Last Friday, I presented my synopsis of Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson. I really liked this book. It was a fun read – extra fun for anyone who follows sports. But, it is also a leadership journal. Though the book is quite narrative, principles and practices and challenges and difficulties of leadership kind of ooze through every page.
Here are Phil Jackson’s “Basic Principles of Mindful Leadership”:
1) Lead from the inside out.
2) Bench the ego.
3) Let each player discover his own destiny.
4) The road to freedom is a beautiful system. (Tex Winter taught me a system known as the triangle offense )
5) Turn the mundane into the sacred.
6) One breath = one mind.
7) The key to success is compassion. Simplicity, patience, compassion.
8) Keep your eye on the spirit, not on the scoreboard.
9) Sometimes you have to pull out the big stick.
10) When in doubt, do nothing. However, there are occasions when the best solution is to do absolutely nothing. “No one does nothing better than Phil.”
11) Forget the ring.
Here are some observations:
1) Phil Jackson “used” Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. He learned from Carl Rogers. He learned from Native American tribes. He learned from jazz musicians. He seemingly learned from anyone, anywhere.
2) Phil Jackson knew he could work with receptive people. Leaders need receptive people.
3) Phil Jackson knew that he had to treat different players differently (e.g., he gave extra slack to Dennis Rodman). He had to react to different players differently – to communicate with different players differently.
4) Phil Jackson absolutely understood the value of the fundamentals.
5) A sense of community/connectedness really matters. And spending time together – with proximity to one another – really helps. (Thus, L.A. was tougher than Chicago for this).
6) Phil Jackson built on the work of others (other coaches) and relied on the work of others (other coaches).
7) Phil Jackson changes his approach, and the way he works, throughout each season – year by year, player by player.
8) Phil Jackson used lots of communication tools/techniques – movies, music, silence, props, rituals, etc.
And here are my five takeaways:
1) Treat each person differently because they are different.
2) Pay attention to the inner life.
3) Seek to make a difference in the soul of the people around you — especially the people you lead.
4) Read widely – read a lot – learn from what you read. (Phil Jackson gave a book to each player to read each season. A different book that he selected specifically for that player. Remarkable!)
5) Help people aim high – very high.
Professional Speaker & Writer
Co-founder, First Friday Book Synopsis