Monday, 25 March 2013

March Leadership Madness: A microcosm.

For as long as I can remember, I've been creating a bracket for March Madness. Ooo-ing and awhhh-ing at games, slamming my first when Duke loses or when the University of Hawaii upsets a top seed and, without fail, crying during the "One Shining Moment" montage that perennially follows the championship game.

I bet you have been too ... well maybe not the Duke part, pretty much everybody but me, and maybe J.J. Reddick, hates Duke.

While weeping at the red strike-outs that will inevitably litter your bracket, have you ever thought about what March Madness ACTUALLY is, in the grander scheme of things? If you haven't, don't fret because - spoiler alert! - I've figured it out.


Let me explain ...

1. March Madness demands the absolute best out of a team, every single time they step on the court. Much like in life, a good leader is always in the spotlight - they are expected to give their best every time they walk into the office or step onto the stage. And if they don't, they get overtaken by an unsuspecting underdog who wants it more, works harder for it, and outworks them. In this scenario, as a leader, be the underdog who wants it more and succeeds.

2. You must win to move on.  In leadership and in life, success almost always precedes progress. Not success in the way of money or fame. Success in the way of a job well done, giving absolutely everything that you have to something from beginning to end and having it recognized by the outcome. My old basketball coach used to say this to me every time I would throw the ball up at the net without focusing - COME ON CHRISTIE, SHOOT TO SCORE! The same thing goes in life - everything you do, do it to do it right and to the best of your ability... the wins will follow.

3. You must lose with grace. Ever noticed that at the end of the game, the cameras are never zeroed-in on the team that won? They almost always pan across the bench of the losers, hiding their tears under sweaty towels, lying on the ground and pulling their hair, or having a terrible-twos type of tantrum somewhere in the stadium. Always remember that when you lose, all eyes are on YOU. Losing with dignity goes much further than winning with dignity, especially later on when the dust has settled. People won't remember the score, but they WILL remember the idiot who threw 3 chairs into the audience (thank you, YouTube) because he missed his last few free throws.

4. If you lose, you're done. Now, I recognize that it's essential to "learn from failure", but let's look at each March Madness game as a year in the life of a leader (since the tournament is a condensed version of life...right?). I'm all for learning from your mistakes, but every failure has an expiration date. You only have  a finite amount of time to learn from whatever mistake it is that you've made and FIX IT. Much like a time-out in a March Madness game: teams focus on what's going wrong and then come back on the court ready to make it better.

5. And last, but certainly not least... Play your heart out, ALL THE WAY UNTIL THE END. We have all seen countless games decided in the last split-seconds of play. It aint over till it's over. Always remember to give everything you've got until the very last buzzer sounds and the whistle blows. Those dying moments expose true grit, true character, and true heart.

Remember, anything can happen in March Madness and in life. The way you sway the odds in your favour is through being prepared, working hard to succeed, losing with grace, learning from your mistakes (quickly!), and giving everything that you've got, right until the end.

So, I'll leave you with this: In this game that we call leadership and life, are you winning (please don't think about Charlie Sheen when I say that)? Or losing? If you feel like you're losing, take a time-out and figure out what you can do to make sure that the outcome is in your favour by the time the buzzer goes.


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