Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Behavior Is How You Get There

To reward ourselves for a successful year, Andrea and I attend the New Year’s Eve bash at the Lucia, a small boutique hotel in downtown Portland. While relaxing in the room prior to dinner, I watch Bobby Knight – the storied and often controversial coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders college basketball team – record his Division I record 800th win.

The fact that Bobby Knight got to 880 wins to surpass Dean Smith of North Carolina is not the point of this story – after all, Knight has coached for 41 years, and Smith got his 879 wins in only 36 years. What makes this event worthy of attention is the interview conducted immediately after the win. With cheering fans in the background, Knight stands with a female reporter at center court, and the interviewer asks the question you’d expect in a situation like this: “So, you just set the record for most wins. How do you feel, coach?” What’s unexpected is Knight’s response. Without hesitation, Bobby Knight replies: “I don’t like how we played in the second half.”

Pay close attention here, because in this answer is on of the great secrets of success, which is: To get results, you must focus on behaviors. The result of the game? A record 880th win. The concern? Behavior. Not the score (the result) but how they played (the behavior.) Because Knight knows that the wins only manifest themselves BECAUSE of the behavior. And Knight knows something else, even though this goes unsaid: Talking about the result of the game that has just concluded is to take his eye off the ball. Because the very act of focusing on how they played… his team’s behavior… is to focus on something that will affect the next game, and that’s where Bobby Knight’s thoughts have already turned. He’s analyzing what his players did… how they behaved… because in Knight’s mind he knows the score is ALWAYS a reflection of his players behaviors.

Yes, winning is important. But in the world of Bobby Knight and all other record-breaking performers, behavior is how you get there.

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