Focus on the Process Like Coach K

March Madness is kicking off today, so let’s bring some college basketball into today’s discussion.

Coach K and Duke Basketball

Everyone has heard of Duke Basketball, Coach K, and/or Mike Krzyzewski (pronounced Shih-chef-skee.) Coach K is arguably the best basketball coach in history, building Duke into the most consistently successful program over the last 35 years. But that almost was not the case…

Awards and Honors

  • 5 Olympic Gold Medals (3 as head coach, 2 as asst coach)

  • 5-time NCAA National Champions

  • 12 NCAA Final Fours

  • 15 ACC Conference Tournament Championships

  • Most NCAA Tournament wins (94)

  • First male head coach to win 1,000 NCAA Division 1 games.

  • First head coach to win 1,000 NCAA Division 1 games with the same team.

  • All-time winningest coach in college basketball history at any level, men’s or women’s, with 1,123 career wins (and counting.)

In the beginning - Slow Results

No one expected greatness when Duke hired a 33-year old kid to be their head coach in 1980, considering he had won less than half his games over the prior two seasons as the head coach for Army.

Duke went 6-8 (in conference play) in his first year as head coach, and was invited to play in the 2nd-tier NIT tournament at the end of the year.

In his 2nd season (1982), Duke went 4-10 in conference, and some of the alumni didn’t think he was the right man for the job.

Season 3 was even worse, with a 3-11 conference record, and the calls for Coach K’s firing were getting louder and more frequent.

The Process Is What Matters

Those inside the program and the university, however, saw the whole story.

Coach K had an unwavering belief that doing things right, consistently over time, would lead to positive results. He was committed to details, and to teamwork, and to individual growth. He preached, and practiced, 5 simple principles:

  • Be passionate.

  • Be prepared.

  • Be organized.

  • Be unselfish.

  • Be yourself.

Those around the program could see changes coming. The kids were playing hard and enjoying the game and each other. There had been several “almost wins”, where the ball just didn’t quite bounce the right way.

The process was moving the program in the right direction, but the results had yet to follow suit.

Results Will Follow

The results finally caught up in year 4, with a 7-7 record in conference play, 24-10 overall, and their first bid into the NCAA March Madness Tournament. And they haven’t stopped since…

1984 Tournament Bid
1985 Tournament Bid
1986 NCAA Finals - runner up
1987 Sweet 16
1988 Final Four
1989 Final Four
1990 NCAA Finals - runner up
1991 NCAA Champion

Most schools’ fanbases would give anything for an 8-year run of results like Duke had in the late 80’s - forget about the fact that this was just the beginning and the next 25 years have been more of the same!

You Control the Process (not the results)

Build the processes that are going to make you successful, and then follow them!

Whether that means joining new groups to meet new people, making cold calls to FSBOs, going over-the-top with customer service, writing each day, or staying in touch with all your contacts with a monthly e-newsletter. Find the right process for YOU, and then follow it religiously.

Don’t worry about the short-term results, or about any individual deal/prospect. Some people are going to list with another agent. Others are going to decide not to sell at all. That’s ok - you can’t control their actions any more than Coach K can control whether or not an opposing player makes a free throw.

Set up good processes, then give your best effort. Every day.

The results will follow.

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- Chris Butterworth

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Ps: Honestly, if you’ve been thinking about writing a monthly e-Newsletter as way to stay in touch with your contacts, please give 8DollarFarming a look. I have the processes in place to deliver a high-quality, full-featured, turn-key newsletter for you, at a very affordable price.

Pps: Before you start calling me a shill for Duke, I am NOT a Duke fan. (My allegiance runs Arizona Wildcat red & blue.) But I admire and respect Coach K as a coach, and a person, and wish there were more people like him in big-time sports.