Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I was reading "Go For The Gold" by John Maxwell last night and came across his Law of the Inner Circle. He states:

When we see any incredibly gifted person, it's always tempting to believe that talent along made him successful. To think that is to buy in to a lie. Nobody does anything great along.

To practice the Law of the Inner Circle, you must be intentional in your relationship building. As you consider whether individuals should be in your inner circle, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do they have high influences with others?
2. Do they possess strengths in my areas of weakness?
3. Do they add value to me and my organizations?
4. Do they positively impact other inner circle members?

This has been a big topic for me this spring with our student-athletes. We have been talking to them about the art of successful people hang around successful people and this union helps both sides to fuel each other.

Several decades ago I took a basketball coaching class from the late Stu Aberdeen at Marshall University. One of his primary teachings was that to be successful, you should hunt out the best of what you want to be and learn from them. If you want to be a lawyer, search one out, befriend him and ask him to mentor you. He gave several examples but it hit me hard that if I wanted to be a coach that I should search some out to teach me how to best become one. As an 18-year old college freshman, I hooked up with some of the best high schools coaches I could find in Doug McElwain and Ron Chambers at Winfield High School and my former junior high coach Allen Osborne. I told them of my desire to be a coach and asked them to teach me -- and that's exactly what they did. Over 30 years ago they are still an influence in my teaching and coaching and I still talk them often about major decisions.

As I got into college coaching I zeroed in on Don Meyer who for some reason took me under his wing and taught me a great deal and allowed me to elevate myself as a coach.

I would add to Coach Aberdeen's philosophy of "if you want to be a coach, search one out, befriend him and ask them to teach you." Be more specific. "I want to be an outstanding girls high school basketball coach." Or, "I want to be a high school coach that plays great man to man defense." Be specific about your vision to find the best mentor.

We are talking to our team a great deal about this subject. We are working to get them to understand that to be the best student possible, go study with a good student -- not a buddy. If you are going to war are you going to pick friends alone or are you going to select the best possible warriors.

By selection who you associate with, you are actually "selecting your own team." You should find somebody that will work with your and push you and help you achieve more than you would by yourself or with others that are equal or less to you in terms of talent and commitment.

At LSU, we occasionally use men to come in and play with our women's team. We might utilize them in some drills and or in scrimmage situations. The men are better -- a little taller, a little quicker, a little stronger. We do that to stretch our team -- to encourage them play a little above what they would play when playing against weaker competition. And we want them to do that in all facets of their lives.
In shooting, we have our women shoot from the men's 3-point line. On certain days, we may work from the NBA 3-point line. All in effort to "stretch our range."

As a student-athlete, what are you doing on a daily basis to "stretch your range." Who are you associating with on a regular basis to improve in areas that are important to your growth?

The answer will usually show a direct correlation in your commitment (or lack thereof) to be the best you can be.