Last Tuesday, I was able to hear Coach John Calipari, men’s basketball coach for the University of Kentucky, speak at a Big Brothers Big Sisters luncheon. Coach C has caused quite a stir in the Bluegrass. Talk of Final Fours and national championships are being heard all over town. He hasn’t coached a game yet, but the expectations are nothing short of Adolph Rupp and Rick Pitino.

I am impressed with the way he is handling it all. Even though people were there to meet him, and hear from him. He made it clear that he was there for the cause – helping young men and women get connected to a mentor. I took some notes that I thought you might find interesting:

“It is as much the path as the prize.” We need to enjoy the journey. Too often we are so intent on the destination that we miss all the beauty along the way.

“Five years ago it got less about me and more about the other people. We lost a national championship, but we got there. Three players on the team were drafted by the NBA. Several on the staff received assistant coaching jobs, and two others were awarded head coaching opportunities. The city of Memphis got to experience a team in the Final Four. Five years ago I began to take myself less seriously.” I wanted to ask what it was that changed five years ago. What caused this change in focus? Wouldn’t we all benefit if had a similar approach to life?

“Players have to be self-motivated. If a player comes back after the summer overweight or out of shape, I say, ‘You kidder. You don’t really want to play in the NBA. Let’s figure out what you want to do with your life.’” Then he added, “If you have to watch them all the time, they will never be effective and neither will you.”

Those statements reminded me of Jim Collins’ observation that successful organizations get the right people on the bus. Right people are self-motivated, not controlled by heavy handed rules and restrictions.

“I want my players to have fun. I want to one day coach a team to 40-0. It will only happen if they are having fun. There is too much pressure if you are not having fun.” What can I do to make work a place that people enjoy enough to handle the pressures?

I left the luncheon on Tuesday cautiously optimistic. Not that UK would return to the glory of previous regimes, but that we may have a man that understands the impact he is having and has his priorities in the right place.

Romans 12:3 (God’s Word Translation) “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

Glen Schneiders


One Response to Calipari-isms

  1. ed parks says:

    I’m 81yrs.old,a wildcat fan since 1938.this year we are seeing the foundation of the new Rupp beganings, we have A man who can restore the glory days!let’s just enjoy the string music,I just wish kaywood were around to savor the bliss! lefty wildcat!

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