Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success


Phil Jackson recounts his time as a player and a coach and the many important leadership and coaching skills he picked up along the way

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Key Takeaways
  1. A ring symbolizes love and unending connections - Native Americans considered the ring sacred and built their communities around the shape
  2. Different tribal stages - life sucks, apathetic people, focused on individual achievement and have to win (lone warriors), main focus is tribal pride and needs a strong adversary, and last stage is that life is great
  3. 11 "Rings" of Leadership
    1. Lead from the inside out - be "anti-lemming" and develop your own culture and system. Speak from the heart and be transparent
    2. Bench the ego. The more power you try to exude and force, the less resort and power you will receive
    3. Let each player discover their own destiny - don't force your changes on people. Remember players aren't just cogs in a machine, they are people
    4. Road to freedom is a beautiful system. Create a system where players can decide for themselves
    5. Turn the mundane into the sacred. Incorporate rituals like meditation into mundane practices and routines
    6. One breath equals one mind. Mindfulness meditation is very useful to focus ones awareness on the present moment and shut out the noise
    7. The key to success is compassion. Simplicity, patience and compassion are all vital
    8. Keep your eye on the spirit and not on the scoreboard. Process over outcome
    9. Sometimes you have to bring out the big stick
    10. When in doubt, do nothing. When the mind is allowed to relax, inspiration often follows
    11. Forget the rings - winning shouldn't be your focus, do your best and then let the outcomes unfold
  4. Selflessness is the holy grail of basketball
  5. 3 helpful aspects of Zen Buddhism - give up control, stay in the moment, live with compassion (especially for oneself)
  6. Aims to give each player enough space to grow and an environment where they can prosper. Transparency is key
  7. Instead of firing the players up he created rituals to help quiet their minds before games
  8. Being focused on the present helps you see the unseen and hear the unheard
  9. One of the best ways to deal with anxiety is to be as prepared as possible
  10. Important to have a "pecking order" on your team which is well known and accepted
  11. The sacred is in the ordinary. Your work had to represent your passion
  12. As a leader you need to meet people where they are and show them where to go
What I got out of it
  1. Really interesting story and many of the leadership and management principles Jackson outlines can be incorporated into any leadership position. I didn't know that Jackson had such an interest in Buddhism and quieting his player's minds
Read Eleven Rings

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