State and we needed a set of principles that would guide our program toward success. And so, we came up with honesty, hard work, and discipline. That's our toolbox for personal growth, for principled driven thinking. Let's fast forward to when I got the job at the University of Kentucky, which was really a dream come true.

I started out as a high school coach and was fortunate enough to be hired by some really good coaches along the way, University of Tennessee, Pat Summitt, University of Florida, Carol Ross, Carolyn Peck, University of Kentucky, the first time I arrived was as an assistant to Mickie DeMoss, and I'd learned so much from those great basketball coaches and great leaders. Now, I had a turn to be the head coach at an unbelievable institution and at a school where people are just hungry for basketball success.

I just couldn't believe my good fortune to be the coach at Kentucky, but I knew we would have to build a strong foundation to set us up for success. I was confident that The Winning Tools would give us what we needed to pursue excellence – and that's exactly what happened. We were able to use The Winning Tools to take Kentucky from the bottom of the Southeastern Conference, to eventually becoming SEC Champions and one of the most respected programs in our conference. This, of course, didn’t happen overnight, but The Winning Tools gave us a consistent framework to build our program with. First, the foundation, then one season, one level at a time…just like the skyscraper analogy we’ve talked about before.

We talked about all aspects of honesty and how it is the cornerstone of The Winning Tools, but we have to put these principles into action. That’s where the hard work comes in. We sure had a lot of hard work along that journey at Kentucky, and I’m so proud of all of the players that bought into this important Winning Tool. We would’ve never experienced success without the hard work they committed to day in and day out. This is the same thing that I want to encourage you to do. Commit to this journey of becoming your best. Commit to honesty. Commit to the hard work it’s going to take to be a principle-driven thinker and someone who achieves at the highest level. Here’s what I can tell you. If you really embrace this concept of hard work, you will see results in every area of your life. 

Today, I’m going to share the definition for hard work that we developed in our program at Kentucky and it’s this: Hard Work is creating a habit of working diligently with focus, painstaking effort, and perseverance to consistently perform above the required or expected level.

This version of hard work is more than just getting the job done. This is about giving an honest effort, going above what's expected – giving absolutely everything you have to the task at hand. Hard work is something that every high achiever in the world has in common. Over the next few weeks, we’ll break down the three components of The Winning Tools’ definition of Hard Work. In the meantime, here’s your “homework”! 

Something to think on this week: How can you apply this new definition of hard work in your daily life? What would it mean to create a habit of working in a way that you could consistently perform above the required or expected level

Until we meet again! Same time, same place, next week.