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What Nick Saban Taught Me About Greatness And It's Worst Nemesis: Complacency

What Nick Saban Taught Me About Greatness And It’s Worst Nemesis: Complacency

As I sat in my living room watching the final seconds tick away—and the Clemson Tigers posted a dramatic come-from behind victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide to claim the NCAA Division 1 College football championship—I got to thinking about my favorite topic: Greatness.

I’ve studied Greatness for more than 25 years—interviewed the world’s top athletes (Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and John Smoltz) and most acclaimed coaches (John Wooden, Tony Dungy and Joe Maddon). I can say, unabashedly, that I consider myself a bit of an authority on the subject.

Yet as I watched Clemson’s Dabo Swinney embrace Alabama coach Nick Saban at game’s end I felt like a giddy novice—an armchair amateur mesmerized by the unmitigated greatness of two men who had each commanded a crew of some one hundred young athletes to compete for college football’s loftiest summit.

A New Year's Challenge: Share Your Dreams

A New Year’s Challenge: Share Your Dreams

In a couple of days some of us will make New Year’s Resolutions and some of us will share them with others as a way to hold ourselves accountable.

But have you ever been challenged to share your dreams? Earlier this year I spent a grueling week on the basketball court, learning about teamwork and dreams at “K Academy” which advertises itself as “America’s number one college basketball fantasy camp.”

Laugh all you want at the idea of a motley group of middle aged men of varying degrees of basketball experience grinding it out in full court games. Playing on the famed court inside Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium under the watchful eye of the legendary Coach Mike Krzyzewski with his former players as coaches is certainly above our athletic abilities.

But Coach K and his players offered valuable lessons...

We Can All Be Better: The Wooden Effect

We Can All Be Better: The Wooden Effect

Pam Hendrickson isn’t a sports fan but she’s been impacted by the greatest coach of all time.

After working with Tony Robbins for 18 years, rising to serve as his vice president of content and product development, Pam founded the Content Solutions Group. She’s also an excellent producer as I can personally attest after having worked with her on an exciting new project.

In recent months, in partnership with Success Magazine, our team has traveled across the country, interviewing some of the leading figures in the sports world, from Joe Torre to Steve Kerr, about how Coach John Wooden, the legendary teacher who led the UCLA Bruins to 10 national titles, impacted their lives. We also garnered insights from business and thought leaders, including John Maxwell and Dr. Mehmet Oz, on how Coach Wooden influenced them as they pursued Greatness.

After watching all of the interviews with these high achievers, Pam noticed the people Coach Wooden impacted were...different.

A Lesson From Ronda Rousey: Don't Let Your Job Define You

A Lesson From Ronda Rousey: Don’t Let Your Job Define You

Not that long ago, UFC star Ronda Rousey was billed as “the world’s most dangerous woman” and with commercial endorsements and movie appearances seemed poised to make a major impact on pop culture. That was before two "setbacks" in the Octagon. While her star has dimmed considerably in those last two fights, Rousey’s story offers valuable insights and serves as a warning for those of us who get too wrapped up in our jobs.

Stringing together a series of twelves straight wins, Rousey rocketed to the top of her sport while her looks and charisma helped her transcend her brutal sport. News stands across the country featured magazines with Rousey on their covers, including the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She was selected as the Best Female Athlete Ever by voters at ESPN.com. Hollywood came calling as Rousey appeared in “The Expendables 3,” “Furious 7,” with other projects also lining up.

Then it all came crashing down....

4 Lessons On Managing Sudden Leadership Transitions From One Of The Best

4 Lessons On Managing Sudden Leadership Transitions From One Of The Best

In the final seconds of a loss at the hands of Illinois State in October 2005, the Southern Illinois University football team experienced what appeared to be a nightmare.

Coach Jerry Kill, one of the masters of rebuilding college football programs, collapsed on the sidelines, his body convulsing as he suffered a seizure. Players panicked, not sure what to do, as Rebecca Kill, who knew that her husband had epilepsy, scrambled from the stands to be near his side. Coach Kill was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. In a moment which shows how perspectives change, he would later call the seizure one of the best things to happen to him.

Even as his cancer went into remission, in the years ahead at Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois University and, eventually, the University of Minnesota, the sight of Coach Kill suffering seizures on gameday would be repeated five more times. But, despite Coach Kill going down on the sidelines, his teams handled it far differently than his players did against Illinois State. Even as Coach Kill was being attended to during those games, Tracy Claeys, one of his assistant coaches, would put on his headphones and lead the team. It was the ultimate example of that core sporting (and business) principle: next man up.

Rare Air: John Maxwell, Urban Meyer Show Great Leaders Are Always Learning

The truly great ones, no matter their level of expertise, are always learning. Unlike many of us who grow complacent, the truly great are aware that there is always room to improve and ways to grow. They never believe they know it all.

Just as important, the best of the best know there are always places to go to learn more and people to learn from.

I experienced this lesson firsthand recently while recording the first episode of “Go Big,” a new monthly online learning series featuring John Maxwell, the top leadership expert in America, and yours truly discussing leadership with the greatest minds in sports.

“Go Big” launches on Sunday, November 20. To learn more about it and for a FREE opportunity to watch our first interview, go here. Full details on the program Maxwell and I will host are at LeadersGoBig.com

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Some of the Winning Teams Don Yaeger works with


DELL
Chevron
Microsoft
Hewlett Packard
BROCADE