Last week I gave my general impressions of Phil Jackson’s book, “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success.” I posted the first 10 of 20 intriguing quotes and excerpts from the book along with my thoughts and perspectives.

Today I give you my thoughts, italicized, on Phil “Zen Master” Jackson’s coaching philosophy:

11.  The more I tried to exert power directly, the less powerful I became.

Seems counterintuitive though magically powerful. Stay out of your teams way.


12.  You can’t force your will on people.

Nobody likes to be told what to do. Empower your team by giving them ownership in the process.


13.  When I had the players sit in silence, breathing together in sync, it helped align them on a nonverbal level far more effectively than words. One breath equal one mind.

These NBA athletes thought it was woo woo at first. In the end, they were gulping all the Kool-Aid Phil could make.


14.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl

It all starts with a vision. If you don’t have a vision, it’s like trying to walk a straight line, blindfolded.


15.  And yet as a coach, I know that being fixated on winning (or more likely, not losing) is counterproductive, especially when it causes you to lose control of your emotions. What’s more, obsessing about winning is a loser’s game: The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome. The ride is a lot more fun that way.

The best coaching is when the coach is unattached to the outcome.


16.  Instead of expecting them to be somewhere else and getting angry and trying to will them to that place, you try to meet them where they are and lead them where you want them to go.

I always tells clients, you’re perfect where you are. Now, where do you want to go?


17.  If we had tried to squelch the strife instead of letting it play itself out naturally this young, growing team, might never have come together the way it did in the end. Without the pain, the Lakers would not have discovered their soul. ~ Phil on the 2000-2001 championship season.

Clients come to me in different packages. The majority land on my door step when they’re in lots of pain.


18.  When Michael returned to the Bulls in 1995 after a year and a half of playing minor-league baseball, he didn’t know most of the players and he felt completely out of sync with the team. It wasn’t until he got into a fight with Steve Kerr at practice that he realized he needed to get to know his teammates more intimately.

I use TriMetrix HD to have the team understand their behavioral styles, motivators, competencies, and emotional intelligence.


19.  There’s nothing like a humiliating loss to focus the mind.

When you get your ass kicked, you’re pissed. Settle down and figure out what happened and how you can leverage this new awareness for the next game.


20.  My confidence grew out of knowing that when the spirit was right and the players were attuned to one another, the game was likely to unfold in our favor.

A harmonious team expects to win.


Photo courtesy of Okko Pyykkö.

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