Archive for the ‘Inventive Thinking’ Category

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:I fell in love with you.
A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul. As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one. And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye. And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have. And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 …
1Love you always,
It’s been almost 28 years since the first day we met. 28 years since I saw you in the back of our garage. 28 years since my parents introduced us.If someone would have told me then, what would become of us, I’m not sure I would have believed them. I barely remembered your name.Then I started seeing you around the neighborhood and watching you on television. I used to see you with guys down at the playground. But when my older brother started paying more attention to you, I started to wonder. Maybe you were different.
We hung out a few times. The more I got to know you, the more I liked you. And as life would have it, when I finally got really interested in you, when I was finally ready to get serious, you left me off the varsity. You told me I wasn’t good enough.I was crushed. I was hurt. I think I even cried.Then I wanted you more than ever. So I practiced. I hustled. I worked on my game. Passing. Dribbling. Shooting. Thinking. I ran. I did sit-ups. I did push-ups. I did pull-ups. I lifted weights. I studied you. I began to fall in love and you noticed. At least that’s what Coach Smith said.
At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. But now I know. Coach Smith was teaching me how to love you, how to listen to you, how to understand you, how to respect you and how to appreciate you. Then it happened. That night, at the Louisiana Superdome in the final seconds of the championship game against Georgetown, you found me in the corner and we danced.Since then, you’ve become much more than just a ball to me. You’ve become more than just a court. More than just a hoop. More than just a pair of sneakers. More than just a game.In some respects, you’ve become my life. My passion. My motivation. My inspiration.
You’ve my biggest fan and my harshest critic. You’re my dearest friend and my strongest ally. You’re my most challenging teacher and my most endearing student. You’re my ultimate teammate and my toughest competitor. You’re my passport around the world and my visa into the hearts of millions.So much has changed since the first day we met, and to a large degree, I have you to thank. So if you haven’t heard me say it before, let me say it now for the world to hear. Thank you. Thank you, Basketball.Thank you for everything.Thank you for all the players who came before me. Thank you for all the players who went into battle with me. Thank you for the championships and the rings. Thank you for the All-Star Games and the Playoffs. Thank you for the last shots, the buzzer-beaters, the hard fouls, the victories and the defeats. Thank you for making me earn my keep. Thank you for #23.
Thank you for North Carolina and Chicago. Thank you for the air and the nickname. Thank you for the moves and the hang time. Thank you for the Slam-Dunk Contest. Thank you for the will and the determination, the heart and the soul, the pride and the courage. Thank you for the competitive spirits and the competition to challenge it. Thank you for the failures and the setbacks, the blessings and the applause. Thank you for the triangle. Thank you for baseball and the Barons. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for the assistant coaches, the trainers, and the physical therapists.
Thank you for the announcers, the refs, the writers, the reporters, the broadcasters and the radio stations. Thank you for the Pistons and the Lakers, the Cavs and the Knicks, the Sixers and the Celtics. Thank you for Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Utah. Thank you for the Wizards. Thank you for the believers and the doubters. Thank you for Coach Smith, Coach Loughery, Coach Albeck, Coach Collins and Coach Jackson. Thank you for the education and the experience. Thank you for teaching me the game behind, beneath, within, above and around the game…the game game.
Thank you for every fan who has ever called my name, put their hands together for me and my teammates, slapped me five or patted me on the back. Thank you for everything you’ve given my family. Thank you for the moon and the stars, and last but not least, thank you for Bugs and Mars.I know I’m not the only one who loves you. I know you have loved many before me and will love many after me. But, I also know what we had was unique. It was special. So as our relationship changes yet again, as all relationships do, one thing is for sure.I love you, Basketball. I love everything about you and I always will. My playing days in the NBA are definitely over, but our relationship will never end.
Much Love and Respect,
Michael Jordan


For 50 years, we’ve watched the best teams in the NFL fight the final battle of the season. It’s the final test, the ultimate game to decide who will be remembered and who will be in second place. It is, no doubt, a monumental experience for players, but it is pivotal for their coaches. They are leading the pack. They will suffer the most criticism. They will be left to pick up the pieces and start over.With such high stakes, the Super Bowl becomes a stage for leadership to either thrive or crumble. In looking back over these 50 years of match ups, we are highlighting three winning coaches who epitomize the steps needed to experience ultimate success.



Football is not a game for the overly-sensitive or softhearted. It’s a difficult game that demands acute focus. But, Vince Lombardi, two-time Super Bowl winning coach for the Green Bay Packers, knew the value of bringing “feeling” on the field. He understood that unless the team had a strong mutual care for one another, their game would lack necessary connection. The team would be out of sync.

Jim Taylor, one of 10 Packers who played for Lombardi, remembers one of the coach’s tactics that required mutual care and led to their success in the first-ever Super Bowl.We had established the power sweep,” he recalls. The strategy required a unified force and an unyielding trust in the man on the line by your side. It was based on a foundation of awareness for the other guys on the team. And it led to two Super Bowl victories. “With our blockers we were a ball-possession offense that could move the chains. It’s still only blocking and tackling.

Lombardi said it this way,

There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don’t win the game. [They’re missing] the third ingredient: if you’re going to play together as a team you’ve got to care for one another. You’ve got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself: ‘I have to do my job well in order that he can do his…’ The difference between mediocrity and greatness is the feeling [the teammates] have for each other.”

Knowing who’s on your team and having a “soft spot” for them, makes the difference to take home the win. 


Coach Bill Parcells, like Vince Lombardi, knew that individual players, no matter how outstanding or capable they were, couldn’t carry the ball alone. Team effort was the only way to the win.

Parcells has a sign hanging in his office that states his philosophy plainly, “Individuals play the game but teams win championships.”

In Super Bowl XXV, Parcells’ winning year with the New York Giants, the final score was 20-19 over Buffalo. We can’t contribute that one point to a single failure or success by either team, but the team that worked in sync: setting a record for the amount of time of ball-control offense (40 minutes and 33 seconds) is a good indication that the team was the victor— not any one, individual player.

Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler converted three third-down plays—an 11-yard pass to running back David Meggett, a 14-yard toss to wide receiver Mark Ingram, and a 9-yard pass to Howard Cross to give New York a 17-12 lead in the third quarter. Hostetler was never a one man show; it took the team.

Parcell’s coaching proves that what we can do alone pales in comparison to the potential we have when we work together.



Coach Dick Vermeil, who guided the St. Louis Rams to victory in Super Bowl XXIV, prepared for success long before he ever headed to the big game. He’d been learning about his players and becoming a person they could count on since their first practice season.

When asked about his number one priority in leading his team, Vermeil said without hesitation,

Anyone who has coached for long knows that you’ve got to establish trust with your players before you can ever lead your players.  Trust is the most essential thing to establish as a coach; trust precedes influence for every leader of a team.

Coaches like Vermeil foresee the thoughts and emotions that will be generated by an upcoming challenge. Then, they have the authority with the players to redirect their mindset away from fears and worries by reminding everyone of their strengths and focusing their attention on the task at hand.

Successful coaches have a history of accountability and loyalty to their team. And, success in the Super Bowl begins with a coach who understands the value of team unity and deep-rooted trust long before dreaming of being #1.

There is an absolute certainty that they can be trusted win or lose, and that’s how they win.

Inventive Thinking

Posted: March 22, 2012 in Inventive Thinking

Disheartened after another day of failing to connect with his students, the young teacher trudged upstairs to his office and slumped down at his desk chair in defeat. He was angry, and he had every right to be mad. After all, his boss at the YMCA had assigned him a seemingly impossible task. He had been handed a classroom full of misbehaving mischief-makers whom he somehow was expected to make enthusiastic about physical fitness—within two weeks. His three predecessors each had been dismissed after unsuccessful attempts to interest the unruly young men in exercise. Unless something changed, it looked like he would be following their footsteps out the door.

As for activities, his options were limited. Winter weather had forced the physical education class indoors to the gymnasium, and his students showed absolutely no attraction to the usual calisthenics: push-ups, sit-ups, and the like. Also, since many of the students were notorious troublemakers, any sport lending itself to rough play was off limits. He had found that out the hard way after an aborted attempt to introduce lacrosse had ended in a slew of injuries. He had tried derivations of indoor soccer too, but the students had been completely unreceptive to them.

Mulling over the predicament, the young gym instructor concluded that nothing of the usual variety would hold the attention of his students. He needed to come up with a new game. He then began to think abstractly about the team sports he knew, recognizing that, at root, each involved a ball and a goal. He decided a larger, softer ball would be most appropriate for an indoor game. To eliminate violence, he wanted to move away from a type of goal which encouraged forceful or fast-moving shots as in hockey or soccer. Consequently, he hit upon the idea of a goal with an opening at the top rather than on the side to require an arcing or looping trajectory for shots. Since defenders could easily surround and guard such a box-goal, he chose to mount it above their heads. Finally, to prevent the rough collisions of tackling, he stipulated that the person with the ball could not advance it on foot but only by passing.

After several hours spent pondering how the game would be played, the young teacher drew up a list of thirteen rules and had them typed out. He then asked the gymnasium’s facility manger for two wooden boxes so that he could construct the goals. The building superintendent did not have any boxes but provided two peach baskets instead. The next day the young instructor nailed the baskets about 10-feet above the floor of the gym and put the rules of his newly created sport on display. Not only did the game appeal to his students, within a matter of months basket-ball had caught on at YMCAs around the country. The once-discouraged gym teacher, James Naismith, had invented a sport which would go on to become one of the most popular in the world. In 2010 its original rules, which Naismith had scrawled on two pieces of paper, sold for $4.3 million!


James Naismith faced a crisis; his job depended on exciting a group of cynical, asocial youth about exercise. At this juncture, he could have complained about the unfairness of his assignment or griped about the behavioral problems of his students. However, rather than being consumed by the difficulties in front of him, Naismith stayed focused on finding a way to connect with his students. What sticky situation are you presently facing at work? How can you encourage your team to stay focused on searching for a solution rather than worrying about the size of the problem?

James Naismith’s first few attempts to engage his students failed miserably, yet he kept moving forward. How have you moved on from failures in your life, and what lessons have you learned from those failures? Based on your experience, how might you influence your teammates to respond to failure?