Where It All Began

discipline hard work honesty success winning tools Dec 13, 2023

Welcome Back! The Winning Tools blog is a place for you to come each and every week to gain insights that are going to move you forward as a leader. Everything I share with you each week are lessons that I have learned over a long career full of victories, losses, and most importantly, lessons. 

Let me tell you where The Winning Tools came from. I had been working as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and the University of Florida. In the spring of 2005, I was hired at Morehead State University, my first head coaching job on the college level. I had the great fortune of working for some of the most outstanding coaches in the history of college basketball. Among the top of those coaches that I worked for, Pat Summitt, was the great Hall of Fame iconic coach at the University of Tennessee. She hired me and allowed me to be on her staff and I learned so much from her (much more on Coach Summitt later, I promise!). But she had a set of 12 principles called the Definite Dozen that she used to organize and guide her program.

When I got the job at Morehead State, taking a page out of Coach Summitt's playbook, I knew I needed to organize our program around a set of principles that could guide and anchor us. Well, keeping up with 12 things was too much for me. I was not smart enough to be able to remember 12 things to do, and so I got it down to three things to do, and it was really born from The Losing Tools. We’ll get deeper into The Losing Tools soon, but it all stemmed from a pivotal meeting when I was an assistant at The University of Florida. Someone spoke up and said we needed to eliminate complaints, excuses, and laziness. Would that be great? Of course it would! But, I knew I didn't want to lead with those negatives and have our team focus on what NOT to do, so I identified the antidotes for each of these things and The Winning Tools was born. I named them “tools” because each year in a college basketball program you are building. So the first year of the program, you build the foundation, the next year you're building another story on the building, the third year, the fourth year and so on. What we wanted to create was a skyscraper of excellence in our basketball program.

As I was contemplating getting our program off the ground there at Morehead State, I decided on the three principles of Honesty, Hard Work, and Discipline. It’s your toolkit for rooting your thinking in powerful principles and chasing and pursuing daily personal growth. It makes success simple. Notice we didn’t say easy, but this system is going to simplify your life while holding you accountable to be the very best you can be. Meet me back here next week to dive into the first principle: HONESTY! See you then!