Don Yaeger: For five consecutive years I’ve had the opportunity to engage in one of my favorite activities, playing basketball, at one of my favorite venues, Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, at an event hosted by one of my favorite people in sports, Mike Krzyzewski. As much as I enjoy throwing elbows with guys my age, my favorite part of the week is the annual leadership lecture that Coach K delivers to us on Saturday morning.
I walked in with notepad in hand and was completely taken by surprise to see that standing on the edge of the court was Marshall Plumlee, a center for Duke’s 2015 national championship team, (who also was my coach that last week) wearing his uniform. He wasn’t wearing his Duke basketball uniform; rather he was dressed impeccably in his Army best. He was wearing his uniform because on that morning Marshall took the oath to become an officer. With all of us as his witnesses he became Second Lieutenant Marshall Plumlee.
As powerful and amazing as that was, Coach K made it even better when he decided to engage us in discussion about leadership lessons from his last 11 years as coach of the USA Olympic men’s basketball team. He spoke about the group of all-stars he put together that were unlike anything the world has seen since the 1992 Dream Team.
Coach shared that while we witnessed Marshall taking an oath to commit himself fully to protecting and defending the United State of America, Coach K also made “taking an oath” a priority for the USA basketball team. As each team came together, he said, these all-stars promised collectively: “I will do anything you want me to do and accept any role you want me to play to help our team win the Gold Medal.”
“If that means if I play two minutes, thirty minutes, take 20 shots, or just play defense – whatever it is that is required of me, I commit to do,” Krzyzewski said, describing each player’s commitment. Imagine asking the world’s greatest players – LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant – to take that oath!
What a powerful discussion as we think of our business teams. How many of us are committed similarly? How many of us would take the oath? How many of would say: I’ll do whatever it takes to make us successful. How many of us would do this so honestly that everybody on our team knew that they could count on us? How many people would put aside their egos, or need for attention? All drama goes out the door because ALL we care about is what it takes for ALL of us to win!
It struck me: What a great question for each of us this week to ponder. If asked to take the pledge, could we do it? Would we?