One Tournament: Many (Life) Lessons

Bastketball Vicksburg, MS

Basketball Vicksburg, MS - Image via Wikipedia

I love US collegiate basketball’s March Madness. There are great games to be watched, and terrific lessons for everyone.

And I’ve got lots of company; as Vittorio Tafur noted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the next three weeks are “the most glorious, democratic, and addictive event in sports.”

And those tournament lessons are for you, and the lessons are for me. In business. In careers. In life.

Just as life, work, and business, there are usually three key factors; talent (think resources if you’re a business), strategy and execution.

And just as in life, highly talented, better resourced organizations can’t afford to have sloppy strategy and execution and do OK. On the 94 by 50 feet of hard court, the same rules prevail. Great execution combined with great strategy usually trips simply great talent.

For all those companies that think hiring the best is all there is to it, the NCAA tournaments (the men’s fully starts this week on Thursday, the women’s fully starts this week on Saturday) gives you lesson after lesson on the importance of hitting the sweet intersecting spot between those three factors of talent, strategy and execution.

Last, I said “usually three key factors.” The fourth that comes into play – something that is perhaps the toughest to measure – is heart. What’s the grit factor – the perseverance quotient – that’s at play for these teams.

Research by people like Angela Duckworth and others show that often the difference between success and failing is heart – the grittiness that keeps you going when everything sings failure. And in the fun of this year’s March Madness where parity reigns supreme, any team pretty much can beat any other team.

It isn’t where you come from, it’s where you’re going that counts” said Ella Fitzgerald. And some of these teams will show you where you go with that sweet mix of talent, strategy and execution – particularly if they combine it with a little heart.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.